P.C. or Not P.C.

that if you use the word “thug”, you are in fact hurling a racial epithet.

Surprised? I sure was, when I first read about this in Saturday’s AJC article entitled: “What is a Thug?”.

All of this suddenly appears to have come up with the wide reactions to Michael Vick’s latest escapade… being forced to surrender his marijuana transportation container (aka Aquafina Water Bottle Diversion Safe) at the Miami Airport as he passed through TSA security checkpoint on his way to meet his new coach for the first time. Now he wasn’t arrested, because he apparently didn’t have his bottle full of contraband at the time, but certainly did not show very sound judgement for someone who is the “face of the franchise”.

Economic reality means that there’s no way that the Atlanta Falcons would ever cut or trade Vick… even if owner Arthur Blank isn’t happy with him. That’s the fact. But it must be some disappointment to know that your franchise’s star player is a pothead who can’t be trusted off the field. (But in fairness… at least he’s not as bad as his brother Marcus).

Anyway, many fans in Atlanta, very much disappointed in the continued regression in the performance of the Falcons on the field, found Vick’s latest move to be very stupid. And so the article informs… criticizing Vick by calling him a thug is practicing racism:

Considering that the Atlanta Falcons quarterback is not a hardened criminal or known to be a gang member, has the use of the word “thug” about him, and other young black men, started to sound like a racial epithet?

“I’ve been astonished at the blanket bigotry in some cases,” said Jamie Dukes, the 680 the Fan radio talk host and former Florida State offensive guard. “Thuggery denotes a criminal element.”

Now, I really like Jamie Dukes and he usually has some good insight about the game of football. I would have loved to have heard a lot more from him than just the sentance fragment that they quoted in the story… but let’s assume for the moment that he does find it offensive.

Vick’s hip-hop fashion sense, cornrows and jewelry drew as much condemnation in these arenas of public discourse as his string of unrelated personal problems. The incident last week at the Miami airport was the latest to draw attention, with an accusation that Vick tried to take marijuana through the Miami airport dismissed Tuesday. (Earlier this year Vick made an obscene gesture to game spectators and settled a lawsuit alleging he knowingly infected a woman with herpes.)

“It’s become a very racially sensitive discussion,” observes Steak Shapiro, host of 790 The Zone’s “Mayhem in the A.M.” radio talk radio program, with some callers basically saying, “If a white athlete screws up, he’s made a poor decision; if a black athlete screws up, he’s a thug.”

Now I don’t want to nitpick, but Vick was not charged with taking marijuana through the airport security checkpoint. They just noted that he acted suspicious when they took his water bottle and upon further investigation, noted that it had a secret compartment. This was further investigated, but no charges were filed… presumably because there was nothing (or too little) there in the concealed space.

And I can’t discount the fact that there are probably some idiots who might not feel that a black man should be quarterbacking a team in the NFL. But I don’t think that these are the people that are leading the discussion.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I think there would have been the same reaction if he were white, black, yellow, or blue.

Towards the end of the story, they note that linguistics people are not quite so fast to confirm this trend, but then immediately refute it:

For the record, [Oxford English Dictionary Editor Jesse] Sheidlower has not noted “thug” used as a pejorative term by whites to describe young black men.

Johnson of the Hawks disagrees. “I do think it’s definitely a race-based stereotype. And I think it’s one that, in our culture today, too many people are willing to accept and tolerate, even when they know it’s wrong.”

Then again on Sunday, the ‘thug’ discussion was reinforced in an AJC opinon piece by Angela Tuck:

With his braids, casual style of dress and “doo-rags,” Vick rubs some people the wrong way.

But, explains Wyche, that’s more a generational thing than a race thing.

In no way has Vick earned the “thug” label some bloggers have given him. It bothers me that people are so quick to brand someone they don’t even know. Even more troubling is the fact that “thug” now seems to be a code word for young black men.

“Most people don’t know the definition of a thug,” said Frank Walker, a cornerback for the New York Giants who lives in Atlanta in the off-season. “Thugs rape and murder people. When they run up against a thug, they’ll know [Vick] is not a thug. He’s an individual.”

From flipping off home fans to engaging in self-destructive behavior, Mike Vick is not acting very smart. Whether it’s fair to call him a ‘thug’, or simply a ‘fool’… I guess you can debate the point. But I really don’t think it’s just because he is black. Or a quarterback.

Randall Cunningham is not a thug. He may run his mouth sometimes when he should keep quiet, but so does Rex Grossman, who can barely pass the ball and is white. White NASCAR driver Tony Stewart was acting like a thug two years ago, when he decided to punch out any reporter asking him difficult questions. But he was forced to get his temper under control or risk losing a chance to participate in his profession. And he went on to win the championship.

Ironically, with all of this talk of unfair thuggery labels, there was also an interesting story elsewhere in the AJC this Sunday. It was about Quincy Carter, the former UGA standout who went on to the NFL to start for the Dallas Cowboys. You may remember him. He was another black quarterback drafted at the same time as Vick. Now he’s out of football after a couple run-ins with drugs (failed drug tests and an arrest).

Asked if he is an addict, Carter struggles with the term before slowly finding the words:

“That’s a hard one to answer. I don’t need to smoke weed. I don’t have to. I shouldn’t. I do realize that it’s not good. … You know, I’ll go ahead and humble myself and say that I do think it’s a problem. I am smart enough to know that failing a test, getting arrested — I do have a problem. I just don’t like the word addict.”

People have to have responsibility for their actions. I hope that Quincy gets his life together, now that the glare of the lights of the football field are in the past for him. He doesn’t seem quite there yet. But when we are disappointed in the behavior of our sports starts, let’s never sugarcoat the bad and ignore it, because then it’s never corrected, much to the detriment of athlete as a man.

And let’s stop insinuating that criticism of Vick, or the use of the word ‘thug’, is meant to be racist.

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It seems that the University of Minnesota is refusing to schedule athletic contests against the University of North Dakota in protest for their use of the “Fighting Sioux” team nickname.

OpinionJournal’s James Taranto notes that their ‘principled’ stand against scheduling home events with schools that use American Indian mascots loses something, because hockey is exempted from the prohibition.

I previously saluted North Dakota’s stand taking on the NCAA over their dubious enforcement of a ban on American Indian mascots. As an alumnus of the University of Illinois, I would rather keep the Chief over the NCAA!

But I also found this interesting:

Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa are Big Ten Conference schools with policies against playing nonconference teams with American Indian mascots.

My suggestion for the Golden Gophers, Badgers, and Hawkeyes is that they close the loophole they’ve left in their policies. Go ahead and forfeit all of their games against the Illinois Fighting Illini!

P.S . Maybe someone should tell the University of Iowa that “Hawkeye” is atribute to indian leader Chief Black Hawk. An American Indian. And I know their mascot is a silly cartoon bird, but they really should be consistent with the desire to eliminate all references to American Indians in our culture and a “bizarre” tribute to them.

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News reports today give some happy news: North Dakota state officials have filed a lawsuit Friday against the NCAA to challenge its restrictions on the University of North Dakota’s Fighting Sioux nickname.

[Attorney General Wayne] Stenehjem said the lawsuit seeks to allow the University of North Dakota to use the nickname throughout the school year without being sanctioned in possible postseason play, along with unspecified money damages.

The NCAA has banned the use of some American Indian nicknames and logo in postseason tournaments, saying they are hostile and abusive.

Stenehjem said the NCAA overstepped its bounds.

Way to go! As someone who also believes that it’s none of the NCAA’s business whether or not the University of Illinois chooses Chief Illiniwek as its mascot, I’m glad to see someone who pushes back on the NCAA.

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I find few things quite as stupid as the P.C. police infiltrating the NCAA and demanding that schools eliminate native American mascots. Why the NCAA is involved at all is beyond me. But the Florida State Seminoles can get an exemption for their team because of a casino-tribe writes a letter saying it’s OK. But the University of Illinois can not get an exemption for Chief Illiniwek because the Illiniwek indians no longer exist. So no luck. At least the NCAA was nice enough to say that we do not have to rename the state of Illinois because it’s offensive.

And then there are those who believe that the Chief should go, just because someone complains. Take Mike Imrem writing in the Daily Herald (To be among the elite, Illini must lose Chief, 8 May 2006). He advocates drppoing the Chief so that Illinois does not antagonize the NCAA:

The Illini don’t need to give the NCAA any more reasons to scrutinize their basketball and football programs more closely.

If the NCAA wants to investigate any school, for whatever reason, chances are they’ll find some rule was broken somewhere at some time.

Illinois can’t afford to prod the NCAA, and extending the fight over Chief Illiniwek would be like flinging a flaming tomahawk at the organization’s enforcers.

So if Illinois administrators want, they can go to court, continue trying to keep the Chief and further irritate the NCAA.

Give me a break. The NCAA hates the Illini anyway. This is kind of like saying that if we appease them, maybe they’ll leave us alone. Never works.

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FoxNews is reporting (Leaders Appeal for Calm in Muslim Cartoon Protests) that that Danish Embassy in Syria has been torched as a part of the intelligent discourse over the newspaper cartoons.

  • “We will redeem our prophet, Muhammad, with our blood!”
  • “Let the perpetrators of the insult see the gravity of their own mistakes which only they themselves can and should correct.”
  • “Hang the culprits”

“The right to freedom of thought and expression … cannot entail the right to offend the religious sentiment of believers,” the Vatican said in its first statement on the controversy.

I wonder if the Vatican really believes what it says. Does it condone the actions? Does it believe the same violent reactions are warrented when the religious sentiments of Christians are offended???

Censorship to avoid Muslim discomfort is now spreading more widely (Fury over Prophet cartoons, calls for restraint):

In South Africa, a court granted a request by a Muslim group to bar publication of the cartoons.

Jordan’s state prosecutor arrested the editor of a tabloid weekly which had published the cartoons. He had already been sacked by publishers of his Shihan weekly for reprinting the turban-bomb cartoon as part of an article headlined “an Islamic Intifada (Uprising) against the Danish insult to Islam.”

Two New Zealand newspapers on Saturday reprinted the cartoons, which have now appeared in newspapers in Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Hungary, saying their decision was based on press freedom.

Polish financial daily Rzeczpospolita also published the cartoons, drawing the ire of Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz who said: “It is my conviction that the bounds of properly conceived freedom of expression have been overstepped.”

As Michelle Malkin says, who will they come for next?

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Contributing to the Blogburst seen on Michelle Malkin:

So today the whole Islamic world is uniting to attack the western world, or so we are told. (Protests have raged throughout the world against the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in European newspapers.)

So here are the cartoons, which brought so much trouble. And some description of the images (Hank Schouten, What the cartoons were about, 4 February 2006):

The drawings were commissioned by the Jyllands-Posten (Jutland’s Post) to accompany an article on self-censorship and freedom of speech after Danish writer Kare Bluitgen was unable failed to find artists willing to illustrate his children’s book about Mohammed for fear of violent attacks by extremist Muslims.

Islamic teachings forbid pictorial depictions of Mohammed.

The cartoons were published on September 30 with an explanatory article by the newspaper’s culture editor, Flemming Rose.

The following is a translated summary of the article and explanation of the cartoons published in the Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia.

“The modern, secular society is rejected by some Muslims. They demand a special position, insisting on special consideration of their own religious feelings.

“It is incompatible with contemporary democracy and freedom of speech, where you must be ready to put up with insults, mockery and ridicule.

“It is certainly not always equally attractive and nice to look at, and it does not mean that religious feelings should be made fun of at any price, but that is less important in this context. […] we are on our way to a slippery slope where no one can tell how the self-censorship will end.

“That is why the Jyllands-Posten has invited members of the Danish editorial cartoonists union to draw Mohammed as they see him.”

Forty artists were invited to give their interpretation on of how Mohammed may have looked. Twelve responded.

Clockwise from top, here is A brief explanation of each cartoon, as pictured at right, left, is given clockwise from the top.

# The face of Mohammed as a part of the Islamic star and crescent symbol, his right eye the star.

# The most controversial drawing shows Mohammed with a bomb in his turban, with a lit fuse and the Islamic creed written on the bomb.

# Mohammed standing with a halo in the shape of a crescent moon.

# An abstract drawing of crescent moons and Stars of David, and a poem on oppression of women. In English the poem could be read as: “Prophet! daft and dumb, keeping woman under thumb”.

# Mohammed as a wanderer, with a donkey.

# A nervous caricaturist, shakingly drawing Mohammed while looking over his shoulder.

# Two angry Muslims charge forward with sabres and bombs, while Mohammed addresses them with: “Relax guys, it’s just a drawing made by some infidel South Jutlander”. This is a reference is to a common Danish expression for a person from the middle of nowhere, which is how many Danes regard South Jutland.

# An Oriental-looking boy pointing to words on the blackboard reading in Danish “the editorial team of JyllandsPosten is a bunch of reactionary provocateurs.”

# The boy is labelled “Mohammed, Valby school, 7.A”, implying that this Mohammed is a Danish second-generation immigrant rather than the man Muslims believe was a prophet. On his shirt is written “Fremtiden” (the future).

# A drawing showing Mohammed with a knife and a black bar over his eyes and flanked by two women in burqas.

# Mohammed standing on a cloud, greeting dead suicide bombers with “Stop, stop, we ran out of virgins!” an allusion to the promised reward to martyrs.

# Danish writer Kare Bluitgen with a stick drawing of Mohammed and an orange on his turban over the caption “Publicity stunt”. An orange in the turban is a Danish proverb meaning a stroke of luck.

# The centre cartoon is of a police lineup of seven people, with the witness saying: “Hmm … I can’t really recognise him.” Not all people in the lineup are immediately identifiable. They are: 1, a generic hippie; 2, politician Pia Kjrsgaard; 3, possible Jesus; 4, possible Buddha; 5, possible Mohammed; 6, a generic Indian guru; and 7, journalist Kare Bluitgen, carrying a sign saying: “Kare’s public relations, call and get an offer.”

So what is the response?

  • French President Jacques Chirac, whose country has the largest Muslim population in Europe, appealed for all sides to avoid “anything that could offend others’ convictions.” (Row over cartoons boils as Europe leaders urge calm)
  • “We … respect freedom of the press and expression but it must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not acceptable,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper.
  • “What is important is that the newspaper that initially published the cartoons has apologised, and I would urge my Muslim friends to accept the apology, to accept it in the name of Allah the merciful, and let’s move on,” – UN Sec Gen Kofi Annan
  • About 800 people protested in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, chanting “Death to Denmark” and “Death to France.” They also chanted “Death to America,” although the cartoons have not been published in the U.S.( Pakistan parliament slams cartoons)
  • “We strongly denounce and condemn this horrific action” – Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani

Now I don’t have a problem with Muslim people being upset about a depiction of Mohammed. They have every reason not to like it. (but note to Mr. Chirac – I personally am offended when people chant “Death to America” in response to a cartoon in a Danish newspaper four months ago).

I find it very strange just how much supposed outrage there is in response to these images. Trying to pressure the Danish government into using it’s power to censor these images, now months later after original publication, seems more than simply misguided. All of the demonstrations and petty protest thuggishness seems very far over the top.

Can you imagine if a Christian said “”If they want a war of religions, we are ready!” or chanted “Long live Christianity, destroy our enemies.” Do you think the press coverage would be positive? Do you think the Christian leadership would be appeased with promises of press responsibility?

Instead we are treated to tax dollars paying for “artwork” like Piss Christ. And network television shows like Book of Daniel (Sex. Drugs. Stolen Money and Martinis. Family can really test your faith.). Somehow Chistians seem to have found a way to look past these distasteful attempts to detract from their religion.

No one has to be happy if their religious beliefs are mocked. They can and should work to try to correct that. But to me it seems like this stuff is a staged demonstration of outrage in the Muslim world against the West, looking for an excuse to be vented. And it just so happended to pick out some silly cartoons to use this time.

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Yesterday Georgia’s House approved House Bill 950, supposedly aimed at making it OK to say ‘Merry Christmas’ again. According to reports (Gwinnett Daily Post, ‘Merry
Christmas’ bill clears House

Public school students and public workers in Georgia would be able to say “Merry Christmas’’ to their friends and colleagues without fear of official retaliation under provisions of a bill the House approved Tuesday. The legislation, which passed 136-25 and now goes to the Senate, is among a series of measures taken up by state lawmakers across the country following episodes where schools or retailers were reported as having instructed their students or employees to substitute nonreligious holiday greetings for “Merry Christmas.’’

I’m really having a hard time getting worked up about this right now. I’m sure that Rep. Cox had the best intentions when drafting this legislation. Perhaps he was sick and tired of hearing ‘Happy Holidays’. It certainly seemed that many people were more vocal about the replacement of the word ‘Christmas’ this year than ever before.

But do we really need another government law? According to earlier accounts (AJC, Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays), the proposal "prohibits any government agency, including local school boards, from adopting a policy restricting the use of “verbal expressions relating to the celebration or observance of any public or legal holiday."

So if you are unhappy with the P.C. statement from your local Wal-Mart door holder, you’re out of luck. Maybe your employer doesn’t permit Christmas expressions. Too bad. But local school boards better not draft a rule against saying Merry Christmas! (Like local school boards actually have any intelligence left anymore now in the world of ‘zero tolerance’).

Sadly, as much as I love Christmas… this is the wrong place for government to be worrying. A waste of time and money to get Rep. Cox a little publicity. Much like congressional investigations into steriod use in baseball (S. 1114: Clean Sports Act of 2005), gasoline prices (H.R. 3544: Gasoline Price Stabilization Act of 2005), political grist (H. Res. 363: Requesting the President and directing the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Attorney General to transmit to the House of Representatives not later than 14 days after the date of the adoption of this resolution documents in the possession of the President and those officials relating to the disclosure of the identity and employment of Ms. Valerie Plame), or making Election Day a Fedreal Holiday (S. 1130: Democracy Day Act of 2005).

If I go into a store, it doesn’t bother me to hear the words “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings”. There are multiple holidays. I’m sure the last thing a store wishes to do is to offend someone who’s Jewish or Muslim or Alien. I’m much more upset with Lowe’s for hanging a banner outside their store advertising the sale of seasonal “Holiday Trees” than anything this law would seek to protect. They are Christmas Trees. They are not used in the celebration of Hanukkah or Ramadan or even a made-up holiday like Kwanzaa. They are not even a religious symbol. If even a secular part of Christmas can’t be identified as such for fear of ‘offending’ someone, then that’s the real outrage.

Rep. Cox, please take your bill (and your good intentions) home with you, and set to work on something truely important for Georgia instead.

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Can you imagine the howls if this were said by a Republican? Oh wait, ask Trent Lott about Strom Thurmond’s birthday – remember, that’s when Al Gore said his remark was the “definition of a racist comment.”

Shelby Steele nailed the latest Hilary nonsense: (Hillary’s Plantation: 23 January 2006:

Of course Hillary Clinton’s recent claim that Republicans run the House of Representatives like a “plantation” was old-fashioned political and racial pandering. After all, she uttered this remark at what certainly would have been a prime venue for her husband: a largely black audience on Martin Luther King Day. So, clearly, she was looking to connect with this most loyal Democratic constituency. But Mrs. Clinton is possessed of a tin ear precisely where her husband is all deftness and charm. Black audiences are beyond her. The room of black faces that brings her husband alive, freezes her in overbearing rectitude.

And yet, pandering of the sort she exhibited on MLK Day requires a convincing human identification in order to work. The political panderer always identifies with the suffering of those pandered to–always “feels their pain.” And this is where a tin ear can be disastrous: In giving witness to a group’s suffering, one can seem to be shaming the group. Must blacks have their slave past rubbed in their face simply for Hillary Clinton to make a little hay against modern-day Republicans?

When political pandering goes awry, it calls you a name. On an emotional level, many blacks will hear Hillary’s remark as follows: “I say Republicans run the House like a plantation because I am speaking to Negroes–the wretched of the earth, a slave people–who will surely know all about plantations.” Is this a tin ear or a Freudian slip, blacks will wonder? Does she really see us as she projects us–as a people so backward that our support can be won with a simple plantation reference, and the implication that Republicans are racist? Quite possibly so, since no apology has been forthcoming.

If Newt Gingrich also once used the plantation metaphor in reference to Congress, his goal was only an innocuous one: to be descriptive, not to pander. He was speaking to a reporter, not to a black audience, and he had the good taste to cast himself as a slave who would “lead the slave rebellion.” Thus, he identified with the black struggle for freedom, not with the helplessness and humiliation of the plantation slave. If the plantation metaphor will always be inaccurate and hyperbolic where Congress is concerned, at least Mr. Gingrich’s use of it carried no offense.

And even Mrs. Clinton’s “offense” would have amounted to very little had it come from nothing more than an awkward metaphor. But, in fact, it came from a corruption in post-’60s liberalism and Democratic politics that profoundly insults blacks. Mrs. Clinton came to Al Sharpton’s MLK celebration looking for an easy harvest of black votes. And she knew the drill–white liberals and Dems whistle for the black vote by pandering to the black sense of grievance. Once positioned as the white champions of this grievance, they actually turn black resentment into white liberal power. Today, Democrats cannot be competitive without this alchemy. So Mrs. Clinton’s real insult to blacks–one far uglier than her plantation metaphor–is to value them only for their sense of grievance.

Mrs. Clinton’s husband was a master of this alchemy, and his presidency also illustrated its greatest advantage. Once black grievance is morphed into liberal power, it need never be honored. President Clinton notoriously felt black pain, won the black vote, and then rewarded blacks with the cold shower of welfare reform. And here, now, is Mrs. Clinton sidling up to the trough of black grievance, eyes wide in expectation, but also a tad contemptuous. It is hard to fully respect one’s suckers.

A great achievement of modern liberalism–and a primary reason for its surviving decades past the credibility of its ideas–is that it captured black resentment as an exclusive source of power. It even gave this resentment a Democratic Party affiliation. (Antiwar sentiment is the other great source of liberal power, but it is not the steady provider that black and minority resentment has been.) Republicans have often envied this power, but have never competed well for it because it can be accessed only by pandering to the socialistic longings of minority leaders–vast government spending, social programs, higher taxes and so on. Republicans and conservatives have simply never had an easy or glib mechanism for addressing profound social grievances.

But this Republican “weakness” has now begun to emerge as a great–if still largely potential–Republican advantage. Precisely because Republicans cannot easily pander to black grievance, they have no need to value blacks only for their sense of grievance. Unlike Democrats, they can celebrate what is positive and constructive in minority life without losing power. The dilemma for Democrats, liberals and the civil rights establishment is that they become redundant and lose power the instant blacks move beyond grievance and begin to succeed by dint of their own hard work. So they persecute such blacks, attack their credibility as blacks, just as they pander to blacks who define their political relationship to America through grievance. Republicans are generally freer of the political bigotry by which the left either panders to or persecutes black Americans.

No one on the current political scene better embodies this Republican advantage than the current secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice. The archetype that Ms. Rice represents is “overcoming” rather than grievance. Despite a childhood in the segregated South that might entitle her to a grievance identity, she has clearly chosen that older black American tradition in which blacks neither deny injustice nor allow themselves to be defined by it. This tradition, as Ralph Ellison once put it, “springs not from a desire to deny the harshness of existence but from a will to deal with it as men at their best have always done.” And, because Ms. Rice is grounded in this tradition, she is of absolutely no value to modern liberalism or the Democratic Party despite her many talents and achievements. Quite the reverse, she is their worst nightmare. If blacks were to take her example and embrace overcoming rather than grievance, the wound to liberalism would be mortal. It is impossible to imagine Hillary Clinton’s “plantation” pandering in a room full of Condi Rices.

This is why so many Republicans (including Laura Bush) now salivate at the thought of a Rice presidential bid. No other potential Republican candidate could–to borrow an old Marxist phrase–better “heighten the contradictions” of modern liberalism and Democratic power than Ms. Rice. The more ugly her persecution by the civil rights establishment and the left, the more she would give liberalism the look of communism in its last days–an ideology long since hollowed of its idealism and left with nothing save its meanness and repressiveness. Who can say what Ms. Rice will do. But history is calling her, or someone like her. She is the object of a deep longing in America for race to be finally handled, not by political idealisms, but by the classic principles of freedom and fairness.

Idealisms quickly descend into evil because they are so easily seized as a means to ordinary power. The politics of black uplift was once an idealism, but today it has become the work of hacks, tired apparatchiks and petty demagogues looking for power. And there, on TV last week, as if to illustrate this truth, was the specter of Mrs. Clinton and Al Sharpton embracing at the podium, mere captives of power making the tired charge–via an encrusted plantation metaphor–that Republicans are racists. What exhaustion! And what evil, to labor so hard at keeping blacks mired in grievance. Kind of reminds one of a plantation, though here the harvest is surely grievance rather than cotton.

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Reading the newspaper can sure be a blood-pressure check sometimes. Today, the AJC featured a story by Rick Badie that sure got my heart pumping (‘Illegal’: Slur or accurate label?). The central thesis (repeated four or five times) was that using the term "illegal alien" is offensive. You see, "undocumented" doesn’t sound so bad, at least according to activist Jerry Gonzalez. Because it’s so unbelievable, you have to read it for yourself:

For Jerry Gonzalez, the term "illegal immigrant" packs as much vitriol as some racial slurs.

Many Latinos, he said, find it offensive.

"It’s easy to dismiss someone when you use a disparaging term such as ‘illegal immigrant’ or ‘illegal alien,’ " surmised Gonzalez, who oversees the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, an Atlanta-based political action committee.

"I can’t speak for other immigrant groups," he said, "but on behalf of the Latino community, many people I speak to on a day-to-day basis think it serves to dehumanize the person, makes them less than human. Similar to the way the n-word was used to dehumanize African-Americans."

It’s not a pressing matter for the association, but the issue of what to call the state’s 228,000 illegal immigrants has taken up space on the group’s 2004 legislative agenda.

Gonzalez, the executive director, plans to lobby state lawmakers to use the term "undocumented workers" when talking about Mexicans and other foreigners here illegally.

"It’s a more accurate reflection of people who provide a great deal for the economy," he said.

Are you kidding me? Talk about failing the common sense test here. If there isn’t a person offended by comparing ‘illegal alien’ to the ‘n-word’, they just don’t have a pulse.

You are here, but not a citizen. That’s an alien. You do not comply with immigration rules. That’s illegal.

And this is just one day after reports from the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (more commonly known as the 9/11 Panel) condem a lack immigration rules enforcement as a major contributing factor to providing terrorists access for commiting their crimes (Sept. 11 Panel Looks at Border Security).

I know that there are many millions of people here, and most may just be looking for a better life. But you can’t change the fact that they are here illegally. I’m sorry if that makes someone uncomfortable to be labelled. Either we get serious and enforce the rules or forget about security at all.

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Why does it have to be so obvious and disgusting each time it’s done? What it it? Racist attacks. Except these are done when a member of a minority group accuses another member of that group of not being a true group member, because they disagree with them.

In one of the few reports of the issue, FOX News (Dean Backer Calls GOP Candidate ‘House Mexican’), it was reveiled that Steven Ybarra issued an email calling GOP California Senete candidate Rosario Marin a "house Mexican for the Republicans.". Apparently he like Harry Belafonte’s characterization of Colin Powell as a "house slave" so much that he couldn’t resist his own take on it.

However bad it might have seemed, Ybarra seemed to make it worse by clarifying his statments:

In a statement to Los Angeles’ Univision, Ybarra said that Marin should be "proud of being called a house Mexican" in the same way as he is "proud to be the house Mexican for the Democratic Party." He added that his remarks were not meant to make reference to African-American slaves, but to suggest that Marin is a Hispanic "owned and operated" by a company or group.

So let me get this straight. She shouldn’t be offended because he is one too, or is it that he is owned and operated by the Democrats but she’s got the wrong owner and operator?

Whatever it is, it’s wrong. It will also go unpunished and be exactly the thing that makes other phantom accusations of racism ring hollow.

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