Thursday, February 19, 2009

Smoking gun

Yesterday began as what I thought would be a blah kind of day.

After puking my guts out for three days, I was tired yesterday morning and not prepared for the flame on my comments--- all because I posted on something I believe in.

See, I think that people are free to speak their minds, to criticize their government, to draw attention to lying politicians, and to protest hate speech, in all its forms.

I also think it's important in public discourse to be sensitive to current events.


Oscar Grant was fatally shot (in the back while lying on the concrete) on New Year's day in the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland, California by a police officer.

Grant was unarmed.

The entire incident was captured on cell phone video and ignited a firestorm of anger at the murder of this young man.


Obama signed the ARRA 2009 Tuesday in Denver. He said he's taking the full measure of the success or failure of this bill. It's his bill.


So yesterday, given the confluence of these things I posted the hateful panel published by the New York post.

It's racist, incites violence against our legislators (indeed our president), and shows a deep insensitivity to large groups of African Americans who historically have been dehumanized as primates.

It was suggested by a new commenter to my blog that this panel was "stupid stuff" and that I should: "Save that for the things that truly are racist, and you will have more credibility when such things do happen". This same commenter wrote: "The African Americans I have read today don't understand what the brouhaha is all about".

I was even told to: "Get over your misplaced 'righteous' outrage".

A) I don't need credibility to call something racist. It was pretty obvious to most thinking Americans that this panel was inappropriate at best.

B) Misplaced 'righteous' outrage? Because I am calling something racist and characterizing it as an incitement to violence, I am being "righteous"? You bet your ass I am righteous when it comes to hate against others because of their race.

C) This commenter had no evidence that African Americans were pissed about this? WTF?

Barbara Ciara, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, said the Post showed a "serious lapse in judgment" by running the cartoon. "To think that the cartoonist and the responsible editors at the paper did not see the racist overtones of the finished product should insult their intelligence," Ciara said in a written statement. "Instead, they celebrate their own lack of perspective and criticize those who call it what it is: tone deaf at best, overtly racist at worst."

Jeff Johnson, a former activist turned Black Entertainment Television host, said provocative cartoons are good, but that "none of this is appropriate on any level."

"The Post ultimately has to answer ... [for] a specific reference to the president of the United States to violence and to his connection to an animal likeness," Johnson said.

In California, civil rights leader Earl Ofari Hutchinson called on the Post to apologize. "In times past, that depiction of African-Americans has been vigorously condemned as racially offensive," Hutchinson said in a statement issued from his Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable. "The cartoon also subtly condones violence. We call on the Post management to issue an immediate apology and a statement that racial insults will not be tolerated by Post writers and cartoonists."

Today protesters are calling on the paper to apologize, and want it to fire the cartoonist, Sean Delonas, and the editor who approved it. "It's clear that you are out of touch with this entire country," said State Senator Eric Adams. "Americans went to the polls to elect a man of honor from its country, not a monkey, not a chimpanzee. This is not funny. This is not a cartoon. This is disgusting."

"It's just not very funny," said one New Yorker. "And I could see how people would think it's in poor taste, not a very good job. I guess I don't get it. In light of everything going on in the world today, it seems gratuitous. I guess I don't find it particularly amusing. I think it has undertones of being racist, so I don't know if it's blatant. And I think sometimes subtlety is worse than being blatant."

Here's what Eric Holder had to say about race in our country in a speech yesterday:

"One cannot truly understand America without understanding the historical experience of black people in this nation. Simply put, to get to the heart of this country, one must examine its racial soul.

Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial, we have always been, and we, I believe, continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards. Though race-related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about things racial. It is an issue that we have never been at ease with, and given our nation’s history, this is in some ways understandable. And yet, if we are to make progress in this area, we must feel comfortable enough with one another and tolerant enough of each other to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us.

But we must do more. And we in this room bear a special responsibility. Through its work and through its example, the Department of Justice, this Department of Justice, as long as I’m here, must and will lead the nation to the new birth of freedom so long ago promised by our greatest president. This is our duty. This is our solemn responsibility.

We commemorated five years ago the fiftieth anniversary of the landmark Brown v. The Board of Education decision. And though the world that we now live in is fundamentally different than that which existed then, this nation has still not come to grips with its racial past, nor has it been willing to contemplate, in a truly meaningful way, the diverse future it is fated to have. To our detriment, this is typical of the way in which this nation deals with issues of race. And so, I would suggest that we use February of every year to not only commemorate black history, but also to foster a period of dialogue between the races.

Our history has demonstrated that the vast majority of Americans are uncomfortable with and would like to not have to deal with racial matters. And that is why those of us, black or white, elected or self-appointed, who promise relief and easy, quick solutions, no matter how divisive, people like that are too often embraced. We are then free to retreat to our race-protected cocoons where much is comfortable and where progress is not really made. If we allow this attitude to persist in the face of the most significant demographic changes that this nation has ever faced—and remember, there will be no majority race in the United States in about fifty years—the coming diversity that could be such a powerful, positive force will instead become a reason for stagnation and polarization."

Lee Camp opined what the panel should have looked like this morning in Huff Post:

I'd say that was about right.

There's an online petition to the Post seeking an apology and the firing of those involved with letting this garbage get printed. It's time we grew up America and left off childish things.


itdawnedonme February 19, 2009 at 12:56 PM  

It is ludicrous that we who see this "cartoon" for what it is...racism, hatred, and a call to violence...should feel the need to apologize or be defensive about our observations. After seeing this cartoon on your post yesterday, I was so affected by it that I wrote about how this is an example of how hatred is rampant and dangerous in our society.

Keep calling out those who hate and incite hate. They deserve no protection and we owe them no apology for speaking out.

skyewriter February 19, 2009 at 1:03 PM  

Thanks, Diane.

I saw your post this AM, but didn't see a link to comment on it?

Maybe my old eyes are finally telling me to get them checked again...

Thanks for the support.

Aliceson February 19, 2009 at 1:15 PM  

Wow! So what was worse, the 3 days of puking or the heated conversation yesterday?

I totally agree that the cartoon was extrememly racist especially with a photo of Obama on the next page signing the ARRA. Completely underhanded and reeking of Murdoch's right-winged stench. At very least an apology is warranted.

I hope you are feeling better today!

skyewriter February 19, 2009 at 1:23 PM  

Tough call, Aliceson. Tough call.

I'd have to say the ralphing, tho'.

Seeing Eye Chick February 19, 2009 at 3:20 PM  

I know I contributed to the flamage and even though it was in defense of you, I know it probably didn't help.

People who minimize the pain and suffering of others piss me off. As a Feminist, I have encountered this frequently, so I know the stench well.

": to underestimate intentionally : play down , soft-pedal--minimizing losses in our own forces while maximizing those of the enemy " Merriam-Webster's

skyewriter February 19, 2009 at 4:03 PM  

No way, Seeing Eye.

I soooo appreciated your input.

I was really wiped out yesterday; I almost rolled up the store and closed for good I was that tired.

I agree with you about the minimizing issue. How can someone *tell* other people how to feel about anything? They can't; that's the point. And they shouldn't try-- that's the problem.

driftwood February 19, 2009 at 5:38 PM  

Well, I thought we had this worked out. Apparently not.

I made it clear that I hate racism, but after reading blogs by African Americans who did not see it the way you did, and the fact that I immediately saw it as an attack on the intelligence of those who actually wrote the bill, I simply said I can't be sure the intention was racist. It's just that there's so much racism to go around I don't feel the need to get uptight about it until I know for sure it's there.

Frankly, if anything I saw it as insensitive to the woman who was mauled.

I guess your comment about sticking around might not have been an actual 'welcome' to me. I'll take my leave.

I hope you feel better soon. February 19, 2009 at 8:40 PM  

I am often in the same place so I totally understand. Hope you feel better.

skyewriter February 19, 2009 at 8:46 PM  


I will share with you something that happened to me when I commented on a blog by someone whom I had read for a very long time, but I didn't necessarily agree with them or their views.

It's tough in this virtual environment because I am being genuine with you-- and just trying to let you know where I am coming from.

My first comment to the blog where I had lurked was challenging in tone, but I didn't realize that I had insulted the writer by using lots of "you" words instead of "me" or "I" language.

See, your initial comment was condescending, and got me right where it pisses me off the most.

I am a PhD candidate (getting my degree in about 10 weeks) who teaches and studies composition and one of the first things I tell my student writers that ethos is a quality they must learn to develop as writers. You call it credibility. So I know a thing or two about ethos and not just from a credibility stand point but in terms of its roots in ethics as well. Ethics in communication, ethics in a speaker or writer's purpose to tell the truth about their reasons, first to themselves and then to an audience.

Then you dismissively told me to "get over it".

I kept trying to go back to the main argument I was making and you kept shifting the subject of our conversation. I could map it for you if you wish, but I think you are an intelligent person and don't want to insult you. And I do hope that you stick around.

So the lesson from all of this is this:

I write about issues. Sometimes I write about my life and my experiences because sometimes I am exhausted by the intensity of our world right now.

This blog isn't about you, but you kept trying to make it about YOU yesterday in your comments.

So, I made it about you today. However, you might notice I didn't use your screen name *intentionally* because I was trying to show the general "other" side. I hope that you understand that some of things you wrote, you would never say to someone the first time you meet them in person, a total stranger. And that's how I look at it.

Your perspective is welcome because I want to learn how to have a dialogue with someone who obviously doesn't share some of my views. But I think you might be surprised that we could have more in common that you realize.

If not, that is your choice.

Thanks, all for the well wishes. I think I might be on the mend finally.

driftwood February 19, 2009 at 9:01 PM  

I almost cried when I read your comment, Skyewriter. I really appreciate your candor and honesty.

You're right, of course. My 'get over it' comment was out of line -- and I apologize for that and anything else that was not in keeping with good manners.

It is difficult to communicate sometimes in cyber world. Intentions can be hard to read. And I am quite used to being condescended to simply due to the fact that I'm a Republican, so I know how that can feel. And so it makes it all the worse that I did it to you.

You say that you are 'exhausted by the intensity of our world right now'. I can truly identify with that....

I would like to come back upon occasion. I'd like that a lot.

And I'm glad you're on the mend.

skyewriter February 19, 2009 at 9:27 PM  

See, there is hope. :)

That's how we're going to get this country back on its feet: two people talking, civilly, to each other as people and not as labels, a pair at a time.

You will always be welcome here, Driftwood.

willpen February 19, 2009 at 9:40 PM  


I leave you for a few days and you go get yourself all tied up in knots. ;)

Great job as usual. Sorry I was not around to support you like you have supported me so many times, but I see that you handled it well.

Having grown up in NYC, the Post has never been a newspaper to be taken seriously. It has always been a rag of the worst sort of yellow journalism and is no different now. What they posted was so indefensible and vile.

skyewriter February 19, 2009 at 9:55 PM  

Thanks, Willpen.

I hope you are rested and feeling recharged.

Love the music you've been posting. Sorry I haven't commented much I've been running a bit on maintenance mode.

Good to hear from you. February 19, 2009 at 10:14 PM  

"There's not a liberal America and a conservative America - there's the United States of America." - Barack Obama

Skye and Driftwood, good for you!

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