STOP STRIVING. IT SCARES US.
Alec Baldwin has done us a service by preserving a staggeringly racist column purportedly by Barack Obama -- or, rather, by "YoMama Bin Barack." The column was published in a weekly newspaper in the posh parts of Long Island, then withdrawn from the paper's Web site as its author, Rick Murphy, issued the usual I-had-no-idea-this-would-hurt-people copout of an apology.
Click on the images below to read the thing; my thoughts follow.
OK, let's get an obvious question out of the way: Does this kind of thing mean it's a risk for Democrats to nominate Obama? No. People who laugh at this aren't going to vote for Hillary Clinton, either -- at the end of the day, they're going to vote for whoever they see as the white-manliest candidate in the race, and inevitably that's going to be the Republican (i.e., they would never have voted for John Edwards, either, at least not after another thousand wisecracks about his haircuts). Note in the apology, by the way, that Murphy's prior column also offended a lot of people, and that one was supposedly written by Hillary Clinton. (I'd be curious to read that one, but I haven't found it.)
What I get from the Obama column is not so much a belief that Obama conforms to ugly racist stereotypes as much as anxiety at the notion that he doesn't -- it's as if Murphy has a desperate need to force Obama into a racist pigeonhole because the thought that he might have to take Obama (or any black person) seriously, or accord black people any respect whatsoever, is too much to bear.
You hear the same thing in Don Imus's racist shtick -- not just the remarks about the Rutgers basketball team, but the bits from one of his 1970s comedy albums that I quoted last year:
... Newark mayor Kenneth "King Kong" Gibson has announced the nomination of the city's first Hispanic municipal court judge and the first black woman to fill a second vacancy on the court. Judge Guillermo Alfredo Espanata Ortega Ortez Astellego Jijuete Chingao will assume his duties as quickly as he can get his car started and get to court. The other new judge, thirty-year-old Rebecca Golin Johnson Lincoln Jefferson, will assume her duties as soon as she, in her own words, "gets damn good and fuckin' ready, honky!"
Stop accomplishing things and get back in that stereotype, dammit!
(And I'll throw in Howard Stern, too -- go back to his first book and find pearls of wisdom such as "You know what the sweetest fruit of the civil rights movement was? The ultimate prize? We all know what the prize was. PORKING WHITE BABES!" More recently, by the way, we find Stern having a jolly old time mocking immigrant shopkeepers' pronunciation of English. Can't risk letting them get a toehold either, can we?)
I'd bet a thousand bucks Rick Murphy is a big Stern fan and/or a big Imus fan.
In the apology, Murphy says that his paper's principal owner isn't responsible for the offensive pieces in the paper -- "He never sees our paper before it comes out." That principal owner is Jerry Della Femina, a legendary ad guy (the Mad Men era marks the start of his career; he literally wrote the book on advertising in the 1960s). Della Femina may not be the guilty party, but it's hard to believe that the column offended him -- here's a New York Observer article about him from 2005:
...His weekly column, "Jerry's Ink," published weekly in his own paper, the East Hampton Independent, contains diatribes on everything from piping plovers to gun control.
On July 27, Mr. Della Femina's column announced, with an uncertain degree of seriousness, that he would begin racial profiling at his Hamptons restaurant, Della Femina. "Should anything untoward happen on our restaurant premises," he wrote, "the Muslim perpetrator will be buried with one of my great Chef's Michael Rozzi's pork chops in his mouth."
...Have any Muslims come into your restaurant since the column came out? "No, we haven’t seen any. I think I've lost the Muslim group. Hahaha!"
What a charming guy.
Oh, and here's my favorite part:
... if you were named Mayor for a day, what would you do? "In that day, I would change the profiling at the subways. No. 1."
How exactly would you formulate that law? "Oh, I'd be a dictator for a day! Uh, basically, the law would include that those people who in the past have been the perpetrators of acts of terrorism would be those that would be first checked...."
Wow -- that's just unbelievably brilliant. Pick out all the people in the subways who've committed terrorist acts in the past -- and then stop and search them! (Smacks head.) Why didn't we think of that before?
(Via Jack and Jill Politics.)