Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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Indiscriminate thoughts on discrimination

George Foster - December 7th, 2006
Indiscriminate thoughts on discrimination
Thank goodness for modern technology.
Without the small digital camera that filmed Kramer… I mean, Michael Richards, his racial tirade might never have been revealed. If nothing else, our camera-phone obsession should provide a deterrent effect that may help eliminate such acts of racism.
A white man calling an African-American “nigger” over and over is bad enough, but the same guy taunting black people about lynchings from another era transcends stupidity.
Don’t worry, no matter how many times Richards apologizes, he has received his punishment – his career in entertainment is over. Richards’ typecasting as quirky “Kramer” has been replaced by the notoriety of the most notoriously racist outburst in film history.
The Michael Richards incident is proof that racism is still pervasive though looked down upon by most Americans. That hasn’t always been the case.
I’ll never forget an infamous story of Ty Cobb, the greatest baseball player of all time and maybe the most hated. In the early 20th century Cobb was a noted bigot and generally vile person.
When Cobb jumped into the grandstands during a game to pummel a severely handicapped heckler, the league suspended the Hall-of-Famer for several games. Though his Detroit teammates hated Cobb too, they refused play during his suspension in support of Cobb. You see, the heckler had done the unthinkable for that era; he called Cobb a “nigger-lover”.
“Nigger” isn’t even listed in the official Webster’s Dictionary I use, but it has to be the most interesting word in the English language.
As a white man, I am not only uncomfortable discussing the N-word in this column, it makes me uneasy to say the word aloud at this moment while alone. Why? Because of what “nigger” represents.
Nigger means whites snatching Africans from their families and homes and being shipped thousands of miles away in chains. Nigger means being whipped, shot, or lynched without regard to any basic human dignity. Bottom line, the word “nigger” represents blacks being forced into slavery and treated as animals or worse.
On the other hand, African-Americans often use the N-word when describing each other. Rap songs sung by blacks frequently use the word when discussing their friends.
Black athletes sometimes refer to each other as “nigger” with a positive meaning of strength and courage.
Several years ago, CMU’s white coach asked and received permission from his black basketball players to use the word “nigger” with its positive meaning during practice. Someone overheard the white coach using the word with his players and he was soon fired.
The moral to the story seems to be that racial and ethnic slurs may be negated if the historic victims use the otherwise inappropriate insults. If you are a white Anglo-Saxon man, you won’t get away with saying anything remotely racist. And rightfully so.
In the case of U.S. Senator George Allen, justice prevailed again when a racist was exposed in an unguarded moment on film. As a Caucasian, Senator Allen referred to a filmmaker of Indian descent covering his campaign as “macaca” (monkey). Allen also welcomed him to America (the filmmaker is a native of Virginia). From the time of his racist slip, Allen’s popularity dropped from a double-digit percentage lead over his challenger in the Virginia polls to losing the election by an eyelash.
Ironically, Republicans lost control of the U.S. Senate in the recent election by one seat and Republican Allen’s razor-thin loss was the last Senate seat to be decided. Whoever said one person can’t affect the outcome of an election?
Amazingly, one word on film was enough to change the course of history.

 
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