News, thoughts and comments on civil rights and related issues.
Friday, May 23, 2003
Ch- Ch- Changes
•America's idols sing
Those of us who hang out in the blogosphere tend to be more politicized than most folks. The recent statistics from American Idol remind me just how much so.
The last presidential election attracted only quadruple that number of voters. Think about it. For every person who voted in the contest, only three additional participated in one of the most hotly contested political races in history.
•Deconstruction: The rescue of Pfc. Lynch
Barry at Bloggy confirms my ongoing suspicions about the 'rescue' of Pfc. Jessica Lynch. You may recall some bloggers' doubts about the incident began early. The Toronto Star was the first news medium to expose the nature of the 'rescue' -- from a hospital where Lynch was being well-treated. Now, The Guardian opens our eyes.
I am pleased Pfc. Lynch survived being a prisoner-of-war with no injuries except those she received in an automobile accident. It is the effort to convert her into Helen of Troy and the vilification of what may be fine Iraqi medical professionals I object to. Too often, we allow societal agenda setters to invent heroes and villians for us. Let's not let them do so this time.
•From hero to zero?
In other war-related news, Trish Wilson reports the leader of the invasion of Iraq is leaving the Army, though it seems to me that a successful 'war' should be a feather in his cap. Perhaps the difficulty has something to do with the 'war' at issue resembling a boxing match between Stevie Wonder and Mike Tyson.
I don't believe Franks is all that marketable to the general public. As the details of the Iraqi invasion leak out and the occupation goes from bad to worse, the illusion of a heroic war is going to fade. I believe that is already starting to happen.
•Change and Social Security
What are the real reasons the Bush adminstration wants to change Social Security? Gary Denton of the Easter Lemming cites an article in Harper's that chronicles the development of the threshold income maintenance program and why much of the Right opposes it.
And, no, you don't have to buy the magazine to read this important article. It is online. Harper's has finally gotten with the Web. I remember when it refused to publish any content to the Internet at all.posted by J. | 9:35 AM
A sunny day
Summer has arrived in the Pacific Northwest. Today is expected to be the warmest day this year with a high in the 80s. It is also a sunny day for Silver Rights. For the first time, this blog has reached 100 in The Truth Laid Bear's ecosystem details. Today, it lists 103 details, based on permanent and temporary links. I wish to thank all the blog readers, and the other bloggers, who helped make this sunny day possible.posted by J. | 8:53 AM
Thursday, May 22, 2003
Controversial teacher quits
Brian Emanuels, the teacher who imagined himself God's gift to the colored children of Seattle, and proved his wisdom by referring to one of them as a 'nigger,' has resigned.
I disagree with the school district officials' claim Emanuels meant well for reasons I've stated before, including in the entry directly below. However, they will likely need a defense if the parents of the two students Emanuels argued with sue them, so I understand their attempt to play the incident down.
Ronn of A Burst of Light believed Emanuels should walk the plank.
Ronn and I are both influenced by the fight Emanuels almost got himself into as well as the double use of the word 'nigger.'
I can't say the man's behavior improved after he was called to account. In his resignation letter, Emanuels again casts himself as the white savior conferring his wisdom upon unenlightened dusky people. Like Trent Lott, he suggests the people he offended are the ones with a problem of comprehension, not himself.
I am glad Emanuels resigned. The letter of reprimand would have been removed from his record at the end of the school year. That definitely would not have been sufficient punishment.
I consider it reprehensible that no one in the school system, including the school's principal, took any action in regard to the incident until the NAACP embarassed them into doing so.
I have every confidence that Emanuels can be replaced by someone of equal qualifications who would never make the mistake he did. And, who considers himself or herself just another human being, not Albert Schweitzer among the natives.posted by J. | 11:07 PM
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Brian Emanuels: Not remotely a hero
Before discussing specific responses to the Brian Emanuels controversy, which should be more controversial in my opinion, I want to offer a preface. First, the situation is about more than the use of a word. I have heard people say the controversy over some Southern states insisting on flying the Confederate flags they adopted between 1955 and 1965 is just much ado about nothing because a flag is merely a piece of cloth. If only that were true. Anyone who has studied Southern history, even Southern current affairs, knows the Confederate flag symbolizes a continuing opposition to political, economic and social rights for African-Americans. The word 'nigger' represents the same thing.
Next, some commentators keep referring to Brian Emanuels' "good intentions." They are entitled to their opinion. But, I don't believe for a moment he had purely good intentions in regard to the students. But, they will say, he says he did. 'So?' I respond, 'what makes his words sacrosanct?' Looking at the situation, not taking Emanuels' words to heart because he is a 'nice, white guy' or as Eric Alterman might say, ' a gentleman,' I see a person who became a teacher at a predominantly minority school for his own ego gratification. He wasn't allowed to get into it at length during his press conference, but apparently has what I call an Alfred Schweitzer complex going on. By that, I mean a desire to help the dusky of the Earth, or at least at one high school in Seattle, while considering them his inferiors. Dr. Schweitzer definitely helped his patients in Africa, but he did so while considering them genetically inferior and himself their white savior.
And, third, the effort to shift the blame to the young students in some way is sickening, and on some people's behalf, including Stefan Sharkansky's and Joanne Jacobs,' further evidence of their own racism. But for the students being African-American, and many folks assuming therefore that they must be wrong and Emanuels' right, this would not be occurring.
Frank of I Protest. is direct and succinct in his analysis of the situation.
That blogger is like a good criminal lawyer. He cuts through the surrounding issues to get to the one that is most important.
Cue The Duke of Earl. The crafty Prometheus 6 is no more fooled by Brian Emanuels' excuse making than I am, describing the hero to Gene Expressors everywhere as, "that brilliant teacher that called the kid "nigger" twice to teach him not to use "gay" as a synonym for "uncool."
Earl hasn't told me what he has been up to all these years, but it sounds like he might know a thing or two about teaching to me.
You know what Brian Emanuels could do to earn some grudging respect from me? Resign. Then, people would not have to wait around for the other shoe to drop. Which I suspect will happen. The students Emanuels argued with did not set out to provoke him. However, now that his weakness is known, some others will. Why doesn't he save us the headline: "Teacher in fistfight says niggers don't know how to behave"?
Joel a commenter at Alas, A Blog, which tends to attract some of the weirdest people I've encountered on the Internet, says I don't know what I am talking about. And, furthermore, according to him, I'm the bigot.
Where does Barry find nuts like Joel?
Ampersand himself is more reasonable, agreeing that something is awry with Emanuels, not African-Americans who object to the use of the word 'nigger.'
The blogger who best sums up what has been a week of racism fatigue for me is Fred of Rantavation. Fred understands why the Stefan Sharkanskys and Joanne Jacobs of the blogosphere are defending Brian Emanuels and deeming him heroic.
Fred, who is that default identity for the 'Net, a white guy, as far as I know, understands how the incidents of racism relate back to slavery. Give his entry a very thorough read.
I'm particularly tired of racists and their output because of recent occurences on the national, regional and local level. The Right's rush to use plagiarist Jayson Blair as the representative of affirmative action, Brian Emanuels' offensiveness. and the refusal to indict the policeman who shot young Kendra James, all remind me that as much as some of us want to go forward in regard to race relations, there are others who are determined to maintain white supremacy at any cost.
I'm still receiving responses to the Emanuels' incident on blogs and via email, so we may return to it.
On other channels
•Are we, mostly Democrats, suffering from a malady and in need of a cure? Editorial writer E.J. Dionne, thinks so.
•I've read entries at Burningbird's blog in which she says she gets grief whenever she mentions gender discrimination in the internet technology field, including being shut out of male-dominated conversations. CalPundit Kevin Drum reports Bb's observations match his.
•Have you noticed conservatives have difficulty blaming George W. Bush for anything? Brad DeLong chides Virginia Postrel for improper blame allocation in regard to housekeeping aspects of Bush's tax cut. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, but he isn't occupying the White House.
•Christie Whitman will not be hanging out with Boy George anymore. Yes, she is resigning as head of the Environmental Protection Agency for the Bush administration. The blogger at Sugar, Mr. Poon, gives her props for at least trying to make the agency about environmental protection. I believe Whitman's annoucement raises interesting questions about people who compromise their ethics to get ahead. (Ari Fleischer's resignation didn't because he doesn't have any ethics.) I think I feel a new blog entry coming on.posted by J. | 8:45 AM
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Around the world
•South Africa ahead of U.S.
Jonathan of the Head Heeb (slur pre-approved) makes an interesting observation about legal recognition of homosexuals as a protected class in South Africa.
The U.S. Constitution offers no protection to homosexuals qua homosexuals. That is unlikely to change in the forseeable future. Even if SCOTUS rules the gay sex in Lawrence v. Texas is protected activity, that will be on privacy grounds, not a recognition of gay folks as a group with a history of discrimination.
•Trouble starts at home
The blogger at 404 -- War-related Stories Not Found makes a good case for linkage between American human rights abuses domestically and internationally.
There is going to be more of this hypocrisy as the trials of accused terrorists, American and foreign, get underway. Fortunately, the recent terrorism inside Saudi Arabia has more Americans asking why the U.S. is so blind to the records of some regimes that support terrorism while taking a zero tolerance position in regard to lesser threats such as Iraq and Iran. 404 has an insightful entry. Read the whole thing.
•Benito dials in
Benito of Bulletproof Vest (not to be confused with Benito of the Wily Filipino) is back in Manila. Says he is adapting to the differences between that city and Philadelphia, but not without some whining.
Read the rest of Benito's entry to find out what other adjustments he is making. Read his brother's entry to find out why they are both named Benito.posted by J. | 5:58 PM
Racist teacher praised and rebuked
My entry about Stefan Sharkansky's hero worship of Brian Emanuels elicited interest and several emails very quickly. One blogger has already expressed her opinion about the conflict.
Vanessa at Plucky Punk's Happy Land, who is young enough to have a better memory of high school than I do, says I am not all wet when it comes to analyzing the situation of Emanuels, the teacher who calls children 'nigger,' but should have given more thought to the current usage of 'gay.' She asserts the teacher could have corrected the student about his use of the word 'gay' without behaving much worse than the student himself.
Three letter writers have agreed with Vanessa that the use of the word 'gay' was a slur. I understand that. As I told them, I agree it is meant as uncomplimentary, but don't know if any group has a right to not be called uncool. I had to take issue with a couple of young gay men who actually approved of the teacher calling the student a 'nigger,' I think on the grounds of oneupmanship. One does not improve the status of one's own minority group by putting other minority groups down. Instead, one unwittingly gives bigotry the stamp of approval. The major impact those letters had was to remind me that racism is reported to be a major problem in the gay community. Another letter writer analyzed the matter in a way I agree with. Steven wrote:
I believe I did give insufficient weight to the usage of 'gay' as a slam by teenagers.
However, I have not changed my mind about Emanuels. He is not a person who should be teaching children of any color, gender or sexual preference. I believe his presence will likely to do more harm than good if he is allowed to remain. Surely there are many people from the high tech sector in Seattle who could take his place and don't have the problem with racism he does.
Another aspect of Emanuels' attitude I find offensive is very clear in the follow-up article in the Seattle Times. He is totally dismissive of the opinions of people of color in the interview he imagines is an apology. What the children and their parents' think, as well as the NAACP's opinion, is just brushed away, as if it isn't worth considering. Only what he wants as a white, middle-class male, matters. I would be hard put to come up with a better example of someone who believes in white privilege. Stefan Sharkansky, the conservative blogger who deems Emanuels a hero, is equally indifferent to African-Americans as people. (Though, considering he is a Gene Expression participant, he way consider those of African descent a non-human species, in keeping with the views of J. Phillip Rushton and other 'scientific' racists Gene Expressors worship.)
An additional revelation in the Times story is that the incident was much more disruptive than first reported. Emanuels came close to exchanging blows with another one of the students in the class after calling the first boy a 'nigger' the second time. It is beyond me why his dismissal is even being debated.
I have sought the opinions of some people more familiar with gay issues than I am in regard to this episode. We will revisit it after I hear from them.posted by J. | 1:24 AM
Monday, May 19, 2003
Threat from gun industry growing:
Part III: Legal mmunity for the gun industry
Bill Press at the Nashville City Paper has been thinking about a business we've discussed before, Bull's Eye Shooter Supply. Bull's Eye is the gun dealer with a long history of 'lost' weapons that provided the alleged D.C.-area snipers with their murder weapon.
Press is thinking about the topic anew after interviewing a survivor of a victim of the snipers. She is joining at least two other survivors in suing Bull's Eye.
The survivor Press interviewed is Denise Johnson, the widow of Conrad Johnson, a bus driver and the last of the victims killed.
Victor at Balasubramania's Mania has kept the sorry record of Bull's Eye in the spotlight. It is a problem-plagued business that has 'lost' hundreds of weapons for years under its current name and a previous one. Victor brings our attention to an article in the Seattle Times that chronicles Bull's Eye's record of incompetence.
In addition, Borglet is a longterm tax cheat.
Will Bull's Eye and other gun dealers like it be stopped? The answer is 'no' if the gun industry and its allies get their way.
If this legislation passes and is signed by George W. Bush, Denise Johnson and other victims of gun violence will be unable to hold Brian Borgelt and other gun dealers responsible for their malfeasance. That outcome is clearly unfair, so why are Congress members listening to those who support it?
The Right Wing blogger at Little Tiny Lies is clueless. In an entry titled "Greedy Sniper Victim Families Eager to Cash In; Filing Suit Against Bushmaster Manufacturer," he proves himself a fool.
The difference between cars and guns is obvious to anyone but an imbecile. Cars serve a legitimate, usually safe purpose -- transportation. Guns are inherently dangerous mechanisms used to maim or kill. They should be distributed with caution.
Press' analysis is accurate. The only way to stop this impending doom for the thousands of Americans impacted by gun violence every year is to let our legislators know we favor Denise Johnson over Brian Borgelt. I've written my Congressmen. I urge you to write yours.posted by J. | 6:55 PM
Sunday, May 18, 2003
A bigot's opinion:
Bigot and Gene Expression participant Stefan Sharkansky has further confirmed his reputation, applauding a teacher who called an African-American student a 'nigger.' Twice.
What a great way for an instructor to let his students know he holds many of them in contempt because of the color of their skin. (Anyone who thinks the slur was directed at a single student is clueless. The entire environment is impacted by such behavior.) The teacher, identified as Brian Emanuels, should be fired without further ado. In addition, the child's parents should take legal action against the school district for having hired such an unqualified person in the first place. And, the teachers' union should thoroughly repudiate Emanuels.
Sharkansky's efforts to turn slobber into sugar are pathetic. Observe him try to transform his fellow racist into a hero and the NAACP into villians.
Obvously, to anyone other than a racist simpleton like Sharkansky, 'gay' is not a slur. In fact, it is the preferred usage for referring to homosexuals at this time in history. Furthermore, in teen lingo, 'gay' means unhip or uncool. The use of the word 'nigger' is altogether indefensible -- except to Sharkansky and his wee circle of misfits.
Fellow traveler Joanne Jacobs effusively supports Sharkansky's racism.
Notice the complete absence of any criticism of Emanuels in Jacobs' response. And, it seems to me it was Emanuels revealing the low standards of some white people by showing his arse here. Amazing how that completely escapes her notice, isn't it?
NAACP spokeswoman Phyllis Beaumonte explains the degree of harm behavior like Emanuels' causes.
I suspect Sharkansky is an 'anybody' who calls people 'niggers.'
The Seattle Times reports the teacher is not apt to be terminated.
That is not sufficient punishment for the offense. I hope Seattle activists will bring their weight to bear in this episode. Nothing is more important than creating school environments in which students, including minority students, can learn. Keeping Emanuels on will signal the Seattle school system is not serious about eliminating racism.
Welcome Ed Sebesta to the blogroll
One of the most prolific bigotry patrollers online is Edward Sebesta of the Temple of Democracy. I have added Ed's blog, Neo, to the blogroll. Visit him for information about the neo-Confederate movement and other hate groups. He is an invaluable resource.
Pusillanimous Pickering returns
Bigot Judge Charles Pickering was gone from our attention for a while, but the Bush administration will not let us forget him. It plans to renominate Pickering for a higher judicial appointment. There are glaring reasons why this man should not become a judge for the Fifth Circuit, which hears many cases involving discrimination. Read them at Mac-a-ro-nies.posted by J. | 9:17 PM