Saturday, March 30, 2013

Roll Over TR & Rough Rider Wannabes: The New Dumbo Mantra Is "Speak Softly But Carry A Big Stigma"

Just when this blogger thought that the dumbest of the Dumbos in the Great White North was the half-term governor of Alaska (Hint: her surname rhymes with Failin'), along comes the sole U.S. Representative from Alaska, transplanted Californian Don Young (R-AK). At a time when the Dumbo leadership is making noise about reaching out to potential Latino voters, this cabrón appeared on a radio talk show in Alaska and made reference to the mojados who picked tomatoes on the Young family farm in central California. Young claimed that he meant no disrespect in his "wetbacks" reference. Sorry, pendejo, but that dog won't hunt (ese perro no irá a la caza). The NY Fishwrap's Blowhard ends his Op-Ed piece perfectly: "No disrespect." Or, as the saying goes in Texas: "No offense, but..." (an offensive comment follows). If this is (fair & balanced) exposure of bigotry, so be it.

[x NY Fishwrap]
The G.O.P.’s Diversity Deserts
By Charles M. Blow

Tag Cloud of the following article

created at

(Click to embiggen)

Well, that didn’t take long.

Just a week ago, the Republicans issued their much-ballyhooed “autopsy” on why they lost the presidential election last year and how they might remedy their problems.

They concluded that their principles were fine; the problem was how they presented those principles. Their witless wisdom is simply to tone down their rhetoric. They want to turn Teddy Roosevelt’s famous saying on its side: Talk softly but carry a big stigma.

The establishment Republicans’ push for a softer tone, however, is pure political scheming and has nothing to do with what most Republicans seem to fundamentally believe.

And many rank-and-file Republicans are adopting this two-faced tactic. A Pew Research Center report issued Thursday found that although most Republicans say that “illegal immigrants” should be allowed to stay in this country legally, most also believe that immigrants are a burden because they take jobs and health care, and they threaten American values.

Try as you may, you can’t build a philosophical facade like a movie set — convincing in appearance, but having no real structure behind it — and expect it to forever fool and never fall.

The true convictions of your heart will, eventually, be betrayed by the disobedience of your tongue.

Enter Don Young of Alaska, a Republican congressman for the past 40 years who this week used a racial slur so vile and insensitive that it was hard to remember what decade we were in.

In an interview Thursday with an Alaska radio station, Young reminisced about his family’s employment of Mexican farm workers:

“My father had a ranch. We used to hire 50 to 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes. You know, it takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.”

The casual reference dripped with an inculcated insensitivity.

The same day, Young’s office issued a statement, which should in no way be misconstrued as an apology.

“During a sit-down interview with Ketchikan Public Radio this week, I used a term that was commonly used during my days growing up on a farm in Central California,” Young said in the statement. “I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays and I meant no disrespect.”

No disrespect? Only a man drained of empathy could even make such a claim.

It wasn’t until Friday, after demands from Republican leaders like John Boehner and John McCain, that Young issued a real apology. But the damage may have already been done. These kinds of statements cement an image of a callous party moving contrary to public consciousness.

The question must be asked: Why do so many insensitive comments come from these Republicans?

One reason may well be their proximity problem.

Too many House Republican districts are isolated in naturally homogeneous areas or gerrymandered ghettos, so elected officials there rarely hear — or see — the great and growing diversity of this country and the infusion of energy and ideas and art with which it enriches us. These districts produce representatives unaccountable to the confluence. And this will likely be the case for the next decade.

For instance, according to the Census Bureau, about 6 percent of Alaska’s population is Hispanic and just 3 percent is black. And Alaska is among the most Republican states in the union, according to a Gallup report issued last year.

Too many House Republicans have districts dominated by narrow, single-note, ideology-driven constituencies that see an ever expanding “them” threatening the heritage of a slowly shrinking “us.”

This defensive posture is what so poisons the Republicans’ presidential ambitions. Instead of embracing change, Republicans want to suspend or in some cases reverse it. But the principle articulated by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus rings true: the only thing constant is change.

With the exception of a few districts, a map of the areas in this country with the fewest minorities looks strikingly similar to a map of the areas from which Congressional Republicans hail.

In fact, although this is the most diverse Congress in history, not one of the blacks or Asians in the House is a Republican. Only about a sixth of the Hispanics are Republicans, and fewer than a third of the women are.

The Republican Party has a severe minority problem. People like Don Young only serve to illustrate and amplify it. Young is another unfortunate poster child for a party fighting an image of being chronically hostile to “otherness.” No disrespect. Ω

[Charles M. Blow is The New York Times's visual Op-Ed columnist. His column appears every other Saturday. Blow joined The New York Times in 1994 as a graphics editor and quickly became the paper's graphics director, a position he held for nine years. In that role, he led The Times to a best of show award from the Society of News Design for the Times's information graphics coverage of 9/11, the first time the award had been given for graphics coverage. He also led the paper to its first two best in show awards from the Malofiej International Infographics Summit for work that included coverage of the Iraq war. Charles Blow went on to become the paper's Design Director for News before leaving in 2006 to become the Art Director of National Geographic Magazine. Before coming to The Times, Blow had been a graphic artist at The Detroit News. Blow graduated magna cum laude from Grambling State University in Louisiana, where he received a B.A. in mass communication.]

Copyright © 2013 The New York Times Company

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