Malice Just Because

There are some news items that, in the grand scheme of things, are fairly trivial, and yet somehow feel sadder to me than I would expect to feel. When this happens, I find the reason is less in the news item itself and more in the response to it.

Today, there were two such stories — and I would not even have blogged about them at all, because they do make me feel so discouraged, if it had not been for the truly indispensable Libby Spencer, who writes about both stories with the sadness that I feel along with an eloquence I don’t think I could muster right now. So I am just going to quote her:

Hardly earthshaking items but this makes me very sad. In the early 70s, I used to go to The Lafayette Bakery all the time. They always had the most beautiful pies in the window. I would often take one home when I left the city. But now, these cookies aren’t just tasteless, they’re ugly and I hope the bakery goes out of business.

Same for the Ty corporation and their lame-brained marketing of what I’m told is their first ever African-American beanie dolls, “coincidentally” named Sasha and Malia. Michelle Obama called it inappropriate. I might have used the words scum-sucking greedheads, and I don’t have enough insulting adjectives for the Neanderthal commenters at the post who suggest that the girls were used as props on the campaign trail and are thus “fair game.” And even more confounding, these brain dead, dead-enders use the Palin kids as a counter example.

Odd that I don’t remember seeing the Obama daughters more than a few times in two years on the campaign trail and only for the big events. Otherwise, they were home with grandma. On the other hand, it was rare indeed to see a rally or interview where the unfortunate Palin kids weren’t dragged into the spotlight by their mother.

That last paragraph, especially, is just so spot-on. Whether or not you agree with Michelle Obama on the substantive point that toy companies should not use “young private citizens for marketing purposes,” as the First Lady’s spokesperson said, there is really no legitimate case to be made that either Michelle or Barack Obama ever used their daughters as campaign props. It’s so obviously untrue, and the reality is so indisputably the exact opposite (Sasha and Malia were almost never seen in public during the campaign, as Libby said), that there truly is no conceivable way to explain the viciousness of some of the commentary directed at Michelle Obama for objecting to the dolls. No conceivable way to explain it, that is, except as sheer partisan malice. She is savaged in this instance because she is Michelle Obama; there is nothing in the content or validity of her response to the dolls that could otherwise account for that treatment.

And that is very sad.

3 Responses to “Malice Just Because”

  1. Chief says:

    If the cookies came out of lily white Mississippi, who would’ve noticed. That they came out of New Yawk, certainly doesn’t make them acceptable, but far more noticed.

    The quality of the work on the pastry is poor and, along with you & Libby, I hope the Lafayette Bakery sees a precipitous decline in business. If I lived close enough, I would carry a placard and boycott them.

  2. Kathy says:

    Mississippi is not at all lily-white, for obvious historical reasons. In 2006, blacks were 37.1% of that state’s population. It’s true that Mississippi does not have the ethnic diversity of NYC (to say the least), and it IS particularly shocking and hard to explain or believe that such nakedly racist sentiments could come out of a bakery in Greenwich Village.

    I think you might have been thinking of Mississippi’s history of white racism when you said “lily white.” It would not have been so surprising if those cookies had come out of a bakery in Mississippi, not because that state is lily white, but because of the state’s historically indisputable legacy of hatred and brutality on the part of whites toward blacks.

  3. Chief says:

    My thoughts were that, historically and generally, altho possibly not as true today as in the past, the whites in MS hold the economic power. Gov Haley Barbour, case in point.

    I know that MS does have a large population of minorities.

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