The Nation Magazine vs. Dave Zirin

Dave ZirinOkay, I embellish writing that it is the magazine vs Zirin. However, in a sense its truer than true. The opinion represented byKatha Pollitt of The Nation Nation magazine writer Katha Pollitt represents what I’ve experienced as being widely held opinions and the viewpoint of the majority of self-styled white progressives in this country. When the rubber meets the road, they, like Katha Pollitt are woefully unprepared to reach informed and helpful conclusions around social/political events centering on African people in the United States. When the theoretical morphs into reality by way of an incident and the terrain is determined by ABCNNBCBS and FOX News headlines instead of sociological studies, white progressives, as a group, almost always sound a lot more like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly or Glenn Beck, the insane right wing, than anything remotely reflecting the Left credentials they so proudly put forward at any other time.

Dave Zirin dismantles her (and their) hypocrisy in 2 short exchanges with Pollitt published online at The Nation website (I presume) and at Zirin’s Edge of Sports website. Zirin refers to the exchange as ‘a debate’. I don’t really see it. Perhaps more of a ‘talking to’ for as Zirin points out, Pollitt and the white progressive opinion she represents, clearly doesn’t know what it’s talking about when it comes to the intersection of popular culture, race and sports. Long on opinion and short on experience, perspective and insight, they just don’t get it.

It’s a fun read that informs on much more than Vick and dogfighting.

Full Debate on Vick With Katha Pollitt

3 Responses to “The Nation Magazine vs. Dave Zirin”

  1. Thank you for sharing this exchange. I have been bothered a lot by the media coverage of Vick and have felt it was innately racist, but haven’t had enough knowledge about sports figures to back up my feeling. The point about white athletes not being subject to discriminatory policing is very important and it’s hard to understand how The Nation could miss it. I also think they miss the point that dog fighting is cultural, it is tied to the South actually, both white and African American lower socio-economic and rural culture, to ignore the cultural base of it is to be ignorant. When Virginia tried to pass higher penalties for dog-fighting this past year, the push back from rural Virginians was huge.

    I’m not saying dog fighting is a good thing, I love my dogs. But there are more harmful cultural traditions in our society, such as gated communities, letting poor folks fight our wars, shaming people for the way they speak without giving them any opportunity to learn another way to speak or even just accepting that there is no one right way to speak, discriminating in employment and housing and mortgages on the basis of race, just to name several.

  2. Interesting insight as to the cultural underpinnings of dogfighting as it being a southern thing. That hasn’t been touched on much in anything I’ve read so far. You also brought up an interesting tidbit about the resistance in WV to tougher dogfighting legislation.

    Yet another interesting side attraction hanging around the intersection of dogfighting and selective prosecution: I was talking to some anti-Vick PETA activists here in Atlanta that were bemoaning the difficulty in prosecuting dogfighters. They cited a dogfighting bust that happened here in Georgia a few years ago in an area called Newnan. About 120 people were arrested in this very rural (and overwhelmingly white) area. Of those, only 6 were convicted of anything. They touted this to reinforce the importance of convicting Vick as it is difficult to convict dogfighting offenders, or so they claimed.

    It was a perfect example of how blind these self-proclaimed progressives can be to social, political and racial realities.

    In a very white rural part of Georgia, the FBI and GBI can only convict 6 out of 120 arrested. But somehow the highest paid player in the National Football League can be collared by the same FBI. If that isn’t selective prosecution, nothing is.

    Poor white men arrested at the scene of a crime in progress in central Georgia can escape prosecution on charges that collar a black multimillionaire a hundred miles north in Atlanta.

    How pathetic is it that we can’t expect PETA, The Nation magazine or white progressives generally, to understand this.

  3. Well, pathetic but predictable in my opinion. I grew up reading the Nation but I don’t read it now. When I was young it seemed to be in touch with the interlinkings between issues and it did not seem to be writing off any group of people or any culture as “other”. Now not so much. Maybe it has to do with the general downfall of influence of cultural anthropology of the kind that studied real people in their real lives, maybe it has to do with people not having a sense of history, I don’t know, but I find it sadly predictable these days for white progressives to be out of touch with what is going on in racial and socioeconomic and even regional areas other than their own.

    I wonder how many African Americans or southerners the Nation consulted before writing this piece? I would bet none. It was actually Virginia that had the big todo about dog fighting by the way, although I wouldn’t know if it also happened in West Virginia, it’s possible.

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