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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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46 Responses

  1. Doug
    Doug January 28, 2008 at 1:47 pm |

    I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T! Even Althouse was moved to point out this morning what a nippledick this guy is.

    His commenters are no prize, either. “I read Tom Clancy! I know what a flash-bang grenade is!!1!!1!!!” Yes, dear, we’re all very impressed about what a big macho man you are. Now go back to licking the lead-based paint off your walls.

  2. norbizness
    norbizness January 28, 2008 at 1:51 pm |

    Why read a Tom Clancy novel when there are so many less taxing cinematic representations, featuring your choice of Jack Ryans: hirsute (Alec Baldwin), way too old (Harrison Fold), or untalented (Ben Affleck)?

  3. evil fizz
    evil fizz January 28, 2008 at 2:03 pm |

    Actually, the interview he’s whining about is pretty fabulous. She totally nails the interviewer for pulling a “Louis Farrakhan was an anti-Semite!” I’m going to quote to because it’s so good:

    Q. Hasn’t the rift been brought about partly by the anti-Semitic rhetoric of black Muslims like Louis Farrakhan?

    A. Farrakhan is one person, one black person. Why is it that no black person seems to be rabid about Meir Kahane? Farrakhan is rejected by a lot of black people who wouldn’t go near that man. It’s not an equal standard — one black person is all black people.

    Q. But sometimes whites feel that all white people are being similarly equated, when in fact attitudes among whites range from the Ku Klux Klan right over to the saints.

    A. Black people have always known that. We’ve had to distinguish among you because our lives depended on it. I’m always annoyed about why black people have to bear the brunt of everybody else’s contempt. If we are not totally understanding and smiling, suddenly we’re demons.

    Well played, Ms. Morrison.

  4. abby jean
    abby jean January 28, 2008 at 2:05 pm |

    I have to say that I was very surprised to hear that the “Bill Clinton was the first black president” meme originated with Morrison, as I always found it kind of a racist statement. So I’ve recently been thinking about whether Morrison was a racist, particularly in regards to that statement. I usually hear it presented as if Bill’s “blackness” came from being so hip, with his boxers and his saxophones and his gettin’ with the ladies. So when I heard it came from Morrison, it seemed as she was equating “blackness” with those characteristics.

    Which is partly what she was saying, in her original piece. She said “After all, Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald’s-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas.”

    But what she actually saw as Clinton’s “blackness”, it seems, is how he was pursued by privileged Republicans, with the message that “”No matter how smart you are, how hard you work, how much coin you earn for us, we will put you in your place or put you out of the place you have somehow, albeit with our permission, achieved. You will be fired from your job, sent away in disgrace, and–who knows?–maybe sentenced and jailed to boot. In short, unless you do as we say (i.e., assimilate at once), your expletives belong to us.” Which is a lot more nuanced than “he’s ‘black’ because he dances and has a fondness for women”.

    All this to say that I guess it takes more than 10 seconds of research and thought to understand what Toni Morrison is talking about and what she means, which is probably what hung up this writer. :)

  5. exholt
    exholt January 28, 2008 at 2:17 pm |

    Sound like another embittered university student who was unhappy at having to take courses outside of his field of interest to fulfill cultural diversity and humanities requirements. Heard similar complaints about having to take humanities, social science, and art courses from classmates, especially those in the science and technology majors who tend to regard them as “fluff” courses.

    To be fair, however, I’ve heard similar complaints from humanities, social science, and art majors in regard to math and science distribution requirements…except the disdain was directed more towards stereotyped science and technology faculty and students as social misfits (Nerd/Geek stereotyping).

    As for fear of arbitrary grade retaliation, that may be a legitimate fear for many college students, but I don’t think it applies in this case. There is a gulf of difference between a student who fails to get an A for shooting off his/her mouth on a subject s(he) cannot be bothered to take seriously and a student whose low grade was due to a Prof’s prejudicial animus.

    He can always take the place of a Mechanical Engineering buddy at an Ivy who had to fight his Calc Prof and the university bureaucracy for two years to get his F changed to an -A because the Prof hated engineering students for some reason. Did I mention that it took this long despite clear-cut evidence of grading bias from prior tests/homeworks and the support of the Engineering and Arts & Science deans working on his behalf?

  6. John
    John January 28, 2008 at 2:17 pm |

    Very insulting post to Tom Clancy. Shame on Feministe.

  7. Emily
    Emily January 28, 2008 at 2:26 pm |

    From the comments:

    It is an absolute fact that broken families in the post-sexual revolution era and the intentional or correlational sidelining of the traditional masculine role have been the most decimating contributors to the breakdown we are experiencing in modern society. It’s a problem that we have not even begun to address, and one that will span multiple generations as new boys grow up without any examples of what it is to be a man. But oh, I forgot…they don’t have those choices because the rich white men took them away.

    An absolute fact, huh? This guy says an awful lot of nothing with his big fancy words.

  8. SarahMC
    SarahMC January 28, 2008 at 2:32 pm |

    What the hell is that website?

    Man did I need a Tom Clancy novel as a palate cleanser after that.

    Got to be kidding.

  9. dd
    dd January 28, 2008 at 2:36 pm |

    What’s funnier about the “palate” thing is that she was correct to begin with, then made herself look ridiculous with the “no” part of her comment.

  10. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe January 28, 2008 at 2:54 pm |

    I bet Toni Morrison wishes she had a dollar for every time she’s been asked, in however roundabout and decorous a way, “Did you win the Nobel because you’re black?”

    (Full disclosure: The only Morrison novel I’ve ever read is “Tar Baby,” which I guess is not one of her highest-profile. I didn’t like it, even though it is very well-written. Actually, I didn’t like it in large part because it was so well-written. Her skills brought out the extreme unpleasantness of her characters, and their situations, in full vividness. I find myself reacting the same way to Tolstoy.)

  11. libdevil
    libdevil January 28, 2008 at 2:54 pm |

    Whatever his literary failings, I suspect Mr. Clancy can spell.

  12. beth
    beth January 28, 2008 at 2:59 pm |

    What’s funnier about the “palate” thing is that she was correct to begin with, then made herself look ridiculous with the “no” part of her comment.

    I believe he corrected it from “pallet” to the correct “palate” in the post AFTER the commenter took him to task. What I love is how another commenter tried to tell him it should be “pallette”.

    But spelling is clearly not his strong suit; that title should read “publicly,” not “publically” — which is what? the adverbial form of “publical”?

    (Although: one can find “publically” as a word in WordNet, the dictionary project that is organized in line with human cognitive priciples, so perhaps its inclusion there reflects a common mental process. But that’s the only place I could find it; “publically” is not found in any traditional dictionary source).

    Why read a Tom Clancy novel when there are so many less taxing cinematic representations,

    Ah, but the third commenter does indeed ask if a Tom Clancy movie will count. Because books are, you know, hard.

  13. Holly
    Holly January 28, 2008 at 3:18 pm |

    Does she actually even say, or imply anywhere, that too many black people are going to school in that interview!? what?

  14. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne January 28, 2008 at 3:39 pm |

    It is an absolute fact that broken families in the post-sexual revolution era and the intentional or correlational sidelining of the traditional masculine role have been the most decimating contributors to the breakdown we are experiencing in modern society.

    I guess somebody got the Word-A-Day calendar for Christmas.

  15. Dianne
    Dianne January 28, 2008 at 4:00 pm |

    The stupid it burns. This guy must be a legacy student.

  16. Josh
    Josh January 28, 2008 at 4:25 pm |

    I know what LMAO stands for, but what is IMAO supposed to mean? “In my Assholish Opinion”?

  17. Cara
    Cara January 28, 2008 at 4:38 pm |

    Does she actually even say, or imply anywhere, that too many black people are going to school in that interview!? what?

    Certainly not that I could fine. She did criticize the current education system, and she did refuse to condemn black teenage mothers on the basis that they would have to drop out of school and never do anything else with their lives, etc. because the fact that this happens to so many black teen mothers is because we MAKE it happen. It doesn’t have to happen that way, and we have the abilityt o change it. I don’t exactly agree with her idea that we shouldn’t be doing anything to discourage teen pregnancy, but I certainly do agree that we should stop blaming teen pregnancy for society’s problems and refusing to help teenage mothers because of some vague principle of “responsibility” that actually amounts to punishment for what can truly be considered doing “wrong”

    So this guy is not only an ass, he’s also an ass who apparently cannot read and doesn’t expect anyone to verify his claims by clicking on the inks that he provides. Also, it’s pretty terrifying that we’re all agreeing with Ann Althouse in calling this guy dumbass.

    And Jill, I have to agree with John: shame on you for making Tom Clancy and his fans feel sad by outrageously suggesting that Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author of the best American novel of the past 25 years Toni Morrison is somehow a superior writer. The nerve.

  18. blondie
    blondie January 28, 2008 at 4:38 pm |

    I believe I am dumber for having clicked over to IMAO’s website and having read his entry and some of the comments.

    The only saving grace is that I then read a Toni Morrison interview I had never before seen.

    Poor Tom Clancy, to be associated with that.

    By the way, the interview’s from 1989. Why the sudden desire to blog about a nearly 19-year-old piece?

  19. viceabbess
    viceabbess January 28, 2008 at 4:52 pm |

    I feel that it is important to state for the record that Harrison Ford was in no way shape or form too old to play Jack Ryan. Harrison Ford is super hot.

  20. Cecily
    Cecily January 28, 2008 at 5:04 pm |

    I haven’t read that many Tom Clancy novels, but they’re not at all trashy. They’re heavily technical and obsessively researched — of course, the ones I read were early ones, so maybe he’s gone downhill, what do I know. I’d just expect that if this guy’s education were all Tom Clancy, he would be smarter.

    Beloved is hard to read. It’s hard to read because it’s raw, disturbing and visceral. Maybe the average college freshman can’t hack it — I seem to recall, reading it as a college freshman myself, having nightmares. I’ve discussed Morrison with a lot of fellow English majors and writers. Different people prefer different books by her, had trouble connecting with this one or that one, but I’ve never heard a single person knowledgeable about literature say Toni Morrison isn’t a talented writer. She shines off the page.

    Of course, here we are dealing with someone whose reading comprehension is such that he thinks saying some teenagers would be better off working than in high school, or that high school can be completed after age 18, is saying “too many blacks are going to school”. So I doubt any of his opinions are very valuable.

  21. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte January 28, 2008 at 5:37 pm |

    I’m sort of confused as to what motivated his incoherent attack on Morrison. Did he stub his toe on “Beloved” this morning or something?

  22. Mr.DNA
    Mr.DNA January 28, 2008 at 5:38 pm |

    If it wasn’t for the fact this idiot appears to be American, I’d be claiming I knew him personally. There’s a guy in my Literature class (I have the privilege of studying Beloved right now) who despises Morrison, for some reason he hasn’t really clarified. He hints it’s related to his “colourblind” view of race, though. In fact, we read this very interview in class and he seemed to have a huge problem with it…

  23. EG
    EG January 28, 2008 at 5:38 pm |

    Beloved is hard to read both because its subject matter is so disturbing and because Morrison is experimenting with style and form in order to convey meaning in unusual ways. This idiot is revealing his racism and sexism in deciding that because he doesn’t understand Morrison’s work, Morrison, rather than he, is to blame. That’s foolish. It’s like saying that because you don’t understand passages of Ulysses or some of the speeches in MacBeth the first time you read them, that Joyce and Shakespeare are lousy writers. They’re not; they’re demanding writers who require intelligent, thoughtful readers, which this guy clearly isn’t.

  24. zuzu
    zuzu January 28, 2008 at 5:56 pm |

    For all those wondering why the sudden vitriol against Morrison — she just endorsed Barack Obama.

  25. pennylane
    pennylane January 28, 2008 at 6:08 pm |

    Zuzu, thanks for the clarification. I was going to suggest that it might be because there has been some discussion of the “Bill Clinton was the first black President” quote. That makes more sense. Well, not a lot of sense but I guess it explains how he plucked Morrison out of the ether to bear the brunt of his idiocy.

  26. Sean
    Sean January 28, 2008 at 7:45 pm |

    Josh,
    In the event you still (or ever did) care, IMAO generally means In My Arrogant Opinion. Here, Asshole works as an acceptable substitute.

  27. Bruce Godfrey
    Bruce Godfrey January 28, 2008 at 8:03 pm |

    When I attended Princeton in the late 1980s, Professor Morrison taught there. I recall many assholes at Princeton but few functional illiterates; most people could write in clear sentences.

    Curiously and by dumb name-dropping coincidence, Tom Clancy went to my high school. Clancy is indeed an asshole and treated his alma mater shabbily on one alumni day, though in fairness Clancy is not a functional illiterate.

    The solution: We ship Clancy and “Mr. Pallet/ate” off the planet, the latter to take remedial English composition from the former.

  28. Pandagon :: Wingnuttery distilled in a single anti-Toni Morrison rant :: January :: 2008

    [...] So Jill links this bizarro rant at iMAO about one of the official demons of the right wing mythology, Toni Morrison. (There’s an official-sounding story for why all this rampant opposition to Morrison isn’t racist and sexist, but Michael Bérubé lays waste to it here.) We were all wondering in comments what provoked an attack on Morrison today—I suggested that Frank J. stubbed his toe on a copy of Beloved—but zuzu alerted us in comments to the fact that Morrison endorsed Obama today. Nifty. [...]

  29. bellatrys
    bellatrys January 28, 2008 at 9:20 pm |

    “Hunt for Red October” was a solid technothriller, speaking as someone who likes a lot of Tolstoy *and* Alistair MacLean both; Clancy’s work gets increasingly flabby with subsequent books, due to a combination of factors – his stardom helped create what has come to be known as “Anne Rice Syndrome” where a sufficiently popular author doesn’t get edited much (or at all) because the publishers don’t want to tick off their best cash cows and have them go elsewhere; and, at the same time, a trend in the publishing industry to create, rather than discourage, “doorstops” for economic reasons – they had to raise the base price of books to stay afloat, but readers felt shortchanged, however if the book were big enough, people were willing to pay the price.

    This led in the industry to lots of “padding,” some of it obvious in the college student tradition of wide margins, big fonts, extra line space – and also thicker paper, not an option available to most students padding term papers! – and also lots of padding created by an absence of editing: where in the past authors had been encouraged to strip down their books (due to practical and economic limitations on binding size) now they were positively encouraged to stretch, add, and fill out.

    Where an author is good, letting them go on and on can be a very good thing; qv. “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell”, or, indeed, “War & Peace”…

    The problem is, Clancy isn’t good at characterization and dialogue. And encouraging him to pad means lots and lots and LOTS of clunky dialogue and characters revealed in all their flimsy 2-D-ness, where this was in Red October, camoflaged by the continual racheting up of the tension and the way that the techno part of the technothriller was woven into the plot, instead of just infodumped in blocks between wodges of wooden character interaction. Where your patience for this ends will very – I think the last one I read was “Sum of All Fears,” but I can’t remember a single thing about it (was that the one where they nuke the Superbowl?)

    Nowadays I don’t think he even writes most of his books himself – they’re farmed out and just have “Tom Clancy, ™” on the masthead.

  30. bellatrys
    bellatrys January 28, 2008 at 9:24 pm |

    Morrison btw has always been the Effigy to be burnt by the Conservative Intellectual Establishment as representative of the Decline of the West, by the sorts of people who think that Tom Wolfe is the height of brilliance and cultural commentary – and are old enough to know what all his ObRefs mean. Why? I’m fairly certain they only picked her to pick on because she made it big in the mainstream; I mean, they never went after Octavia Butler, and afaik there’s no “Nalo Hopkinson, Destroyer of Western Civ” meme even among the reactionary fen at NRO.

    I also suspect, however, that it’s at least partly because she’s *she* – that is, her uppityness was compounded and made her the irresistable target for the Old Guard and their neophyte sycophants by her femaleness.

  31. evil fizz
    evil fizz January 28, 2008 at 9:37 pm |

    It’s like saying that because you don’t understand passages of Ulysses or some of the speeches in MacBeth the first time you read them, that Joyce and Shakespeare are lousy writers.

    I maintain that Finnegan’s Wake really is a dreadful piece of writing, but I will leave Sir Will alone. =)

  32. Rebecca
    Rebecca January 28, 2008 at 9:48 pm |

    On a purely personal level, I can’t stand Toni Morrison or her books. Purely personal, mind, I don’t try to dress that up with lit-babble or reasons. I feel the same way about bratwurst, bubble gum pop and dental work. They make my nerves twinge and I have dark fantasies about maiming and torture until my morale improves. :)

    Just thought I would toss that in. :)

  33. Mold
    Mold January 28, 2008 at 10:14 pm |

    Clancy novels are “researched” with the same skill and thought that teen boys put into their worship of the Mil. As a former expendable, I found his books to be light/lite and worthy only for passing time. This stems from my first-hand experience with much of what Clancy only found in old Jane’s.

    The movies are better because they suspend reality (see Juno and Grambo). Affleck actually captures the essential whiteness and Ivy persona of the Clancy golden boy.

  34. EG
    EG January 28, 2008 at 10:16 pm |

    I maintain that Finnegan’s Wake really is a dreadful piece of writing, but I will leave Sir Will alone. =)

    Hey, I’m with you on FW. I’m convinced that Joyce wrote it as a hoax!

  35. exholt
    exholt January 28, 2008 at 10:29 pm |

    Speaking of how different types of literature is perceived, I find it interesting how the comments about Tom Clancy’s works being easy and not as “serious” mirrored the perceptions of vernacular Chinese literature such as “/The Dream of the Red Chamber/The Story of The Stone” by Cao Xueqing among the educated elite in Qing-era China.

    Ironically, this work is now considered a classic worthy of being studied by literary and other scholars dealing with Late Imperial Chinese literature in universities all over the world. Who knows….maybe in a few more centuries….Tom Clancy may be viewed in a similar light by literary future scholars. ;)

  36. Dianne
    Dianne January 28, 2008 at 11:00 pm |

    [No what you can do? You can shut up. It’s not the most common word. -Ed.]

    In general, I don’t consider poor spelling to be an automatic indicator of being stupid or ignorant. English is tricky, being a bizarre mixture of Germanic and Romantic origins with related spelling oddities. But that response to a correction is indicative of ignorance (sorry, but palate is a pretty common word, as is pallet), stupidity, and lack of common decency. If someone corrects your spelling thank them and, if you must, make a joke out of it. Getting all defensive just makes you look (even) dumber.

  37. Avery
    Avery January 28, 2008 at 11:20 pm |

    Anyone who links to a site that sells this t-shirt just entered the realm of instafail, no assembly required.

  38. evil fizz
    evil fizz January 29, 2008 at 12:32 am |

    Uh, is that what they mean when they talk about the media lynchmob?

    Sweet Jesus, that’s fucked.

  39. Tony
    Tony January 29, 2008 at 3:10 am |

    Hunt for Red October was a bad ass book (and movie).

  40. odanu
    odanu January 29, 2008 at 2:01 pm |

    I own Beloved, and I have read several of Toni Morrison’s novels, but they are very hard for me to read precisely because (as someone pointed out above) her brilliant writing makes it impossible to hide from the negative personalities and situations in her books. People that can’t distinguish between their own discomfort with book subject matter and poor writing worry me. IMAO definitely worries me.

  41. MarkWayne
    MarkWayne January 29, 2008 at 3:34 pm |

    Does she actually even say, or imply anywhere, that too many black people are going to school in that interview!? what?

    Certainly not that I could fine.

    I couldn’t find any reference to this either. But I’ve picked up some small skill in the what-the-hell-is-this-conservative-freak-trying-to-say department. My wife is a high school English teacher here in southeastern Virginia, domain of the Old Dominion: schizophrenic scripture quotation and profligate provincialism personified. And we have occasion aplenty to laugh through our tears at some of these wretched souls’ um writings. (A couple of quick ones for you: “And it all started in a manger.” Prompt: who is a hero of yours? Out of 30 students, 20 answer: “Jesus.” And not religiously oriented but: “living in term oil” and “fusse terated”.)

    In any event, I think what IMAO* picked up on the Morrison interview was this:

    There is nothing of any consequence in education, in the economy, in city planning, in social policy that does not concern black people. That’s where the problem is. Are you going to build a city to accommodate more black people? Why? They don’t pay taxes. Are you going to build a school system to accommodate the children of poor black people? Why? They’ll want your job. They don’t pay taxes.

    And takes it literally, of course, rather than as argumentative.

    It has helped me, reading the words of people who’ve either convinced themselves that they are “conservative” or been convinced, to communicate with them. Generally progressives know, I think, that though the ideas of conservatives might differ they are still people. I mean, what are we going to do, belittle them into submission?

    I’ll go ahead and sound like an After School special (I guess I’ve just dated myself) but we have to learn to communicate with people espousing conservative viewpoints and persuade them that our perspective is better.

    Because it is.

    *”In My Arrogant Opinion”

  42. Joe
    Joe January 29, 2008 at 8:28 pm |

    Isn’t IMAO a ‘sort of’ humor site? Like SadlyNo! Only with fewer readers? Or the onion with a partisan bent? Doesn’t exactly seem like he’s trying to write seriously.

  43. the fshk blog » in which lots of people talk out of their asses

    [...] a pretty eloquent one). And the right wing, predictably, flips right out. Amanda explicates. So does Jill. I don’t have a whole lot to add, beyond that this particular anti-Morrison rant is about the [...]

  44. mythago
    mythago January 31, 2008 at 5:22 pm |

    Joe, ‘humor’ in the sense of kidding on the square. How can you mean, stuffy liberals call me on my troglodytery? I was just a-funnin’! Srsly!

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