Sunday, June 20, 2010

That Racist Bill Cosby

When you live in a free society as we do, we have no alternative but to put up with speech that we not only disagree with but that is also hateful and threatens to re-ignite the fires of racial hatred and mistrust. The only way to combat it is to disassemble it bit by bit. Enlightened Racism: The Cosby Show, Audiences and the Myth of the American Dream” (1992) by Sut Jhally and Justin Lewis is one such pile of dog shit that for the most part refutes itself.

A quick thumb through

· Jhally and Lewis write that the USA is “still emerging from a deeply racist history a society in which many white people have treated and continue to treat black people with contempt, suspicion and a profoundly ignorant sense of Superiority”.

· Apparently the writers agree with the Alvin Poussaint an adviser to the Cosby Show when he characterized past black comedies that have enjoyed The Jeffersons (my favorate), Sanford and Son, and Good Times as “full of jiving jammin’, s streetwise style stuff that is the worst kind of stereotyping”.

· They write The Cosby Show “presents a misleadingly cozy picture a sugar candy world unfettered by racism crime and economic deprivation. Some have argued that the Huxtables’ charmed life is so alien to the experience of most black people that they are no longer black at all. They are just like white people”.

· They quote Henry Louis Gates ( remember him? ) as saying as long as all blacks were represented in demeaning or peripheral roles it was possible to believe that American racism was, as it were, indiscriminate. The social vision of “Cosby” however reflects the minuscule integration of blacks into the upper middle class [and] reassuringly throws the blame for black poverty back onto the impoverished.

· Most white people –certainly those who watch The Cosby show – no longer see skin color as a barriers to liking someone or treating them as an equal. Unimpeded by such all-encompassing prejudice they are able to discriminate between black people, some of who have succeeded, some of whom have not. However they quietly (and perhaps unconsciously) retain the association of blackness as an indicator of cultural inferiority, albeit one from which African Americans, if they are talented enough or hard working enough can escape. This position is arrived at not through malice but through a failure to adequately recognize the disadvantaged position black people occupy in the class structure.”.

We are talking about a TV show, right?

Robert Miller characterizes the book this way

According to Jhally and Lewis, the Cosby Show sets up an unachievable goal for African Americans. It sets them up for failure. They try to show that the odds are so great against African Americans successfully negotiating all of the obstacles between themselves and the American Dream that it might as well be impossible. The Cosby Show tells us quite the opposite. The show would have us believe that anyone, regardless of race, can achieve material success in the United States. Material success for the authors of the book is the key ingredient in the American Dream. According to them the Cosby Show is the consummate definition of the American Dream. The show depicts individuals, who under "normal" circumstances should not have achieved material success, achieving material success. It further sets them as an example of a strong family with the inclusion of the extended family. The Huxtables are what Americans should aspire to be. However, they are black” . The blackness of the Huxtables is the key for Jhally and Lewis. Their research has conclusively proven to them that simply being black is too much to overcome in America. Their book focuses on interviews and uses statistics to prove that the black experience in America is all but void of the successes that the Huxtables demonstrate. The authors believe that the success of the Huxtables in their achievement of the American Dream gives rise to an entirely new type of racism, enlightened racism. It gives the budding bigot a new reason for his views. An enlightened racist will believe that anyone can make it in the U.S. because our system is a fair and just one, and it is only the fault of the individual for a lack of success.

I guess the main point of contention I have with this book is that black people actually, in fact, are just like white people -- and vise-versa. We are more alike than we are different. Its just pigment after all. On the fair issue, no one ever said life was fair. As children this is one of the hardest lessons to learn but learn it we do as we become adults.

We all have equal opportunity -- or at least some measure of it -- but that is not to say we will all have equality of results of equal efforts. That is not to say that racism has been eradicated because it certainly hasn't been. That is not to say we will get what we deserve. Sometimes good things happen, sometimes they don't. There is beyond refute an element of luck in life. On the other hand, we certainly do have the power to shape our lives. We make these choices every day. Mr. Cosby himself has said if you go into a college library on a Saturday night you can find the students that will mop the floor with their classmates. We are not caught up in a tide where we don't have any control at all.

If we were all to remove a thin layer of our skin the races would all be indistinguishable from each other. Race is of no importance except for the importance that we apply to it.

Further the authors put undue importance on The Cosbys. You can’t look to a TV show for all the answers to life’s big questions.

What is authentically racist is the suggesting that because the fictional Mr. and Mrs. Huxtable are both well educated (as were their fictional parents) and well-to-do that somehow makes them not really black anymore. Now THAT is racist and offends me.

Something else I find unforgivably racist in this book is the idea that most blacks are ghetto poor. They are not. The authors’ premise that most blacks can never succeed because of institutional racism or enlightened racism (or whatever you call it) is bad enough. But if you think one step further what they are really saying is that blacks as a group are pathetic and helpless. They can never take on their problems and challenges and come out winners so they might has well not even try.

Give the folks a little credit. The American Dream is not so allusive as all that and you do not have to become a millionaire in order to get it. Take a look at white people in comparison as a group. Are our lives nothing but privilege and excess? We have more money than we know what to do with? Does Dynasty reflect how most white people live? Does even the Cosby Show reflect how most white people live?

I work my ass off in a distribution center and at 43 am going to college part time. Do I process the American Dream? Yes and No. I am relatively comfortable and happy at the place I am right now. I still have problems and worries and failings. I am not where I want to be yet professionally. Would I be considered a success by the authors if I were black? Are they judging us by the same standard? The standard of the American Dream is allusive and subjective.

There certainly is racism out there, and some of it is in this book, but it is not so prevalent as liberals who fan the flames desperately want us to believe. Bill Cosby and his alter ego Cliff Huxtable are examples of what every American man should aspire to be. He would still be such if he were white. Without the ideal, how will we strive towards a better life?

What I admire most about Mr. Cosby is not his material success but his wisdom and loving nature as a father that came across in his show and his books all to well. The really weird thing about this book is that Mr. Cosby himself financed the empirical audience study on which the book is flimsily based.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, June 18, 2010

Side Me With Weicker on This One

It was with a groan that I read the headline in the Willimantic Chronicle Weicker doesn’t have anything good to say about Connecticut politicians” (June 18, 2010). The era of liberal blowhard Lowell Weicker is a part of Connecticut's past best forgotten most of the time.

But I have to admit that I agreed with 85 percent of what he said here.

The ex-Connecticut resident said Governor Jodi Rell was “disinterested” (very apt!) and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has made the state unfriendly to business and the Connecticut General Assembly failed to keep a lid on spending while selling bonds to pay for operating expenses.

All true.

He was speaking at a Connecticut Conference of Municipalities thingy. He predicted that the next Gov would be a one-termer like he was because of all the unpopular decisions he would have to make on the fiscal side of things “Its going to be a very cold shower on a very drunk state”.

Where I disagree is Weicker's implication that the reason he is unpopular is because he forced us to take needed medicine. Not quite asshole. Weicker is unpopular because he promised not to enact an income tax and then double crossed us and shoved it down our throats. The new governor will have four years to make a difference and that should be enough if he takes the bolder course of fiscal conservatism. Yeah that, and doesn't lie to us like Weicker did. I think Republican Tom Foly will govern by veto. We need a grown-up in the Executive Mansion. I actually think --or maybe its just hope -- that the people will respect a strong fiscally conservative governor looking after the big picture after the muddle of Rudderless Rell. – Kinda like the feeling you get after you have been out of work for a while and you are at your new job and your hands are busy earning some money. You know you won’t be paid until the Friday of next week but it just feels great to working again and be back on track. You know what I mean?

Weicker said that he understands that Rell is popular but that is because she has ducked the hard issues. No truer statement has ever passed through through the man's lips. I wonder why no one else has said that until now? I must have thought it a million times. Rell picks the issues she takes any sort of stand on extremely carefully. She tiptoes her way through everything, careful not to say or do anything unpopular. She guards her personal popularity points like they are gold.

Fools gold is you ask me. I am of the George W. Bush state of mind where if you have political capital, you cash it in on worthwhile policy initiatives. Bush may not be very popular now, but you have to concede he got a lot done in his presidency whether you agree with him or not. Unspent political capital is a waste. --- And an aside on Bush and Rell that always bugged me, I will never forget (or forgive) the time when the skittish Rell suddenly just had to be out of state visiting the Governor of Mass, who was once a cop-killer's lawyer, when Bush visited Connecticut. Rell was obviously scared shitless that President Bush's unpopularity might somehow tarnish her sterling reputation if she stood to close to him or someone snapped a picture of the two together. What a fucking Ninny.

Former Governor Weicker is absolutely right. Our Accidental Governor spends most of her time hiding from big issues. There is not one blessed thing I can think of that Rell made a difference on except for the brazenly Un-Constitutional Public Financing scheme of hers to fool the public into thinking she was never a Rowland crony. What a gem that is. You can find similar beauties of that landmark legislation in my cat Joe's litter box.

Weicker seems to be backing Ned Lamont for Governor (who incidently I saw yesterday at Willimantic’s "Third Thursday's" snooze of a festival on Main Street) which kinda undermines his well-reasoned criticisms of Rino-Rell and the Democrat General Assembly. It just seems to me that electing a liberal Democrat Governor like either Dan Malloy or Lamont now (NOW??!! WHAT ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY??!!) would be like throwing gasoline on fire. If Weicker were truly worried about spending, he would be holding fundraisers for Tom Foly. A Democrat Governor will not likely check the overspending of his own party. Certainly not enough! Hell I am not even sure Connecticut can be saved at this point.

The article mentioned something that surprised me about the 79 year old Weicker. He sits on the Board of World Wrestling Entertainment. Wow, really?

He said that Linda McMahon was a very decent person with a fine mind.

Well there you go then. That’s one good thing he said about a Connecticut Pol. I have never agreed with him so much.

Labels: ,

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Defending Louise Zurowski

This letter in the Norwich Bulletin apparently refers to Louise Zurowski's letter "Education more about profit than children".

The working for free reference was just that, a reference and taking it literally is a bit intellectually dishonest. Mrs. Zurowski is herself a retired teacher of periodical schools. She has been a thoughtful and convincing critic of the Teachers Unions and crazy public school policies for many years now. She is an American citizen and has the right to write the paper. I always enjoy her letters
which I consider gems amid the usual slush and I have only disagreed with one of them. I wish she would write more.

The public pays teachers and the public pays the school budgets. We live in a democracy and Mrs. Zurowski and anyone else for that matter has every right to speak her mind on what the proper level of compensation ought to be. If you don't like that then that's just to damn bad.

I would have Mr.Boada and his wife (who I am guessing is the real author of this letter based on the sexism crack) know that my property taxes will go up 170 bucks this year if the budget in Windham if approved. That's half a week's pay for me. We own a tiny little condo. My friends that live in an actual house are seeing their tax bills go up by three times that this year if we pass the budget which we will not.

The school budget is a full one million dollars more than last year. How can we sustain increases like this? We the taxpayers simply cannot afford to keep paying increases this huge every year or even every non-election year. I will be voting against the budget again. It is a matter of self-defense.

And the simple fact is that teachers do not work a full year and they are paid rather well. The letter writer says that 30 thou is not a lot of money for someone that processes a Masters Degree but that is only what they start at. Once teachers have tenure and enough seniority to avoid layoffs they are pretty much set up for life. The taxpayers that foot the bill cannot say the same about their jobs. The teachers will get large salary increases every year and they are unionized and this is a very Democrat state. Their interests are well looked after.

The taxpayers interests however are not so well pampered. Huge tax increases are shoved down our throats and if we say one word in protest about the level of the increase we are told we don't care about the children. It is as if the children are being held hostage.

My Mom was a teacher in the 1970s and they were not paid well at all. Teachers today have little to cry about. She taught because she loved teaching and she loved teaching me. My sister is a teacher and I am not unsympathetic to teachers, but there needs to be a balance between fair compensation and the taxpayers ability to pay.

We also have to consider the tax impact on business. If we tax them too much, we lose jobs. How will we pay the teacher's salary increases then? CT is bleeding jobs right now. Many businesses like Pratt and Whitney and Franklin Mushrooms and Rogers Corporation have no choice but to close shop and move to the pro-business states or overseas. The sad thing is as I watch them and the jobs go, I know they are dong the right thing.

John R. Rathgeber, president and CEO of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, wrote in the Hartford Communist that Expansion Management Magazine has ranked the Connecticut General Assembly the least business-friendly legislature in the nation. I could say the same exact thing for the Windham Board of Education and Finance Board! More taxes are NOT the answer.

Fact is that today the teaching profession is an extraordinarily lucrative one. Many college-educated people do not earn anything near what a matured, experienced teacher earns. True some make more, but a lot make less. This year our teachers need to take one for the team.

And once again we the people pay the budget that pay teachers salary and the letter writer should follow his own advice when he says before accusing and make irrational comments, why don't you get some facts?

And one more thing. The editors characterization of Mrs. Zurowskis letter as "slinging mud" shows considerable bias. She was not slinging mud at anyone. She was simply making her case.

The teachers unions and their buddies in the press are a bit to sensitive these days. When taxpayer protest the level of the tax increases that are being shoved down our throats that is not slinging mud.

That is democracy in action. If you don't like it, move to Cuba.

Web Counter
Free Counter