Saturday, April 07, 2007

 

Tolerance Tales

While on the subject of stereotyping:

1) Zev Chafetz has a non-PC take on former NBA player Micheal Ray Richardson's recent statements about Jews:
Asked about his contract negotiations, Richardson said he didn't expect problems because "I've got big-time lawyers. Big-time Jew lawyers."

Alarmed, the reporters warned Richardson that his words could be considered insulting because they fit the stereotype of Jews as crafty and shrewd.

Richardson didn't even blink. "Are you kidding me?" he demanded. "They've got the best security system in the world. Have you ever been to an airport in Tel Aviv? They're real crafty. Listen, they are hated all over the world, so they've got to be crafty. They got a lot of power in this world, you know what I mean? Which I think is great. I don't think there's nothing wrong with it. If you look in most professional sports, they're run by Jewish people. If you look at a lot of most successful corporations and stuff, more businesses, they're run by Jewish [sic]. It's not a knock, but they are some crafty people."

For these observations, Richardson was suspended by the Patroons, forbidden by team owner Ben Fernandez to even attend practice. Predictably, Abe Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, praised this punishment and demanded an apology...

Excuse me, but Richardson didn't say anything offensive...In fact, Jews, as a people, are smart, in my experience. And they're proud of it (especially the dumb ones). Wake up a Jew in the middle of the night and he can rattle off the Jewish Nobel Prize winners in alphabetical order. Believe me, I've been a Jew for 59 years, and I know what I'm talking about.

What other hurtful things did Richardson supposedly say? That Israel has the best airport security in the world? This is both true and something Israel itself brags about. That Jews are hated and need to protect themselves? That's the founding premise of the Anti-Defamation League itself.

Sure, Richardson exaggerates when he says that Jews own most sports teams. As far as I can tell, Jews (about 1% of the population) only own about half the teams in the NBA (and a pretty fair proportion in baseball and football too). So what?

As to the observation that Jews run a lot of successful businesses, no kidding. Jews are very likely the most economically successful ethnic group in the U.S. What's the matter with that?
Oh, and one more thing: What about the Beastie Boys, Jewish rappers, who said of a new "girlie" that "she's crafty --she's just my type"?

Seriously, it's a great column that speaks to the conundrum of how and whether one can speak of group "positive" stereotypes. Everything Richardson said was stereotypical of Jews -- good lawyers, "crafty", wise in business -- but as Chafets says, there is no hint of malice in Richardson's words. On the contrary, they are laudatory. And, given Richardson's history of "creative" language use such as "the ship be sinking" (speaking of his Knicks team's crumbling playoff chances), should be taken at face value.

The problem, of course, is that members of embattled or ostracized groups often anticipate the other side of the coin in such images. Thus, if someone says that blacks excel at sports and physical pursuits, the feared unspoken flip side is -- "but otherwise they're dumb, violent or sexually promiscuous."

So, the flip side of Jews being "crafty" or "business-wise" is "devious" and "underhanded." But, as Chafets suggests, can't we read the words in the context of what is suggested in the heart of the speaker -- not what is perceived in the mind of the listener?

2) Meanwhile, morning talk-jock Don Imus eats some well-deserved crow for his comments about the Rutgers University women's basketball team. On Wednesday, he and sidekick Bernard McGurk called the women, "nappy-headed ho's" while their opponents, the Tennessee Lady Vols (who won) were "cute." As it happens, Rutgers is a virtually all-black team, while Tennessee is more racially mixed. McGurk called the game a contest between the "Jigaboos and the Wannabes." After dismissing the criticism Thursday, Imus finally apologized on Friday.

In the interest of clarity, it should be noted that the "J. vs. W." line was -- as McGurk correctly noted -- lifted from Spike Lee (though -- contrary to what Imus' other sidekick, Charles McCord, stated -- from School Daze, not Do The Right Thing). That, of course, was in the context of a movie where Lee explored intra-racial sensibility set at an all black college.

Regardless, the apology was a day late and a dollar short. First, his comment was, not just racist, but unnecessarily thuggish. Like their male college counterparts, the Rutgers players aren't professionals. They're not making huge amounts of money playing a sport. They are student athletes, who, unlike their male counterparts won't make the multi-millions if/when they go professional. None of the players said or did anything to deserve that sort of verbal abuse. On the contrary, as a #4 seed, they defeated a #1 (Duke, the top overall seed in the women's tournament), #2 and #3 seed to make it to the championship game. They were a great example of good sportsmanship -- and a good sports story (whether one is a fan of women's college basketball or not). And he calls them "nappyheaded 'hos." Given his platform, he should be suspended.

Given the amount of money he brings in to radio station WFAN and cable's MSNBC, he won't be.

3) Newt Gingrich responds to the uproar of his "ghetto" comments by sharing his views on the importance of English in cultural assimilation and success in the U.S.:

Still, it's important that we not allow passion to rule the debate. Too often, sincere expressions of support for English as our unifying language are interpreted as a lack of support for welcoming and respecting new Americans. For example, those who support "English-first" are often mistakenly portrayed as supporters of "English-only." English-first supporters believe that English should be the official language of the government but that other languages are fine in communities and commerce. In contrast, English-only advocates want to outlaw all languages other than English.

Clearly, these two positions are very different. Promoting English-first is not — and should not be — disrespectful of other languages. In fact, supporting English instruction for immigrants demonstrates our confidence in their ability to pursue happiness here and contribute to their families, communities and new country.

As a part of any comprehensive immigration reform, we should renew our commitment to making sure that all new immigrants have the opportunity to learn English. In public schools, children should have intensive English instruction rather than bilingual classes. For adults, we can adopt something similar to a program Israel has for its new immigrants. There, every new resident is entitled to 500 hours of intensive Hebrew language instruction paid for by the government. And along with intensive English language instruction, they could receive U.S. history and civics training.

Equally important, we must abolish federal rules requiring that government documents — including ballots — be printed in multiple languages. These multilingual documents discourage immigrants from learning English as rapidly as possible, limiting their ability to engage in a truly common political culture. Rather than expanding opportunities for new Americans, these mandates help limit them.
Exactly right and a far more approprate response than his silly Espagnol YouTube performance.

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Offers He Can't Refuse...

It will be intersting to see how Rudy G's Godfather impressions, hot on the heels of his abortion statements, play with would-be hometown supporters such as Larry Auriana, head of the Columbus Citizens Foundation, which organizes the annual Columbus Day Parade.

Auriana is a notably strong pro-life conservative Catholic who was instrumental in getting Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as
grand marshal of the 2005 parade. If he has a singular pet peeve, it is what he perceives as the pop culture stereotyping of Italians as gangsters. He's successfully gone to court to prevent Mayor Bloomberg from marching with cast members of The Sopranos.

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Open Thread

Oh what a tangled web we shred, when first we practice to be thread.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

 

Easter Weekend Bits & Pieces

A Happy Good Friday and a wonderful Easter to all those who observe (and, heck, those who are on the lookout for Easter bunnies too)!

Some nuggets to digest for the weekend.

1) Russ Douthat asks the question that
I've been wondering myself. (FYI, I think the honest answer is "No.")

2) Time's Joe Klein has an
editorial meltdown.


3) The Onion News Network looks at
the human cost of immigration:

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Friday Trivia! Easter edition

1. Who had his first number one hit with the song Sailing back in 1980?

2. What is the name of Bugs Bunny's girlfriend in the movie Space Jam?

3. Which former Negro League and Major League Baseball player hit a 477 foot home run in Cleveland's Municipal Stadium, a feat matched only by Mickey Mantle?

4. What dish is usually made with two halves of an English muffin, and topped with smoked bacon or ham, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce?

5. Which 1968 song by the band Cream was later covered by both Lynyrd Skynyrd and Rush?

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

 

Newt Goes "Ghetto"

For any misunderstanding over his views on bilingual education, former boss Newt Gingrich apologizes -- in Spanish:

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

 

Rudy Giuliani: Left-of-Kos Republican

Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, proprietor of Daily Kos -- supposedly THE voice of the left in the blogosphere -- seems to understand the Constitution better than the Republican front runner:

Whatever the merits of the issue, it's clear that there's no sharper electoral poison for the Republican base than abortions funded by taxpayers.

"Ultimately, it's a constitutional right, and therefore if it's a constitutional right, ultimately, even if you do it on a state by state basis, you have to make sure people are protected," Giuliani said in an interview with CNN's Dana Bash in Florida's capital city.

A video clip of the then-mayoral candidate issuing a similar declaration in 1989 in a speech to the "Women's Coalition" appeared recently on the Internet.

"There must be public funding for abortions for poor women," Giuliani says in the speech that is posted on the video sharing site YouTube. "We cannot deny any woman the right to make her own decisions about abortion."

When asked directly Wednesday if he still supported the use of public funding for abortions, Giuliani said "Yes."

"If it would deprive someone of a constitutional right," he explained, "If that's the status of the law, yes."

But the presidential candidate reiterated his personal opposition to the practice.

"I'm in the same position now that I was 12 years ago when I ran for mayor — which is, personally opposed to abortion, don't like it, hate it, would advise that woman to have an adoption rather than abortion, hope to find the money for it," he said. "But it is your choice, an individual right. You get to make that choice, and I don't think society should be putting you in jail."
It's interesting to argue that if it's Constitutionally protected, it should be funded by the taxpayers. One doesn't follow the other. If it does, I want my government-issued firearm today. There are clearly policy arguments to be made for such public funding, but they have nothing to do with the Constitution.
Another way of saying this is that, if there is a right to freedom of speech and the press, I should be given money to start up my own newspaper or television station. That is just pure insanity.

So, just to keep track: In the space of a week, Rudy Giuliani has said that he supports having his wife sit in on Cabinet meetings and advise him on health care issues (um, just like what's-her-face) and now reconfirms his belief in taxpayer-supported abortions (and shows an inferior understanding of the Constitution than the leading Leftist blogger in the country)!

Nice work, Rudy. Nice work. You're not really interested in being president are you?

That thump you just heard was half of Giuliani's communications people leaping out the window.

UPDATE: Sorry about that folks. An editing session ended up "disappearing" this post overnight! Ooops! Oh, welcome to Andrew Sullivan fans too!

UPDATE II: Ramesh Ponnuru tracks Giuiliani's abortion gymnastics.

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Barack & Roll!!!

So, not quite the coup that I forecast Monday, i.e. actually outraising Hillary, but tactically Barack Obama still manages a stunner:


Democrat Barack Obama raked in $25 million for his presidential bid in the first three months of 2007, placing him on a par with front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton and dashing her image as the party’s inevitable nominee.

The donations came from an eye-popping 100,000 donors, the campaign said in a statement.
As mentioned before, while the dollar-figure for a relative newcomer is amazing, the number of donors -- 100,000 -- is mindblowing. That shows that he's managed to create a network of low-dollar contributors, which is nectar of the gods for anyone involved in political fundraising.

Hillary Clinton is undoubtedly worried -- as well she should be.


UPDATE: A couple of interesting observations on Obama's haul: 1) TPMCafe notes that Obama had more online donors than Hillary had total donors!

2) Andrew Sullivan dubs him the "frontrunner" and says that Hillary looks like the "freshman."

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Monday, April 02, 2007

 

RAG on NPR

Today's discussion centered on the candidates' fundraising results. Check out your humble host's explanation on why Barack Obama is holding back. Consider what the reaction in Clinton land will be if Obama ends up raising more than the former First Lady's $26 million? That possibility/fear/likelihood could explain why the Big Dog has been unleashed at such an early time.

Also discussed: Jesse Jackson's endorsement of Obama.

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Good-Time Charlie

Goodness knows there's a lot not to like about House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel: he's an old, unreconstructed liberal; his disingenous attempts to restart the draft; tax policy, etc.

However, the long-time Harlem representative has had an interesting life, and there's something to respect in him as well. Some of that came through Sunday as he talked with Tim Russert on Meet The Press.

He was flacking his new autobiography and talking about the blessings he feels he's had since his near-death experience during the Korean War:
MR. RUSSERT: Let me go to your book, “And I Haven’t Had a Bad Day Since,” and go back to November 30th, 1950. Tell us where you were and what happened, and the promise, the pledge you made to the Almighty.

REP. RANGEL: We got to Korea. We were the first United States forces there to repel the North Koreans after they had, in June of 1950, forced the North Koreans all the way down to the end of the peninsula. We went up and, with MacArthur landing, we pushed the North Korean to the border of North Korea and China. And then one of the coolest things happened, and that is our intelligence, for what it was, did not tell us that our complete 8th Army was surrounded by the People’s Volunteer Army. They actually crossed the river and surrounded us. My outfit had close to 90 percent casualties. For three days they blew the bugles. It was sub-degree, under freezing weather. I saw officers actually leaving by helicopter. We were scared as hell. We didn’t know what was going to go on.

MR. RUSSERT: You were in the 2nd Infantry, a black division.

REP. RANGEL: No, it was a white division. I was in a black outfit—you know, they talk about integration...

MR. RUSSERT: A black outfit was in the division.

REP. RANGEL: Exactly.

MR. RUSSERT: With white officers.

REP. RANGEL: Exactly. And some of the white officers had left us, had abandoned us, really. And so the Chinese would have the loudspeakers and say, “What are you Negroes doing there? You can’t even go to the pools in sunny Florida. This is a civil war, you shouldn’t be here.” And we were all scared. Well, finally they hit, and I was thrown off of a ammunition tractor into the air. All I saw was a ball of orange fire. And I ended up in a ditch. And I could hear the bugles blowing, I could see my comrades being led away with their hands over their head. At one point I wanted to play dead, but I thought that the loudness of my heart could be heard by those that was around me, that I was so scared. But anyway, I had been an altar boy, and I knew prayers in Latin as well as in English. And I knew I was going to die, but I just gave it one shot, and I said, “Jesus, if you ever get me out of this, if you could just consider sparing me, you’re not going to have any problems with Charlie Rangel ever, ever, ever, ever, ever.” And I think so many people have had bad experiences that, once they get out of it, they forget it. Something clicked, Tim, that I’ve never forgotten it, and I haven’t had a bad day since. No matter what has happened, something automatically says, or I imagine that Jesus says, “Is that you, Rangel, complaining?” I say, “No, it must be Tim or someone around me, but I’m OK.” And I’ve always been OK.

Some people have said, “How can you say that? You lost your brother, you lost your mother, and that wasn’t a bad day?” I said, “It’s really strange because first I curse the darkness, and then I say how many people have enjoyed having a beautiful mother for 94 years?” And my mother, her mother died in childbirth, so she never had a mother. And with my brother, he was my father, my best friend, my campaign man, it’s—he was everything to me. And we used to joke about, first, people who didn’t have brothers, but worse than that, people who had brothers and never—but never stayed in touch with them. We talked every day except when he was in the military in World War II and I was in Korea. Other than that, every day we talked.

MR. RUSSERT: High school dropout, Charlie Rangel joins the Army, went to Korea, returned home Sergeant Rangel, injured, decorated, and yet faced indignity back home. How does a black American in the ‘50s who goes and fights a war and comes home and doesn’t have the full civil rights that our country stands for, how do you deal with that?

REP. RANGEL: With great difficulty, because the Army pumps you up—those sergeant stripes, those medals, the self-esteem you have for yourself. And when you get out here, they didn’t—they didn’t miss you, they didn’t know where you were, they didn’t know where Korea was. And I had so much ego that I was giving general education development tests, high school tests to people, I forgot completely that I had not graduated from high school. But when I got out, I learned fast.
For rescuing his captured mates, Rangel ended up with a Bronze Star Medal With Valor and a Purple Heart. He now shows a truly admirable philosophy to his life, in terms of how he sees spirituality, family and sacrifice. His experiences led him to become -- and remain -- a liberal Democrat. Others might have made other choices, but regardless of how he votes or speaks to the military role America should have in the world, you get the sense from this brief discussion that Rangel is a "together" man.

I may not like the his politics, but I do respect the man.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

 

Ragged Thots Endorses...

...Joe Biden as the next President -- of the Run-DMC Words of Wisdom Posse.

...Sam Brownback as the next President -- of Oz.

...Hillary Clinton as the next President -- of "The View".

...Chris Dodd as the next President -- of Cuba.

...John Edwards as the next President -- of the Hair Club For Men.

...Newt Gingrich as the next President -- of Amazon.com.

....Rudy Giuliani as the next President -- of the American Association for Marriage & Family Therapy.

...Al Gore as the next President -- of the Tracy Flick Appreciation Society.

...Mike Gravel as the next President -- of, uh, who the hell is Mike Gravel?

...Chuck Hagel as the next Prince President -- of Denmark.

...Mike Huckabee as the next President -- of Applebee's.

...Dennis Kucinich as the next President -- of Lambda Lambda Lambda.

...John McCain as the next President -- of the Baghdad Hilton.

...Barack Obama as the next President -- of the Strom Thurmond Biracial Solidarity Society.

...Condoleezza Rice as the next President -- of the Oakland Raiders.

...Bill Richardson as the next President -- of Aztlan.

...Mitt Romney as the next President -- of The Waffle House.

...Al Sharpton as the next Vice President -- of the Strom Thurmond Biracial Solidarity Society.

...Tom Tancredo as the next President -- the West Coast Domestic Workers Association.

...Fred Thompson as the next President -- of the Screen Actors Guild.

...Tommy Thompson as the next President -- of the Wisconsin Dairy Products Association.

...April 1st as the next federal holiday.

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