Showing posts with label race. Show all posts
Showing posts with label race. Show all posts

Friday, February 21, 2020

Warren Destroys Bloomberg At Debate

At the recent Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Senator Elizabeth Warren showed what happens when one person (that would be her) comes to the debate prepared and fiercely determined to show everyone she's still in it to win it, while another person (that would be former NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg) saunters into a debate evidently not having bothered to do minimal preparation. 

Bloomberg apparently thought that his wealth and support from certain anti-Sanders media pundits meant that he was above the fray. It was seemingly inevitable that Bloomberg was going to win the Democratic nomination, despite having been a Republican just five minutes ago. In Bloomberg's mind, this debate was just a dog and pony show that for some reason he had to join. Senator Warren didn't see things that way.

Professor Warren (she was my brother's professor at Harvard) not only laid hands on the supercilious Bloomberg, she broke his jaw, kicked in his ribs, hit him upside the head with a brick, kneecapped him with an icepick, and shot him twice with a .45. And THEN she really went to work on him. Before she was finished I was expecting to get a late night call from Warren telling me to meet her at my northern Michigan property with shovels, duct tape and a tarp.

Monday, January 21, 2019

MLK was a Conservative and other lies from the WSJ

In winter the snow falls. In autumn leaves change color and drop off the trees. Summer's days are long and hot. And in January on or around the MLK  federal holiday, some conservative media outlet, usually but not always the Wall Street Journal, will deploy someone to argue that MLK was colorblind, didn't support affirmative action and lined up with other modern day conservative stances. 
This is of course similar to saying that Jesus' primary message expressed in the Gospels was "Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out." It's the BIG LIE. This year the dubious honor fell to one Coleman Hughes who makes more fact free assertions in one column than I ever thought was possible. 
In this view, King’s dream of a colorblind America—where the content of our character matters more than the color of our skin—is hampered by progressives’ focus on checking white privilege and stoking black grievance. With regard to the role that racial identity should play in politics, King was unequivocal: First and foremost we are human beings, not members of races. The verbal tic of modern racial-justice activists—“As a black man . . .”—would sound foreign on his lips. Even when fighting explicitly racist policies, he deployed universal principles rather than a tribal grievance narrative.
King also highlighted counterproductive behavioral patterns in the black community—the third rail for today’s racial activists. The current view among progressives is that cultural self-criticism is noble when whites do it but “victim blaming” when blacks do it. In contrast, King held that regardless of racial identity, “one of the sure signs of maturity is the ability to rise to the point of self-criticism,” as expressed in a 1960 address.
King’s contemporary counterpoints were the Nation of Islam and the black-power movement, which emphasized racial division over common humanity. King didn’t mince words when addressing these movements in a 1960 speech at DePauw University. “Black supremacy is as dangerous as white supremacy, and God is not interested merely in the freedom of black men,” he said. “God is interested in the freedom of the whole human race and in the creation of a society where all men can live together as brothers.”
As Paul Harvey might say, and now for the rest of the story.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Black Doctor Prevented From Entering Her Own Neighborhood

I've written before about how one of the most persistent elements of American anti-Black racism is the idea that some whites have that a given Black person doesn't belong in a certain space and can or must be challenged. Some racists can't believe that anyone Black can legitimately own or enjoy nice things. These challenges can range from anything from hard looks and slow service at an upscale restaurant to extra demands for id when writing a check or using a credit card, to mistaking a co-worker for a criminal or janitor all the way up to physical attacks by the police or others. This all goes back to slavery and formalized Jim Crow. During slavery Black mobility was severely limited and had to be literally signed off on by a white of sufficient authority to grant it. Blacks, free or otherwise, who were caught in "white" areas without some sort of pass could run into some serious trouble. This attitude has never really gone away. Most Black people can tell a story in which this racialized hostility is revealed either in a minor or major way. The other day it was a Black doctor's turn.

ATLANTA — A Black doctor is upset at a man who she says racially profiled her when he blocked her from entering the community that she has lived in for about eight years. A part of the nearly 30-minute exchange was captured on camera. A police report indicates that Nnenna Aguocha stated she was attempting to enter the Buckhead Townhome community after just coming off an overnight shift when another property owner stopped her at the gate entrance. She said he parked his car under the gate arm and refused to move forward to let her in, despite her repeated requests. "He got out of the car and threatened to call the police on me because I was trespassing," she said in the video recording taken at the scene. "This is racial profiling at its finest."

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Roseanne Barr Goes Full Racist

On twitter, actress Roseanne Barr compared former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett to an ape. She then gave an half-hearted apology and deleted her tweet, saying she was leaving twitter. White racists have always made comparisons of black people to apes. "Planet of the Apes" is a particularly popular metaphor when used to refer to black people. I've seen that one used by numerous bigots over the years. The thing about the phrase is that the person using it is basically waving a flag saying "I'm a racist!". It expresses the essence of white supremacy, the belief and practice that the black person isn't fully human. This is what allows people to justify slavery, police brutality, segregation, exploitation, and murder. If Black people are not human but instead a subhuman primate of some kind then obviously normal human morality does not apply to whites' interactions with Blacks.

Roseanne Barr, one of ABC's biggest stars, apologized after a bizarre, racist Twitter rant Tuesday morning, and then announced she's "now leaving Twitter."
ABC had no immediate comment. Following the rant, one of the show's consulting producers, Wanda Sykes, said she's done with the show. "I will not be returning to @RoseanneOnABC," Sykes tweeted.
Barr is notorious for tweeting about pro-Trump conspiracy theories and other controversial topics. This week she repeatedly attacked prominent Democrats.

In one of the tweets, she wrote, "Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj."
Barr was responding to a comment about Valerie Jarrett, a top former aide to President Obama. CNN reporter Andrew Kaczynski responded to Roseanne on Twitter about the Jarrett comment, which she replied was "a joke."

Friday, April 20, 2018

Brooklyn Museum Hiring Fracas

The Brooklyn Museum recently hired a white woman to be its curator of African Art. Some people didn't like this hiring decision, to put it mildly. 

A recent decision by the Brooklyn Museum to hire a white person as an African art consulting curator has prompted opposition on social media and from an anti-gentrification activist group that argues the selection perpetuated “ongoing legacies of oppression.” In response to a letter from the group that stated its concerns, Anne Pasternak, the director of the Brooklyn Museum, said in a statement on Friday that the museum “unequivocally” stood by its selection of Kristen Windmuller-Luna for the position. “We were deeply dismayed when the conversation about this appointment turned to personal attacks on this individual,” Ms. Pasternak said. 

She also extolled the expertise of Dr. Windmuller-Luna, calling her an “extraordinary candidate with stellar qualifications.” Dr. Windmuller-Luna, 31, has Ph.D. and M.A. degrees from Princeton, and a bachelor’s degree in the history of art from Yale. She has worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Princeton University Art Museum and the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, N.Y. Her appointment to the Brooklyn Museum was announced late last month.

In its letter earlier this week, the activist group Decolonize This Place called the museum’s selection of Dr. Windmuller-Luna “tone-deaf” and said that “no matter how one parses it, the appointment is simply not a good look in this day and age.”

“Seriously, @brooklynmuseum? There goes the neighborhood for good,” opined Philadelphia journalist Ernest Owens on Twitter.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Water's Wet, and Black Men Still Face Discrimination

Finished school 
On the job
Still denied
It's so hard to win in the skin I'm in
The Skin I'm In
Chairmen of the Board
You may recall a few months back a writer at The Root wrote a pandering fact free poorly argued and reasoned article that claimed that Black men, no excuse me, heterosexual Black men (have to hit ever last intersectionality bonus point) were "the white people of black America." By this the writer apparently meant that Black heterosexual men wielded unearned and unfair privilege over everyone black who didn't fall into those category. According to the writer Black women did all the work while Black men just showed up at the last minute, took all the credit and the biggest piece of chicken. Even for that writer, that piece stood out for its complete lack of cited empirical data to support the author's contention. I wasn't the only person who pointed out that the piece was making a conclusion that not only wasn't supported by the available data but also that was bluntly contradicted by said data. 

Well time moves on and glory be there is yet another study that confirms that Black American men (the authors didn't bother to try to qualify sexuality) are getting it in the neck. Black American men aren't the "white people" of any group. Black American men aren't wielding privilege over anyone, least of all Black women. You should read the article and the study for yourself of course. 

Black boys raised in America, even in the wealthiest families and living in some of the most well-to-do neighborhoods, still earn less in adulthood than white boys with similar backgrounds, according to a sweeping new study that traced the lives of millions of children.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Black Children Threatened at Michigan School

Parents complain that authorities aren't doing enough to find the sender of a racist, threatening email to six black students at the Washtenaw International Middle Academy in Ypsilanti that included the words "Go Trump."

The recent message also has the n-word and ends with seven skulls and crossbones.

Students interviewed tell Andrea Isom of WXYZ that they're scared.
"They did inform us that the email did come from the school, around 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 29. The student whose name is in the email, has been back into the school community,” says parent Ronald Ellerson, who feels authorities aren't responding properly. The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department tells the station it takes this matter seriously. Spokesperson Derrick Jackson issues this statement: 

I want to ensure all involved that we take incidents such as this very seriously and that deputies have been working to identify who the sender of this email was. Several students have been questioned as part of the investigation and deputies will continue to gather the facts. Once the investigation has concluded we will then forward our report to the prosecutor.

One would hope that the recent events in Parkland, Florida would serve as a horrible reminder of the cost of silence and inaction. One would hope that school administrators and legal authorities would be doing their best to determine who sent the threatening email. It's important to know if this email, as seems likely, was actually created by someone inside of the school. This is of course the same school which recently saw a bomb threat made. Students should not be going to a school where they have good reason to feel unsafe.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Alabama U.S. Senate Election

Sometime after 8 PM EST tonight we should know if Alabama voters have decided to send Democratic former prosecutor Doug Jones or Republican former judge Roy Moore to the U.S. Senate. As you may have heard Moore has been accused of molesting and pursuing young women below the age of eighteen, including some as young as fourteen. Even in Alabama, fourteen is under the age of consent. However for all sorts of current and historical  reasons, Democrats are so politically toxic among the majority of Alabama voters, that even with seemingly credible accusations of pedophilia Moore is still in the race, though it is closer than he would like. After a brief pause in Republican support to see if Judge Moore's campaign imploded, the RNC and President Trump have apparently decided that Moore has a good chance to win. They've thrown their support behind him. Democrats would obviously like to reduce the Republican margin of control in the Senate but likely wouldn't be overly upset if Moore won. Democrats would attempt to label Republicans the harassment or pedophilia party. They would play this up in the midterm elections and/or attempt to shame Republicans into removing Moore from the Senate. 

The problem with this strategy is that (1) it's unclear as to whether Republicans have any shame on this issue and (2) political tribalism has reached such levels that many people in both major parties no longer really care what their guy/gal did. They only care about stopping THEM from reaching their goals.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Taiyesha Baker Fired from Indiana University Health

As has been discussed previously many times you do not necessarily have First Amendment protections if you say or write something widely considered to be offensive and your employer lets you go. This may get a tad more complicated if your employer is a public (governmental) entity and not a private one. But even with public employers, if you run afoul of laws or employer policies regarding speech that is harassing or hateful you can often find yourself unemployed. The First Amendment is about disallowing the government from preventing you from saying something disagreeable. It's about preventing the government from putting you in prison or fining you for your speech. You are free to say whatever you like. But your employer is also free to decide that your speech is not something with which it wants to be associated. Just as social media has made people more comfortable with sharing a lot of private and personal information, many people seem to forget that social media is NOT you talking to your spouse, relatives, close friends, boyfriend, girlfriend, or even long term business associates. Many of these people probably share some of your world views. And even those who don't usually won't take something you told or wrote to them in confidence and tell everyone without your permission. But when you post something on social media you're sharing it with the world.

Taiyesha Baker, a former nurse at Indiana University Health, apparently forgot that when you're not independently wealthy you occasionally have to consider whether the entire world needs to hear your unedited opinion on sensitive issues.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Disrespecting the President is Fine..if the President Is Black: Jemele Hill, Donald Trump and Barack Obama

You may have heard that ESPN personality and Detroit native Jemele Hill ran into some controversy when she recently tweeted that President Donald Trump was a white supremacist, which is a big part of why he was elected. Now if you are an employee as opposed to the owner of the means of production you always run a risk of losing your job if you say something political. Your statements could mess up your employer's revenue flow or associate your employer with beliefs that your employer does not hold. That's just the way it goes. So it was one thing when various conservatives and racists crawled out of the woodwork to attack Hill. That was to be expected. What was a little different though was that the White House, through its oleaginous spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Hill's tweets were fireable offenses. The level of hypocrisy here is just off the charts. Now there is a larger issue, which I may address a little later when I have more time, about people's social media statements, heartfelt, stupid, inappropriate or otherwise getting them in trouble with the public or their employer. There's a lot of that going around right now. It's seemingly almost every day! But like I said, I have no time to write on that at present.

But let's remember that Donald Trump was (is??) a prominent member of the birther movement. He argued that President Obama wasn't American. He also called President Obama a racist. Can you imagine the conservative response if the Obama White House had publicly called for Trump to lose business opportunities or be fired from The Apprentice because of his racist or stupid statements? Additionally the people who are currently screaming about the need to fire, censor, or censure Hill are mostly the same people who are also screaming about the need for free speech to include conservative and/or racist viewpoints. In short like a lot of people they believe in "Free Speech for me, but not for thee".

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Detroit Little Caesars Arena Hiring

One of the greatest challenges in a post-civil rights movement society is to translate black political power into black economic power. I think it's fair to say that given the stats around black unemployment, wealth and income that just giving black people the right to vote isn't enough. Just electing black politicians (or white politicians beholden to black interests) isn't enough. We need something stronger to change economic realities. I was recently reminded of this by some of the latest news concerning the construction of the new Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. This arena will be a venue for concerts and for games by the Pistons and Red Wings. The arena will be city owned but will be managed and operated (and profited from) by Olympia Entertainment, a sub company of Ilitch Holdings. The Ilitches, a local billionaire family, own Little Caesars, The Detroit Tigers, The Red Wings, a local casino, and several other venues and properties in and around Detroit, including the famed Fox Theater. If you're working in sports or entertainment in the Detroit area, chances are excellent that you're going to rub shoulders with the Ilitches at some point. 

The Ilitch family was one of the few well known Caucasian run large private businesses to maintain a continual presence in Detroit during some very lean years in the eighties and nineties. They have given charity to many (including late civil rights legend Rosa Parks) and provided good pr for the city. They have also profited nicely from some sweetheart deals, including the financing of the new arena with taxpayer backed bonds, some of which was money supposed to go to public schools. Silly me. I thought that if you were a billionaire you could finance your own arena but maybe you don't become or stay a billionaire by needlessly risking your own money. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

HBO's Confederate Show

As you may have heard the creators and show runners of HBO's smash hit series Game of Thrones, David Benioff and D.B Weiss, have decided to create and produce another show for HBO. Tentatively titled Confederate this show will imagine a modern day world in which the slave owning South won the Civil War as well as subsequent conflicts with the North. Slavery is still legal in the South but not the North. A black husband and wife couple, Malcolm and Nichelle Spellman, will also write for and produce the show. No scripts have yet been created. No storyline or theme has been divulged. And that is all anyone who is not named David Benioff, D.B Weiss, Malcolm or Nichelle Spellman, or who is not within the small group of HBO executives who greenlit the show or who is not married to or related to the show creators knows about Confederate at this time. 

Though the proposed show Confederate hasn't been viewed by a single mumbling soul many people immediately came out against the show. These reasons ranged from personal taste to fears that it would embolden the right-wing to concerns that whites would mess up the story to worries that it would by definition bolster lies about black inferiority to somewhat presumptuous fears that the American populace just didn't need to see this to accusations of cultural appropriation, imperialism and race-pimping/concern trolling. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Nolan Bruder Rapes His Teen Sister: Judge Gives Him Probation

There have been oodles of studies that show that black people accused of or convicted of crimes received harsher treatment at every level of the justice system,up to and including sentencing. The flip side of that harsher treatment for blacks is more lenient treatment for whites. Regardless of race I tend to take the approach that if you can't do the time, don't do the crime: especially when it comes to crimes like rape or murder, when something is done that can't be undone. But Judge William H. Follett apparently doesn't believe in punishment, at least when it comes to white male rapists.

A judge in Northern California apparently thought the "stigma" of being a registered sex offender was punishment enough for a man convicted of drugging and raping his sister when she was 16 and he was 19. On May 17, Judge William H. Follett chose to sentence the now-20-year-old man to the lowest possible sentencing option — three years in prison — and granted him probation. Follett also sentenced him to 240 days in county jail at half time for the crimes of rape by use of drugs or intoxicating substances and incest. District Attorney Dale Trigg said the sentencing will likely mean the convicted rapist serves just 120 days in jail — and no time in prison.

Trigg told CNN that Follett, a justice in the Del Norte Superior Court, not only referenced during the proceedings the stigma the convicted rapist would face as a sex offender but also discussed the fact that the girl was not unconscious during the assault and had removed her own clothing during the assault. Trigg said those comments were "out of line" and blamed the victim.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bill O'Reilly Fired From Fox News

Apparently because of a combination of spousal pressure, bad publicity, and advertising losses Fox News owners Rupert Murdoch and his sons Lachlan and James decided to let go of long time employee and number one cable news host Bill O'Reilly. O'Reilly had a long history of sexual harassment settlements. The New York Times recently ran a story detailing that the settlement amounts and number of settlements were higher than was publicly known. Bill O'Reilly took a previously scheduled vacation. Unfortunately for him this was right around the time of the Times story and new allegations of sexual approaches by former Fox news personalities or other associates. Faced with the loss of advertising revenue from departing companies, all of this O'Reilly mess was apparently too much for Murdoch and sons, who told Bill O'Reilly not to come back from his vacation. As Smokey might say, you have to be a stupid muyerfuyer to get fired on your day off. 
O'Reilly is a stupid muyerfuyer in many ways. He's also a very racist one. What's ironic about advertisers and O'Reilly's employer parting ways with him now over sexual harassment allegations is that O'Reilly has a very long history of making covertly and overtly racist comments. This is not just a question of people being too sensitive to someone born in a world that's for good or bad now gone. It's much more than that.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Santa Monica PTA and Equality

I thought that this story coming out of Santa Monica was interesting because it obliquely and not so obliquely touches on a lot of the fault lines of modern life-race, class, gender, citizenship status. It also reminded me, as many social programs are likely to do, of Kurt Vonnegut's dystopic satire Harrison Bergeron, in which equality is not only the law of the land but is affirmatively guaranteed and vigorously enforced by action of the government. In this story equality of outcome, not equal opportunity, is what is mandated. So no one is allowed to have more or less of anything than anyone else. Smarter people have electrodes placed in their brain to disrupt their thinking. Attractive people must wear prosthetics to make themselves less good looking. Strong people must have weights attached so that they can't take "unfair" advantage of their strength. And the Handicapper-in-General is licensed to arrest or execute anyone who tries to use their natural talents.

Broadly speaking, Vonnegut was a man of the left. But the Harrison Bergeron story, which today reads as if it were written by a right wing libertarian, remains a prophetic piece of sci-fi. So this story out of California was intriguing.

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Of all the inequalities between rich and poor public schools, one of the more glaring divides is PTA fund-raising, which in schools with well-heeled parents can generate hundreds of thousands of dollars a year or more. Several years ago, the Santa Monica-Malibu school board came up with a solution: Pool most donations from across the district and distribute them equally to all the schools. 

This has paid big benefits to the needier schools in this wealthy district, like the Edison Language Academy in Santa Monica, where half the children qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. The campus is decorated with psychedelic paintings of civil rights icons such as Cesar Chavez and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the work of the school’s art teacher, Martha Ramirez Oropeza, whose salary is paid by the pooled contributions. That money has also funded the school’s choral program, teacher aides, a science lab and a telescope. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Rap Music and Race

If you don't like rap music or more precisely certain types of rap music does that mean that you don't like Black people. Well it might. But as a pure question of logic of course disliking rap music doesn't mean you are a racist. One of the things that is funny about modern life is how thoroughly and completely many people came to associate rap music as the sole music which young black people were permitted to enjoy while still being "authentically" black. The flip side of this expectation is of course how fiercely some black people defend any attack on any type of rap music as being a a racist attack on all black people. Well maybe. Maybe not. I was moved to write about this because of a relatively recent incident in Houston, Texas in which the white female owner of a famed local club declined to book two rap acts because she found their lyrics offensive from both a gender and racial perspective. She also went on to make a few uncharitable comments about the type of people who came out to enjoy such music. She said that she would continue to book other types of rap music but of course by then the cat was out of the bag. Some comedians and musicians said that they would boycott the club because they felt unwelcome or that the owner was racist.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Historical Narratives, Namibia and Self-Respect

Can you imagine a statute honoring SS boss Heinrich Himmler being erected in Tel Aviv, Israel? No?
Do you think that current day residents of Nanjing, China would support a monument to the bravery of WW2 Japanese General (and Prince) Asaka, who oversaw the horrific Nanking Massacre? That probably wouldn't go over too well either. Well would modern day citizens of Bulgaria be in favor of a monument to the Ottoman Turkish general who ordered the Batak Massacre? Perhaps not. Presumably locals would be unmoved by callous arguments that these men were trying to bring civilization to recalcitrant ungrateful hardheaded backwards savages or that whatever atrocities occurred were regrettable, rare and overstated or that hey you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs or the old standby that it was a different time and place so we shouldn't judge those brave men by our current moral standards. It has always been a bad thing to rape and murder people. It has always been a bad thing to deliberately target non-combatants. It has always been a bad thing to attempt to wipe out entire groups of people. The problem is that humans are as a species very tribalistic. We often have difficulty applying the moral standards that we know are true to people who are not part of our tribe. And the greater difference that someone shows in behavior or looks from us the more trouble we can have accepting that this person has the exact same moral claims to life, liberty and happiness that we do. So even though we know that certain actions are wrong often times it doesn't hit home that those things are wrong until someone does them to someone who either looks like you or someone that you care about. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Street Harassment in Detroit and Confederate Thuggery in Georgia

There has been a lot of ink written about street harassment, which is usually defined as looking at a woman in a way she doesn't like or saying something to her that she doesn't appreciate. For what it's worth I think that for some this is a real problem though I don't think it warrants the heavy hand of state intervention. There are just some people who don't know how to act because they weren't raised right at home. Absent them putting hands on someone or making actual threats to harm a person I think that the police should have more important things to do than arrest men who use bad or insulting pickup lines. Free speech and all that, yada, yada, yada. Well recently in the city of Detroit a woman apparently felt she was street harassed because someone remarked on the size of her posterior. This lady evidently took offense. But rather than engage in a short frank discussion of why she didn't appreciate the remarks or simply remove herself from the area where such untoward language was in use, this lady and/or her friend allegedly decided to take the law into their own hands. And in her world the penalty for such disrespect for her gluteus maximus was death. The only issue, well beside the whole "I'm going to kill you because I don't like what you said to me" thingie was that the shooters apparently killed a child (teenager) who didn't make the comment in the first place. Reginald Rose-Robinson just happened to have the bad luck to be in the general area. He may or may not have laughed. And now he's dead. Michigan doesn't have a death penalty. And even in states that still have the death penalty I don't think you can receive the death penalty for laughing at a bad joke or ugly comment that someone else makes. 

Detroit police are looking for a female suspect who shot a teenager to death Friday night on Detroit's west side. The woman thought the 17-year-old made a comment about her backside inside a party store. A car she was in pulled up to Robinson and his friends outside and fatally shot him in the head at 6:30 p.m. across from the Zoom gas station at Plymouth and Meyers. Two women walked into the store when a man they didn't know, made his remark. Somebody said 'Damn, she has a big booty' and we all started laughing," said Christopher, a friend of Robinson's. "That person (left), she looked and I guess she thought it was us."

The two women drove up to the boys in a dark sedan a block away and opened fire.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe!

Quick! What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the title of this post?
I think of a kid's chant used to randomly pick someone for a team or decide who gets to perform a certain task. The second part of the couplet is "Catch a tiger by his toe/If he hollers let him go". This rhyme also happens to be the chant used by the fictional character Negan played by the actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan on the cable show The Walking Dead. Negan is to put it mildly not a nice man. He is the undisputed leader of a community of survivors of the zombie apocalypse. Some might even find the villainous Negan to be an anti-hero of sorts. He does keep his people safe. I say he's the undisputed leader of his group because Negan is prone to using his baseball bat to beat the brains out of anyone who displeases him or challenges him. And sometimes just to make sure people don't forget just who is the Big Dog, Negan will randomly pick among disfavored people to set an example. And wouldn't you know it he uses the rhyme "Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe" to choose. As with most popular shows merchandising becomes an important revenue source. The Walking Dead has licensed T-shirts with Negan's baseball bat and the "Eeny Meeny Miny Mo" phrase depicted. But in the UK, a customer was apparently so offended by the phrase that he wrote to the offending clothing store's CEO. Ultimately the store decided to remove the shirt from circulation. The customer thought the shirt was racist. Outraged Ian Lucraft was so offended by the "explicit" t-shirt that he complained directly to the discount clothing store's chief executive - and Primark has now apologised and removed the men's t-shirt from its branches. Mr Lucraft and his wife Gwen had visited the firm's recently opened branch in The Moor in Sheffield city centre to buy a present for their grandson when they spotted the white t-shirt with the message "eeny meeny miny moe" and a picture of a bloodied baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire. 

The phrase and bat are both used by a character in the hit show. He said: "We were shocked when we came face to face with a new t-shirt with a racially explicit graphic and text. "It was fantastically offensive and I can only assume that no-one in the process of ordering it knew what they were doing or were aware of its subliminal messages.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Trevor Noah and Tomi Lahren

You may have heard about this recent interview/discussion/confrontation between conservative media personality Tomi Lahren and Daily Show host Trevor Noah. Using both logic and gentle ridicule where appropriate Noah shot down most of Lahren's talking points. Although I think it's unlikely that Tomi Lahren will change her mind on anything anytime soon I think it's also important to engage and confront people who make bad arguments. One of the things which the right has done much more successfully than the left is to use telegenic seemingly friendly media spokeswomen and spokesmen to sell repulsive ideas. It's true that some of these people are indeed beyond redemption or aren't worth engaging because all they want to do is insult people. Debating your own humanity is a sucker's game. But sometimes people can be too quick to scream in outrage and cease debate when faced with ideas that challenge their mindset. This can be tempting; it's sometimes morally justified. There is no such thing as reasoned debate with a dedicated Nazi or someone who thinks slavery was a positive good. That person has made his decision. But to the extent that plenty of people on the right don't fall into those categories but still ascribe to "deplorable" ideas, as Hillary Clinton might put it, it is important for people on the other end of the political spectrum to engage in spirited debate and show people how and where they are wrong. Lies that go unchallenged can spread more quickly than one might think.