Monday, April 30, 2007
A Monday morning MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• KFC and Taco Bell officially announced that trans fats will no longer be used in the preparation of food. Additionally, buckets of chicken will be stamped with a health message. Will the Colonel be alongside the Surgeon General?
• A University of Chicago panel discussion asked, “Does Hip-Hop Hate Women?” Over 400 people assembled on Saturday to answer the question, with many participants dissing Russell Simmons for failing to do enough with his recent call for banning certain words. “We allow this language to go on,” said Amina Norman-Hawkins, a Chicago hip-hop emcee. “As a community, we don’t teach our little boys how to grow up to be men and respect women. We allow them to learn from the street what’s acceptable.” OK, but let’s also include folks like Don Imus in the equation.
• A study published in the American Journal of Education shows a dramatic increase in immigrants among Black students in colleges and universities. An Associated Press story stated, “Among students at 28 top U.S. universities, the representation of Black students of first- and second-generation immigrant origin (27 percent) was about twice their representation in the national population of Blacks their age (13 percent). Within the Ivy League, immigrant-origin students made up 41 percent of Black freshmen.” The study went on to offer reasons for the numbers. “To white observers, Black immigrants seem more polite, less hostile, more solicitous, and ‘easier to get along with.’ … Native Blacks are perceived in precisely the opposite fashion.” Gee, did Don Imus write the study?
You helped your church choir find the tune.
You helped your neighbor grill a better burger.
Got more Black advertising clichés? Did you help your barber rap about basketball while keeping it real by double-dutching to jazz music during a family reunion where you arrived in Big Mama’s pimped-out ride?
From The Miami Herald…
Minority executives rare in corporate world
BY NIALA BOODHOO
A decade ago, female and minority executives in South Florida were surprisingly sparse. Ten years later, has much changed?
Despite the diverse local population, Hispanics and blacks remain rarities in the upper ranks of companies.
In 1997, it wasn’t unusual for major local companies to have no women or minorities on boards or senior executive teams.
In 2007, while there are no all-male, all-white leadership teams at South Florida’s biggest companies, many boards or executive groups contain just one black, Hispanic or female, a Miami Herald survey found.
That’s better than the national average, but experts -- and some locals -- say it’s nothing to be proud of.
“There’s a fundamental question: Do you believe all people are created equal?” says Luke Visconti, co-founder of DiversityInc, who has advised Office Depot, Ryder and AutoNation on diversity issues.
“If you do, then you should believe that 50 percent of the company [should be] run by women. Twenty-eight percent should be run by people of color, maybe more in South Florida especially.”
By those standards, South Florida doesn’t come close.
The largest local companies fare better than the country as a whole in terms of the number of women on boards and as senior executives -- but it’s still about 18 percent.
Among local corporate boards, there’s an average of 20 percent representation by blacks, Hispanics or other minority groups. Among senior executives, which The Miami Herald defined as those with titles of senior or executive vice president or higher, it’s 13 percent.
That’s high compared to national averages, but it’s still not a good number, said Gary Brouse, who for 20 years has studied these issues for the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a group that has used shareholder resolutions to push big companies to diversify their ranks. He thinks the past decade has left companies standing still, not moving forward.
[Click on the essay title above to read the full story, including interactive materials and additional reports.]
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Girl Talk in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• There’s a catfight building between Barbie and Bratz dolls. A new Barbie website features a character who appears to be very Bratz-like (pictured above). The CEO of the company behind Bratz said, “Mattel has always been envious of us. It’s a shame that the No. 1 toy company keeps knocking off others instead of being innovators and leaders.” Wonder if the battle will play out between Courtroom Barbie® and Lawyer Bratz® dolls.
• Deidre Imus, wife of shock jock Don Imus, is slated to give the commencement address at Pace University on May 21. Mrs. Imus will receive an honorary doctorate degree in humane letters “for her work on behalf of children and the environment.” She could help clean up the airwaves by persuading her hubby to remain in seclusion.
• Richard Gere offered an apology for the controversy sparked by his public kiss with Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty (see Essay 2055). “What is most important to me is that my intentions as an HIV/AIDS advocate be made clear, and that my friends in India understand that it has never been, nor could it ever be, my intention to offend you,” said Gere in a statement. He also called the incident “a naive misread of Indian customs.” Although it appears Gere is essentially telling India to kiss his ass.
From The Washington Post…
Out of Jamestown’s Shadows
Va. Indians Emerge from Grim History To Stake Claim in Anniversary Fanfare
By Brigid Schulte
Washington Post Staff Writer
John Smith and the English colonists sailed up a river they dubbed the James in 1607 and saw a vast, empty wilderness, nothing but “faire meddowes and goodly tall Trees.” The New World.
Just out of view, beyond the banks of the river, people were watching warily. They called the same river the Powhatan in their Algonquian language. They called the land Tsenacomoco, “our place.” To them, it was a world of bustling villages and thriving crops. Dugout canoes hewn by fire and clamshells and big enough for 40 warriors plied the rivers that ran like fingers through the coastal plain. Winter hunting camps dotted the edges of the mountains.
Today, to the untrained eye, all that remains of the Powhatan people are names on a map, such as Rappahannock and Potomac (Patawomeck), and words, such as raccoon and opossum, for the strange New World animals that did not exist in the English lexicon. By the time Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House in 1865, there wasn’t even a memory of the Appamattuck people who gave it its name.
But Virginia’s remaining Indians, out of view for so long, are emerging from the isolation and fear of discrimination that kept them hidden for centuries. For many, the hoopla over Jamestown’s 400th anniversary, instead of an event to be shunned for signaling the beginning of their end, is something to embrace. What better way to be “rediscovered?”
Powhatan Red Cloud Owen, a member of the Chickahominy tribe and a Jamestown events planner, remembers being dressed in full regalia as part of the opening ceremonies in 2004 for the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington. A Kiowa standing next to him turned and asked where he was from.
“Virginia,” Owen remembers answering.
“No, where are your people from?” the questioner persisted.
“Virginia. We’re the Chickahominy.”
“Never heard of them.”
“Well, we’re here. We never left.”
In fact, the 1,200-acre Pamunkey and 125-acre Mattaponi reservations in King William County are among the oldest in the country, dating to a treaty with England in 1677. To this day, the tribes pay an annual tribute of deer and fowl to the governor of Virginia in keeping with the treaty.
In the 1980s, the state officially recognized these and six other tribes, the Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Rappahannock, Nansemond, Upper Mattaponi and Monacan nations. The latter six are petitioning Congress to become federally recognized, sovereign nations, like the Navajo, Sioux and Cherokee. Their bill has passed a House committee and is headed for a floor vote.
The tribes are hoping to use the Jamestown anniversary to further their cause. They demanded that the “celebration” be renamed a “commemoration.” They adopted a slogan, “First to Welcome, Last to be Recognized.” And before agreeing to participate, the tribes procured letters of support for federal recognition from Jamestown organizers.
“People are not going to care about us this much again for another 400 years,” said Karenne Wood, a Monacan and past chair of the Virginia Council on Indians. “We have to work quickly.”
So Virginia Indians will be performing native dances and drumming for Queen Elizabeth II. And native artisans will be throwing pots, carving wooden flutes and stringing intricate beadwork at the Jamestown festivities.
“We want our story to be told,” said Steve Adkins, chief of the Chickahominy who serves on the official Jamestown commission. “And we want to be the ones to tell it.”
[Click on the essay title above to read the full story.]
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Targeting the news in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• According to a story from the Associated Press, students at the University of Utah are allowed to pack firearms, thanks to the nation’s only state law that lets citizens carry concealed weapons at public colleges. The university had banned concealed weapons for decades, but a 2004 decision from the Utah Supreme Court said the state law prohibits the school from restricting gun-toting students. Wonder if the kids call parents to ask for pizza and pistol money.
• A report in the American Journal of Public Health showed lesbians were over two times more likely to be overweight or obese than heterosexual women. No comment yet from Rosie O’Donnell, but Mickey D’s will probably use the report as inspiration for a new line of lesbian burgers.
From The New York Times…
Rewriting the Ad Rules for Muslim-Americans
By LOUISE STORY
For years, few advertisers in the United States have dared to reach out to Muslims.
Either they did not see much potential for sales or they feared a political backlash. And there were practical reasons: American Muslims come from so many ethnic backgrounds that their only common ground is their religion, a subject most marketers avoid.
That is beginning to change. Consumer companies and advertising executives are focusing on ways to use the cultural aspects of the Muslim religion to help sell their products.
Grocers and consumer product companies are considering ways to adapt their goods to Muslim rules, which forbid among other things, gelatin and pig fat, which is often used in cosmetics and cleaning products. Retailers are looking into providing more conservative skirts, even during the summer months, and mainstream advertisers are planning to place some commercials on the satellite channels that Muslims often watch.
Marketing to Muslims carries some risks. But advertising executives, used to dividing American consumers into every sort of category, say that ignoring this group — estimated to be about five million to eight million people, and growing fast — would be like missing the Hispanic market in the 1990s.
“I think Muslims have had to draw into themselves,” said Marian Salzman, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of JWT, a large advertising agency in the WPP Group that plans to encourage clients like Johnson & Johnson and Unilever to market to American Muslims. “It puts an increased burden on a marketer post-9/11 to say, ‘Look, we understand.’”
[Click on the essay title above to read the full story.]
From The Chicago Tribune…
Don Imus has, thankfully, retreated from the scene. But there’s something he said in his own defense that deserves some consideration.
Imus, who crudely described the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos,” said rappers call women “worse names than I ever did.”
He and his defenders saw a double standard. Why, they asked, was he canned for uttering words that rap stars like Snoop Dogg, Eminem and Ludacris or comedians like Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle and Carlos Mencia use with impunity?
Snoop Dogg, a founding father of gangster-style rap, fired back in language not quite suitable for a family newspaper. Imus was misinformed, said Mr. Dogg. When rappers use “ho,” he said, they are referring to gold-digging schemers, not college athletes. It was a distinction many people would find, well, ludicrous.
As Imus said, he hardly slurs alone.
In the aftermath of his departure, there is some welcome discussion about comedians and artists who make a living by selling violence, sex and misogyny. At James Brown’s funeral in December, Rev. Al Sharpton said the “Godfather of Soul” lamented the damage that gangster-style rappers were doing. Sharpton, quoting Brown: “What happened when we went from saying, ‘I’m black, and I’m proud’ to calling us niggers and hos and bitches? I sing people up, and now they sing people down.”
Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson and numerous other black leaders have decried the sexism and violence in rap culture. Now they’re getting heard. And they’re being joined by some politicians. The pols, though, might find the tentacles of hip-hop reach further than they expect. Sen. Barack Obama called for Imus to be fired and denounced rappers who soil the world in which he is trying to raise his two daughters.
But will Obama scold David Geffen, the entertainment mogul who is one of his most prominent contributors and who owns Snoop Dogg’s record label? Will Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton admonish rap impresario Timbaland, who recently threw a benefit for her at his Miami home that raised $800,000?
The language of rap and hip-hop can make people uncomfortable in many ways.
Friday, April 27, 2007
From USA Today…
NASCAR Seeks Diversity but Finds It Slow
By Seth Livingstone
As much as any sport in America, NASCAR has roots tied to a certain culture: white Southerners. During the last 10 years, that fan base has helped propel NASCAR to become the unquestioned king of American motor sports.
Now, TV ratings are down for a second consecutive season, and NASCAR officials are talking with urgency about the need to diversify their sport with more minority drivers and team members — and conquer the idea that the sport does not welcome non-white fans.
“If we don’t get diversity right, this sport will not achieve what it needs to achieve from a popularity standpoint,” NASCAR CEO Brian France said in February.
NASCAR is making some progress in diversifying team executives and crewmembers — Max Siegel, hired in December by Dale Earnhardt Inc., is the first black president of a major team — and has several initiatives to attract and train more.
But four years after NASCAR launched a program called Drive for Diversity to produce elite minority and female drivers, it has no blacks or women competing regularly in either of its top circuits, the Nextel Cup and Busch series. Bill Lester, a 46-year-old African-American who is not part of the diversity program, is the only such driver to race regularly in NASCAR’s third level of competition, the Craftsman Truck Series. (Lester did compete in two Nextel Cup races last year, becoming the first black driver in a Cup event since Willy T. Ribbs in 1986.)
The defection last year of 2000 Indianapolis 500 champ Juan Pablo Montoya to NASCAR from open-wheel racing has given NASCAR a coveted entrée to potential Latino fans in the USA and Mexico. It’s less clear when, or whether, such an African-American driver will emerge.
In fact, NASCAR's dreams of expanding its fan base among minorities could hinge more on its ability to attract Latinos — who make up 14.4% of the U.S. population — than blacks, who represent 12.8%.
“One of the things that can help us is getting better (TV) ratings in New York, L.A. and Chicago,” says Humpy Wheeler, president and general manager of Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. “To do that, we’ve got to have a reason for Hispanics to like (the sport). I think this is what a successful Montoya would do for us. (But) he can’t sit back there and finish 15th every race and get people excited.”
[Click on the essay title to catch the full story.]
Worldwide silliness in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• The Prime Minister of Poland thinks society doesn’t need more gay people. Responding to criticism over a proposal to terminate teachers for “homosexual propaganda,” he said, “Nobody is limiting gay rights in Poland. … However, if we’re talking about not having homosexual propaganda in Polish schools, I fully agree with those who feel this way. … Such propaganda should not be in schools; it definitely doesn’t serve youth well. … It’s not in the interest of any society to increase the number of homosexuals — that’s obvious.” This guy’s gonna catch some heat now — that’s obvious.
• In New Delhi, arrest warrants were issued for Richard Gere and Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty after the two kissed at a public gathering. In conservative India, the kiss allegedly “transgressed all limits of vulgarity.” Apparently, India believes it’s not in the interest of any society to increase the number of heterosexuals. Although some might argue Gere doesn’t fall into that category.
• A Los Angeles Times sportswriter has revealed he’s a transsexual, and in a few weeks, he’ll be known as a woman. “I am a transsexual sportswriter,” wrote the man. “It has taken more than 40 years, a million tears and hundreds of hours of soul-wrenching therapy for me to work up the courage to type those words.” No comments yet from Poland or India.
• Don Imus’ ex-producer blasted the Rev. Al Sharpton for overreacting to the infamous slur against the Rutgers women’s basketball team. “The media treated him like he was Nelson Mandela, for God’s sake, without asking him about his past comments, this sanctimonious skunk,” ripped Bernard McGuirk. “They appeased this terrorist here. It’s almost like free-speech surrender.” McGuirk should feel damned lucky he’s not in Poland or India.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Health and Inhuman Services in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• The Department of Health and Human Services plans to use Shrek as a spokesogre for an anti-obesity drive. But a children’s advocacy group is complaining because the character is already hawking a lot of unhealthy items. “Surely Health and Human Services can find a better spokesperson for healthy living than a character who is a walking advertisement for McDonald’s, sugary cereals, cookies and candy,” said the group’s director. “Shrek is a very well-known character in the target population of this campaign,” said an HHS official. “We have always promoted a balanced, healthy diet, which does not necessarily exclude the occasional treat.” Especially when there are millions of dollars in promotional tie-ins to consider.
• The board of directors at Wendy’s International has formed a committee whose brainstorming includes mulling the possibility of selling the fast-food chain. The Department of Health and Human Services will probably team up with Shrek to tender an offer.
From The Chicago Sun-Times…
If a woman speaks her mind, she loses her job
LIFE OUT LOUD | Having a point of ‘View’ is wrong in the man’s world of TV
BY SUE ONTIVEROS
Why, oh why, can’t there be room on television for at least one loud-mouthed broad?
Television seems to welcome with open arms the controversial, sometimes downright vicious opinions of the Bill O’Reillys, Sean Hannitys and Lou Dobbs that fill the TV airwaves. Let a woman be equally abrasive and TV execs can’t get her out the door fast enough.
I don’t care what sort of happy face ABC tries to put on Rosie O’Donnell’s exit from “The View,” women know better. Do you really think that if an outspoken male had upped ratings in key demographics during a sweeps period for a television show -- as O’Donnell reportedly did for “The View” – he’d be on his way out? Of course not. They’d be buying him new hair plugs and a shiny new convertible if he asked for it come contract talk time.
Before O’Donnell, “The View” was a nice little coffee-klatsch-type show that really wasn’t on the radar of a lot of women or men. She showed up and suddenly, people, particularly women, wanted to know what she had to say. Everyone, or so it seemed, was talking about “The View.” Women who’d never tuned in before were recording it to catch up after work.
Here’s the thing, though. It wasn’t because everyone agreed with O’Donnell on everything she said. Oh, heck no. Sure, we liked it when she took aim at Donald Trump, a man who no one seems to mind speaking his mind. But here’s what we enjoyed: it was sorta like watching someone on the playground finally stand up to the class bully.
Sometimes O’Donnell’s views were really out there, truly controversial. In the plastic world of television, O’Donnell is the real deal, and that’s refreshing, at least to many female viewers. Unfortunately, while TV execs may embrace reality as a type of TV show, they run like mad to escape any true reality. Hence, I suspect, O’Donnell’s exit.
But what a breath of fresh air she turned out to be. We reveled in her whimsical and rapid-fire opinions even if they weren’t ours because we like the idea of a woman speaking her mind. Women welcomed her because we’re so tired of the fact that on TV, too many hours go by where the only female voices we hear on talk shows are the high-pitched giggles and five-word sentences of vapid actresses.
It’s been nice to be able to turn on TV and see a female saying exactly what she thought. There were times when she was downright cranky and we loved it because it gave us permission to have our own imperfect moments.
Women actually like it that most men don’t care for O’Donnell. We get her, and that’s all that should have counted. But TV is run by very staid, traditional men, so we shouldn’t be surprised O’Donnell didn’t last. She’ll be missed and it makes a woman wonder how long we’ll have to wait to see another outspoken female on TV.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
FYI KFC + H8 in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• After a lawsuit by the state attorney general, KFC must inform California customers the Colonel’s fried and baked potatoes contain a suspected carcinogen. The warning includes, “Cooked potatoes that have been browned, such as French fries, baked potatoes and potato chips, contain acrylamide, a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer. … It is created in fried and baked potatoes made by all restaurants, by other companies, and even when you bake or fry potatoes at home.” Most KFC customers will be more shocked to learn the potato items contain potatoes.
• Alabama legislators approved resolutions apologizing for slavery. However, the measures still require additional approvals and a signature from Governor Bob Riley. Ironically, the resolutions were initially approved one day after Confederate Memorial Day, which is an official state holiday.
• A survey by the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center showed Blacks are being discriminated against when seeking housing in the New Orleans area. The organization sent Black and White “testers” to various locations to compare the differences in responses. According to the results, Blacks received “less favorable treatment” in 57.5 percent of the tests. Talk about an unnatural disaster.
• Minuteman co-founder Jim Gilchrist, who was unofficially ousted from the anti-illegal immigrant organization, dropped a lawsuit against his ex-pals. Instead, Gilchrist has founded a new group called Jim Gilchrist Minuteman Foundation. “Now we can get back to the issue instead of dealing with these delusional whiners,” said Gilchrist. The guy currently heading the original organization complained, “You can’t create a new Minuteman Project. … There is already one, and I’m the president.” Now he knows how Al Gore feels.
From The Chicago Sun-Times…
A crossroads for GM—and America
It's not as though we all didn’t see it coming for a long time. Still, the news that Toyota surpassed General Motors in worldwide car and truck sales in the first quarter of this year -- 2.35 million vehicles compared with GM’s 2.26 million -- had to leave many Americans with a sinking feeling -- even those whose purchase of Toyotas and other foreign brands made the Japanese company’s first-ever ascension to the No. 1 spot possible.
For as long as anyone can remember, this was an area dominated by GM. Toyota has stolen its thunder not with smoke and mirrors, but by making cars that are perceived as more reliable than their American counterparts, identifying the market for smaller cars during energy crunches and, now, pushing ahead with its technology to make its Prius synonymous with hybrid cars. It also has avoided the labor snafus that have contributed to the layoffs of auto workers here and the closing of manufacturing plants.
With Toyota looking ahead to conquering China, GM and other U.S. car manufacturers have their work cut out for them. There is a need for both ingenuity and urgency. “We’re not focused on a race,” said GM spokesman John M. McDonald. Perhaps to avoid lagging farther behind, that’s precisely what the company should focus on.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Fired up with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Following a federal investigation, the FDNY has been accused of discriminating against Blacks and Hispanics in its hiring practices. Additionally, the Justice Department approved the filing of a related lawsuit versus the city. The FDNY is currently 91 percent white and 99 percent male. Madison Avenue must be so jealous.
• CBS suspended two NY shock jocks for staging a racially-charged prank on Chinese restaurant employees. The hosts of “The Dog House With JV and Elvis” called a Chinese restaurant and proceeded to abuse employees with slurs and assorted bullshit. The nonsense included a caller telling a female employee he wanted to see her naked while referring to a body part as “hot, Asian, spicy,” ordering “shrimp flied lice” and referring to a male employee’s body part as a “tiny egg roll.” Advocacy groups protested, leading to the suspension. “If they don’t fire the DJs, it will be a double standard,” said the president of the New York City chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans. The latest trend has been to denounce hip hop for inspiring racism. At some point, it will be time to focus on shock jocks, whose racist efforts attack all segments.
• The Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, comprised of top music honchos including Russell Simmons, called for a ban on “bitch,” “ho” and the N-word. The official statement reads as follows:
Recommendation to the Recording and Broadcast Industries: A Statement by Russell Simmons and Dr. Benjamin Chavis on behalf of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network
The theme of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) is “Taking Back Responsibility.” We are consistent in our strong affirmation, defense, and protection of the First Amendment right of free speech and artistic expression. We have recently been involved in a process of dialogue with recording and broadcast industry executives about issues concerning corporate social responsibility.
It is important to re-emphasize that our internal discussions with industry leaders are not about censorship. Our discussions are about the corporate social responsibility of the industry to voluntarily show respect to African Americans and other people of color, African American women and to all women in lyrics and images.
HSAN reaffirms, therefore, that there should not be any government regulation or public policy that should ever violate the First Amendment. With freedom of expression, however, comes responsibility. With that said, HSAN is concerned about the growing public outrage concerning the use of the words “bitch,” “ho,” and “nigger.” We recommend that the recording and broadcast industries voluntarily remove/bleep/delete the misogynistic words “bitch” and “ho” and the racially offensive word “nigger.”
Going forward, these three words should be considered with the same objections to obscenity as “extreme curse words.” The words “bitch” and “ho” are utterly derogatory and disrespectful of the painful, hurtful, misogyny that, in particular, African American women have experienced in the United States as part of the history of oppression, inequality, and suffering of women. The word “nigger” is a racially derogatory term that disrespects the pain, suffering, history of racial oppression, and multiple forms of racism against African Americans and other people of color.
In addition, we recommend the formation of a music industry Coalition on Broadcast Standards, consisting of leading executives from music, radio and television industries. The Coalition would recommend guidelines for lyrical and visual standards within the industries.
We also recommend that the recording industry establish artist mentoring programs and forums to stimulate effective dialogue between artists, hip-hop fans, industry leaders and others to promote better understanding and positive change. HSAN will help to coordinate these forums.
These issues are complex, but require creative voluntary actions exemplifying good corporate social responsibility.
The editorial below appeared at Adweek.com. A MultiCultClassics response immediately follows…
Art & Commerce: Hip-Hop-crisy
By Jerry Della Femina
This past Monday morning, for the first time in 26 years, I was forced to speak to and listen to my wife, the beautiful Judy Licht. It wasn’t so bad, but frankly, I miss Imus.
Imus, I feel strongly, was the victim of a business lynching sparked and spurred on by those two arbiters of racial tolerance and harmony, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. The reverends, so-called men of God, don’t believe in forgiveness—unless you make a hefty contribution to Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition and God knows what Sharpton calls his deal.
Let’s first remember that Imus made a stupid and cruel statement about the Rutgers women’s basketball team. They forgave him. They are fine young women and are miles ahead of so many of their opportunistic “protectors.”
So here’s why I think that when the smoke clears, Imus deserves the thanks of many of the people who insisted that his four-second lapse in taste and judgment was the worst thing they had ever heard and pressured Imus’s gutless broadcasting bosses to fire him.
But to do that, this fine family publication must print a piece of disgusting filth, a song titled “Come and Get Me,” written and performed by a rapper called Timbaland, that demeans African-American men and women. These are lyrics that almost every kid has been exposed to. I know it’s on my own kids’ iPods:
“Nigga your time is up, I ain’t come to kid you
I knew you niggas was dumb, but how dumb is you
Thinkin you can see the king, when you unofficial
You don’t wanna go to war, cuz I’ll launch these missiles
I’m a ride or die nigga, I be tearin shit up
We ain’t like them other fools, who don’t compare to us
All the hoes love a nigga, they be backing it up
But me I love money I be stacking it up”
OK, so Timbaland is no Cole Porter or Tony Bennett. So why did Imus do his detractors such a big favor? Apparently, until this incident, none of them had ever heard rap lyrics like these. I Googled everything I could find on rap and Sharpton and I Googled everything Jackson has said on rap and this is what I found out: They have never said a single word against lyrics like these and the terrible way they depict African-Americans.
Sharpton, while condemning the violence surrounding the rap industry, made it quite clear that it was “not about the lyrics.” In fact, he once said that rap music empowered young African-Americans. Today, with Imus’s scalp on his belt, he is now doing his “Mr. Bluster” act about the lyrics.
Then there is Hillary Clinton, who said that Imus had to be fired for saying “ho.” Hillary recently was the recipient of a big-money Florida fundraiser at the home of producer and rapper Timothy Z. Mosley, a.k.a. Timbaland.
Let’s pause in the reading of this column. I will wait while you readers go back and read the words of Hillary’s benefactor. Naturally, when she talks to those wonderful women from Rutgers (a planned visit rescheduled as of press time) who found it in their heart to forgive Imus, I expect Hillary, using that African-American voice that she developed when she made her Selma speech a few months ago, will tell the women that she is going to return her campaign contribution from Timbaland. Fat chance.
Meanwhile, after years of listening to, but apparently not hearing, rap lyrics, Sharpton and Jackson—alerted by Imus’s three career-destroying words—are threatening to cash in on … er … er … investigate the rap music industry. Get thee to the bank, Sony and all you other rap music companies. I smell a big contribution to the Rainbow Coalition.
Last week, there was coverage of the Imus incident on Dateline. There, NBC News president Steve Capus, a man who has no chance of ever being in the world’s thinnest book, Profiles in Broadcasting Courage, was giving us jazz on why he fired Imus. He actually had the chutzpah to say one reason was he listened to his advertisers, who represent the people of America.
Capus, with his sanctimonious claptrap, has had Imus on his television station for a few years and he’s seen Imus go over the line many times. It was OK until Sharpton jumped in. Then Capus cut and ran. Advertisers leave at the first sign of pressure. It’s their money. But all Capus should know is soon after one advertiser leaves, their competition, sensing an opportunity, jumps in and takes their place.
This is from a story in the Sunday New York Times on April 15: When the American Family Association, a conservative Christian group, pressured the Ford Motor Company not to advertise Land Rover and Jaguar in gay publications like The Advocate, Ford folded. So who’s taking its place? General Motors.
American Express leaves and Visa comes in. Staples leaves, Office Max jumps in.
Imus will be back, and NBC’s and CBS’s competitors will benefit. He will be fine.
As for the losers? Well, for now the divorce rate will go up because a few of those millions of us who are left talking to our spouses in the morning will decide to leave home or, at the very least, buy a satellite radio.
Santa Claus will lose the chance to say, “Ho, ho, ho.”
The Lone Ranger will just say, “Hi Silver”—no “ho.”
And the biggest loser was singer Don Ho, who couldn’t take the pressure of having Imus’s first name and having been called “Ho” all of his life—he died last week.
Sadly, Della Femina offers more proof of the cultural cluelessness so prevalent in the advertising industry.
The Imus-fueled debates have gone way beyond annoying. Better people than us have already countered the uninformed ravings of this stereotypical Angry Old White Adman.
But let’s examine Della Femina’s rant anyway.
First, referring to Imus as “the victim of a business lynching” is mighty ignorant in this context. If Imus spewed anti-Semitic remarks and was axed after protests from Jewish groups, it’s unlikely Della Femina would call the shock jock “the victim of a business Auschwitz oven baking.” Or maybe he would.
Second, why do so many White people think the Rutgers team’s acceptance of Imus’ apology means everything is hunky-dory? While the team was the direct target of Imus’ vile talk, they were not the sole casualties. Yo, Jerry, your favorite radio host’s slur created collateral damage for everyone. Including you.
Third, the gist of Della Femina’s rap music viewpoint has already been broadcast, seemingly a zillion times by a gazillion folks. It’s pathetic to see this adman—who fancies himself an innovative visionary—presenting the same contrived perspective. But we’ll bet he enjoyed typing the litany of N-words. Plus, his facts are wrong. Jackson and Sharpton have criticized hip hop. Ironically, the fight has gained incredible momentum thanks to Imus. If Della Femina wants to see people who have done absolutely zilch regarding rap controversies, he need simply gaze in the mirror. Or across the boardroom table at his advertising buddies.
Fourth, the reality that new advertisers will replace the ones who abandoned Imus hardly invalidates the shock jock’s firing. As Della Femina gleefully predicts, “Imus will be back… He will be fine.” Too bad the experience probably won’t be a source of introspection and enlightenment for Imus or Della Femina.
Fifth, the closing “ho” jokes are tired too. Hell, this very blog already rolled out a few of them. Get up to speed, Jerry. And if you can’t comprehend the difference between Santa Claus and Imus—or rappers and Imus—well, fuck you.
Finally, it’s important to note Della Femina wrote a book whose title was allegedly inspired by a brainstorming meeting for the client Panasonic: From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor.
It’s clear Della Femina has made little progress with cultural sensitivity over the past 35+ years. The big question is, does the man continue to represent the biased behavior on Madison Avenue?
Monday, April 23, 2007
The editorial below appeared at Adweek.com. A brief MultiCultClassics response immediately follows…
Art & Commerce: What Imus Taught Us
By Debi Deutsch
“This has scarred me for life. I was shattered by Don Imus’s comments.”
This reaction from a Rutgers University women’s basketball player greatly disturbed me. Here is a young lady who has already accomplished so much and seems destined for great places traumatized by Don Imus’s offensive rhetoric. As executive director of the TORCH (Together Our Resources Can Help) Program—created to help underserved high-school students with an interest in media-related careers—I wondered if her reaction would be shared by the young African-American women, and future media and advertising stars, with whom I work.
These bright and talented teenagers and young adults tend to share their opinions freely and candidly, and this hot-button topic turned out to be no exception. The students condemned Imus’s remark and could barely believe that the shock jock uttered the words, “nappy-headed ho’s.” But they were also surprised that some of Rutgers’ Scarlet Knights players were so devastated by the comment.
“What [Imus] said was completely unnecessary and I feel sorry for those girls on the basketball team,’ said Nordia, a TORCH alum who attends Borough of Manhattan Community College. “But I don’t think they should let what he said ruin their lives. Unfortunately, you are going to go through life and people are going to say hurtful things about you at some point. It’s up to you if you let it bother you.”
Ernestine, a high-school senior and current TORCH member, said, “At first I was shocked, but then I realized he’s not the first, the second or the last person to say something like that. He’s not important enough to destroy the African-American community.”
Their comments reflected solid self-esteem and made me proud that TORCH participants are acquiring the tools and maturity to navigate the challenges of a competitive and not always fair world. Equally important, our young women have learned to question the role of the media.
Joezette, a Baruch College freshman, observed, “The media needs to focus not on what they think people want to hear, but on what they need to hear—they shouldn’t just go after a story to sensationalize.”
When I further questioned our program participants and alums about the controversy, they also found fault with the music industry—specifically, those involved in hip-hop. “The hip-hop community needs to be more responsible,” Ernestine argued. “They need to be more conscious about what they call each other and women, and how they portray women in videos. They make people in other groups think it’s OK to say these things.”
This critique was especially interesting in that Imus and his supporters were using the fact that hip-hop artists use derogatory language as a crutch and defense in the fallout. (Is it possible that he’s never heard the expression two wrongs don’t make a right?)
I wish I could assure my students that they will never have to face racism as they progress in their professional careers. However, what we can do as a program and what we can all do as individual mentors is to help young people gain the confidence they need to feel that they can compete on level ground. Furthermore, it is our collective obligation to help all young aspirants in our field feel empowered to create dialogue and lobby for change. Ultimately, giving them that kind of support will help them become leaders not only in the field of communications, but in their own communities as well.
It is encouraging to see that many of today’s youth are increasingly savvy in questioning the messages sent from those within and outside their own community. Perhaps it will be this generation of young adults that demands a higher level of consistent respect and civility.
If the self-confidence I heard in my students is indicative of the new generation of communication professionals, then perhaps Imus will have a positive legacy after all. His negative example may just help forge a new generation of leaders to speak up eloquently and forcefully whenever the industry crosses the line of respect—regardless of the skin color of those who demean others.
Ms. Deutsch means well. And her humanitarian endeavors are commendable. But she should more deeply consider her own observations.
The Rutgers player claims to have been scarred for life. Why does Deutsch question her pain? After all, this woman’s once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment has been forever tainted. Imus and the millions of people he represents essentially told her, “You may reach the highest level of achievement, but you’re still less than the majority of society.” That certainly sounds like the cause of a legitimate scar, despite the fact that it’s total bullshit.
One student said, “At first I was shocked, but then I realized he’s not the first, the second or the last person to say something like that. He’s not important enough to destroy the African-American community.” It’s sad to hear a young person declare Imus won’t be the first, second or last racist to spew hateful obscenities. But let’s be glad the Black community—and the collective community—stood up and denounced the shock jock. The protests were in support of the Rutgers team as well as our entire society, with special emphasis for the TORCH program members. Given her role, Deutsch should have a better-than-average understanding of the destructive nature of idiots like Imus.
The students acknowledged the adverse contributions of hip hop. So what? Imus tried to use rap music as his alibi. Sure, nasty rhymes may have indirectly influenced the poor, impressionable radio personality. But the bigotry behind his words belongs to Imus. Hip hop is not a force for evil. Need proof? In 2004, the TORCH held a benefit event where the honorees included hip hop mogul Russell Simmons.
Deutsch wrote, “I wish I could assure my students that they will never have to face racism as they progress in their professional careers.” Lady, if you’re steering them towards the world of marketing and advertising, you can confidently promise them that they will encounter racism. Guaranteed.
Finally, please don’t suggest Imus may ultimately leave a positive legacy. It would be more proper and respectful to credit Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton for any good that comes from this incident. They are among the ones who led the charge against the negative legacy of Don Imus.
Unequal employment in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• A new study by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation shows women make 20 percent less than their male counterparts one year after college graduation. And ten years after college, the gap widens to over 30 percent. Which means Donald Trump saved some serious loot by hiring Stefani on The Apprentice.
• Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove argued with singer Sheryl Crow and director Laurie David over global warming during the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. At one point, the discussion got ugly when Crow reached out for Rove’s arm, and the man spat, “Don’t touch me!” Crow replied, “You can’t speak to us like that, you work for us.” Rove responded, “I don’t work for you, I work for the American people.” Crow crowed, “We are the American people.” Rove could have answered, “Yeah, but I make over 30 percent more than you!”
• NYPD sergeants and officers are in trouble over calling female cops “nappy-headed hos” within days of Don Imus’ ouster. One Black detective was looking for the station sign-out book when a White sergeant snapped, “Don’t give me no lip before I call you a nappy-headed ho.” In a separate incident, three Black female officers were targeted during roll call by a Latino sergeant shouting, “Stand-up, hos.” Another officer chimed in, “They’re not just hos, they’re nappy-headed hos.” Don Imus tried to blame rappers for his racist outburst. Guess these NYPD guys will blame old, White shock jocks.
• A Chicago Department of Transportation supervisor is in trouble over racist and sexist comments made on the job. The supervisor’s acts included donning a red tablecloth on his head and proclaiming himself a “grand wizard,” referring to immigrants as “fucking foreigners,” and calling a Black employee “Magilla Gorilla.” He’ll probably try to blame Magilla Gorilla for the racist words.
From AdAge.com, a story by Laura Martinez Ruiz-Velasco (formerly of Marketing y Medios)…
Mobile Video Booms Among Latinos
Good Call: Telemundo, Others Cater to Demo’s Penchant for Cellphones
By Laura Martinez Ruiz-Velasco
Text messaging is so passe. Starting this month, subscribers to AT&T Wireless’ Media Net Latino package can watch the best kisses, love scenes and action chases from “El Zorro,” the telenovela based on the Zorro legend that is co-produced by NBC Universal’s Telemundo and Sony Pictures.
The clips aren’t pulled from “El Zorro’s” TV content. They’re all original, produced specifically for the third screen.
Small but growing market
The market for Latino mobile video is small but growing dramatically. The reason is simple: U.S. Hispanics overindex in their use and adoption of mobile technologies and spend more money than general-market consumers on wireless services. A 2007 Forrester Research report shows Hispanic mobile-data users are three times more likely to download videos than non-Hispanics, and according to ITFacts, they spend an average of $67 per month on wireless services vs. $60 by the general market.
Latinos’ penchant for using mobile phones hasn’t escaped marketers, agencies and broadcasters. They’re finding ways to reach Latinos on the move via text messaging or image and video downloading.
“Our clients are increasingly asking [us] about mobile,” says Marla Skiko, director-digital innovations at SMG Multicultural, Chicago. Earlier this year, the Publicis Groupe multicultural media agency helped put together a multichannel marketing effort for Hennessy, driving bilingual urban users to a dedicated site where they could download ringtones, wallpaper, music and cocktail recipes directly onto their cellphones.
Flooding cellphones with content
About 15.7 million Hispanics own a mobile phone, and though not all carry devices with video capabilities, carriers and content providers are rushing in. MobiTV, the mobile-video subscription service reaching 2 million subscribers, now offers MobiTV en Espanol, a combination of Spanish and English channels including Telemundo, Mun2, Azteca America, Sorpresa, ESPN Deportes and History Channel en Espanol. The service is available to Sprint, AT&T Wireless and Alltel subscribers.
In addition, Telemundo in March added an innovative feature to its youth-oriented cable channel Mun2. Viewers of “18 & Over” and “One Nation” can log on to HolaMun2.com and post video comments, which are video versions of regular text messages posted on blogs. “We want to go beyond what everyone else is doing,” says Peter Blacker, senior VP-digital media at Telemundo.
Similar efforts are under way at Azteca America, which in March launched “Suegras,” (“Mothers-in-Law”), a 10-week reality show in which brides-to-be have to deal with their potential mothers-in-law before they can pick the perfect groom. Viewers of the show can connect to a dedicated “Suegras” page hosted on Terra.com to watch episodes and vote candidates in and out.
“The mobile component is an extension that will help us fulfill our advertisers’ need to reach consumers,” says Adrian Steckel, president-CEO of Azteca America.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
From The Chicago Tribune…
Rappers’ mantra protects killers
By Clarence Page
WASHINGTON -- Critics of vulgar, violent, gangster-style rap music make a mistake when they write off rap stars as stupid, immoral and self-destructive. They may be immoral and self-destructive, but they’re not stupid. As one of my readers observed in a thoughtful e-mail, they’re making a rational economic choice.
The reader wrote: “I had to stop and ask this question to myself: ‘Would I call my mother a ‘ho’ or my sister a ‘bitch’ if I could make a couple of million dollars and get out of poverty and live a pretty good life? Makes you wanna say, ‘Hummm …’”
Hummm, indeed. My reader’s right on the money. In a line of work that dangles riches in front of impressionable kids, some rappers will sell out more than their mamas. They’ll even cover up for killers.
“Stop Snitchin’” has metastasized into a popular hip-hop slogan. Unlike earlier generations of poor ethnic communities that zipped up their lips around police, the Stop Snitchin’ message is displayed on T-shirts, rap videos and Internet sites, boosted further by the entertainment industry’s money and marketing machines.
In a CBS “60 Minutes” report on this community cancer, scheduled to air Sunday evening, the rap star Cameron “Cam’ron” Giles says cooperation with police would violate his “code of ethics.” Besides, he says, “with the type of business I’m in, it would definitely hurt my business.”
That explains the refusal by Giles or his entourage to cooperate with police even when law enforcement officials are looking for the man who shot the rap star in both arms while he was sitting in his Lamborghini at a Washington intersection in October 2005. Giles, 30, managed to drive away. According to The Washington Post, Giles said, “I didn’t give up the car because I paid $250,000 for it.”
Nevertheless, rumors swirled in the local media that Giles might have staged the whole thing to raise his “street cred,” the street credibility that pumps up music and ticket sales in the weird culture that surrounds his line of work.
“60 Minutes” correspondent Anderson Cooper asks Giles if he’d inform police of “a serial killer living next door.” No way, says the rapper, “But I’d probably move.” Gee, thanks.
A similar ethos showed itself after gunfire erupted during a Brooklyn video shoot by another popular rapper, Busta Rhymes, alias Trevor Tahiem Smith Jr., in February 2006. Israel Ramirez, one of Rhymes’ bodyguards, fell dead. As many as 25 witnesses saw it happen, police said, but none cooperated with investigators and the crime remains unsolved. Is this their idea of serving their community?
Yet keeping mum can bring rewards. The rapper Lil’ Kim, for example, went to jail for perjury because she refused to implicate members of her entourage in a shooting. But before she reported to jail, Black Entertainment Television made her the center of a reality show. It turned out to be one of the cable network’s most popular programs, but a crime expert in Cooper’s report called it “big business selling death.”
Rap is big business. Giles, for example, is distributed through Asylum Records, a division of Time Warner, the world’s largest media conglomerate. Rhymes is distributed through Interscope Records, a label of Universal Music Group, one of the largest companies in the recording industry.
Other music forms also were created out of painful circumstances. But pioneering blues singers, for example, did not strive to return to the cotton fields. Gangster rappers, by contrast, milk the gangster pose, the appearance of keeping at least one foot in the criminal underclass. Hip-hop gangsters model themselves after white mobsters whom Hollywood glorifies. But the European-American gangs had the decency to hide their shame. The lure of big bucks removes all shame from hip-hop’s gangster game.
Without community backing, good citizens who try to do the right thing risk severe punishment. The most outrageous example among many that I have run across is Baltimore’s Angela Dawson. The married mother of five testified against a local drug dealer in October 2002. Two weeks later, the dealer set fire to her home as the family slept. All seven family members died.
The killer pleaded guilty to avoid a possible death sentence. According to Juan Williams’ best-selling book “Enough,” the drug dealer had vowed to kill Dawson for “snitching on people.”
“You don’t need someone destroying you when your own people are the worst messengers possibly,” says Geoffrey Canada, a nationally recognized anti-violence organizer in Harlem. “And this is what black people in America have not come to grips with.”
We can turn back the tide. Start snitching.
The political scene in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Somebody actually appeared at the National Action Network conference and didn’t diss the Rev. Al Sharpton. Barack Obama praised Sharpton for his efforts during the Don Imus debacle; plus, the presidential contender supported Sharpton’s attempts to clean up rap lyrics. However, Obama took things a step further. “We are all complicit. … Let’s not just single out the rappers,” said Obama, pointing out he’s heard vulgar words “at kitchen tables, barber shops and basketball courts.” Look for Sharpton to launch a boycott on kitchen tables.
• The Rev. Al Sharpton plans to take his rap-lyrics fight directly to music corporation shareholders. The plot involves buying stock in Time Warner and Universal Music Group, the companies behind rap labels like Def Jam and Roc-A-Fella. Sharpton then intends to use the right to appear at shareholder meetings to gripe about nasty lyrics. “Some of these stockholders have no idea that they own stock in a parent company that owns companies calling them bitches and hos,” said Sharpton. Or maybe he’ll find the boardrooms filled with corporate bitches and hos.
• American Idol reject Sanjaya Malakar was a big deal at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Bush administration officials probably related to someone who managed to thrive despite lacking talent, qualifications and credibility.
From The Los Angeles Times…
Moving forward since riots
Koreans, blacks and others march in a show of unity 15 years later.
By Teresa Watanabe, Times Staff Writer
After 15 years, she still hasn’t forgotten. How could she? At the height of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Lee Jung-Hui’s only son, Edward, tried to protect Koreatown merchants and ended up dead after one of them mistook him for a looter and shot him.
Still, Lee, 62, has managed to forgive and move forward. On Saturday, she and her husband, Young, joined about 350 Koreans, blacks, Latinos and others in a march for unity and peace to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the riots.
“I am still heartbroken,” said Lee, her eyes welling up in tears, “but this march is important to build bridges and change things.”
The riots erupted April 29, 1992, after a predominantly white jury found four Los Angeles police officers not guilty of using excessive force in the beating of Rodney G. King, an African American. In five days of unrest, more than 50 people were killed and 1,900 injured.
Koreatown merchants suffered most of the economic damage, losing 2,000 businesses worth $400 million, according to a UCLA study.
As those dark days were recalled Saturday, talk of another traumatic event — the massacre at Virginia Tech — also surfaced, including concern that the killer, Seung-hui Cho, was a South Korean immigrant.
Marchers began their 1.4-mile walk down Wilshire Boulevard from Koreatown to MacArthur Park with a moment of silence for the Virginia Tech victims. Sylvia Han, 30, a Los Angeles singer, said she hoped Cho’s actions would not unleash a new round of violence against Koreans.
Amanda Susskind, executive director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Pacific Southwest Division in Los Angeles, told the crowd that last week’s killings had already sparked an uptick in hate talk about Asian Americans, immigrants and Jews on extremist websites.
Despite progress in race relations since the riots, she said, xenophobia and racial tensions must continue to be vigilantly monitored.
“Our work is not done, but this march works wonders to say that we stand together,” Susskind added.
Many marchers said they had noticed improvements in relations between blacks and Koreans over time.
Howard Magee, 64, a retired Los Angeles entrepreneur, lost his check-cashing business on Gage and Western avenues when looters broke open his safe and took $180,000 in cash and checks during the riots. He said Korean merchants in the neighborhood are now far friendlier to him than they were at that time.
“Fifteen years ago, they would watch every move you made. I felt mistrust, like they thought I was going to rob them,” he said. “Now they greet you with a smile.”
Since the riots, many Korean Americans have worked hard to build neighborhood relations. The Korean American Grocers Assn., for instance, annually awards scholarships to about 150 non-Korean students.
After the riots, the Korean American Coalition, which sponsored Saturday’s march, began a dispute resolution center with black and Korean partners to help resolve racial conflicts. Jay Won, the coalition’s deputy director, said one case involves disagreements between a Korean market owner in San Jose and his customers, largely African Americans, over what products his store should stock.
Victor Sim, chairman of the coalition, said his group also plans to begin working with African American activist Bo Taylor and his Unity One gang-intervention organization to build housing for the needy. Taylor marched Saturday, along with actor Danny Glover, civil rights attorney Connie Rice, Los Angeles police officers, Korean American churchgoers and members of Homies Unidos, a violence prevention organization.
Some progress in race relations has come naturally, the fruit of assimilation. Magee, for instance, said he was raised among mostly blacks in his native Chicago. But his son, Howard, 37, who marched alongside him Saturday, grew up in a multiracial mid-Wilshire neighborhood with a Korean American best friend who taught him how to count and say hello in Korean.
Now a Los Angeles lawyer, the younger Magee said he works and socializes with many Korean Americans. “I think of them as my friends, not as Koreans,” Magee said.
Lee said she was proud of the young people in her community who are building bridges to others in ways older immigrants like herself never could.
“We couldn’t open up because of our language barriers,” Lee said. “But now the younger generation is reaching out to the mainstream to build better lives for everyone.”
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Check out the classic copy:
How she did it was a mystery. Up and down the river to the other plantations, spread the story of her wonderful pancakes. But no other cook could equal their flavor.
That she added special flours was known or guessed. But what were these flours? And how much of each did she use?
For years Aunt Jemima refused to reveal her recipe to a soul. Only her master and his guests could enjoy the taste of those golden-brown, fragrant pancakes.
Joking around with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Republican John McCain is under fire from liberal group MoveOn.org for his joke about bombing Iran. In a strange American Idol moment, McCain referenced a Beach Boys tune to create a controversial joke during a campaign tour in South Carolina. “That old, eh, that old Beach Boys song, Bomb Iran,” said McCain. “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, anyway, ah …” MoveOn.org plans to launch an ad that says, “America has lived through six years of a reckless foreign policy. … We’re stuck in Iraq. More than 3,000 Americans are dead. And thousands more wounded. Now comes John McCain with his answer to what we should do about Iran. John McCain? We can’t afford another reckless president.” McCain responded to the criticism of his joke by saying, “Please, I was talking to some of my old veterans friends. … My response is, Lighten up and get a life.” Gee, McCain is providing material for a major integrated ad campaign.
• MoveOn.org and VoteVets.org have signed up Hollywood director Oliver Stone to create a commercial for a campaign designed to get U.S. troops out of Iraq. No word yet if McCain will star in the commercial.
• Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton spoke at the National Action Network conference. “The abuses that have gone on in the last six years, I don’t think we know the half of it,” said Clinton. “When I walk into the Oval Office in 2009, I’m afraid I’m going to lift up the rug and I’m going to see so much stuff under there. You know, what is it about us always having to clean up after people?” She’ll probably find a few of Monica Lewinsky’s panties under the rug.
• CBS finally officially dumped Don Imus’ producer. Bernard McGuirk, who actually initiated the vulgar remarks about the Rutgers players, has been out of sight since the Imus firing. He’s probably busy attending the National Action Network conference.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Race-baiters, heed the goddess’ wrath
By Victor Davis Hanson, a senior fellow and historian at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University
This month, Don Imus was fired, all charges against the Duke University lacrosse players were dropped and almost everyone has offered a sermon about the racial and class issues involved in both cases. But we need look only to the ancient Greeks for the best insight.
The Greeks believed that insolence naturally leads to bullying, or hubris. This arrogance induces a mad behavior called hate. Finally, that recklessness earns well-earned destruction unleashed by the goddess Nemesis.
In other words, what goes around comes around -- big time.
No one gets a pass, according to the Greeks. Just ask the arrogant Oedipus, who ultimately stabbed his own eyes out.
For years, talk-show host Imus trashed people, sometimes with racist and anti-Semitic banter. And not only did he get away with playing the foul mouth, but he was often courted by the powerful for his supposedly influential audience and the notion that it was hip to rap with him.
All the attention only swelled Imus’ head. And his excess led him to a kind of madness. How else to characterize the mind of someone who labels the Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos”?
Apparently, the unhinged Imus thought that adopting such racist, sexist slurs used by those in the “gangsta” culture – “hos” is a favorite term of some African-American rappers and comedians -- was also cool for a white shock-jock.
Imus also foolishly assumed that the parade of liberal politicians and friends who clamored to get on his show might offer him politically correct cover.
Wrong again. Something called “race, class and gender” studies in our universities has long preached otherwise: Only those not white, heterosexual and male have an unspoken pass to use jocular slurs that their “oppressors” better not copy.
Lesbians on motorcycles carry placards blaring “Dykes on bikes.” Homosexuals hype “queer studies.” Yet for outsiders to dub someone a “queer” or a “dyke” -- or a “ho” -- even as a bad joke, automatically is deemed proof of their prejudice.
Imus, for all his pseudo-sophistication about the contemporary scene, apparently did not grasp this hypocrisy of American popular culture. So he thought he could piggyback on such vile language -- and as a hip white celeb get away with it.
Then he met Nemesis, long lying in wait. And the more America learned about the past rantings of this talk-show bully, the more it wondered why such a banal fool ever had an audience in the first place, much less was courted by politicians and celebrities.
The same ancient pattern of arrogance and retribution appears in the case of the Duke lacrosse team. Three Duke players were unjustly accused of rape and sexual offense by an African-American stripper. Local district attorney Mike Nifong, some of the Duke humanities faculty, the Duke University president, and the ubiquitous race hustlers Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton all swarmed on a perfect scandal for political advantage and self-promoting sermonizing.
After all, beer-drinking, rich white lacrosse athletes were supposedly brutalizing a poor woman of color, forced by her poverty to submit to them sexually.
Despite no evidence, the accused students were charged with felonies. The coach is long gone, and the entire team was disbanded for a year.
The academic mob added its own rush-to-judgment easy condemnations. Then Nifong won re-election as a populist crusader against supposedly racist preppie sex-offenders. Seemingly ignoring evidence that the victim was making the charges up, this lynch mob went headlong into mad excess.
Then, wham, Nemesis hit them too.
Now these false accusers are getting their long-awaited due. The past anti-Semitism of Jackson (“hymietown”) and Sharpton (“diamond merchants”) is finally being broadcast nightly. Both preachers scramble to get on TV -- only to be cross-examined as never before as they try in vain to explain away their own past bigoted slurs.
Meanwhile, Duke University, its president, and many of the liberal arts faculty -- the latter in public statements and letters repeatedly tried and convicted those wrongly accused on rumor and false evidence -- appear not just as opportunists, but mean-spirited ones at that.
Nifong now faces possible disbarment and civil suits. What saves the stripper who concocted all this from the fate of Scooter Libby is that her stories are so preposterous that so far she is thought to be a delusional victim rather than a perjurer deserving of a prison sentence.
At the heart of both the Imus and Duke scandals is arrogance. Overweening conceit inevitably led bigheads like Imus, Nifong, Sharpton, Jackson and many at Duke University to go one step too far -- and thus at last earn their just deserts.
Speaking in code with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Rapper Cam’ron explained his “code of ethics” during an interview with Anderson Cooper for 60 Minutes. For example, cooperating with police “would definitely hurt my business. And the way I was raised, I just don’t do that.” Given the hypothetical situation of living beside a serial killer, the rapper said, “I wouldn’t call and tell anybody on him — but I’d probably move.” The guy sounds like a mo’ron.
• McDonald’s reported a 22 percent increase in profits. The average American’s weight probably increased at a higher percentage.
• Former President Bill Clinton spoke at the National Action Network conference on Thursday. Clinton told Black leaders to reduce their use of energy, see the opportunities of globalization and take better care of their health. Then he probably went to Mickey D’s for a Big Mac Extra Value Meal.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Getting a bad rap with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• The National Action Network conference, held annually by the Rev. Al Sharpton, kicked off yesterday with a few hiccups. First, Universal Music Group allegedly demanded its $15,000 event donation be returned in protest over Sharpton’s decision to withdraw an award that would have gone to Def Jam’s L.A. Reid (see Essay 2016). Also, Def Jam founder Russell Simmons allegedly reneged on buying two tables — estimated at $10,000 each — to a dinner at the summit, which Sharpton interpreted as another protest over the activist’s criticism of rap lyrics. “Oh, you only bought tickets if he would agree with us on lyrics?” remarked Sharpton. “You weren’t supporting the civil-rights cause, you weren’t supporting the fight against police brutality? I’ve been against the lyrics all along.” Simmons insisted it was a misunderstanding, and he planned to pay for the tables. Additionally, a spokesperson for Universal Music Group later denied asking for a refund. The National Action Network needs to work on its communications.
• Also at the National Action Network conference, former New York Mayor Ed Koch dissed Sharpton over the Tawana Brawley incident. “If you would have apologized for the Tawana Brawley hoax, you’d be a crossover leader,” said Koch. At this point, Sharpton must be reevaluating the National Action Network conference invitation list.
• A group of lesbians were found guilty of assaulting a filmmaker in Greenwich Village last summer (see Essay 953). The women charged that the filmmaker became abusive after they rebuffed his advances, and he initiated the brawl. But a jury didn’t believe them, so the group is now headed for jail. The filmmaker will probably turn the incident into a twisted Girls Gone Wild video.