Patterico's Pontifications


Erin Aubry Kaplan, Contributing Editor to the L.A. Times: Now That Reid Is Past the “Negro Dialect” Controversy, Let Me Tell You What I Think of the Word “Negro”

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Race — Patterico @ 10:16 pm

Erin Aubry Kaplan, a contributing editor to the L.A. Times Opinion section, writes a column about the anticipated use of the term “Negro” in the upcoming Census. The title of her column is The term ‘Negro’? Color it obsolete:

Though it was the accepted term until the late ’60s, for those born after that, “Negro” is something they never answered to, a word that sounds only slightly less incendiary than “nigger.” Even older blacks tend to use it ironically or sarcastically when they use it at all, as in: “Those Negroes just can’t get it together.” Its taint goes back to slavery, when Southerners paternalistically referred to even free blacks as “our Negroes.” Contrast this unpleasantness with Barack Obama, who has established a 21st century standard of racial consideration that’s figuring into just about every discussion of color these days. To blacks of all ages, “Negro” and President Obama sharing the same era just feels wrong — maybe he isn’t post-racial, but isn’t he at least post-Negro?

This controversy may be new, but the angst about what to call ourselves is ancient. Over the last 40 years, we have self-identified as “black,” “Afro-American” and “African American” in an attempt get out from under the subjugation represented by “Negro” and, before that, “colored.”

. . . . In his civil rights rhetoric, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. repeatedly infused “the Negro” with urgency and even poetry, turning the isolation and alienation of the phrase into a powerful part of his argument for racial inclusion. Black leaders before him did the same thing with the often pejorative “the colored man.” But that was then, and this is now: “Negro” is officially the last of the oppressor appellations, and for many people it’s past time to retire it for good.

Erin Aubry Kaplan
Above: Erin Aubry Kaplan

Strong stuff. Only slightly less incendiary than “nigger”? A word with a taint, which represents subjugation? An oppressor appellation?

Which leads me to wonder:

Where was Erin Aubry Kaplan one month ago, when it was revealed that U.S. Democrat Senator Harry Reid had in 2008 discussed Obama’s “Negro dialect”?

I’ll tell you where she was: keeping her mouth shut about Reid.

At the time, editors were either not soliciting or not greenlighting Kaplan’s views on the topic of the word “Negro.” Instead, they were unleashing opinion columnist Sandy Banks, who ran interference for Reid with her column titled It’s not Harry Reid who should be apologizing, in which Banks declared:

I think the next apology ought to come from Michael Steele — the light-skinned, dialectically flexible African American head of the Republican National Committee.

Sandy Banks
Above: Sandy Banks

Meanwhile, the news side of the paper carefully portrayed the Reid controversy as nothing more than a series of “attacks” by “Republicans.”

And all along, Erin Aubry Kaplan said nothing.

One suspects that Erin Aubry Kaplan had the same opinion about the term “Negro” last month that she has this month. She thought Harry Reid had uttered a tainted word — an appellation used by oppressors — representing subjugation. A word only slightly less incendiary than “nigger.” Yet, somehow, we didn’t hear from Kaplan — a woman with over 100 published pieces in the paper.

No, we didn’t hear from her . . . at least, not at a time when it would have hurt Harry Reid.

Now that Reid is safe — as safe as he’s gonna get, anyway — it’s now OK for Kaplan to reveal her opinions about the word “Negro.”

She and her editors are, after all, merely following Journalism’s Hypocritical Oath: above all else, do no harm to Democrats.

Behind the Scenes at the White House

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 8:56 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Only a year in and the Obama Administration exposés have begun:

Financial Times Washington Bureau Chief Edward Luce has written a granularly informed insider account about those who hold the keys to the inner most sanctum of Obama Land — Rahm Emanuel, Robert Gibbs, Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod.”

Steve Clemons at the Washington Note describes it as a “vital article — a brave one” based on “dozens of interviews” with unnamed sources. Apparently it took so much courage that a Brit had to write it.

NOTE: The Financial Times link requires registration but it has a free registration option.


Refueling Over Iraq

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 8:35 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

[UPDATE BY PATTERICO: I’m going to place the video after the fold because it starts up automatically and is kind of loud. Be warned: adjust your volume before you click “more.”]


The Vegetative Mind

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 7:03 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

British scientists have discovered you don’t need physical signs to tap into the vegetative mind. As described at this link, researchers used brain scans to communicate with individuals in total vegetative states. The findings may change completely how physicians determine whether someone is in a vegetative state:

“Doctors traditionally base these diagnoses on how someone behaves: if for example, whether or not they can glance in different directions in response to questions. The new results show that you don’t need behavioural indications to identify awareness and even a degree of cognitive proficiency. All you need to do is tap into brain activity directly.

The work “changes everything”, says Nicholas Schiff, a neurologist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, who is carrying out similar work on patients with consciousness disorders. “Knowing that someone could persist in a state like this and not show evidence of the fact that they can answer yes/no questions should be extremely disturbing to our clinical practice.”

The implications for medical ethics are apparently profound:

“One of the most difficult questions you might want to ask someone is whether they want to carry on living. But as Owen and Laureys point out, the scientific, legal and ethical challenges for doctors asking such questions are formidable. “In purely practical terms, yes, it is possible,” says Owen. “But it is a bigger step than one might immediately think.”

Bigger than deciding not to hydrate or feed someone?

H/T Instapundit and the New Scientist link is here.


PS – A New Scientist editorial links an NIH abstract that discusses how “unsettling” it can be to discover awareness in vegetative patients, and how that may increase pressure to discontinue their life support. The editorial’s conclusion:

“However, this research now offers a way to ask someone if they wish to end their life. The ethical issues surrounding assent to suicide will be just same as for someone who is terminally ill. The central question remains: are they capable of making a life-or-death decision and deciding their own fate.”

Sometimes it seems like medical scientists view life-or-death decisions as primarily about choosing death.

Salon Retracted — How Did I Miss This?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:04 pm

Because they did it on Friday, when I was completely off the Internet:

The Feb. 3 “James O’Keefe’s Race Problem” reported that O’Keefe, the conservative activist arrested on charges he plotted to tamper with Sen. Mary Landrieu’s phone lines, helped plan a conference on “Race and Conservatism” that featured white nationalist Jared Taylor. The freelance photographer who attended the event, and snapped O’Keefe’s photo there, now says the right-wing provocateur helped out at the conference, but cannot confirm that he helped plan it. The story has been corrected.

The article also said that O’Keefe was terminated by the right-wing Leadership Institute in 2008, after videos were released of O’Keefe calling Planned Parenthood and offering to donate money to abort black babies. He was let go in 2007. Leadership Institute co-founder Morton Blackwell told the New York Times O’Keefe “wanted to do sting operations that would affect legislation; he made some calls which have been covered in the news media to Planned Parenthood. That was beyond the scope of what we had hired him to do. We are an educational organization. We are not an activist organization.” Blackwell says he told O’Keefe to choose between his job and his activism, “and he said he was committed to the activism,” according to the Times. The date of O’Keefe’s termination has been corrected, and Blackwell’s explanation has been added to the story.

Also, David Almasi is the director of Project 21, not the founder, as originally stated.

Salon regrets the errors.

[Correction made 2/5/10]

There remain only a handful of uncorrected errors and distortions in the article. Here’s one:

Right-wing online publicist Andrew Breitbart, hearing of the merry prankster’s exploits, hired [O’Keefe] to carry out the ACORN operation that would make him famous.

Matthew Vadum knocks that one down:

[Author Max Blumenthal] presents no evidence that Breitbart hired O’Keefe “to carry out the ACORN operation” because none exists. None exists because the claim is absolutely false.

While Breitbart may have served as promoter of the ACORN hidden camera videos, he wasn’t involved in shooting the videos. To the best of my knowledge, Breitbart didn’t even meet O’Keefe until after the ACORN videos were shot.

Also, Blumenthal portrayed Hannah Giles as distancing herself from O’Keefe — even though, the day before his piece was published, she supported O’Keefe and explained that she had been taken in by dishonest and sloppy coverage from Big Media . . . ironically, coverage very much like Blumenthal’s own.

Vadum’s post, which I found via Instapundit, also has several entertaining knocks on the author, Sid Vicious’s son Max, who turns out to be an irresponsible and dishonest lout in general — not just in this piece alone. The apple doesn’t fall far from the old block that it’s, uh, chipped off of. I had forgotten that Max was the guy featured in this video:

Salon knew what they were getting into when they chose to pay this chucklehead to write about O’Keefe. Enjoy your embarrassment, iceholes.

John Murtha Dead at 77

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 12:09 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha has died from complications of gall bladder surgery:

“On Saturday, Feb. 6, the 19-term lawmaker became Pennsylvania’s longest serving member of Congress.

Murtha, who served as the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense and was known as a defense hawk, made his voice heard on U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq. Murtha also questioned the new U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and would have been a pivotal voice in the congressional debate over the issue this spring.”

My condolences to his family, friends and staff.


Obama: Let’s Talk About Health Care!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:04 am

What could possibly go wrong?

In a high-stakes bid to revive his healthcare overhaul, President Obama announced during a pre-Super Bowl television interview that he would convene a bipartisan summit in which Republicans and Democrats would try to forge a compromise while a national TV audience watched.

I see. So it’s a genuine effort to reach a compromise.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said: “We always appreciate the opportunity to share ideas with the president, particularly on an issue where Americans have spoken so clearly. If we are to reach a bipartisan consensus, the White House can start by shelving the current health spending bill.”

But starting fresh is not part of the White House plan.

In an interview Sunday night, a White House official said, “The Republicans are going to interpret this as we’re starting over. We’re not starting over. We’re coming in with our plan. They’re welcome to come in with whatever plan they’d like. But we’re moving forward.”

I see. So it’s a stunt.

Republicans are destined to screw this up. They can minimize the inevitable damage by sending in Scott Brown to play a prominent role. He’s a walking symbol of the country’s unease with ObamaCare. Let’s hope Republicans remember that.

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:39 am

$2.5 million of them, to be exact:

I’ve watched this twice now and I still don’t get it.

The only way you could waste the money worse would be to give it all to me for this Web site.

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