Saturday, June 6, 2009

What Was The National Review Thinking?!

There is so much "no" in this one cover, it's kind of hard to even begin to formulate a coherent thought. Let's start with this one: The National Review, though  a beacon for actual, intellectual conservative thought for much of its tenure, has in recent years given itself seemingly entirely to a branch of Republicanism and conservative thought not worth the paper on which it is printed. This cover is an example of that particular trend, and it is a shortcut example of why the Republican Party and conservatism in general is becoming more and more the party of white, southern men and not all that appealing to almost anyone else. After all, this image conflates one distinct minority group with another distinct minority group. Talk about a "all you people look the same" racist moment in action.

The very use of Buddhism as the natural implementation of wisdom is also highly problematic, for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it propagates the notion of Asians as inherently wise, as inherently spiritual, as inherently Buddhist. It makes wisdom for minorities dependent on an external function, whereas if it were a white man in the picture, the link to spirituality would not be necessary to highlight his wisdom; and if his wisdom was linked to a religion, it would most likely be his own instead of the religion we stereotype as exemplifying wisdom.

Buddhism used in relation to Sotomayor's wisdom is yet another clusterfuck of racism. The 'wise [Catholic] Latina' can't be represented as wise through an image that relates to any aspect of her person or heritage; no, it can only be understood by appropriating the popular image of Buddhism, and by extension Asians. Buddhists can be seen as wise, Asians can be seen as wise, but Latinas on their own cannot be automatically seen as wise. And in making Sotomayor in the image of a South Asian Buddhist monk in a decidedly un Puerto Rican or Bronx-like environment, the cover erases Sotomayor's own life, the life that led to the "wise Latina" remark in the first place.

2 comments:

mikhailbakunin said...

I know this isn't quite the same, but lots of legitimate newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post publish editorial cartoons from Ted Rall cartoons, who routinely posts comics like this on his website and in left-wing magazines.

I think the "Wise Latina" cover was a stupid move on the part of TNR, but it seems like more than a few liberal bloggers have expressed outrage over this, while ignoring the often overtly racist or otherwise offensive editorial cartoons published on left-wing blogs or in left-leaning magazines.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Also, Buckley was a diehard Catholic, and tended to hire other Catholics. Sometimes this backfired (i.e. Joan Didion and Garry Wills became liberals and were persona non grata), but usually, he could count on ideological conformity.

As I said at Feministe though, Buckley only wanted words on the cover and is now spinning in his grave over the "Mad magazine" cover--he NEVER wanted pictures on the cover but always wanted it to look like Commentary, a serious political journal.

Now that dad is gone, Christopher Buckley only owned 1/7 of NR but resigned during the election after endorsing Obama. I was so proud of him! But I don't think he would have done it while dad was alive.

Here is my obit of Buckley, whom as I said, I was obsessed with for awhile.