Friday, February 10, 2006

Random thoughts

Did the New York Times ever do an editorial or column devoted to Coretta Scott King? Nope. Never. She wasn't "important" enough. Her life wasn't "important" enough. Her actions weren't "important" enough. It would be interesting to know exactly what qualifies for "important" in their limited minds.

Betty's got two great chapters on this at her site. One was up when I wrote last and I meant to note it but there just wasn't time. If you've missed them, please read "The Pig Is Racism, The Pig Is The New York Times" and "Thomas Friedman plays the woman scorned." I really have nothing to add to that. I think that Betty and C.I. have covered it very well. Another thing you may have missed (and I helped with this) is The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Editorial: Does The New York Times editorial board not know that Coretta Scott King died or do they just not care?" which went up last Sunday.

So what can I add? Three Cool Old Guys told me that the paper of record's treatment of Coretta Scott King demonstrated to them that there's nothing an African-American can do to be honored by the paper. They say that if, after all of Coretta Scott King's work, she can't get as much as a playwright most people have never heard of (or know the plays), then that pretty much tells you where we are in terms of civil rights.

They can't believe that the paper of record got away with this nonsense but feel that African-Americans have been losing ground for some time. But no one would have expected that we'd lost so much ground that the New York Times op-ed pages could get away without honoring the life of Coretta Scott King.

And, they also pointed out, that this is during Black History Month.

It goes back to learning who really wants to be inclusive and who doesn't. It's the same as when the Bully Boy speaks in code and signals to his base. The paper signaled to their base not to worry because even a historically important woman can be ignored, they will remain a White paper for a White audience.

It'll be interesting to note which death the paper chooses to editorialize on next. And, it should be remembered, that the paper didn't root for MLK in life, only in death when they could reduce him to "I have a dream" and not focus on his speaking out against the war, speaking out against poverty, speaking out against racism in the north. They were comfortable as long as civil rights meant the south was the focus of the efforts.

60 Minutes, a year or so ago, did a story on African-Americans choosing to move from the north to the south and had a panel of people living in and around Atlanta. It was supposed to be a fish out of water story -- one of those, "How strange" stories. But what was strange about it? Do reporters really think that racism is confined to the south?

That seems to be the impression. It's not reality. Talk to any African-American living in the north and you'll learn that racism isn't absent from that geographic zone.

But it's one of those pleasing tales we tell ourselves. Encouraged to do so by the media.

Did you know I was an identiy-politics type guy? I didn't. I hadn't heard of that until we were working last weekend on The Third Estate Sunday Review's "State of the web: NARAL as the new Ralph Nader." See, according to critics, someone like me focuses too much on race. Now the Whites presenting that "identity-politics" argument are focusing on race as well. They can lie and say they aren't. But when they want to argue that the Democratic Party is too identified with racial minorities, women, etc., who do you think is mainly making that argument?

I know it's not African-Americans who are getting pretty tired of the Democrats showing up every election cycle (at churches) to promise the moon and then failing to deliver even the dirt on the ground.

It's interesting that this "movement," led by White males mainly, isn't called on their nonsense. As the gatekeepers deciding what gets attention and what doesn't, they're awfully lucky that no one else gets to be the bouncer. Otherwise, they might find themselves on the other side of the rope, trying to get in.

But when you're the gatekeeper, you can define what's "important" and what's not. And the fact that groups traditionally discriminated against aren't "important" has nothing to do with racism, sexism or homophobia, to hear them tell it. It has to do with what we can all agree upon. "We" of course is the group that looks like them.

The gatekeepers might want to worry because they could easily become cryptkeepers if they aren't careful. If that happens, what happens to the Democratic Party?

It goes the way of the Whigs Party. Maybe something to think about?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Gail Collins and the New York Times can't have it both ways

I don't usually blog on Wednesday nights because it's a church night and Elaine's kind enough to grab the night for me by blogging at Like Maria Said Paz. (Thank you, Elaine.) But I wanted my last post about the racism of the New York Times' editorial board and Gail Collins up until the day after Coretta Scott King's funeral. I didn't think they'd bother to note her the day after since they've kept their White lips sealed all this time.

If you read C.I.'s "The New York Times and the Coretta Scott King coverage (not a pretty picture)" you know they didn't have a thing to say about her on their editorial pages today. If you read C.I.'s "The New York Times and the Coretta Scott King coverage (not a pretty picture)" and "Democracy Now: Priest Gerad Jean Juste, tributes to Coretta Scott King; Robert Parry, CCR ..." you know that they not only mocked Reverend Joseph Lowery but they took his joke and gave old Poppy Bush credit for it. Imagine that, an African-American does something and a White guy gets the credit for it. Didn't we all think we'd moved past those days?

Well not at the New WHITE Times apparently. Gail Collins can blather on about her friend who passed away and how, busy career gals, they had to schedule time to meet up. Rush, rush, rush.
How very Sex in the City, we're supposed to think. But the thing was the women on that show made time for their friends (even if they worked a "few blocks" away or whatever Collins whined in her supposed editorial on her friend that read "Look how busy I am! I am busy! I am important!"). You also knew that Carrie Bradshaw, Samantha, Miranda and the other one had a life. Get the feeling "I'm Busy!" Gail Collins has a life?

I think she's too busy being "important" to have a life. So I'll say she fell into a racist trap and wasn't herself racist. I'll give her that much credit. She's "Busy!" so she didn't stop to think, "Coretta Scott King might actually mean something to people, might actually be worth noting and editorializing on." But when you are "Busy!" it can be real hard to see anything that's not in your own world. So Gail Collins couldn't see how important Coretta Scott King was because in the "I'm Busy!" world, there's not time to think. There's no time to talk about things that really matter when you're so "Busy!" and trying to convince yourself that you have a life even if you have to pretend like your a character on Sex in the City to do that.

While Collins was so "Busy!" celebrating herself and how "Busy!" she is, she missed the fact that a historic figure died. She missed the fact that she, Collins, wrote a dopey book (on an important topic) about how women deserve a place in history. She was so "Busy!" that she didn't realize that here was a woman, Coretta Scott King, that had a place in history and that if her dopey book meant anything to her, which I assume it did, here was a chance for her to put her money where her is mouth is.

So I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and say that she herself isn't racist, she just fell into a racist trap because she was so "Busy!"

If that's not the case, then there are two more options.

One, she's racist.

Two, she's a first ("First woman to be the editor of the editorial page! I'm busy!") so she's scared to rock the boat. She's scared to actually use the power of her position. And all the other saps on the editorial board reflected years of conditioning from the paper that spit on MLK when he was alive. She didn't want to go out on limb.

Regardless of which of the three it is is, and it may be something else completely, by not covering Coretta Scott King's passing with an editorial or op-ed (not one that mentioned her, one that was about her), Gail Collins made herself the biggest huckster in the world. She wants to write about women in her books, about how they are important. But when it was time to put her money where her mouth was, she had nothing to say. That's pretty sad if you ask me. Gail Collins is pretty sad if you ask me.

So maybe the next time she writes (badly writes) another book about how women have a place in history, an interviewer can ask her, "If you really believe that, why did you fail to note Coretta Scott King when she passed away?" She can't have it both ways.