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Careful, careful

By Michael J. Smith on Friday May 15, 2009 07:45 PM

The arm-waving Princeton pedagogue(*) shown above, clearly full of passionate intensity and bottomless self-regard, is Melissa Harris-Lacewell, pilloried here before for her pretentious double-barreled name, her carefully-paraded Ivy League credentials, and her drooling prose.

I'm sorry to say that we weren't able to shame her into cutting her throat, on that previous occasion, so she's baaack, in the congenial pages of The Nation, searching her deep, sensitive, conscientious -- and highly responsible -- soul about those infamous torture photos that Mr Hope And Change now wants to keep from us:

Photographs of horror are powerful. That power should make us sober and careful in deciding how to use the images.
Gotta hand it to Melissa Tiger-Tattoo. She can pack a truckload of presuppositions into a nice short crisp Freshman Comp-approved E B White sentence.

Power should make "us" sober, Melissa? Who is this "us"? Who gets to decide? And what is this power that "we" have?

You must know, Melissa, ensconced though you are behind the almost-ancient-looking honey-colored brickwork of Old Nassau, that the great unwashed public out there would love to see these pictures. So if you were in the driver's seat -- as you are not, Great Achiever though you are -- what would your justification be for denying the public what it wants?

Our sons and daughters are still overseas. We have not fulfilled the promise to bring them home. Until we do so we have to protect them as best we can from our places of relative privilege here in the United States. I strongly believe that no good is served if even one of our soldiers is abused in retribution for our failings or as a result of our moral self-righteousness.
Melissa, are the Deciders, old and new, inviting you to their meetings? I doubt it. But you are there in imagination, weighing in your conscientious heart what the rest of us should and should not see.

They also serve who only stand and pontificate.


(*) Greek for "boy-herder", as I love to point out.

Comments (17)


I note the shameless
Self glorification
Of the personal

How many righteous secular causes can one soul
give itself to ??

Even If not

An inverted
war crime

It is an atrocity

The most cowardly aspectt of her incoherent lecture was the part about truth and reconciliation being a preferred substitute for prosecution. Anyone with a basic understanding of truth and reconciliation knows that truth is only obtained under oath, and that the threat of punishment is what makes that oath powerful. She also seems oblivious of the fundamental need to make amends prior to reconciliation, if that word is to have any meaning or purpose.

Michael Hureaux:

People seem mildly surprised or something. She's just another black corporate liberal, maybe one with a better media spin, but this is how the black professional classes have chosen to go out. Folks like Harris-Lacewell are either the original supporters or the children of those sad clown participants at the Gary conference in 1972, black folks whose idea of independent black leadership was developing a generation of blacks who would work to defend black partnership in the U.S. imperial lunacy. Adolph Reed breaks this shit down better than anybody I know of in his book on post civil rights politics Stirrings in the Jug, leaving the rest of us not much else to do but sit in the "Amen" corner and witness. But we do our best, suspended here in the Obamian pectin.


Ms Harris-Lacewell wants "truth and reconciliation," while I imagine I am not the only one who wants to see Dick Cheney get an hour's worth of wall-to-wall therapy with a waterboard and Jesse Ventura. Some of us have this peculiar notion that truth and reconciliation begins with the truth, and not with reconciliation. Let's get the truth out there, preferably in time for Obama's Great Af-Pak Adventure, let's punish those who were just following orders and those who gave them, then let's talk about healing our nation's wounds, better angels of our selves and all that jazz.


I strongly believe that no good is served if even one of our soldiers is abused ... as a result of our moral self-righteousness.

yes. it should be because of our greed, cowardly spite, and recklessness.

"geneva conventions, once 'quaint,' now yesterday's news"


i don't think iraqis and afghans need to see photos of prisoner abuse in order to take it upon themselves to kill u.s. soldiers. even if the u.s. had observed international law to a t in those two countries (impossible, of course, due to the statutes regarding the supreme international crime: aggression) it would not abrogate the right of occupied peoples to rebel. if you don't want the troops to be hurt, take them out of danger. real fucking straight-forward.


I just noticed

" From our places of relative privilege "

Relative privilege

Not privilege ie
absolute privilege

Relative privilege

Much lies snarled
Behind that

The late aaron spelling must represent absolute privilege


Would it be going off-topic to say that her hand gestures annoy the hell out of me?


Super al
Calls the incubator for these babes of high promise

Merit camp

I like the pun there

Merit is best served up campy

On the left hand
My mordant cherub of a dad use to say
" failure is its own reward"

Yes having been there and done that
and well basically stayed there
I can agree with him now

Failure has gravitas

A bitter sweet Gravitas

and yet with the occasional breeze
a holiday spirit


The hand gestures are very bad, particularly since her publicist has gone out of her way to emphasize them. The woman conducts herself like a traffic cop -- which come to think of it, is just what she is. And proud of it.

The raised eyebrows are also very bad, as is the curled lip.

The overall picture is a Paper Chase classroom bully, self-righteously convinced that it's good for young people to be browbeaten, no matter how well they've learned to regurgitate the squishy-soft pre-chewed "content" of "Politics and African American Studies", which is Melissa's "field".

Fair's fair: there are some humanizing touches -- the frumpy clothes, the dismal hairdo, which looks almost like a Hasidic hausfrau's sheitel.

A prediction: If the pics aren't released, bogus ones will appear in the media. They will then be exposed as bogus and the electorate will realize we never did torture, after all, it was just the anti-war nuts stirring up trouble. They'll go back to their video games and all will be well.

Thanks Al, but you didn't begin to convey the depth of her dishonesty. To put it bluntly, Harris Lacewell doesn't think that powerful white men should be punished for wrong doing. That is it in a nutshell. How else could she first describe the power of the photos of Emmitt Till's mutilated body and then say that the torture victims should just disappear? She knows rule number one. Don't f_ _k with the rulers.

My slow learning amazes me. Every time I catch myself assuming it can't get any more twisted and depressing, it does. It's like Orwell cubed around here.

Oh, dermokrat, what's wrong with you? Why, I read in Time just the other day that we can still win in Afghanistan? So that means we've got the moral high ground. Any war our side can claim victory in is a moral war. So there.

Now stop your bellyaching and swallow this flag pin that President Change made just for you.

This is also a true textbook example showing how they train 'em for power at the liberal end of the elite. Your fired-up, semi-famous Ivy League race relations teacher comes in and says this tassel of illogic and slurs and dismissals is the far left end of what's thinkable.

And so it is, isn't it?

SMBIVA remains an excellent source of news about the yupper-mid minions.


Though I did espy a 19th century busted-up eraser at the billion-dollar Princeton board behind Ms. Very, Very Serious, there was not a word written on the chalkboard.
Please, no more photos from the vantage point of a seat-bound college meritoid. It hurts just even thinking I have to regurgitate some godawful liberal-center religionist claptrap to someone who dresses, as an astute SMBIVA observer noted, like she is from the smoke-and-vacuum-clean 50's.

Not sure it's much better on this side of the gender line, but aren't we living amid a particularly crappy age for women's haircuts? It's all bad conks and "Friends"-type Barbie extendo-bleach-outs.

I'll take a classic Sinead O'Connor over most of this dreck...

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