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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Some Thoughts on Bill Cosby

Melissa Harris-Perry was subbing for Rachel Maddow last night-come back Rachel! Ok, Harris-Perry is never my favorite host in light of her attitude towards Hillary. Just because she’s white doesn’t mean she hasn’t struggled as a woman, Ms. Harris-Perry!

And she wasn’t born privileged in the sense that Jeb Bush and the other Bushes were born privileged. If you want to call the Clinton’s a ‘dynasty’ I’d argue its a meritocratic middle class dynasty.

Ok, I digress. Harris-Perry has done a pretty decent job covering for Rachel. Last night of course H-P discussed Bill Cosby. She said it’s always tough to see a black man in America doing a perp walk.

She then compared it to the white officer in Cleveland who shot Tamir Rice who was let off. Ok, but not everything is apples to apples. You can argue that the reason the Cleveland cop is off and Cosby was taken is was race. But then you have the fact that in the Freddie Gray death, the first cop charged in Baltimore just walked and he was black.

What we have seen in the these tragic incidents with the police is that it’s very tough to get a cop convicted regardless of race. Besides, if Bill Cosby is going to be found guilty now-we don’t know that yet-it’ was hardly easy.

Indeed, if Cosby is guilty then you have to say it’s amazing how long he was able to avoid justice. He has 50 different accusers, some black, some white, some rich, some poor, from all different walks of life and for the longest time he seemed totally beyond reach. So he wasn’t treated poorly because he was black.

What his case actually might show-again, presuming he’s guilty-is that despite the belief of someone like H-P who presumes that race privilege always trumps gender privilege, in the case of Cosby, clearly gender privilege was stronger as many of his victims were white women of at least decent means, in pretty prominent places in society. Yet what mattered in their case was not that Cosby was black and they white but that they were female and he was male.

Again, this is all presuming that he is guilty which I do strongly suspect though he will get his day in court.

Then again, what’s interesting, is that while M-P may decry a black man taking a perp walk, it seems to me that a large reason why this happened was that a big slice of the black community had turned on him. His ‘black credit card’ had maxed. you could argue.

Why was this? H-P also touched on this-Cosby was decried for playing ‘respectability politics.’ It was felt that he lectured black folks, told them to tuck in their shirts and that they shouldn’t be shocked if a cop shoots them when they steal a poundcake, etc.

Cosby was preaching the politics of individual responsibility and a large part of the black community has decided this is a reactionary and even offensive message. That was that Hannibal Buress was aiming at that fateful night he told the joke about Cosby being a rapist. It was meant to shut up Cosby’s lectures.

But when Buress did this, it was like hitting a switch. Because Buress was a black comedian is why. If a white comedian had done this it would not have had this effect. But after Buress did this, it gave everyone permission to go after Cosby, America’s favorite black father.

So you can argue that what happened yesterday is largely about the black community turning on Cosby and even feeling he’s getting his just deserts here.

Now H-P argued that it was a tough day for black America but I think there is also a good bit of schadenfreude for some.

I would say that Cosby falling is tough on all of America-white folks too. Because he was such a cultural icon. I never liked the Cosby Show but even I now feel sort of bad in a way. Seeing a cultural icon fall is almost like a death in the family or a close friend.

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