Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day Fake Racist Blogging: A Review of A Practical Guide to Racism

I've been plugging C.H. Dalton's A Practical Guide to Racism for four months, ever since I found out that the website was on-line. Well, today I finally received--and voraciously read--my copy of the book.

Having watched the videos and read the missives he puts on the website, I was prepared to read a hilarious book; having read this lukewarm review of the book, I was braced to find something less entertaining. I am happy to say that I found the book far funnier than did Mr. Harvilla. It may not be skin-tinglingly offensive, but that's because it was never meant to be--if Mr. Harvilla wants to be offended, he can spend his time lurking around VDare or Stormfront. A Practical Guide to Racism is meant to highlight the absurdity of racism, the broad and arbitrary division of the races, the various harmful stereotypes that are applied willy-nilly to the various races, and the horrified objections that many whites have to trying to repair these mistakes through, for instance, affirmative action. In this regard I believe it succeeds handily (I was chuckling at most every page, and guffawing on quite a couple). It also manages to get in a few shots at the Iraq war, the Arab-Israeli conflicts, the Minutemen, the objection to gay marriage, Guantanamo Bay, and other such political brouhahas.

The book is written in a Stephen Colbert-style shtick, with the author being professor of ethnography C.H. Dalton. Given this and how often it subverts pop culture, history and law to make its point, sometimes it is difficult to tell what is real, what is real but taken out of context / switched around, and what is completely made up. However, because of the catholicity of material it draws upon, the book can be enjoyed by people more familiar with pop culture and less familiar with dead racists than I. Then again, a passing familiarity with racism both contemporary and historical would help you understand some of the material, as Mr. Means did quite a bit of research into the subject before lampooning it.

It is a short read, coming in at 200 pages, which include the seven appendices. By the way, if you are tempted to avoid reading those, resist that urge. The appendix which lists racial and ethnic slurs is hilarious; he gives the slur, which racial group it's applied to, and a fake etymology. I only wish there were more slurs for Merpeople in there.

Some of the material used in the video lectures is lifted directly from the book. So I'd say that if you enjoyed those videos, definitely buy the book. Also, Dan Bakkedahl does a perfect C.H. Dalton. I found myself reading certain paragraphs in his character's voice, and it may add a certain enjoyment to hear those sections in that tone.

In short, buy the book. It comes out tomorrow and is only $20.

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