Posted by: Doug Henwood | July 12, 2013

Tim Wise’s game

by John Halle

As the mask comes off, revealing the Obama administration’s reactionary face, the spin deployed by its much vaunted media team is beginning to lose its power to confuse and misdirect.  And with this, those whose business model involves selling Obama as a species of “pragmatic liberal” are gradually finding themselves parading their factual bankruptcy and rhetorical dishonesty for all to see.

A recent piece  by Bruce Dixon excellently takes down two of the worst of this variety: MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid and Melissa Harris Perry. But it is important to recognize that they are not the only ones who have made careers for themselves in the marketing, sales and distribution of the Obama brand. One of the most successful, and arguably a more effective marketer than the MSNBC cheerleading squad is the self described anti-racist Tim Wise.

Wise would, of course, vehemently object to being characterized as an Obama apologist, though, as we shall see, the ultimate effect of most of his work is to promote a multicultural form of neoliberalism fully consonant with the administration’s views and which thereby strongly serves its political interests.  His real beat is as an “anti-racist educator” with several books to his credit, a full schedule of speaking appearances at university campuses, public high schools and police departments leading racial sensitivity workshops as well as increasingly high profile media appearances including on mainstream national cable outlets.

Being attuned to racial sensitivity is a job Wise takes seriously, as can be seen in Wise’s blog entries and numerous tweets.  A large fraction of these involve policing the left for any claim, phrase, indeed, any word which could be construed as insufficiently informed by the historical injustices and atrocities visited on POCs (to use Wise’s preferred acronym).    Wise does not merely make note of these. Acting as judge and jury, Wise reaches a verdict, imposes a sentence on those he has found guilty, and the sentence is often death.

This is, unfortunately, not an exaggeration.  When those who raised concerns-soon borne out-of the potential of objectively reactionary governance from the Obama administration enabled and aggravated by its deadening effect on mass movements, they were described by Wise as having “become such an encumbrance as to render (them) all but useless to the liberation movement” prospective recipients of “a burning they will richly deserve.”

The hanging judge

This is not the only death threat to be found in Wise’s oeuvre.  Another was addressed to those who “insist they aren’t racist because they have black friends.  I am going to shoot them,” Wise declared. While these were among the more unvarnished instances of eliminationist rhetoric, the violent tone of his discourse suggests that Wise fantasizes his targets being subjected to lynching, or at least necklacing, as poetic justice for what he takes as their complicity in crimes against peoples of color.

That Wise grants himself the authority to judge other’s motives and actions naturally raises the question of what his qualifications are to do so. These are often virtually non-existent with Wise simply inventing facts which are subsequently used to attack, denigrate or belittle.

A recent example found Wise charging Glenn Greenwald with “never hav[ing] sa[id] shit about racial profiling, or surveillance of POC/Muslims.” In reality, Greenwald has a long history of speaking out on this issue-easily obtained by a simple google search, as Greenwald noted in a 100 character rejoinder. This interaction subsequently revealed a third salient feature of Wise: neither a retraction or apology from Wise was extended.  Having mounted his high horse, Wise not only exempts himself from the requirements of factual accuracy but from basic decency.

Wise’s tone and sloppiness might be rationalized as understandable overreactions to right wing provocations until one recognizes that these attacks are not directed towards the right, actual racists or those who promote objectively racist policies.  Rather Wise reserves much of his ire for those whom Obama’s former Press Secretary famously referred to as the “professional left”.  Included among these are left critics of Obama such as Greenwald, Paul Street, and other “barbituate leftists” who “preen as moral superiors because (they’ve) read Bakunin, and Zerzan, and Chomsky, or because (they) once called a cop a pig to his face in Seattle or some such thing.”

The purity of Wise’s animus towards the left was impressively displayed in a recent series of tweets provoked by the NSA disclosures and the Obama administrations efforts to retaliate.  Rather than welcome the revelations, Wise was quick to minimize their importance, basing his dismissal on a transparently absurd claim by Wise that “NO people of color (are) shocked by Snowden’s revelations. None. POC assume this shit. #whiteprivilege lets u ignore till now.” When those who objected to this gross distortion responded, they were red baited as “white Marxists” who fail to appreciate that “white supremacy is the glue that holds the U.S. class system together, and if you don’t KNOW that, yr an idiot.”

These same “white leftists” according to Wise should congratulate themselves “on their irrelevance & wonder why most POC apparently think they r full of crap…” According to Wise, “I’d be effing amazed if any white leftists enamored of Snowden actually new shit about movement building and how its done.” And “Let’s b [sic] clear: Glenn Greenwald was a moderately decent college debater who thinks this is his moment. It isn’t. You nor Snowden r heroes.”

Smearing Snowden & Occupy

This final tweet removed the veil from the game being played by Wise.

As those who have followed the matter are aware, the  “no heroes” designation of Snowden and Greenwald has been a staple of Obama’s apologists, Reid, Harris-Perry, and others, almost certainly circulating a focus group tested talking point devised by White House media specialists.  By blandly parrotting this well worn establishment smear, Wise revealed his membership within this cohort, with the only difference between Wise and the others inhering in Wise’s primary demographic being not the liberal MSNBC left but the radical left associated with Zmag, Democracy Now and the Nation.  For this constituency, full throated defenses of Obama’s policies have long since failed to pass the laugh test.  And so Wise is always careful to note his disagreement with Obama’s policies, his service to the administration deriving from his reliable attacks on the “white privilege” of left critics providing an easy rationalization for complacency and inaction.

Wise’s political services were provided not only in the wake of the Snowden disclosures but, more predictably, in response to the Occupy movement about which Wise has had very little to say.  Wise’s silence was predictable given that OWS seeks to reconstruct a unified movement directed against the plutocratic 1%, unifying rather than dividing, as Wise would, the 99%.   Rather than participate in OWS, Wise contributed to a collection of essays entitled Occupying Privilege in which “readers will learn about white supremacy, media’s spin control, (mis)education, the criminal IN-justice system, cultural appropriation, and racism’s continued impact on people of color and white people.” No mention of Wall Street banks, housing foreclosures overwhelmingly impacting POCs, trillion dollar bailouts,  as this would distract from the question of  “So, um, what the hell is white privilege anyway, and do I have it?” According to Wise, “The short answer is if you’re white, yeah, you do.”  By helping circulate the OWS/white privilege meme, Wise helped develop a much brandished rhetorical bludgeon for the defenders of plutocracy against what was the most successful attack on its foundations in many years.

Not just a potato chip

The above is somewhat misleading in that it suggests that Wise’s central priority is the promotion of the Obama brand.  Rather it should be understood that the main product Wise is selling is himself, specifically his “racial sensitivity” franchise which he has indeed successfully marketed and profited from handsomely, as noted above. There is a connection between these two objectives: in order to be regarded as legitimate by mainstream institutions from which his bread and butter income derives, Wise’s criticisms need to remain within legitimate boundaries, which in practice means narrowly directed towards race.  Attacks against white privilege are, for reasons mentioned above, welcomed by the establishment. In contrast, those directed against the real power in the hands of what is now an increasingly multicultural elite are out of bounds. Wise understands these rules of the game very well, and he plays it expertly.

That said, it should be noted that Wise’s rise to a position of public prominence was crucially aided by the alternative media, especially at the initial stages, most notably by Zmag where Wise first established a media perch some two decades ago.   This brings up the issue of why was a figure who has so consistently expressed his contempt, or at best, a distinct lack of enthusiasm for leftists and core aspects of the left agenda continues to be welcomed by it with open arms.

I won’t attempt to address this here, as the subject is perhaps best left alone, though with the understanding that a similar trajectory was followed by Melissa Harris Perry who began her rise accessing authentic left outlets such as Democracy Now!, Laura Flanders’s GritTV, and The Nation. By this point, neither Wise nor Harris Perry has any need of the ladder which was provided for them, and so both are free to consolidate their positions by joining in establishment attacks on the left agenda.

While it is probably by now too late to matter in their cases, it is encouraging that a first flicker of recognition of the reactionary character of the Wise/Harris Perry brand of multicultural neoliberalism is beginning to be visible.  As it has in many other quarters, the disclosures of Greenwald and Snowden provided the impetus for a broader examination of which side Wise is on.   A good indication unearthed by Doug Henwood was Wise’s having been engaged by Teach for America a group which, as anyone with a minimal political awareness understands, is devoted to the undermining of inner city education and the whole sale layoffs of African American teachers to be replaced by TFA’s overwhelmingly white, underqualified, non-union recruits.

Wise’s having “Stamp(ed) TFA’s Anti-Racist Ghetto Pass” provoked a sharp response from Bruce Dixon at Black Agenda Report who circulated a petition calling for Wise to cancel his scheduled engagement with TFA. Unsurprisingly, Wise has rejected Dixon’s request. More significantly, Dixon went further, raising doubts about Wise’s competence, awareness and, ultimately, underlying agenda: “If this is how ‘anti-racism education’ works—giving cover to organizations and policies that hurt people of color more than anybody else—it might be time to re-think that whole contraption as well.”

From Bruce Dixon’s lips to all of our ears.  It is indeed time to consider what use is served by the “anti-racist education” industry and for one of its main operators, Tim Wise, to find a new, preferably honest, and less destructive line of work.

John Halle is a professor of music at Bard as well as a political writer and activist. 

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Responses

  1. Reblogged this on Punkonomics and commented:
    make sure you also read Bruce Dixon’s piece (linked in post also: http://blackagendareport.com/content/joy-ann-reid-melissa-harris-perry-prosecutor-cop-go-after-snowden-wikileaks-second-amendment)

  2. Thank you for this article. Wise’s refusal to hold himself to the brutal standards he sets for individual liberals and leftists while excusing his corporate benefactors is grating. I would add that Wise’s mask often slips in the rare instances he engages people of color who criticize him. See his recent Twitter exchange with Yasmin Nair:

    https://twitter.com/search?q=%22timjacobwise%22%20%22nairyasmin%22&src=typd

    Nair calls Wise to task for speaking for POC. Rather than respond directly to a complaint many have registered against him, Wise keeps repeating a straw man: “Are you really shocked at the NSA revelations?” Wise knows damn well what Nair is alleging but insults her by ignoring it. While Wise openly insults whites who criticize him from the left, he attempts to dodge and deflect the criticism of POC. If that fails, he will insult them too, scolding them for their lack of appreciation of his work. His shocking condescension belies his claims to be an ally.

    My take is that he’s a stone cold hustler attempting to hold off justified POC criticism and ride the corporate-friendly diversity training gravy train for as long as he can.

  3. I find Halle’s argument suspect. Until Halle decided to get involved, Bruce Dixon and Tim Wise were having an interesting exchange about the merits of working from the inside vs. boycotting the system.

    When Halle decides to jump on the bandwagon, s/he seems more interested in twisting trivial nonsense into making Wise appear as if he is part of the Obama establishment.

    Halle uses Wise’s lack of support for OWS in favor of Occupying Privilege, and Wise’s lackluster reaction to the Snowden Leaks on Twitter as evidence that Wise is working for the neo-liberal multiculturalist Obama establishment.
    These are asinine examples because when Wise tweets: “NO people of color (are) shocked by Snowden’s revelations. None. POC assume this shit. #whiteprivilege lets u ignore till now” …Wise is absolutely right!
    We’re not surprised, and Snowden isn’t the going to be revered as some martyr when he’s is telling us shit we already know! Who killed MLK!? You think we don’t know? We don’t need Snowden (Greg Greenwald, Amy Goodman etc.) or any talking head on TV to tell us we’re living in a police /surveillance state. It’s people with #whiteprivilege who need to make that realization.

    And Halle complaining about Wise not supporting OWS is ridiculous. Lots of POC boycotted OWS. It was a sham which failed to gain traction among the stakeholders who’d have the most to gain from revolution. OWS ignored the major tools of oppression which created the capitalist financial system: imperialism, patriarchy and white supremacy. Occupying Privilege and DeColonize Wall St. makes more sense than OWS ever will. OWS supporters can suck it.

    Halle sounds like a white Marxist who doesn’t understand the connection between empire and white supremacy. To say Wise espouses a “neo-liberal multiculturalist” view point is ridiculous. Just the opposite, Wise addresses the historical roots of and white privilege and explains how racism, both interpersonal and institutional, has led to the disenfranchisement of the working-class. He is not “sensitive” or apologetic about it which is why people want him to talk to their staff and students.

    Wise is right to call out you “white Marxists” who fail to appreciate that “white supremacy is the glue that holds the U.S. class system together, and if you don’t KNOW that, yr an idiot.”

    Does the above statement sound like “racial sensitivity” talk to you?
    Does… “those who “insist they aren’t racist because they have black friends. I am going to shoot them”…sound like “racial sensitivity” talk to you?
    Is this really what a “neo-liberal multiculturalist” Obama establishment puppet sounds like?

    When did being radically opposed to racism make you part of the post-racial, I don’t see race, I’m colorblind , racial sensitivity establishment?

    this article is garbage. Tim’s response to Bruce Dixon speaks for itself: http://www.timwise.org/2013/07/assuming-that-facts-or-logic-matter-on-the-bar-petition-against-my-speaking-to-teach-for-america/#more-3099

  4. […] via Facebook https://lbo-news.com/2013/07/12/1938/ […]

  5. This article is extremely hyperbolic. In the quotes of Wise used to validate the charge that Wise is a “hanging judge” who “imposes a sentence on those he has found guilty, and the sentence is often death.” a charge immediately followed by “This is, unfortunately, not an exaggeration.” (just in case we thought that perhaps John Halle was merely employing a rhetorical device) what is conspicuously omitted is at least as interesting – and relevant to the true meaning of the phrases in quotes – as that which is preserved.

    I couldn’t help but google search the bit about Wise supposedly advocating that left critics of Obama be the “prospective recipients of ‘a burning they will richly deserve.'” I mean it seemed unlikely that Wise really meant to say that see he would like to see such persons burned in a fire.

    The article that quote was taken from was one written almost 5 years ago on the eve of Obama’s 2008 nomination (linked below). Here is the entire paragraph:

    “Those who say this election means nothing, who insist that Obama, because he cozied up to Wall Street, or big business, is just another kind of evil no different than any other, are in serious risk of political self-immolation, and it is a burning they will richly deserve. That the victorious presidential candidate is actually a capitalist (contrary to the fevered imaginations of the right) is no more newsworthy than the fact that rain falls down and grass grows skyward. It is to be properly placed in the ‘no shit Sherlock,’ file. That anyone would think it possible for someone who didn’t raise hundreds of millions of dollars to win–at this time in our history at least–only suggests that some on the left would prefer to engage politics from a place of aspirational innocence, rather than in the real world, where battles are won or lost.”

    The phrase “political self-immolation” might justify Halle’s charge of “violent rhetoric” but it hardly qualifies as the “death threat” Halle pretends it was meant to be and I can’t help but question Halle’s qualifications to determine the inner workings of Wise’s mind (“the violent tone of his discourse suggests that Wise fantasizes his targets being subjected to lynching, or at least necklacing…”) and find the assertion that he is able to do so somewhat ironic in an article where he questions Wise qualifications as an anti-racist activist (ie: Wise seems more qualified).

    The other “death threat to be found in Wise’s oeuvre.” doesn’t sound too scary when read in context either. Here’s how it appears in Halle’s article:

    “Another [death threat] was addressed to those who ‘insist they aren’t racist because they have black friends. I am going to shoot them,’ Wise declared.”

    Let’s see what happens when we replace “Wise declared” with the words from Wise which immediately followed the quoted text:

    “if I hear one more transparently racist person insist they aren’t racist because they have black friends, I am going to shoot them. But not because I’m violent. I’m not violent. And this I know because I have friends who are pacifists.”

    Gee I’ll bet anyone who ever said that to Wise is going to be suffering through many a sleepless night in their beds, visions of Wise running up their lawn with a loaded 12-gauge shotgun dancing in their heads.

    I’m sorry but this article was hyperbolic, intellectually dishonest and just plain bad.

    http://www.racialicious.com/2008/11/05/good-and-now-back-to-work-avoiding-both-cynicism-and-overconfidence-in-the-age-of-obama/

  6. While there are some good points here (namely Wise’s attacks on Greenwald/Snowden), the piece is so confused and filled with innuendo and outright falsifications that it is hard to take it seriously. If the article dropped all the lies and dropped the personal insults it would be much more powerful. Of course then it would be different article.

    Bruce Dixon’s article on Wise and Teach for America is much more nuanced and honest than this piece. I will just deal with one point here, the “eliminationist rhetoric” and Wise’s passing of “the sentence is often death”, which “is not exaggeration”. What are the examples given?

    a) “a burning they will richly deserve”, the phrase, just before the quoted phrase is: “…are in serious risk of political self-immolation, and it is a burning they will richly deserve.”

    b) “insist they aren’t racist because they have black friends. I am going to shoot them”. One only needs to read the next line: “Yes, this is a joke…”, in the context of the shooting of Trayon Martin.

    I leave it to people to decide whether these are examples of “eliminationist rhetoric”. What is worse is that the piece is “front-loaded” with these baseless accusations which renders it deeply flawed.

  7. Generally, when one levels accuses others of “lies”, “outright falsifications” and “baseless accusations” there is the expectation that some minimal amount of evidence is provided. But as noted in the pieces, Wise, and evidently Wise’s supporters exempt themselves from such requirements.

    I’m quite happy to leave it to others to decide, after perusing Wise’s writings, whether Wise’s rhetoric does not ofter border on “eliminationist”. The piece cites two of many examples. Here’s another:

    “For all y’all rich folks, enjoy that champagne, or whatever fancy ass Scotch you drink.
    And for y’all a bit lower on the economic scale, enjoy your Pabst Blue Ribbon, or whatever shitty ass beer you favor.
    Whatever the case, and whatever your economic station, know this…
    You need to drink up.
    And quickly.
    And heavily.
    Because your time is limited.
    Real damned limited.
    So party while you can, but mind the increasingly loud clock ticking away in the corners of your consciousness.
    The clock that reminds you how little time you and yours have left.
    Not much more now. etc.”

    Nice, huh.

    As for being “confused”, not surprised that that those who have not given much thought to the connection between multiculturalist/”anti-racist” orthodoxy of the sort promoted by Wise and defended by many on the left and the neoliberal onslaught had some trouble working through some of the arguments in the piece. I’d recommend the works of Adolph Reed and Walter Benn Michaels as a good place to start acquainting oneself with some of these.

  8. john has not a deal with the rhetoric from Tim , and the point is hard seen that ocassion of the divided 90 percent . Any way the frame by tim according to john , that the system base be race , does not belong to tim …. strictly speaking but to the most radical black movement , what by a white superintelectual needs to be repulsive extremuous , though he as such should revisit and let it be sparing the referendum about tim own separatism ,he does not like it the way , it is ! . And maybe he should bring in account how should get i together his own position whatever they are , with the new elite he indulges to us ….. and the most how does he wage to separate the cia`s colateral from that selected group ….. applying the method reading on my own and then veredicting to kill the phantom of the targeted !

  9. This is disappointing journalism, Doug. Would you please step in and explain why you saw fit to include this piece in your blog? I read this piece twice, and followed many of the links. I can scarcely piece together a coherent political point, apart from Hale doesn’t like Wise’ tone or the fact that he’s paid to write books or speak.

    But, “…the ultimate effect of most of [Tim Wise’s] work is to promote a multicultural form of neoliberalism fully consonant with the administration’s views and which thereby strongly serves its political interests.” Really?! Are you kidding me?

    I have been following your work for years, regularly tune into the show. I am not familiar with John Hale’s other work, but I found this post weak and hand-wavy at best, mostly inflammatory invective with no useful political call to action. I am not sure what purpose it serves to attack someone like Tim Wise for making a successful career doing anti-racist work that is desperately needed, but it certainly doesn’t help build a strong Left to engage in this kind of mud-slinging.

    I am not an expert on Tim Wise or his work, but I have been impressed with what I have seen. I saw him speak at USF last year, and have since followed his articles and a few other videos he’s posted. I have a thorough understanding of both racial privilege and class struggle (not a professional academic one, but a lifetime of reading and activism), and I am not easily duped by establishment stooges. In sharp contrast to the claims Hale makes above, Wise very deftly connected issues of race and class and was a extremely critical of the neoliberal agenda of the Obama administration.

    I found his approach to be far more nuanced than simply behaving as judge, jury and executioner. Being a public speaker and being successful at marketing yourself as such should not be attacked by the Left, particularly by others who also make it their careers to be engaged in radical intellectual work. So he’s been successful? Good for him! There is no substantive reason why that should be a component in a critique of his work. And I take issue with the notion that Wise’s work somehow provides cover for Neoliberalism or the Obama administration. I can’t find any basis for how that works. Someone needs to step up and provide a more refined critique, Doug or John Hale.

    There is a place for Tim Wise’s contribution in the conversation on race and class in the US, and this kind of attack only him serves to further divide and fracture an already weak Left that can barely get it together as it is. Maintaining a focus on white privilege is hardly a weakness in his political analysis. To the contrary, I’ve always found that whites on the Left gain enormously from having their own (mine included) privilege kept in check from time to time, and calling out other Leftists on racism hardly makes one a stooge for Obama.

  10. I am not “Wise’s supporter” (whatever that means). In fact, my thoughts are closer to yours, or Adolph Reed, or Walter Benn Michael (both of whom I have read and listened to on Doug Henwood’s excellent show) than Wise’s. I explicitly noted that there were good points in the article e.g. about the Greenwald/Snowden issue on which I think Wise is dead wrong.

    My only beef is with the extremely misleading characterization of Wise and I gave evidence that the “eliminationist rhetoric” quoted in the article was nothing of the kind. The first one referred explicitly to “political self-immolation” while the second one was explicitly a self-described “stupid joke”.

    The new passage which you quoted also supports nothing like an “eliminationist rhetoric” charge. He is talking explicitly (in the headline even) about the “white right” as a political movement and saying “your time is up”.

    As I said earlier, if these totally dubious assertions were removed, the article would be much more powerful, and I thought the Bruce Dixon article (which you linked as well) was much better for this reason.

  11. There’s lots I could say in reply here, and of course I did reply to Bruce Dixon, not that you all would think to link to the reply of course. But all one need know is how dishonest the claims of my calls for violence are. They indict the intellectual integrity of both John and Doug. Here is the proof:

    Take the first claim, that I gleefully noted something about “burning” people and how they will richly deserve it. The actual paragraph is this — clearly talking about political “self-immolation,” not literal burning:

    “Those who say this election means nothing, who insist that Obama, because he cozied up to Wall Street, or big business, is just another kind of evil no different than any other, are in serious risk of political self-immolation, and it is a burning they will richly deserve.”

    John is a liar and he knows it.

    Then the claim that I seriously advocate shooting people in the face if they say they aren’t racist because they have black friends? Really? No of course not. Here are two graphs pertinent to the charge:

    “I swear, if I hear one more transparently racist person insist they aren’t racist because they have black friends, I am going to shoot them. But not because I’m violent. I’m not violent. And this I know because I have friends who are pacifists.’

    ‘Yes, this is a joke, but seriously, it’s getting just about that stupid, and not simply because George Zimmerman’s “black friend” swears he’s not racist… Much more, it seems that everyone who ever says or does something blatantly racist to a black person is quick to wrap themselves in the cloak of their multicolored affinity networks, as if this provided the perfect inoculation against the charge that they were anything less than purely enlightened.”

    Look, it’s fine to dislike someone, to think of them as a sell-out, Obamabot or whatever pithy terms y’all enjoy, but when you make such blatantly inaccurate (and libelous) claims as these, which are easily disproved, not only do you prove yourselves to be hacks, you open yourself up to a pretty easy lawsuit. To accuse someone of advocating violence is a serious charge. One that is, in this case, a lie. I wouldn’t recommend continuing with that line of attack.

  12. Important to note the standards of argumentation obtaining among Wise’s defenders. Again, no evidence is provided for the charge of “lies”, “outright falsifications” and “baseless accusations”. (n.b. an alternative and tendentious parsing of some lines of text is not evidence). Given that none is available, a retraction and apology is in order. Assuming that Wise’s defenders tend to adopt similar intellectual and ethical standards to those of Wise himself, I’m not optimistic that either will be forthcoming.

  13. Hello, just like /Anand, I agree with the author of this article much more than Wise but have some small criticisms

    I have become more sceptical of left media lately, I think that it has a similar structure of ‘cliques’ (on a smaller scale) and seems to have biases and ‘filters’ in a somewhat similar way to regular media (obviously not to the same extent but I think that it’s obvious that there are things ‘it wouldn’t do to say’ etc not really a surprise to anyone but me). I think that some of these might explain Wise being featured places the author thinks he shouldn’t be, he does seem like a very good self publicist aswell. I would add that most left media outlets regularly feature people who’s politics are at odds with various strains of ‘the left,’ but have interesting or important things to say or things that editors etc agree with. I am similarly depressed by modern weightless identity politics and ‘privilege’ narratives in which the only remedy is personal guilt and flagellation. But, these seem to be expressed fairly commonly in left media outlets and I think that is probably a reason why Wise is featured in them.

    I share Anand’s criticism of the author’s interpretation of things that Wise has said as threats or ‘eliminationist rhetoric,’ although I didn’t think it was ‘lies’ I thought it was perhaps a bit reaching, that kind of rhetoric is fairly common among internet age ‘social justice’ speakers/bloggers, it seems almost always to be a pose. Apart from that this was a great article, good work.

  14. Why are you insisting on labeling Anand one of “Wise’s defenders” when he’s made it clear he’s nothing of the kind? The critique Anand has made is, I think, largely stylistic and clearly not meant as a political defense of Wise. The point is that the charges of “eliminationism” are difficult to support with evidence from Wise’s texts, and I think Anand has actually provided adequate proof of this, despite your claim that he has merely offered “an alternative and tendentious parsing” of these texts. It’s your parsing of these texts that seems tendentious, frankly, and this is illustrated by your omission of contextualizing language which makes it clear that Wise isn’t actually calling for the murder of his political foes or any such thing.

    I agree with the substance of your critique of Wise, but I also agree with Anand that it’s vitiated a little bit by these charges, which, he has shown, are more or less baseless. Wise certainly directs a lot of rhetorical venom at entirely the wrong people (like, as you rightly note, left critics of Obama and Greenwald/Snowden), but the passages you’ve (selectively) quoted don’t convincingly demonstrate that he’s somehow “violent” or “dangerous,” which seems to be the implication. Certainly his politics are dangerous in their fracturing of the left and their symptomatic blindness about (and abetting of) neoliberalism, but I don’t think bloodthirsty murderousness is among their most salient flaws.

    Again, though, the critique is stylistic, not political. No one here is defending Wise, either politically or intellectually. Your apparent inability to understand that, and your reference to Anand as a “Wise defender,” opens you up to precisely the charge you level against Wise: that of “inventing facts which are subsequently used to attack, denigrate or belittle.” You’re inventing a difference of political opinion where there is none, and assailing the “intellectual and ethical standards” of someone who’s repeatedly made it clear that he’s not your political opponent makes you seem rather obtuse, and is moreover uncomradely and sectarian. Anand has made it plain that he’s not your political enemy, and neither am I. That you refuse to see this is, I think, something of an intellectual error on your part. Nothing is gained by eliding Anand’s position with that of Wise, and thereby creating an adversary where you haven’t one.

  15. […] of neoliberal multiculturalism, “anti-racist educator” Tim Wise who I wrote about here.  Wise’s brand of high dudgeon activism is mainly conspicuous for its intellectual vacuity […]

  16. Tim Wise’s rhetoric is just plain offensive, in and of itself. Who, after all, appointed this white man to be a spokesperson for non-whites in the U.S?! Why does he feel that he must speak for people who are not white like he is? Why is he so sure that he knows how and what non-white people think in the United States? Tim Wise’s self-appointed mission, to speak for people who are not white, is truly nauseating.

  17. I’m no fan of Tim Wise’s theatrics nor his holier-than-thou grandstanding, but I found the accusations regarding lynching/necklacing and shooting his opponents to be intellectually dishonest. When you read the links that the article uses to affirm those accusations, it is clear that those comments were taken out of context. The accusation that Wise wants to shoot his opponent is especially egregious. It’s clear Wise is using the framework of an illogical argument to illustrate how stupid it would be for him to shoot his opponents. I’m surprised this post was written by a professor.

  18. Halle is a hack – dressing up Wise as a purveyor of eliminationalist rhetoric is just so much having the vapors moment. It’s dishonest as is the needless characterizations of Wise as some kind of anti-racist hustler. Halle’s money shot, however, is the passing remark about how the establishment welcomes attacks on white privilege. What a perfect little partisan bubble some folks inhabit.

    Race versus class is an old argument on the left and Henwood comes down solidly on the more significant role played by class. Thus I imagine he regards Wise is a one-note clown playing the wrong tune. But Doug why employ a toon to make the point?

    Wise is hardly an Obama defender and honestly not a go-to guy for any insight into Snowden’s whistle-blowing. If this is what passes for movement activism I’m in awe at at this unmasking of heffalumps. Or are they woozles?
    This is an exercise in enforcing political correctness – the really old-fashioned kind – that I’d expect from the theoretical exertions of Piglet.


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