Monday, December 07, 2009

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU PRETEND TO BE. Patterico notes an old statement about miscegnation attributed to Robert Stacy McCain in a thread of the neo-Confederate Southern League (A "white person who does not mind transacting business with a black bank clerk may yet be averse to accepting the clerk as his sisterinlaw, and THIS IS NOT RACISM, no matter what Madison Avenue, Hollywood and Washington tell us"). Patterico provides the context for the statement, which does McCain no favors.

Much as I dislike McCain's politics, I wasn't inclined to get worked up about it. McCain had implied previously that he was working undercover as a reporter when entered the neo-Confederate universe. Also, transient racism has probably affected most of us -- me too; I grew up in a white working-class Connecticut neighborhood -- and maybe he said something he didn't really mean. Obviously if you're black you might be less phlegmatic about it, and who could blame you.

But in a couple of responses, after saying he was entering the soul of the racists much as Hunter S. Thompson might (though he supports this by assertion rather than explanation), McCain says he was trying to prevent a Southern League author's "attempt to hijack the League as a vehicle for his own purposes" and "prevent the League of the South from being marginalized as a racist organization." In other words, he was a sincere moderate among neo-Confederates, seeking to expunge from the League such vestiges of real racism as its contributors exhibited and with which he did not agree -- "As a citizen, however, I felt a duty to become involved in those controversies." So maybe he wasn't faking that position after all.

I suppose it's possible that McCain was engaged in deep cover which for some reason he maintains to this day -- a real-life Howard W. Campbell -- and as the whole discussion has to do with the Crazy Wars between McCain and Charles Johnson (background here and here -- you may want to use wading boots) it may just be prudent to tiptoe away.

The remaining interest is in the wounded tone McCain exhibits throughout. "That this preventive engagement was successful," he says (that is, that he held the line at miscegnation, and carried the day), "ought to be counted to my credit, rather than being cherry-picked in an effort to discredit me." Later, he says an opponent "wants to have an argument with a Hollywood stereotype of an ignorant hillbilly bigot, rather to say anything useful." Later still, another post about RAAAAACIST claims. This is all in keeping with his customary views on the subject. I guess what we should be asking is whether McCain is only pretending to be Robert Stacy McCain, 24/7.

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