Patterico's Pontifications

10/16/2013

Whistleblower Confirms Booker Didn’t Live in Newark

Filed under: 2012 Election,General,Government,Race — Charles C. Johnson @ 8:30 am

Guest post by Charles C. Johnson

Mayor Cory Booker’s claim that he lives on Hawthorne Avenue has been refuted by bankruptcy documents obtained by me and by the colleague of the landlord who says that Booker paid late rent through his secretary but didn’t live at the Newark address. A personal relationship with the city of Newark to pay his rent is “emphatically an ethics violation” says a prominent attorney.

Booker also said he moved from Hawthorne Avenue to Longworth Street but a police officer claiming to be on Booker’s detail said that Hawthorne was Booker’s home on October 9th.

Booker has claimed to have moved to 19 Longworth St. while in the midst of his Senate campaign and travel to California. Booker’s 2012 ethics form reports no real estate holdings, illegally omitting the Longworth property.

In the raw tapes of an interview conducted by filmmaker Joel Gilbert and this reporter, a police officer identifying himself as Martinez replies at Hawthorne, “It’s Booker’s home” when asked if Booker lived there. Tyshaa Thomas, who lives in the adjacent building, can be heard contradicting the officer.

The bankruptcy documents provided to me show that the home was leased to the Newark Police Department and Office of Mayor, not Cory Booker personally. This fact confirms the earlier reports of neighbors and a census worker that Booker does not live at the property and that it is a police facility.

The month-to-month lease is between the “Department of Police/Mayor” and property owner Ife Okocha, who twice filed for bankruptcy, once in 2011 and 2013, and listed the 435 Hawthorne address as one of his three properties. The information is found on page 22 of the chapter 7 filing and page 20 of the chapter 13 filing.

The lease also shows serious discrepancies. In 2007 Booker told the New York Times that he was paying $1,200 a month for rent. According to bankruptcy documents in 2011, Okocha charged both the mayor and the police $2800 combined.

There does not appear to have been an arrangement concerning the property on the first floor though Booker is believed to have invited over others in the neighborhood.

A Freedom of Information request to the City of Newark for any contract or lease with Okocha was returned without any documents and sent to me

Ife Okocha would have been required to report a lease agreement with Cory Booker individually when Okocha filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and 2013 on the same Schedule G where he reported the unexpired leases with the Dept. of Police/Mayor.

If Okocha had a lease with Booker individually, and did not disclose it, Okocha would likely be guilty of perjury, and Okocha’s lawyer, if he knew, would likely be guilty of contempt of court. On the 2011 bankruptcy petition, Okocha reports $2,800 in rental income, and the only property that could produce rental income is the 435 Hawthorne Ave address.

If Booker has a sublease with the city for the Hawthorne property, that could be an ethics violation, says Eric Dixon, an investigative attorney based in New York who has worked in Newark. Dixon says that a possible personal relationship between the city and Booker on rent is “emphatically a conflict of interest” and had to be disclosed.

“The scheduling of all income is done to give the court and the bankruptcy trustee the most honest view of the debtor’s financial condition for purposes of a debt discharge,” Dixon explains of bankruptcy cases. “I’d be concerned that the lack of a written lease is either a sign of income instability, or more likely, sign that the actual income is much greater than what is disclosed.”

“It is my belief that a city agency would not refuse to enter into a written agreement, for any reason. The simplest explanation is likely the most likely: there was a desire to hide Booker’s role,” says Dixon who calls Booker’s arrangement with the city highly unusual.

Dixon continues. “As for legal liabilities – we’re talking bankruptcy fraud, we’re talking the false statements charge (similar to the perjury charge under 18 USC 1001 that tripped up Martha Stewart), even the “defrauding the United States” charge — all of this is criminal and could be pursued by an aggressive prosecutor.”

I reached out to Okocha at his phone number and through what is thought to be his Facebook but has so far received no response. Eliana Johnson, who visited Okocha at his home, was yelled at to leave his property.

Okocha is a nurse at a Veterans Affairs hospital. A colleague of Okocha who asked not to be named but whose identity has been confirmed through a phone call and a records search wrote the following last night:

“I thought you might want to know that Mayor Booker has had several problems paying his rent at 435 Hawthorne to Ife Okocha. He often goes several months without paying. Booker’s rent is paid to Ife by his secretary, and it often goes several months without being paid.”

The source continued.

“[Okocha] has shown me the text messages between himself and Bookers secretary discussing the rent being 2 and three months late at times. He had told me that Booker rents the house. I didn’t believe him, but he said that even though he rents it he doesn’t actually live there.”

Interestingly Okocha’s property taxes went down while his neighbors went way up.

The average property tax assessment in Booker’s alleged neighborhood increased by 9% between 2012-2013, while Okocha’s assessment decreased by 22%, according to assessment documents.

The Booker campaign and Booker personally did not respond to a request for comment.

The Booker campaign did answer a request from friendly Booker reporter, Ruby Cramer of BuzzFeed. Cramer claims to have seen check payments from the Booker campaign and inferred that Booker must live at Hawthorne but I never reported that Booker doesn’t pay rent—only that he doesn’t live there according to his neighbors and Cassandra Dock, a former census worker.

Unanswered in Cramer’s piece is the following:
Why does Cory Booker need 24/7 security paid in a home that he allegedly moved out of weeks ago?

Why does Cory Booker need 24/7 security on two homes?

David Weigel writing for Slate has also criticized my reporting erroneously claiming that Cassandra Dock, who was a census worker and says that she was told Booker’s purported address is a police station, is a Chris Christie supporter.

Filmmaker Joel Gilbert and I interviewed her at length on her views on Christie whom she and Donna Jackson repeatedly called a fraud. In a two-hour interview in Jackson’s car in front of city hall, Dock and Jackson criticized all of the ruling class in New Jersey, including the media, the charities, Booker, Zuckerberg, Oprah, Mayor Sharpe James, Senator Menendez, and many others.

Weigel is correct that Christie made reference to Dock during a speech a few years ago but Dock told me that she did not like being mentioned in such a prominent way. At the time it was thought that Booker and Christie might have a battle royal for the governor’s race and that Christie’s invocation of a constituent of Booker’s was a shot across Booker’s bow.

8/26/2012

How the 1983 Race for Chicago Mayor — And the Coverage of That Racially Charged Campaign — Relates to the 2012 Presidential Race, and Next Week’s GOP Convention

Filed under: 2012 Election,General,Obama,Race — Patterico @ 11:20 am

Is it racist to run against or oppose a black candidate for office? To rational people, posing the question answers itself: of course not. But the candidacy of Barack Obama reminds us that there are people out there ready to portray as “racist” any spirited opposition to Obama and his policies. This cynical mode of attack will absolutely be used in the coverage of the upcoming GOP convention. We all know this, and we know it doesn’t matter what happens at the convention — the charge of racism will be made regardless.

I was reminded of this on my morning walk as I listened to a podcast episode of one of my favorite radio programs: “This American Life.” It’s a great show with insight into innumerable facets of human existence. But it sometimes goes wrong when it strays into politics, or covers an issue that is a liberal hobby horse. (The program suffered a famous embarrassment earlier this year when it had to essentially retract an entire episode about treatment of workers at Chinese Apple manufacturing plants; the conditions described were mostly accurate, but parts of the narrator’s account had been fictionalized without the program’s knowledge. As I wrote here, the retraction was honest and well done. But one wonders if the oversight of the program’s contents was more lax because the slant of the program related to the liberal hobby horse of exploitation of overseas workers in sweatshops.)

The segment I listened to this morning, an old segment from March 2009, gave me the sense that the producers had been scammed again. Although the segment is old, it has a direct relevance to today’s presidential politics, because it portrayed a white politician (Bernard Epton) running for office (mayor of Chicago) against the first black candidate for that office (Harold Washington).

If the parallel to Barack Obama is not clear from that description, the segment made it explicit. The segment was first aired two months after Obama’s inauguration, and the narrator drew repeated parallels to the McCain/Obama race. (You can read the transcript here.)

Epton, a Republican, was described in the segment as a decent man who rejected racism — at least, before he ran against his black Democrat opponent. For example, Epton had stayed put in a residence located in an area that was experiencing “white flight,” because he believed that it was wrong for whites to leave an area simply because its demographics were turning black. Near the beginning of the segment, Epton is heard explicitly rejecting the notion that anyone should vote for him because he was white:

Female Reporter
So many people are saying if Harold Washington wins, the white people will be afraid and they will then vote for you and that improves your chances.

Bernie Epton
Well, I resent that very much. I think that Harold Washington and I, if he is a winner, I am positive that we will come out with a joint statement, perhaps speak together to repudiate it. I don’t want to be elected because I’m white and Harold doesn’t want to be elected because he’s black. I want to be elected because I’m the best qualified.

But the segment then portrays Epton as changing his tune, and tolerating racism in his campaign once he thought he might win. The narrator explains that, because Chicago is heavily Democratic, it is generally expected that a Republican candidate like Epton is going to lose. But when Harold Washington, the black candidate, won the Democratic primary, all of a sudden Republicans thought that Epton had a chance. Outside national consultants came in to help. And, the segment claims, Epton began behaving differently.

I listened to the episode for evidence that Epton was tolerating racism. One of the pieces of evidence was the slogan (submitted by national political consultants) that Epton adopted: “Epton for mayor before it’s too late.” Epton insisted that the slogan referred to Chicago’s financial problems, but I guess the left saw it as a dog whistle.

Then Epton was blamed for racist appeals made by his supporters that his campaign did not countenance:

The slogan set a tone for the campaign– the very tone Epton said he didn’t want. Now, it was going to be whites versus blacks, with Epton as the white savior. And soon, anonymous leaflets popped up in white neighborhoods all over the city. One of them read, “Your vote for Mr. Epton will stop contamination of the city hall by a Mr. Baboon.” Around town, Epton supporters donned various buttons. One depicted a watermelon with a slash through it. Another button had nothing on it at all. It was just white. None of these were being distributed by Upton’s campaign, but it was all being done in his name.

If it was being done in his name, I guess it was his fault? That’s certainly the impression you get.

When a racial incident made national news — someone scrawled “nigger die” on a church that Washington was slated to visit, Epton condemned it in no uncertain terms:

I am appalled that any people in any community would interfere with the worship by any religious denomination. And like you, I reject any of that antagonism or racism or bias or call it what you will.

But the big “gotcha” moment that is supposed to show Epton’s complicity in racism came when one of his confidantes became angry at a William Safire op-ed that the campaign was distributing. The op-ed is portrayed in the segment as arguing that if blacks can vote for Washington because he’s black, whites can vote for Epton because he’s white — and Epton is portrayed as supporting the argument:

[O]ne of Epton’s campaign workers– his policy director, Haskel Levy, began having qualms. He’d already confronted Epton over the slogan and Epton, even while defending the slogan, told him, “Haskel, stay with me. If we win this election, I’ll get rid of all these Republican operatives and opportunistic Democrats and we’ll do good work once we get in.” And so Haskel stayed. But then, one afternoon at campaign headquarters, Haskel noticed a pile of papers by the front door. They were hundreds of copies of an op-ed piece written by William Safire, conservative columnist for the New York Times.

Haskel Levy
It basically claimed the following– if blacks can vote for blacks because they’re blacks, whites can vote for whites because they’re whites. And I looked at it and I just hit the roof. And I took the whole pile and threw it into the garbage can. It’s a shallow– it’s a stupid way of looking at the world. It’s just false.

Alex Kotlowitz
Right, but also, it was in the context of what had been going on in that campaign. In some ways, the campaign was using it to justify–

Haskel Levy
[UNINTELLIGIBLE] incendiary– an incendiary thing. It was being passed out– people were coming in to collect them to give out in the neighborhoods. When blacks get screwed because they’re blacks, they’re a legitimate interest group. What is the white interest group? I can understand a Pole voting for a Pole, a Czech voting for a Czech, but why would a white vote for another white? The only thing, in this particular circumstance, they have in common is that they don’t like blacks.

Alex Kotlowitz
And so it was after that that you went and talked to Bernie Epton the second time.

Haskel Levy
This was the second time and I said that I’d had it. I said, do you realize what’s happening? I said, you have to repudiate the racist campaign. You’ve got to repudiate any people that are supporting out of racist reasons. And if you don’t, I’m gone. And if you don’t, I’m voting for Harold Washington. And Bernie said his argument is correct– Safire’s argument is correct. And I said, that’s it Bernie. And that’s when he got pissed off. And he picked up my coat and jacket and briefcase and he ostentatiously threw it out of his office. And he literally said, get that [BLEEP] out. And he threw me out of the office. And I left. That was the end of it.

(All emphasis in this post is mine.)

Here’s the problem: I found Safire’s piece, and it makes precisely the opposite argument of what the story claims. Safire called it “racist” to vote for whites because they are white, and noted that Epton agreed. In other words, there was nothing racist about Epton saying that Safire’s argument was correct.

You can read Safire’s piece in its entirety here. Safire begins the piece by noting some of Washington’s less attractive qualities as a candidate:

  • Washington failed to file income tax returns for 19 years. He was convicted of tax law violations and jailed for a month.
  • The State Bar suspended Washington from practice for 5 1/2 years for converting client funds to his own use.
  • Washington made false claims in his application for reinstatement to the Bar, falsely denying that he had faced any civil actions during the years he was suspended from his law practice. In fact, he had faced five civil actions.

None of these aspects of Washington’s past make in into the “This American Life” segment, by the way. We are told only how the black man in Chicago stopped getting screwed after Washington was elected.

Safire rhetorically asks whether it is “racism” to bring up such issues about a candidate’s past. He notes that it would not be considered racism to bring up similar foibles by a white politician — showing a double standard. True enough, no?

Then Safire addresses the argument referenced in the “This American Life” segment about the desirability of races voting as a racial bloc:

The double standard comes in when a possibility arises that whites may do the same thing [as blacks did in voting for Washington as a group]. If it is laudatory for black voters to vote as a bloc for the black candidate, then logic dictates it should bother nobody that white voters are likely to vote as a block [sic -- sorry, Mr. Grammar! -- ed] for the white candidate.

But it bothers everybody, including the white candidate, who insists he wants no votes from racists. And racist is what such a voting pattern would be, of course: If words have meaning, voting on the basis of race is racist.

Accordingly, we should either stop praising the black community of Chicago for uniting behind the black candidate or stop complaining when whites show inclinations to do the same. Both actions are racist: Praise both or condemn both.

If Safire is calling voting as a racial bloc “racist,” it’s kind of hard to portray that as praise.

Ultimately, having read Safire’s piece and listened carefully to the segment, I can’t find any evidence Epton was a racist. I think Epton’s legacy is being smeared because he happened to run a spirited campaign against a black politician.

The “This American Life” program is ironically called “The Wrong Side of History” — and indeed, liberals are certainly going to work to portray any white Republican as being on the “wrong side of history” when they run against a historic black candidate.

But it ought to matter whether the candidate is worthy. Based on what I know of Washington, it’s a joke that he was a viable candidate. With his background, he should have been laughed off the podium. It’s only because Chicago is such a corrupt and highly partisan town that a guy like that has a chance.

Which brings us to Barack Obama. It is perhaps no accident that he made his political bones in Chicago — the same town where a black politician with a history of criminality, dishonesty, tax evasion, and cheating people was portrayed as a hero. Perhaps Obama noted how Washington was feted and thought: hey, this is the town for me!

After all: it’s the Chicago way.

I took the time to write this post about a three-year-old radio segment about a 29-year-old political race because I think it’s important that history be written properly. Make no mistake: Big Media and liberals (but I repeat myself) will strain to rewrite the history of the GOP convention next week to make it seem like a cornucopia of racism.

We can’t let them do it. We have to make sure history is written properly, the first time around.

3/26/2012

Report: Trayvon Martin Was the Aggressor, According to the Evidence

Filed under: General,Obama,Race — Patterico @ 6:24 pm

The Orlando Sentinel reports:

With a single punch, Trayvon Martin decked the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who eventually shot and killed the unarmed 17-year-old, then Trayvon climbed on top of George Zimmerman and slammed his head into the sidewalk, leaving him bloody and battered, law-enforcement authorities told the Orlando Sentinel.

That is the account Zimmerman gave police, and much of it has been corroborated by witnesses, authorities say.

The newspaper elaborates on Zimmerman’s story:

Trayvon was visiting his father’s fiancée, who lived there. He had been suspended from school in Miami after being found with an empty marijuana baggie.

. . . .

Zimmerman told them he lost sight of Trayvon and was walking back to his SUV when Trayvon approached him from the left rear, and they exchanged words.

Trayvon asked Zimmerman if he had a problem. Zimmerman said no and reached for his cell phone, he told police. Trayvon then said, “Well, you do now” or something similar and punched Zimmerman in the nose, according to the account he gave police.

Zimmerman fell to the ground and Trayvon got on top of him and began slamming his head into the sidewalk, he told police.

Zimmerman began yelling for help.

As well as the available corroborating evidence:

Several witnesses heard those cries, and there has been a dispute about whether they came from Zimmerman or Trayvon.

Lawyers for Trayvon’s family say it was Trayvon, but police say their evidence indicates it was Zimmerman.

One witness, who has since talked to local television news reporters, told police he saw Zimmerman on the ground with Trayvon on top, pounding him — and was unequivocal that it was Zimmerman who was crying for help.

Zimmerman then shot Trayvon once in the chest at very close range, according to authorities.

When police arrived less than two minutes later, Zimmerman was bleeding from the nose, had a swollen lip and had bloody lacerations to the back of his head.

I, for one, will not tolerate facts getting in the way of my narrative. I demand that the facts be changed to conform to my pre-determined beliefs.

BY THE WAY: Remember: Obama told us, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

OK. Would he act like him?

I remember the last time Obama waded into a racially charged public controversy. It turned out that the facts were not quite the way they had been initially portrayed.

He may end looking stupid . . . again.

Maybe one of these days he’ll learn to keep his mouth shut and let the facts in a criminal case come out?

Nah . . .

3/10/2012

Obama Hero Derrick Bell Praised Man Who Called for White Genocide

Filed under: 2012 Election,Obama,Race — Patterico @ 2:18 pm

Derrick Bell, whom President Obama lionized and embraced in a speech in law school, praised a man who had called for white genocide in South Africa. Bell argued that society should be grateful that the violence had merely been threatened and not carried out.

John Podhoretz in Commentary noted that Bell had given an October 1994 interview in which Bell praised a man named Khalid Muhammad:

The very same interview began as follows: “We should really appreciate the Louis Farrakhans and the Khalid Muhammads while we’ve got them.”

Here is Khalid Muhammad, whom Derrick Bell wanted us to “appreciate” while he was alive. In the following speech, which is one of the most hateful speeches you will ever see, Muhammad advocates killing every white man, woman, and child in South Africa . . . to the cheers of the crowd:

The relevant part is at 1:33:52. It’s a short clip, just three minutes long, and it’s worth your time. Here is a partial transcript:

We kill the women. We kill the children. We kill the babies. We kill the blind. We kill the crippled. We kill the [imitates a crazy person]. We kill ‘em all. We kill the faggots. We kill the lesbians. We kill them all.

Muhammad goes on to explain, in detail, why women and children should be killed. The children, because they will oppress blacks when they grow up. The women, because they bear those children, and thus constitute the “military of the army manufacturing center.”

We need to appreciate men like that while we’ve got them, eh, Professor Bell? Eh, President Obama?

It’s worth noting that this speech was made on November 29, 1993 — and received nationwide attention — while Bell’s praise of Muhammad came in October 1994. Meaning that when Bell said we needed to “appreciate” Muhammad, Muhammad had already given a famous speech advocating killing women and children in South Africa.

I should note that I have not seen the interview Podhoretz references. [UPDATE 3-17-12: I have now. Podhoretz sent it to me. Tommy Christopher claims I still haven't, but he didn't ask me, and is of course a liar. By the way, the better version of this post, which I am using now, can be found here.] Podhoretz explains that Bell’s praise for people like Muhammad was because they didn’t actually commit violence — they just talked about it. This would be like someone praising Hitler during his rise to power because he had not yet massacred any Jews. Bell should have criticized the rhetoric, but instead, he suggested that the rhetoric was mild and praiseworthy, because at least it had not yet translated into action.

There is no excuse for supporting a man like you see in the clip above. None.

And Bell’s praise for this hateful, ugly man was no accident or slip of the tongue. Breitbart.com is revealing that Derrick Bell opined that he is not sure blacks and whites will ever get along, and that Louis Farrakhan was a “great hero for the people” (although he didn’t agree with everything he said). And we have already examined how Bell was a proponent of a theory that maintained that whites in modern times have used principles of equal treatment under the law to oppress blacks, and that the system needed to be ripped up root and branch.

It is a legitimate question to ask Barack Obama, whose Justice Department refused to go after Black Panthers who intimidated people at the polls, and who told a crowd at Harvard Law School to open their minds to the words of Derrick Bell, whether these are the sorts of ideas he wanted people to embrace.

Now gimme a hug!

UPDATE: I re-worked one of the paragraphs of the post in response to a commenter. Details here. I have also rewritten the opening of the post to provide clarity and context.

UPDATE x2: Muhammad gave this noxious speech more than once. I have replaced the original video with a video of the original speech made at Kean College in 1993.

2/28/2012

“Racial Justice” Law Could Mean Reduced Sentence for Killer Who Killed Because of Race

Filed under: Crime,Race — Patterico @ 10:54 pm

Welcome to a country where a law called the “Racial Justice Act” is employed to potentially reduce the punishment of someone who killed a man because of his color:

For nearly three weeks, convicted murderer Marcus Reymond Robinson has listened quietly inside a county courtroom here to intricate testimony about statistics — dry statistics that could get him off death row.

Robinson, a black man convicted of killing a white teenager in 1991, is the first inmate to test North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act, the nation’s only law that allows death row prisoners to reduce their sentences to life without parole by proving racial bias in jury selection or sentencing.

The alleged racial bias being discussed, mind you, is not racial bias from Robinson’s trial. It all has to do with other trials. We have to find out if the system is racist, you see, so we can mitigate the punishment of this racist murderer — even if his own trial was fair. Don’t you get it?

The issue of race has dominated Robinson’s hearing before a Superior Court judge here. Prosecutors have pointed out that Robinson said “he was going to get him a whitey” before he killed 17-year-old Erik Tornblom with a shotgun blast to the face and robbed him of $27. An accomplice is serving a life sentence.

So how will this racial bias be proved? By statistics!

Robinson’s case, and possibly those to follow, hinges on a voluminous study of peremptory challenges by prosecutors in 173 death penalty cases in North Carolina between 1990 and 2010.

The courts look at whether prosecutors struck more blacks than whites from death penalty juries. The story does not say whether the courts will be allowed to examine whether there are racially neutral reasons for the strikes.

Let’s say there are six whites and six blacks on your panel. Four of the whites and two of the blacks say they can treat everyone equally, while two of the whites and four of the blacks say they can’t apply the death penalty and that they don’t trust police. You, as the prosecutor, strike the latter six from your panel.

You have just struck twice as many blacks as whites. You racist. And yet, you were doing your job: excusing biased jurors for race-neutral reasons.

So now, under this law, we take the statistics from your case and go study them in a completely different case that has nothing to do with yours. This is all necessary, we are told, in the name of “racial justice.” Meanwhile, what of the white boy who was killed for being white?

The use of statistics from unrelated trials, permitted under the act, has enraged opponents of the law, among them Tornblom’s parents. The couple has attended the trial, quietly fuming as they listened to testimony.

“This whole study is a sham,” Tornblom’s stepmother, Patricia Tornblom, said in a courtroom interview during a break in testimony. “What does all this stuff from other cases have to do with this case?”

Her stepson, not Robinson, was the victim of racism, she said, nodding toward the defendant. Robinson, 38, a broad-faced man with short dreadlocks, sat at the defense table nearby, dressed in a sport shirt and khaki pants.

“He chose a white boy to kill — and he killed him,” Tornblom said.

Ah, racial justice. George Orwell would be so proud!

1/4/2011

Unbelievable: Twain Scholar Plans to Publish Edition of Huckleberry Finn Omitting the N-Word

Filed under: General,Morons,Race — Patterico @ 7:42 pm

Publisher’s Weekly reports on an astonishing Orwellian cave-in to political correctness: a proposal to remove the words “nigger” and “Injun” from “Huckleberry Finn”:

Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a classic by most any measure—T.S. Eliot called it a masterpiece, and Ernest Hemingway pronounced it the source of “all modern American literature.” Yet, for decades, it has been disappearing from grade school curricula across the country, relegated to optional reading lists, or banned outright, appearing again and again on lists of the nation’s most challenged books, and all for its repeated use of a single, singularly offensive word: “nigger.”

Twain himself defined a “classic” as “a book which people praise and don’t read.” Rather than see Twain’s most important work succumb to that fate, Twain scholar Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books plan to release a version of Huckleberry Finn, in a single volume with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, that does away with the “n” word (as well as the “in” word, “Injun”) by replacing it with the word “slave.”

This sort of silliness is nothing new; I noted in 2003 that the NAACP (whose acronym includes a reference to the racist word “colored”!) objected to “To Kill a Mockingbird” on the basis that it contains the dreaded n-word. And we watched with amusement as New York City sought to “ban” the word in 2007.

But the saddest part of this story is that the guy behind the whitewashing considers himself to be a Twain scholar:

“This is not an effort to render Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn colorblind,” said Gribben, speaking from his office at Auburn University at Montgomery, where he’s spent most of the past 20 years heading the English department. “Race matters in these books. It’s a matter of how you express that in the 21st century.”

The idea of a more politically correct Finn came to the 69-year-old English professor over years of teaching and outreach, during which he habitually replaced the word with “slave” when reading aloud. Gribben grew up without ever hearing the “n” word (“My mother said it’s only useful to identify [those who use it as] the wrong kind of people”) and became increasingly aware of its jarring effect as he moved South and started a family. “My daughter went to a magnet school and one of her best friends was an African-American girl. She loathed the book, could barely read it.”

. . . .

“What he suggested,” said La Rosa, “was that there was a market for a book in which the n-word was switched out for something less hurtful, less controversial. We recognized that some people would say that this was censorship of a kind, but our feeling is that there are plenty of other books out there—all of them, in fact—that faithfully replicate the text, and that this was simply an option for those who were increasingly uncomfortable, as he put it, insisting students read a text which was so incredibly hurtful.”

One should not have to explain to a Twain scholar that the hurtful nature of the word “nigger” is the whole fucking point. But you can’t argue with a guy who thinks he is saving the book by destroying it:

“Dr. Gribben recognizes that he’s putting his reputation at stake as a Twain scholar,” said La Rosa. “But he’s so compassionate, and so believes in the value of teaching Twain, that he’s committed to this major departure. I almost don’t want to acknowledge this, but it feels like he’s saving the books. His willingness to take this chance—I was very touched.”

Hm. It feels to me like, instead of saving the book, he is working to actively destroy it — not just the book and its central message, but the notion of authorial integrity, the idea of confronting injustice head on, and about a dozen other critical concepts.

It’s enough to make you want to scream in frustration. Slapping the “morons” tag on this post doesn’t feel sufficient; stuff like this makes me want to create a new category called “Utter and Complete Fucking Morons.”

I know that language may seem a little rough . . . but again: that’s the whole fucking point.

UPDATE: I have just received word of Gribben’s next project: a new version of Orwell’s “1984″ that will replace the disturbing term “doublethink” with the more soothing term “harmonious cogitation.”

UPDATE x2: See also: Michelle Malkin.

10/15/2010

Dog Whistling in New Mexico: “No Tejana Susana.”

Filed under: 2010 Election,General,Media Bias,Race — Aaron Worthing @ 10:34 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing (a.k.a. "Aaronico").  This is adapted from a post at my blog.]

If there is one thing I am truly sick of in the last two years is the constant accusations of racism and other forms of bigotry against people who merely disagree on policies—indeed, often on policies having nothing to do with race.  I have speculated in the past that some of this is based on honest misunderstandings.  But then other times it is clear that they are using it for political reasons, and almost always against Republicans or conservatives.  Especially pernicious is the claim that the right uses code words and racist “dog whistles.”

So it’s interesting that in New Mexico we have a pretty clear example of a “dog whistle,” and yet it’s done by a Democrat, so I guess it is alright to everyone (with one partial exception).  Democrat Diane Denish is running against Republican Susana Martinez in the race for governor.  And now suddenly they are all saying “No Tejana Susana.”  A Tejana (pronounced like “TAY-han-ah”) is literally a “Texan woman” in Spanish.  See the truth is that in Spanish, the X in Texas is supposed to be pronounced more like an H.  As I joke (with affection), Texans don’t even pronounce the name of their state correctly.  And if you are calling her that in Spanish, then that is all it means: Texas woman.

But if you are otherwise speaking in English, such as, “You should not vote for that Tejana,” then there is a secondary meaning.  A Tejano/Tejana also means a Hispanic Texan.  Now its lame enough that they are resorting to this silly regionalism (she has lived in New Mexico since the mid-80’s).  But what possible relevance is it to highlight that she is Hispanic, too?  And a quick google search reveals that this phrase is getting very common on the left.

I mean imagine if during the 2008 campaign, McCain said, “Do not vote for the black man, Obama.”  Everyone would rightly denounce that as racist, because it was unnecessarily dragging his race into the issue.

And mind you this is not a subtle code that a lot of people might miss and innocently invoke.  I have said we have a whole generation of children who don’t understand why it is racially offensive to depict Obama as a monkey, or eating fried chicken and watermelons; they are so beyond race, they don’t even understand these stereotypes.  So you might imagine a young child drawing Obama as a monkey and having no idea of the ugly history he or she is invoking.  But although I probably have to explain it to people outside of that region, I think it is safe to say that everyone in that region knows what Tejano/Tejana means.

And if you don’t agree with me, then clearly you are a disabilityphobe.  (With apologies to Greg Gutfeld for borrowing his joke.)

Oh, and on a related point, the WaPo recently published a story saying that it turns out that most Tea Party signs are not even arguably racist anyway.  I mean there is that.  And given reports of “Moby” ringers who infiltrate the protests to discredit the Tea Party, that study might mean even less than you think.

On the other hand, the WaPo offered no opinion on the propriety of this Tea Party video.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

9/23/2010

Injustice in Dallas

Filed under: Crime,Race — Jack Dunphy @ 10:43 am

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

The police department in Dallas is being turned upside down over an alleged case of police brutality. On Sept. 5, two police officers chased a man on a motorcycle and had an altercation with him at the end of the pursuit, an altercation in which the force used appeared, at least to me, to be measured and appropriate. Racial politics in the city caused a complete inversion of the outcome, with the charges against the black suspect dismissed and the white cops who arrested him in all kinds of hot water.

I have a column on Pajamas Media in which I discuss the incident, complete with links to the dash-cam footage of the pursuit and the so-called “beating.” An excerpt:

As is unfortunately required in these cases, the facts of the incident must be viewed through race-colored glasses. Andrew Collins is black while the officers who arrested him are white, a set of facts that has prompted Dallas Police Chief David Brown and Mayor Tom Leppert to trip over each other while engaging in a pathetic orgy of apologies to “the community.”

Ah yes, The Community. When mayors and police chiefs use the term, it’s almost always a euphemism for “minorities,” more particularly, “minorities who make trouble.” None of them would ever dare admit it publicly, but mayors and police chiefs in cities across the country live in constant, almost paralyzing fear of getting that phone call, the one that informs them of some incident that may, if things are not quickly and deftly handled, lead to rioting in the streets. Officers Bauer and Randolph of course didn’t know it at the time, but when they first put the spotlight on Andrew Collins as he rode down the sidewalk on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., it was destined to be one of those incidents.

Read the whole thing.

–Jack Dunphy

8/4/2010

Racism Made Him Steal, and Kill

Filed under: Crime,Race — Jack Dunphy @ 11:19 am

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

Only the naïve among us failed to expect this. From MSNBC:

MANCHESTER, Connecticut — Omar Thornton sat calmly in a meeting with union representative and his supervisors as they showed a video of him stealing beer from the distributor where he worked.

Busted, he didn’t put up a fight, company officials said. He quietly signed a letter of resignation and was headed for the door when he pulled out a gun and started firing — “cold as ice,” as one survivor described it.

In the end, Thornton killed eight people, injured two, then turned the gun on himself in a rampage Tuesday at Hartford Distributors that union and company officials said they would not have anticipated from someone with no history of complaints or disciplinary problems.

Yet relatives say Thornton, 34, finally cracked after suffering racial harassment in a company where he said he was singled out for being black in a predominantly white work force.

Pathetic. Expected, but still pathetic.

–Jack Dunphy

8/1/2010

L.A. Times Writer: Let’s Have Another National Conversation on Race

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Race — Patterico @ 2:11 pm

I’ve got a better idea: let’s don’t.

In most of the country, the conversation isn’t about whether Obama is favoring blacks or whites or anyone else; it’s about whether his stimulus plan can work and whether he’s running too big a deficit.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t also need to talk about racial equality and ethnic diversity. Who could lead such a dialogue in a civilized, useful way? Bill Clinton, who launched a similar conversation in 1997, could help. Gates, the Harvard professor, knows a thing or two. Or Jim Webb, the Democratic senator from Virginia who’s criticized diversity programs for favoring high-income minority candidates over low-income whites. Or Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), one of the surviving heroes of the civil rights movement that made Obama’s presidency possible.

The president doesn’t need to teach on every issue. But on this one, he might consider asking someone else to.

Those last couple of paragraphs tell you all you need to know about the “conversation” Doyle McManus wants us to have. Namely, he doesn’t want a conversation so much as a lecture. “Gates, the Harvard professor, knows a thing or two” about preaching to the racial grievance choir; what he doesn’t know is how to listen, as his encounter with a police officer at his home demonstrated. If you’re looking for someone to “teach” white America about how they’re still keeping the black man down, who better than John Lewis — who has supported a discredited narrative of Tea Partiers screaming the n-word at him, and has not been forced to explain to Big Media why numerous videotapes show that narrative to be false.

I notice that McManus does not suggest J. Christian Adams as someone who might help us lead the conversation. I wonder why not.

These “national conversations on race” always turn out to be a chance for Our Betters to lecture us on our institutional and unconscious racism. I’ll pass, Doyle McManus. I’ve been lectured enough, thank you very much.

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