Prejudice: now in the large Economy Size

July 21, 2007

A car dealer in south Florida decided to do one of his TV commercials in Spanish.  Not a surprise in south Florida, right?  What really surprised Earl Stewart was the response he got from certain members of the public.

The ad began running a week ago and I have been surprised and shocked by the negative phone calls and emails I have received. There have not been a lot, but they have come in steadily every day. There are more people in South Florida than I realized who resent Hispanics. They tell me that they are insulted that I would allow a Spanish language ad to run on the TV set in their living room and that they would never buy a car from me. Some miss the point of the commercial entirely and tell me that “those Hispanics should learn to speak English!” I can’t figure out why they think Hispanic people are watching WPTV Channel 5 news if they don’t understand English. I also hear a lot of people who say they can’t stand the phone recordings that say “touch one for English”, etc. I don’t quite see how that relates to my TV ad. Perhaps the most disturbing phenomenon has been comments from friends of mine who feel strongly that the only language that should be permitted to be spoken in America is English.

I don’t live anywhere near Florida, but I have a feeling he wouldn’t get a much warmer reception in my region. I’m not convinced that racism has declined much at all since it became recognized as a national problem decades ago. It’s just another of the forms of stupidity that humans seem unable or reluctant to let go of.

I think about racism every time I see Obama on the news. My gut feeling—admittedly pessimistic—is that he doesn’t have a chance of being elected president, and as a running mate he could easily ruin Hillary’s chances as well. Too many racist voters are just not ready for that. And if you want to throw sexism into the mix, I’m not sure Hillary’s chances are all that much better either.

I felt a lot better about the US’s potential for social progress before GWB got elected—twice! So far the millennium hasn’t been too encouraging. Whatever happens next, I doubt I’m going to like it.

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Quote of the Day Dept.

July 17, 2007

Today’s pithy observation come from Plog:

To the fascists who run Curves: Why is my Y chromosome a barrier to entry? Fred Astaire could do everything Ginger Rogers could do, only forwards and with more upper-body strength.


Easier than thinking

July 12, 2007

I’ve got to start paying less attention to the news. It’s bad for a person’s mental health.

Sometime when I was still in school, I had the notion that if I just stuck around long enough, things would start to make more sense. Instead, the world gets crazier and crazier.  Maybe things never did make any sense. Maybe we just pretend they do, and I’m only getting old enough to appreciate that.

I don’t get the impression that people are fretting much about the immense cost of the war, and I don’t here many people talking about all the money the government spends on corporate welfare. But plenty of people are deeply concerned about the cost of universal health care, and because of Michael Moore’s movie Sicko that topic points to France, where they evidently get good universal health care. France also pays for the privilege, and now runs a debt of around $15.6 billion.

This came to my attention courtesy of Greg Saunders:

$15.6 billion! That would be scary if we weren’t spending that much money every month in Iraq. In France, they’re willing to go into debt to keep their citizens from dying of preventable diseases and injuries. Here in America, we save our debt for wars and tax cuts.

I mean, if we’re not careful the U.S. might wind up spending some of its wealth on people with legitimate human needs.

Our priorities are so messed up, it’s dehumanizing. Vonnegut would know what to say if he was still around. In fact, he did say it, many times, while he was with us. But he was “counterculture,” which means that most people weren’t listening to him.

And now people will probably call Michael Moore “counterculture” too, and then they can ignore what he says, because it’s so much easier than thinking or feeling.


A Long-Standing Question, Answered

July 3, 2007

I’m not the best person for detecting sarcasm, but Paul Begala is clearly snarking off when he says that George W. Bush is One Tough Hombre. This is obvious to some people, not always to me. And there are people in the comments there at the Huffington Post who criticize Begala for saying in this piece what he didn’t say on TV on the same subject, Libby’s pardon/commutation/get-out-of-jail-free-card.

At any rate.

Like I said, I don’t do well at detecting when someone is saying what they mean, so maybe Begala means all this stuff and maybe he doesn’t. What he said is definitely correct, though, and if I said the same things I would mean them in spades.

Along the way he does clear up one persistent mystery:

Mr. Bush is tough enough to invade a country that was no risk to America, causing tens of thousands of civilian deaths and shedding precious American blood in the process. Tough enough to sanction torture. Tough enough to order an American citizen arrested and held without trial. But if you’re rich and right-wing and Republican, George is a real softie. As George W. Bush demonstrated in giving Scooter Libby a Get Out of Jail Free Card, he is only compassionate to conservatives.

So that’s what “compassionate conservatism” means to Bush. If you’re coonservative, he’s compassionate.  Otherwise, it’s “Son, you’re on your own.”  With that thought in mind the last six years or so make a lot more sense.