Saturday, April 14, 2007

Racism near and far

Regarding the Imus mess, I have to agree that what Imus said was bigoted and stupid. Many years ago, I was an Imus listener, but I stopped listening when I got tired of stupid comments that weren't even so bad. The worst offender was usually the guy who kicked off this mess, his producer Bernard McGuirk.

I don't know if Imus deserved to be fired--a costly suspension might have sent a sufficient message--but I'm not too upset, either. He was stupid. What bothers me is that the effort against him was led by Al "Tawana Brawley" Sharpton and Jesse "Hymietown" Jackson. These are men who have done terribly offensive things, to say the least. So their screaming about Imus really doesn't sit well. The members of the college team he was talking about? Sure, they're entitled to yell. But Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson? Give me a break. As soon as Jesse Jackson pays a real price for his anti-Semitic characterization of New York, then we can talk about apologies not being enough. And don't even get me started on that phony Sharpton.

On another topic, tonight's news here in New York had a story about a German drill instructor encouraging a soldier to shoot better by imagining he was aiming at black men in the Bronx. Again, stupid, but this really is making a mountain out of a molehill.

First of all, it's Germany. Yes, I'm biased. All one generally has to do to get me going about Germany is give me the slightest little reason. I managed to upset a good friend a few months back, because I was so bent out of shape over what sounded to me like his too favorable comments about Germany. We kissed and made up, but you get the idea. So I was all ears when I heard that there was some horrid story about racism from Germany. And then this is the story?

Please! If everything American drill sergeants said was put on tape, I doubt we'd all be thrilled with every word. So some German drill sergeant said to pretend they were aiming at black guys. Yes, it's racist and a horrible thing to say, but it's not like the German government announced that it was a new official training program! The guy is an embarrassment to the German army (and there's something that takes some doing--embarrassing the German army!), but that should call for his lieutenant tearing him a new one. I don't think it's worth pissing off tons of people by making it a major news story! The media really need to get a grip!


Huomiseksi said...

Hi, Jess-

Nice to meet you at Andy's farewell at Barrage on Saturday night.

Re: the German drill instructor. I, too, kind of rolled my eyes about this coincidental event following swiftly upon the Imus sensation. Hmm, I don't know what your take is on Germany, but I've had quite a bit of exposure to that nation -- I've spent time there and had German friends and boyfriends, so I'm in a position to voice quasi-reasoned opinions about their culture.

The funny thing about getting to know a foreign people, e.g. Germans, is that they're surprisingly like us Americans in a lot of ways, including the way their un-P.C. prejudices bubble to the surface on occasion. So this latest "news item" is kind of ruefully amusing to me. "Aha, Germany has careless racists, and so do we. Yawn."

Yes, another media 'mountain out of a molehill.'

Jess said...

huomiseksi: You're right. I'd even give the German people credit for the many efforts to make amends for a very checkered past. In fact--and I know how much this sounds like "some of my best friends are..."--one of my best friends in college was a German national. Now the Austrians on the other hand... :)

Seriously, every country has things and people to be ashamed of. There's a part of German history that had an absolutely horrific impact on my family, so that does color things, but I do tend to take people one at a time.

Will said...

On the Today show Meredith Viera laid "Hymietown" directly at Jesse Jackson's feet and he forcably changed the topic ASAP.

One thing I am happy about is that African-Americans like Barak Obama and commentator Nancy Giles are calling for a serious review of the language, racism and sexism that infects black rap. What bothers me no end is that nobody (at least that I have heard) who ins't gay is complaining about the homophobia that flows from the lips of black rap artists, sports figures and religious leaders. It's disgraceful and it has to end.

Alexander said...

I certainly agree that Sharpton and Jackson have had their share of "questionable" moments. I sat thinking about your post and wondered at the inherent hypocrisy that lies in all of us. I certainly don't mean to trivialise the atrocities done to Jews and Holocaust victims, but aren't we all hypocrits when it comes to making racial comments? I know I am no angel and have been known to make stupid remarks. The question I ask, is there really a racist-o-metre that we abide by? Should all racist comments be simply deemed racist, or are some ok, and others not? I, like many others across the globe sit on the fence about this. How many times have we smirked and laughed silently at a joke about a certain group of people (be it an ethnic group, gays, lesbians, blondes, whatever), then gasped at someon "crossing the line"? A good post to make one think, for sure!