Tag Archives: race

David Bellavia on “Pigment Whores” : Counterpoint

21 Aug

I am a well-off white male with a graduate degree and a professional license. Some of this I owe to hard work, some of it I owe to luck, but almost all of it is due to extremely generous and brave parents who came to this country with nothing but an education. 

Because of who I am, and the America that I experience, I fail to see the need to lecture women or minorities on, for lack of a better term, proper behavior.  I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman in America, or black, or Asian, or American Indian, or anything other than what I am.

100 years ago, women couldn’t vote. 150 years ago, women were considered to be their husband’s property – chattel. Black people were brought to this country against their will to be bought and sold as slaves. For 100+ years after that, they lived, (in many cases, still do), as second-class citizens, and we struggle as a society with issues of race and class to this day. 

I’m sure there’s a great deal of woman-on-woman crime, but we become especially outraged when, for instance, some bemuscled cretin beats his girlfriend to within an inch of her life. It’s upsetting because there’s a long and sordid history of our society condoning male brutality against women. Rape still goes underreported, as victims find themselves subject to withering cross-examination by defense attorneys about their every sexual experience and article of clothing. “She dressed like that, she deserved what she got”. It was a joke when, 50 years ago, Ralph Kramden threatened to send Alice “to the moon”.  

We don’t lecture women about what they should be upset about when, say, a feminist decries abuse and inequality. Well, sometimes we do – for instance, men often tell women to shut it when the idea of equal pay for equal work is raised. Suffice it to say that female-on-female crime and abuse happens all the time, and is reported and prosecuted. But when a man abuses a woman, it calls for a special response, partly because of centuries of male subjugation of females, and because the idea of women being people is relatively new to our society, and not yet adopted by others. It is about power and rights. It’s about liberty. It’s about humanity. 

But for some reason, white males feel perfectly comfortable lecturing black people about how insignificant their concerns are. Somehow, it’s perfectly reasonable to hector black leaders that they should STFU about police brutality or systemic racism because black people hurt black people all the time, and why don’t you talk about that, huh?

Black people have endured centuries of subjugation and racism.  Between Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education – about 60 years – the Supreme Court of the United States (all white males) declared that black Americans could be subjected to “separate but equal” public accommodations. The reality was a postbellum century of two Americas – white and black; the accommodations for black Americans were separate and palpably unequal. The country that, in 1776, declared that “all men are created equal” didn’t just omit women, but the definition of “man” did not include black people. 

It’s 2014 and there’s still a lot of work left to do. 

This country never bothered to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, which stood for the radical notion that women were equal to men, and should be treated thusly. It wasn’t until the mid-1960s that the country codified legal equality for racial minorities. But that didn’t magically make racism and racist attitudes disappear. 

It’s become chic among the contrarian, reactionary American right to dismiss any grievance that blacks or women might have. The most fashionable argument is to dismiss leaders in the black community in part because they supposedly don’t criticize the right things

I’m not a black man in America, so far be it from me to lecture black people about what they should and should not be concerned. 

Batavian conservative commentator and former Congressional candidate, David Bellavia, wrote an article for Michael Caputo’s PoliticsNY entitled, “Say Hello to the Pigment Whores”.  The tl;dr: national leaders and commentators in the black community have no moral authority to comment on what’s up in Ferguson because they don’t say anything about black-on-black crime. 

The issue of white subjugation of black people manifests itself nowadays in many ways. Among them is predominately white police forces made up of non-residents, who patrol black communities in cars as if they’re on safari. That’s not to say I think that black people are animals – that’s simply the optics of what’s going on. This is how it works in Buffalo, too – we don’t have much community policing, we don’t have a residency requirement, and cops drive around instead of walking a beat. This reinforces the notion of “us vs. them”, and that the cops are there to keep the blacks in line – placid and quiet. 

Similarly, Bellavia’s piece is breathtakingly condescending, lecturing black leaders on what they should be thinking and doing, and conveniently concludes that contemporary African-Americans have let Dr. King down. 

… the President can’t take the facts of this case and invent a cause that is noble and just for people to shoot at civilians, police, steal from their neighbors. He also can’t excuse and nullify all the criminality that is occurring every night. 

Ferguson’s Michael Brown, the unarmed black man who was gunned down like a dog in the street by a white cop in a cruiser, was not a thug. He was an American teenager living in a tough neighborhood who was exceeding the expectations that our society settles on for kids like him. He graduated high school. He was going to college. He was creative musically. If every teenager who challenges authority is a thug, then ours is a thug society. 

The cause?  White cops shooting unarmed black kids under questionable circumstances, including (but not limited to) the cop being incommunicado and the department refusing to release the incident report, is something that legitimately outraged people in Ferguson. Theirs is a noble cause. Of course, because there are some violent elements among the peaceful protesters, it’s easiest to simply paint all of the demonstrators with the “looter” brush and dismiss them – and their grievances – as illegitimate and criminal. You could always search Twitter to see images that don’t comport with a media narrative, but don’t question that jerk in your knee, right? 

[Michael Eric] Dyson and Spike Lee are not outraged of the black on black violence in Chicago, Washington and Detroit; why are we all now incensed when a police officer kills a black man? (regardless of the facts that show it was most likely a clean incident)

“Clean incident” is one helluva way to pre-emptively sanitize a homicide. Just like people shouldn’t rush to judgment against the cop and wait for the facts to come out, they shouldn’t rush to judgment in his favor. Any time an unarmed person of any race is shot & killed by law enforcement, there should be an investigation and legal process before any conclusion of purported “cleanliness” is declared. 

And from where do we get the idea that black commentators and pundits do and say nothing about black on black violence? Anyone who says something so ignorant simply isn’t paying attention. Spike Lee focuses on, aptly enough, black male treatment of black females in his films. He has consistently been vocal about “colorism“. The right-wing commentator’s playbook requires equality of outrage in response to unequal and often irrelevant incidents.

Furthermore, what is it about Spike Lee’s alleged silence about black-on-black crime in Chicago that renders invalid his comments about racism? If he argues that black males are victims of government brutality, how about arguing that point with him, rather than pivoting to something completely different. 

Hey! You can’t care about Jim Kelly’s mouth cancer, because you didn’t care about every other mouth cancer, ever!

Michael Eric Dyson is an academic and commentator whose main intellectual focus is on race and class relations in America. You’ll forgive him for not taking career and scholarly advice from conservative WNYers. 

But what about the central thesis here – that black leaders have no right to comment about Ferguson because they’re silent about “black-on-black crime”? 

It’s bullshit. 

Where was Al Sharpton when it comes to Chicago violence? In fucking Chicago

Sharpton made a publicized trip to Chicago in November to focus attention on the city’s chronic violence. Last year, Michelle Obama attended the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old black honor student who was shot, allegedly by a black gang member.

The first lady later returned to Chicago to converse with students at a school that is nearly 100 percent African-American. “In choosing Harper High School for the visit, the White House noted that 29 current or former students there had been shot in the last year, eight of them fatally,” reported the Tribune.

The president also came here, meeting with kids involved in a mentoring program for at-risk adolescent boys, bemoaning gun violence and telling a crowd on the South Side, “Our streets will only be as safe as our schools are strong and our families are sound.”

That’s not to mention the local Chicago-based activists who deal with the crime epidemic on a daily basis. Also, this

It’s no secret that rates of violent crime are far higher among blacks than among whites. What is generally overlooked is that these rates have dropped sharply over the past two decades. The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice reports that violent crime by young blacks has plunged 60 percent. In 1995, the FBI reports, 9,074 blacks were arrested for homicide. In 2012, the number was 4,203 — a decline of 54 percent. But conservatives don’t labor endlessly to publicize that trend.

So, black-on-black crime is declining. Ta-Nehesi Coats expounds on why violence by – and against – police is treated differently, adding: 

I have said this before. It’s almost as if Stop The Violence never happened, or The Interruptors never happened, orKendrick Lamar never happened. The call issued by Erica Ford at the end of this Do The Right Thing retrospective (link here, ff to 16:31) is so common as to be ritual. It is not “black on black crime” that is background noise in America, but the pleas of black people.

Bellavia continues,  

Like the N word, death is apparently acceptable when it comes from the hands of blacks, but outrageous when it comes from whites. Murder is abhorrent. Dehumanizing a race is un-American. We cannot ignore the culture that cannibalizes its own and blame it on racists in a town elected by the same culture.

The homicide of a black person is not acceptable under any circumstances, barring some legal justification like self-defense, and white people should stop whining about who is and isn’t allowed to call someone else a “nigger”. Because, really

We have an African American President. He was elected by white people in the majority – twice. This president has bent over backwards to elevate young people to dream to aspire to be a part of the American Dream. This president has done more to bring the Internet, exercise and free everything to people in the inner city who have little of their own. Still, Dyson wants to remind us “It is simply not enough.” Nothing is ever enough.

I have to say it’s a tough row to hoe for white conservative commentators – are you blind to race, or are you going to bring it up constantly, in order to lecture black people about the insignificance and invalidity of their concerns? Did you catch that patronizing phrase – “free everything”. This black president has showered black America with freebies, and yet they’re still getting pretty uppity! Gah!

No, it isn’t enough. It isn’t enough until a black kid in a hoodie is no more or less threatening to you than a white kid in a hoodie. It isn’t enough until you stop mistaking a fraternity sign for a gang sign. It isn’t enough until you consider as legitimate and valid the grievances of an America with which you’re not especially familiar, and of which you’re not a member. Instead of dismissal, maybe listen.

To turn the hatred on the President at this time just underlines what the agenda of soulless peddlers in the bigotry industry is and has been all along: To stoke the embers of inequality and promote racial tension.

Sure, there are people who do this. For instance, I am by no means a fan of Al Sharpton, whom I can’t forgive for the palpable crime that was the Tawana Brawley hoax. But what this amounts to is a distraction – whenever there is anything of news import, people will parachute into the imbroglio in order to grandstand or self-promote. Focus on that, and you ignore the underlying, real problems. 

Michael Eric Dyson, Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Spike Lee went all in on Michael Brown and lost; you went all in on Trayvon Martin and lost. Double down in your own community. Stop expecting government to save you. The one thing that history has taught us is that we must save ourselves. If you don’t trust the people you elect in St Louis County, elect other people. There’s a process and a schedule for that – it has always been there.

I have no clue what that’s supposed to mean. When it comes to the cherry-picked alleged “pigment whores” (notice the glaring absence of the word “race”) black America is their community, and the treatment it receives by America’s power structure is a valid topic of discussion and, sometimes, agitation.

Bring up Trayvon Martin, and while George Zimmerman was cleared of any crime, the fact remains that he used deadly force against a kid whom Zimmerman was stalking as part of a “neighborhood watch”. 

Bring up Michael Brown, and the fact remains that no one yet knows all the details of what happened, except that Brown was shot six times, with his hands up, and was left to bleed out in the street for hours.

How is outrage over this illegitimate? Martin is dead. Brown is dead. It’s not Jesse Jackson or any other conservative bogeyman who has “lost”. The Martin and Brown families have lost. A strong argument can be made that the Martins did not receive justice, and it’s indisputable that the same is true of the Brown family. 

These men have no problem abandoning the cause when it comes to lining their own pockets, but they now speak to inflame the same people they long left behind. Jackson even tried – and #FAILed – to raise money while fanning Ferguson’s flames.

How many inner city youths attend your Georgetown classes or afford your degrees, Dr. Dyson? How many can afford your racially based films, Spike? How many black community members donate to your coalitions and think tanks, Reverends Jackson and Sharpton?

Talk about missing every available point. 

These men feed at the trough of the rich to remind them of the poor, but what are they doing to save those they claim to represent? They are pigment whores, blinded by a skin color they exploit and agnostic of personal responsibility or character.

Dr. Martin Luther King’s message has been hijacked. And for that, I don’t believe that there is a Hell hot enough for any of them.

Blame the victims. Trayvon Martin deserved to die. He was a thug. He started it.  Michael Brown deserved to die. He was a thug. He may have (but likely didn’t) steal some cigars. He shoved a guy. He was big. Here’s a picture that people spread around that turned out not be him at all. It’s uncomfortable to point out when white people kill black people, because it might mean we need to examine race and class in America again. It’s much easier, and more convenient, to simply treat blacks as, if not inferior, then defective, or congenitally violent – just ask Anthony Cumia.

Consider: 

From the Chicago Tribune: 

There’s another, bigger problem with the preoccupation with “black-on-black crime.” The term suggests race is the only important factor. Most crimes are committed by males, but we don’t refer to “male-on-male crime.” Whites in the South are substantially more prone to homicide than those in New England, but no one laments “Southerner-on-Southerner crime.” Why does crime involving people of African descent deserve its own special category?

The phrase stems from a desire to excuse whites from any role in changing the conditions that breed delinquency in poor black areas. It carries the message that blacks are to blame for the crime that afflicts them — and that only they can eliminate it. Whites are spared any responsibility in the cause or the cure.

Excluding them from complicity is harder to do when the killer is white and the killed is black, as in the shooting in Ferguson. Raising “black-on-black crime” right now is not a sincere attempt to improve the lot of African-Americans. It’s a way to change the subject and a way to blame them.

Just as we blame Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown for their own killings. 

As Ta-Nehesi Coates adds

There is a pattern here, but it isn’t the one Eugene Robinson (for whom I have a great respect) thinks. The pattern is the transmutation of black protest into moral hectoring of black people. Don Imus profanely insults a group of black women. But the real problem is gangsta rap. Trayvon Martin is killed. This becomes a conversation about how black men are bad fathers. Jonathan Martin is bullied mercilessly. This proves that black people have an unfortunate sense of irony.

The politics of respectability are, at their root, the politics of changing the subject—the last resort for those who can not bear the agony of looking their country in the eye. The policy of America has been, for most of its history, white supremacy. The high rates of violence in black neighborhoods do not exist outside of these facts—they evidence them.

This history presents us with a suite of hard choices. We do not like hard choices. Here’s a better idea: Let’s all get together and talk about how Mike Brown would still be alive if Beyoncé would make more wholesome music, followed by a national forum on how the charge of “acting white” contributes to mass incarceration. We can conclude with a keynote lecture on “Kids Today” and a shrug.

White people need to stop the “moral hectoring” of black people. The issues in Ferguson do not exist because of black commentators or “pigment whores”, nor do the occasional outbursts of violence by demonstrators render the underlying grievances invalid. The issues in Ferguson, after all, are not unique to that town.

As an American, I can abhor violence and looting while treating the black community’s anger and frustration as legitimate. As an American, I can demand justice for Michael Brown while simultaneously holding no love for Al Sharpton. As an American, I can recognize that it’s not necessarily my place to lecture black Americans on what they should and shouldn’t worry about, but that it is my place to help identify problems, and fix them. 

There are far more peaceful demonstrators in Ferguson carrying out Dr. King’s ethos of nonviolence than aren’t. 

David Bellavia from rural WNY wants to lecture black America on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? Let’s start with Dr. King’s own words, then: 

The Triple Evils of POVERTY, RACISM and MILITARISM are forms of violence that exist in a vicious cycle. They are interrelated, all-inclusive, and stand as barriers to our living in the Beloved Community. When we work to remedy one evil, we affect all evils. To work against the Triple Evils, you must develop a nonviolent frame of mind as described in the “Six Principles of Nonviolence” and use the Kingian model for social action outlined in the “Six Steps for Nonviolent Social Change.”

Anyone who has been paying attention to Ferguson knows full well that poverty, racism, and militarism still exist as forms of violence, and are now brought to the fore, yet again. As an overwhelmingly white police presence appears in Ferguson with MRAPs and guns aimed at men, women, and children marching, let’s consider maybe that this underscores the marchers’ points, rather than disproving them. 

National Review: Collins Has A Problem with Blacks

12 Jun

I almost feel badly for Chris Collins. Almost. 

My Congressman did a good thing this week, slamming proposed FDA rules against aging cheese on wood boards. It wasn’t the regulatory overreach that Collins made it out to be, but it was a horribly stupid interpretation of existing regulations. 

The FDA opined that wood planks weren’t especially cleanable, but wood has natural antibacterial properties and has been used in cheesemaking for thousands of years without a problem. The FDA backed down from any ban on wood

But sheesh, talk about burying the lede. 

Collins has done a lot to become attractive to the tea party set since his time in Washington, but everything about him reeks of corporate country club elite Republican, and that’s now finding him under fire from the right, for the first time. 

No one criticizes him in western New York because of his deep pockets. Washington’s National Review Online bloggers have no such issue. What has he done? He pissed off
an ultra right-wing SuperPAC. 

Heritage Action blasted Congressman Chris Collins, who represents New York’s 27th District, for apparently engaging in textbook cronyism. Collins, a millionaire many times over, is circulating a letter in Congress in support of re-authorizing the Export-Import Bank, from which one of his businesses, Audubon Machinery Corporation, has benefited in the past. Collins is a co-founder of and serves on the board of directors for Audubon.

A Heritage Action spokesman told The Hill, “Here’s Rep. Collins leading the charge of an entity that he’s personallybenefited from. That’s the definition of Washington working for itself.”

Collins responded, “This shows how out of touch Heritage is with how jobs are created in this country. They don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re a think tank. They’re not out in the real world.”

That’s rich. Collins accusing someone else of being out of touch with the “real world”. Which “real world?” To Collins, it’s the “real world” of well-connected multimillionaires getting sweet deals through federally subsidized banks. Corporate welfare. There is nothing stopping Collins or his companies from financing international deals through private banks. 

Whatever. It’s a Washington thing that has very little impact on you or me. This, however, is a blockbuster

I was briefly employed by Collins in 2013 but was terminated after three months and did not leave on good terms with the congressman. My impression was that Collins had a steep congressional learning curve. His staff had to coach him to talk less about himself to constituents, and at one point he asked about “a black” being on a Congressional committee after being told that the committee included several minority leaders.

If true, this is a remarkable insight into Collins’ complete and utter lack of character. No amount of Boy Scout talk (an organization that didn’t eliminate racial discrimination until 1974) can make up for a racial animus or discriminatory character. What difference, in 2014, does it make whether there are Black people on Congressional committees? 

Remember – this isn’t some moonbat liberal making this accusation, this is an ultra-right wing former staffer. She was terminated rather quickly, so maybe there are some hard feelings/sour grapes, but it’s an explosive charge to make so casually. 

Collins also made a conscious effort not to ruffle any conservative feathers, and he does not have a seat on  the House Financial Services Committee. 

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has called the Export-Import Bank “the face of cronyism.”

Most conservative Republicans do not support re-authorizing the bank. Collins, who almost always votes straight down the Republican line, is one of the few exceptions. A spokesman for the Congressman told The Hill that Audubon has not recently received a direct loan from the bank. Collins regularly touts smaller government, which makes it hard to understand why he would choose to make theEx-Im Bank his one major battle.

I actually support reauthorization of the Ex-Im bank. Not only does it disproportionately help smaller businesses enter the international market in cases where they’re unable to get decent international credit rates, but also because the tea party is out to kill it, which must mean it serves some public good. The tea party exists for one purpose: to destroy America and all she stands for; to create some sort of bizarre hybrid libertarian Christian jihadist confederation where everyone is armed and dangerous. So, yay Ex-Im Bank. 

But Collins’ alleged problem with Black Congressmen being members of committees is something that needs to be addressed and explained. 

The Coopers, Formerly of Lovejoy

16 Apr

Let’s dispense for a moment with the “it’s the people” canard about why Buffalo is great – the City of Good Neighbors. 

The reality is that some people are great and neighborly, and others aren’t. Buffalonians are no more or less great or neighborly than any other Americans. Sorry, but you’re not special. 

This comes into stark view as we find out about the violent racist harassment that drove a Black family out of Lovejoy last week. When you have a lost generation of people who can no longer rely on steady industrial work in now-dormant or departed facilities, you get anger and resentment. Young, angry, and resentful people develop irrational hatreds and sometimes act out on them. 

That socioeconomic fact is, however, no excuse. The Coopers of Lovejoy have every right to live wherever they please, without fear of constant harassment from small-minded racists. The Buffalo News stories (here and here) about the issue were well done and provided extraneous details, such as the muttering of racial epithets within a News photographer’s earshot. 

Neighbors thought the family was a “gang” because, well, the Coopers are a large Black family. 

We shouldn’t be tolerating pogroms in 2012 in Buffalo, and another matter comes into stark view. Where is our political leadership on this issue? Rich Fontana is the city councilman from Lovejoy, and he laid blame on the victims

“The family was originally harassed, but when they called in other family members for protection, they turned the situation upside down, and they became the aggressors by sending two Lovejoy youths to the hospital and robbing fast food delivery people,” Fontana said. “After that, I got involved and told both sides to stop the aggression. It was calm until 4:30 this morning.”

Cooper took issue with Fontana’s assessment.

She said that white youths and adults threw rocks and bricks at one of her sons and a nephew, prompting family members to fight back, adding that it occurred after months of racial slurs. “It wears on you,” she said.

As for the allegations of fast food thefts, Cooper said no one at her home ordered the pizza or Chinese food and that no one on her porch attempted to take it.

But the delivery workers filed police reports late Tuesday night, with one claiming an order of pizza and chicken wings was snatched from him and the other reporting that he managed to flee with the Chinese food before it could be taken.

So, the Coopers certainly didn’t find any help or sympathy from Fontana. It’s their fault someone pranked them by ordering food for them. It’s their fault they fought back against harassment. Yet that contradicts this: 

“I’m telling all the residents and every kid I can pull into my arms to stop the attacks, unless you’re attacked first. You do have the right to defend yourself, but don’t be the aggressor against anyone in the neighborhood,” [Fontana] said.

Well, too late. The Coopers moved away. Mayor Brown got briefly involved, but this was an opportunity for him to use his bully pulpit for good. Seeing no ribbons to cut, he has shown zero leadership on yet another critical issue facing the city. 

Good people are good, and bad people are bad – and they come in every hue, from every nation. One would have thought that, in 2012, we’d all be on the same page with that. And in Buffalo, we reserve our outrage for important matters, like footballers’ criticisms of our hotels and the giggles of a different Cooper – Anderson, of Manhattan. 

One for Williams

22 Oct

The right wing has its OUTRAGEOUS OUTRAGE of the day®.  It’s usually something picked off of Drudge and then a game of telephone blows it out of all proportion by the time it gets to the wingnut sites or talk radio.  The current outrageous outrage is NPR’s “firing” of Juan Williams.

Here’s what Williams said:

I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.

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He went on, however:

“Wait a second though, wait, hold on, because if you said Timothy McVeigh, the Atlanta bomber, these people who are protesting against homosexuality at military funerals, very obnoxious, you don’t say first and foremost, we got a problem with Christians. That’s crazy.”

The Daily Beast runs with the idea that Williams was fired because he said those words on Fox News.  NPR told Williams that his termination occurred because,

Ellen Weiss, NPR’s head of news, suggested that he “had made a bigoted statement,” which Williams denied. He said he asked her in the cell-phone discussion: “I don’t even get a chance to come in and we do this eyeball-to-eyeball, person-to-person, have a conversation? I’ve been here more than 10 years.”

Weiss’ response, according to Williams: “There’s nothing you can say that would change my mind. This decision has been made above me.”

So, so what?  Who cares?  NPR is free to hire and fire people as it sees fit.  Just like Fox News is free to pick Williams up for a new $2 million contract yesterday.  It doesn’t matter why NPR fired him, or under what circumstances or rationale.  It’s amazing what a weak grasp of the 1st Amendment the ignoranti have, crying out for Williams’ free speech!  (You don’t have a constitutional right to an NPR gig).

It’s suddenly become vogue to declare oneself as not being politically incorrect – Carl Paladino’s entire campaign is based on that trend.   That’s all well and good, and the government can’t force you to think one way or another.  But when you quite openly state that you hold a prejudice over someone because of the way they dress, because their religion or culture mandates it, ask yourself how it would go over if you criticized Hasidic Jews for their appearance, or the Amish, or any other culture that is out of the mainstream.   Does he reach for his wallet when he sees a Hasidim? Does he whip out his camera when he sees some Amish?  Does he fear molestation when he sees someone in a priest’s collar?  Does he [insert stereotype here] when he sees a [insert minority group here]?

Saying something bigoted, ignorant, or prejudiced is what ought to be socially unacceptable – not saying it and then attacking “political correctness”.  Frankly, we’re not even talking about “politics” in this case – we’re just talking about being a rational, thinking human being.

Much of what I’m seeing and hearing on Facebook or on the radio excoriates NPR for firing Williams for merely parroting what a lot of people think.  So, if a lot of people are prejudiced, it’s ok for you to be prejudiced, too?

Part of what the terrorists who want to kill civilians do is blend into the surroundings.  The last thing a terrorist would do is dress as if he were in downtown Peshawar in order to commit mass murder in the states.  So, the “fear” that Williams has is dumb, to boot.

Sometimes what becomes a firestorm goes beyond silly and into stupid territory.  Go ahead and “de-fund” NPR – an organization that does not receive any direct federal funding, and only sees federal money indirectly through grants, representing a whopping 1 – 3% of its total budget. It helps to listen to what NPR’s CEO says about it:

Q: Okay. What happened?

A: Let’s state a couple of facts. Juan is not an employee of NPR. He’s an independent contractor. He’s not NPR staff. He’s an NPR analyst. We have a contract with him for analyst opinions to provide news analysis. He is not a columnist or commentator. He also has an on-going relationship with Fox News. Mara Liasson is also on Fox News and is a full-time staffer. We accept that’s a whole other issue. However, we expect our journalists, whether they are news analysts or reporters to behave like journalists.

Q: So did Juan really get fired over just those Muslim comments? [He said he was uncomfortable with Muslims dressed in traditional garb on airplanes during a Fox News telecast yesterday.]

A: There have been several instances over the last couple of years where we have felt Juan has stepped over the line. He famously said last year something about Michelle Obama and Stokely Carmichael. [The quote on Fox News early last year: “Michelle Obama, you know, she’s got this Stokely Carmichael in a designer dress thing going” and that she’ll be an “albatross” for President Obama.]. This isn’t a case of one strike and you’re out.

There you have it.  Williams wasn’t even an NPR employee.  Time to get ready for tomorrow’s Outrageous Outrage of the Day®.

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Reaching for Epithets (also: Paladino isn’t Mel Brooks)

16 Apr

Here, Channel 2’s Josh Boose interviews Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, who needs no help from anyone to insert hoof in mouth.

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It really couldn’t get any worse. If Paladino spent as much time formulating a reasonable reform platform as he does hunting for appropriate epithets to hurl at his enemies, he wouldn’t be in this trouble.

Yesterday, two editorials excoriated Paladino’s judgment regarding the emails – one in the Albany Times Union, and one in the Buffalo News. But the Tonawanda News takes the Sandy Beach tack and calls it no big deal – just a matter of taste.

I reviewed the scant few examples reported by WNYmedia.net that embattled gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino apparently e-mailed to people he knows. They are all visual examples, and many are extremely crude. A couple of them have even been sent to me by friends, and I deleted them because, quite frankly, they’re not funny.

Which means you had the good judgment not to forward them, unlike the local gubernatorial candidate, who found them compelling enough to share along.

One doctored picture depicts the president and first lady as 1970s pimp and prostitute. I can see the humor in that. Of course, I see the humor because I remember some of the characters that TV’s Kojak and Starsky & Hutch dealt with in the 70s.

Could some be offended by that example? Sure.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that some people ignore the blatant and obvious racial degradation in that specific example, but it’s quite palpably there. Hint: Obama is dressed up as a 70s ghetto pimp, and the First Lady is dressed as a 70s ghetto prostitute.

But there are also those who are offended by jokes about Irish drunks, dumb blondes — and their Canadian “Nuefie” equivalent — dumb Poles (the predecessor to dumb blondes) cheap Jews, pedophile priests, feeble/forgetful elderly, etc.

That paragraph is an example of the phrase, “digging a deeper hole”. Also, it’s “Newfie“, for God’s sake.

By the way, at least two other presidents have been compared to primates. Several photos of George W. Bush, doctored to depict him as a monkey, have circulated via e-mail. In the 70s, Mad magazine used President Nixon in place of Japan’s “Three Wise Monkeys” who “see/hear/speak no evil.” Although a precedent had been set, to make a similar example with President Obama is apparently wrong. But don’t you dare suggest that the one crying racism is actually the racist for pointing it out. You’re not enlightened.

Because comparisons of black men to simians is patent, blatant racism. Throughout history. I can’t imagine anyone denying that or not realizing that.

So, what’s wrong with Blazing Saddles? The movie that is ranked sixth by the American Film Institute in its list of “100 Years 100 Laughs” is apparently inappropriate, when taking public outcry over Paladino’s e-mails into consideration, because it contains 17 references to the N-word. I guess those people at AFI missed the week when sensitivity training was offered.

Yes, taste is subjective.

Well, here’s the difference.

First of all, Mel Brooks, the writer & director of Blazing Saddles, is a comedian. Carl Paladino is not. They have different skillsets, different audiences, and the public has different expectations from them. Secondly, you really have to be dense to not realize that Blazing Saddles was satire – it was mocking racism, not engaging in it.

Because it’s not addressed, we have to trust that the ethnicity issue with the e-mails were specifically related to or perceived as racism. But we don’t know for sure. The Web site alleges it’s racism, stating “Other emails display an attitude of misogyny or blatant racism — the latter being an issue with which Paladino already has a problem, given his past dealings with and criticisms of Antoine Thompson, Jim Pitts, Byron Brown and Dr. James Williams.”

This is racist. It really isn’t open to interpretation, but thanks for asking.

Yet, Paladino has been on record criticizing several politicians such as Eliot Spitzer, Rick Lazio, Andrew Cuomo, Sheldon Silver, Brian Higgins, Bill Stachowski, George Pataki and Michael Wilton, the former head of USA Niagara Development Corp. I guess that wasn’t necessary to report.

We’ve reacted to Paladino’s criticisms of the feckless Andrew Rudnick with glee. The Tonawanda News must be new to our site, and didn’t bother to check. But addressing the specific comparison here, Paladino never said, “Eliot Spitzer was elected because he’s white”. Or “Sheldon Silver is a corrupt white man”. Yet he has said that Dr. James Williams was selected because he’s black. You might want to look at Boose’s interview at the top of this post once more.

Also referenced in the report were emails pertaining to claims that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States while others “were just pictures of naked women.”

JUST pictures of naked women? Methinks that misogyny comment should be extended beyond Paladino.

As we’ve explained countless times now, we selected emails for publication that went beyond run-of-the-mill birtherism or pornography. In other words, no one reacts with shock-horror if a man like Paladino looks at pictures of a naked Kelly Monaco.

Paladino himself very likely has his own trust issues now. It’s not a crime to share an e-mail, but to me it’s a violation of trust. It’s also a good example of why one should cherish and protect his own privacy.

When you mass-forward an email, you have no expectation of privacy. No more expectation of privacy than when you, say, write an ignorant, childish editorial in your newspaper.

Alarum! Alarum! A thief is about!

8 Aug

This cracked me up, with a HT to Andrew Sullivan: The Sheriff at the Gates: A Farce in Three Acts.

GATES: Thou detaineth me because I am a Moor!

CROWLEY: Some of my best friends are Moors. Your pleas availeth not.

GATES: You shall rue the day you crost my threshold.

Whole thing here.

Common Council Racism?

2 Jan

cityhall.JPG

2008 is not starting well in Buffalo’s Common Council. And you’d think it would go so swimmingly, what with it being a one-party body, and all.

“Three white men are in the leadership of the Common Council,” said Masten representative Demone A. Smith, who branded it a slap in a face to minorities.

“This is a power grab, and it’s shrouded in racism, Anti-Americanism and just plain greed,” Smith alleged.

David Franczyk says it had nothing to do with race, and everything to do with (1) votes, and (2) maintaining some semblance of independence from Mayor Brown and Grassroots.

So, is Demone Smith overreacting? Do you really think racism is afoot?