Willie Mays Avenue

This week, we experienced another national paroxysm of “controversy”, the result of which is that a few more formerly obstinate people admitted what millions already found obvious: Donald J. Trump is a hyper-combative, utterly incompetent, ignorant narcissist who cannot do the job he finds himself in.

Also, he may or may not have proven himself to be a racist and Nazi sympathizer, though neither of those possibilities is nearly as important to the world as his utter incompetence.

On the plus side, a few monuments to the Confederacy have been torn down, thereby bringing the Civil War one baby step closer to conclusion, only 152 short years after the last shot was fired.

Also,  in some circles traveled only by the 1% , it has now become de rigueur to prove your bona fides on the subject of race by making some sort of gesture or speech about it, which doesn’t help all that much but doesn’t hurt either.

More than 40 years after the death of Tom Yawkey, Red Sox ownership is making little tiny noises about finally doing the right thing concerning the “legacy” of Tom Yawkey: killing it dead.

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Yawkey bought the Red Sox for himself a few days after he turned 30 years old in 1933 for $1.25 million, thereby sentencing the team and its die-hard fan base to decades of mediocrity. Yawkey had inherited $40 million from the lumber and iron empire built by his grandfather, and could finally access the money, having reached the age specified in the will.

Today, $40 million doesn’t buy that much. Maybe the privilege of watching David Price nurse a hangnail on the bench for two years, or maybe watching Pablo Sandoval eat hamburgers in the minors before recognizing you made another small mistake. But in 1933, it was real money.

Yawkey never earned or produced anything on his own, and treated the Red Sox as a private club, often taking batting practice with “his boys”.

He died in 1976, a year after the greatest World Series ever played, in which the Red Sox lost the seventh game and came up empty for the third time on his watch. They were one player short of success yet again.  The next year, Boston re-named part of Jersey St., on which Fenway Park’s main entrance sits, to Yawkey Way in honor of the great man. It’s been Yawkey Way since then.

In his day, most people in Boston thought Yawkey was a peach of a guy, and most had no problem with his views on black people. He didn’t like them. The Red Sox were the last team in baseball to put a black player on the field, waiting until 1959, and they did so half-heartedly. Pumpsie Green was the man’s name, a .246 hitter with zero power over his five year career.

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The Red Sox had the chance to sign Jackie Robinson and they passed. They did give him a tryout in 1945. A newly elected city councilman, Isadore Muchnick, campaigned to bring black players to Boston, and refused the usual formality of granting permission for the Red Sox and Braves to play on Sundays, unless they gave some guys from the Negro Leagues a tryout.

A day before the 1945 opener, Yawkey had Jackie Robinson, then of the Kansas City Monarchs, take the field for a look, along with Marvin Williams and Sam Jethroe. “We knew we were wasting our time”, Jackie said years later. No one from the press was there, and the whole charade lasted just a few minutes. It ended when someone from the stands yelled out. “Get those n—ers off the field”

In 1945, the Red Sox weren’t alone in their antipathy. But in 1949, two years after Jackie was already in the majors and the direction of history was clear, the Red Sox passed on a 17-year-old prospect named Willie Mays, who they could have signed for $4500.

In the 1950’s, the Red Sox could have, and should have, had Ted Williams in left, Willie Mays in center, and Jackie Robinson at second. But Yawkey was too smart for that. Why try to win games with guys you don’t like when it’s so much more fun to relax with the guys you like?

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The above picture is Yawkey and Carl Yastrzemski, one of his favorites, after the “Impossible Dream” Red Sox backed into the 1967 World Series, surviving the closest pennant race in history.

Yaz had a season for the ages, playing a supernatural left field all year while winning the Triple Crown. Wow. He played great in the Series, too, hitting .400 with three home runs and an On Base Percentage of .500. He carried the team  into the seventh game, where the Red Sox put their Cy Young winner, Gentleman Jim Lonborg, on the mound with only two days rest to face the immortal Bob Gibson. Gibson, of course, cruised to his third win of the Series, striking out ten and giving up only three hits, and ended the Red Sox season in the predictable fashion.

But a good time was had by all, right?

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The Red Sox were short just one player, as usual. Just one Bob Gibson. Or Jackie Robinson. Or Willie Mays. And it took another 37 years on top of that to finally get over the hump.

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Now John Henry, principal owner of the Red Sox, is entertaining suggestions for re-naming Yawkey Way.  I think “Willie Mays Avenue” would work. My plan is that the next time I’m down there on game day, and I overhear some kid saying to his father, “Dad, why is this ‘Willie Mays Avenue’? Willie never played here!”, I’ll look at them both sadly and say, “Exactly.”

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Screwie speaks: Terrorism, Murder, War

I was sipping a gin-and-tonic on my tiny, urban “deck” yesterday, reflecting on how fast the summer speeds by when you’re living on the wrong side of the political looking glass, when I saw my cousin Screwie roll up at the end of the driveway on his fixie. He seemed agitated as he chained his bike to the railing with the “Do Not Chain Your Bike Here” sign on it. That boy is a born anarchist.

I didn’t quite hear what he was muttering as he came toward me – I just picked up the words “Not Terrorism”, so I knew I was in for an earful.

“Hey”, I said. “Want some gin?” I was just being polite as I saw that he had his usual six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon with him, and I knew I wasn’t going to have to get up. He plopped down in the other Adirondack chair.

“Anything wrong? You seem a little distracted. In fact you seem like you’re gonna pop a vessel”.

“Yes, there’s something wrong,” he sneered. “Barcelona is wrong. Barce. Fucking. Lona.”

“Yeah, such a great place. Awful. Terrorism”, I offered, knowing full well it didn’t matter what I said.

“Yes it’s awful,” he said, “But it’s not terrorism.”

“What are you talking about? Of course it’s terrorism. A twenty-something Jihadi drives a van through an unsuspecting crowd, killing a dozen or more, probably screaming ‘Allahu Akbar’ for all I know. How do you figure it’s not terrorism?”

Screwie says, “Because there’s no ‘terrorist’ objective. Terrorism is meant to accomplish something – to get the victims to modify their behavior somehow. The bad guy wants you to ‘end the occupation’ or ‘release the political prisoners’ or ‘recognize the caliphate’ or ‘stop publishing cartoons that offend me’ or ‘stop supporting the apostate royalty’. Or something.

“Sometimes they just want you to be so uncomfortable and afraid you’ll move out of wherever you are and leave it to them. But terrorists want something, and the implication is that when you give it to them, they’ll quit blowing things up and go back to being humans.”

“Hmm”, I astutely responded. “So you’re saying the Barcelona guys had no ‘terrorist’ objective. I guess I see that. So, if it’s not terrorism, what do you think it is?”

“I think it’s murder. But it doesn’t matter what I think. It’s what they think that matters. Until we understand what they think they’re doing, there’s absolutely no hope we’ll ever get on top of it.”

“And what do they think it is, if I might be so bold to inquire?”, says I.

“They think it’s war. They have no objective beyond killing you. They don’t care if you promise to recognize the caliphate, or if you require everyone in Europe to wear a burqa or anything else. They just want you dead. If they lose two of theirs blowing up or running over eighty of yours, it’s a huge battlefield win. Multiply it by a zillion and you get the picture of what they think they’re doing. And the point is that the battlefield is everywhere in their war, not just Syria or Afghanistan or wherever else you might want to think it is.”

“Crack another PBR and try to enjoy what’s left of the summer”, I offer.

“Don’t be a wise-ass. No one likes a wise-ass. Look, remember after 9/11 when we all were trying to understand what it was about? ‘Why do they hate us?’ was the mantra.  Remember the Wall Street Journal guy who went up into the mountains so he could get the al Qaeda side of things, and put the word out so that we could all understand their thinking and their grievances? Daniel Pearl was his name.

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“When he got there, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed cut his head off. We were all totally confused. Pearl was going to give them a platform and they killed him? Are they crazy? We still don’t get it.

“They don’t care about a platform. They don’t care about getting their message out to us. They don’t care about compromise or negotiations or getting you to do some particular thing, after which they’ll go back to being like everyone else. What they care about is making you dead.

“The reason we were so shocked by 9/11 and by every attack that’s come after is that we didn’t understand that they had declared war on us and were proceeding accordingly. We were arguing about whether their ‘crimes’  should be treated as civil or criminal offenses, where to try the bad guys and under what law, what rights they should have, and so on. And we’re still thinking that way.”

“So what are you saying?” My cousin’s getting inside my head now. “If treating these guys as terrorists or criminals isn’t going to work, what’s the right answer?”

Screwie seems a little spent now that he’s got these thoughts on the table. He takes a long pull on his beer and says, “That’s above my pay grade. But I’ll tell you this – Step One is to understand what they think they’re doing and we’re not close. It’s the third-rail of political incorrectness to agree with them that it’s all-out war. And who needs it? I’d rather sit here and drink beer than go out and shoot someone. Who wouldn’t?

“But it’s really not so hard to take Step One if you’re up to it. It should have been done long ago. Bid Laden put it right out there in black and white in his 1998 Fatwa. Why not take him at his word? Like the other side does.”

“Huh? Remind me”, I respond with my usual brilliance.

“It’s short and sweet”, Screwie says. “I have the important part committed to memory. It says,

The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies—civilians and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it… “

The sun was starting to set. I looked up the end of the driveway and saw a kid with bolt cutters working on Screwie’s bike lock. But I didn’t mention it. Why stir things up?

Here’s what will happen next

The President of the United States has made it clear to White Supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and their sympathizers that they have a friend in the White House, that their voice is welcomed in the national discourse, that their concerns will not be marginalized. They will have a seat at the table and equal time as needed to make their points.

You’re probably wondering how the Republic can now endure. Clearly, we have reached a historic precipice and whatever happens next will impact us all for years to come. Whatever principles we thought we were fighting for in World War II have been abandoned, and new principles are taking their place. Clearly, there is no longer any doubt that Donald J. Trump is unfit and must be removed from office, one way or another.

It’s all a bit unnerving and I’m sure you’d like a little guidance as we stare into the abyss.

Well, you’ve come to the right place. Due to the exceptionally clear internet weather we have recently been experiencing, plus the well-known GOML clairvoyance on issues such as these, we can now tell you exactly what will happen next. Ready?

Nothing.

Exactly nothing will now happen to Donald J. Trump.

This latest firestorm will not occupy our attention as long as “Obama Tapped My Wires” or “Grab Them By The Pussy”. The news cycle has already started to move on with the van attack in Barcelona, followed by some exceptionally absurd tweeting from you-know-who about how General Pershing soaked his bullets in pig’s blood, thereby scaring Muslims out of terrorism for 25 years (carefully adding that you won’t find this in “some” history books. The fake ones, I guess.).

It’s now Tweety’s favorite time: time to “fight back”. No one does it better or enjoys it more.

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Re: Charlottesville, the subject has already been changed. Instead of discussing why the former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan is congratulating the President on his courage, honesty and support, we will discuss whether Robert E. Lee occupies an important place in American history. Controversial!

Instead of asking why Tweety thinks counter-protesters are as bad as Nazis, or why he thinks they had no permit to assemble when they did, or why he is saying there were “many good people” supporting the “Unite the Right” rally when he can’t point to a single one, we will debate whether the “Alt-left” is a terrorist threat.

And right on cue, a State Senator from Missouri has stepped into the snare, saying she wished Trump would be killed. See? What’d we tell ya? The left is worse than the right! Nazis get very unfair treatment from the Fake News.

The goalposts have already been moved. There will be some hours of discussion where much evidence is produced that Tweety was right all along – that some people on the left are as bad as any on the right, that those who wish to honor our confederate past have been improperly silenced and bullied, that the fake media is fake, etc. etc.

Oh, and I almost forgot – the mayor of Chicago is now being asked to remove statues of George Washington because “It’s time”. Just like the Tweeter-in-Chief predicted! Now who’s the idiot, huh?

Political cover has already been granted to the professionals. Anodyne statements condemning racism and anti-semitism have been issued by former presidents and current congressmen. So brave! Seriously – was anyone going to issue a statement saying racism and anti-semitism weren’t really so bad? The President is not mentioned by name, except by the handful of usual suspects who are then personally attacked and dismissed as envious losers.

James Murdoch wrote a “personal letter” about it and pledged a million dollars to the Anti-Defamation League. Steve Cohen, a Democratic congressman from Tennessee says he will file articles of impeachment.

It’s all whispering in the hurricane, kids. Tweety is immune from such trifles. To quote the man himself, “Watch!”

As is to be expected, Tweety is already on the record with his own all-purpose condemnations of racism, thereby inoculating himself from his own disease and preemptively refuting evidence to the contrary.  As always, he has made sure that he has said something, however vague, that can prove he was correct from the get-go about anything and everything that might come up. The man has never been wrong once.

Apart from lack of any movement on the real issue here (bringing the Tweety era to a close), there actually will be some positive changes on the ground, although mainly only symbolic ones which will not stop the “free speech vs. hate speech” debate treadmill we just stepped on. Some Confederate monuments will finally be removed and some planned “Unite the Right” events will be cancelled. We repeat: Not The Point.

And late night comics are doing some great work. I particularly like this Jimmy Kimmel rant. Enjoy.

Separate but Equal 2.0

Remember when “Separate but Equal” was an abhorrent racist euphemism? It used to refer to the legal doctrine, according to which racial segregation did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted at the close of the Civil War, which guaranteed “equal protection” under the law to all citizens.

Using this doctrine, state and local governments could require that services, facilities, public accommodations, housing, medical care, education, employment, and transportation be segregated by race, as long as the facilities provided to each race were “equal”.

 

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It was widely understood, though, that services and facilities offered to African Americans were almost never “equal” in any real sense. The repeal of laws that divided people by race, known as “Jim Crow” laws, was the focus of the Civil Rights movement, and in 1954, the Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education formally overturned the “Separate but Equal” doctrine.

But there was still a lot of work to do. Most black people understood that the only path to their rightful place in American society was full “integration”, and that was the basis of Martin’s message. In his “I Have a Dream” speech, he notes that 100 years after the Civil War, African Americans are still  “badly crippled by the manacles of segregation”.

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Of course, Malcolm had a slightly different message, and one that resonated at least as strongly as Martin’s, that focused more on independence than integration. But everyone understood that “Separate but Equal” was not the answer, and the focus of all our collective efforts over the years was to refute it.

But, with time, the odious phrase lost its bite and actually came to represent something desirable for some young people. It’s a bit disorienting to hear black high school students advocating for segregated proms, for example, using the that very same phrase. You can’t help but feeling they haven’t read their history when you hear this.

Yesterday, I wrote about events at Evergreen State College, where white people were asked to stay away from campus for a day. Today, I’m reading that Harvard has held separate commencements for students of color. At their request.

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Everything old is new again.

Equity Action Plan

Somehow, the word “equity” has come to replace the word “equality” in the pedagogic vernacular in discussions of racism on campus. Maybe it’s because my own concerns are so far removed from those of today’s college student, but when I hear the word “equity”, I think of this now-secondary definition:

“the money value of a property or of an interest in a property in excess of claims or liens against it”

Indeed, the first definition in the online version of the Merriam Webster dictionary is now:

“justice according to natural law or right; specifically :  freedom from bias or favoritism”

It’s a little confusing to someone on the outside, but it feels a little bit like the goal of ensuring that everyone has the same opportunity to achieve has been replaced with the goal of ensuring that everyone achieves the same outcome.   And it’s not immediately obvious to the lay person what the deficiencies of the now obsolete term, “equality”, might have been.

Evergreen State College has an Equity Action Plan. It’s an impenetrable thicket of jargon, but the gist of it is that racism explains just about everything that’s wrong. It’s got different “goals” listed, including Content Goals, Process Goals, Outcome Goals, and a single Equity Goal, which is:

• Our equity goal, simply put but not simply achieved, is to substantially improve the experiences of underserved students on our campus so that we close equity gaps in student learning and student success. An “equity gap” is an unequitable difference—read “worse”— between the experiences, opportunities, and/or outcomes of underserved students. We choose “underrepresented” and “underserved” with intention, in recognition of the power of language to name the problem as one of historical exclusion from ‘the academe’ and its power and resources, eschewing language that sources the problem as the students themselves (“at risk”) or in a negative light (“minority”).

In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, Bruce Weinstein, a biology professor at the college, voiced his disagreement with the Plan.

The plan and the way it is being forced on the college are both deeply authoritarian, and the attempt to mandate equality of outcome is unwise in the extreme. Equality of outcome is a discredited concept, failing on both logical and historical grounds, as anyone knows who has studied the misery of the 20th century. It wouldn’t have withstood 20 minutes of reasoned discussion.

This presented traditional independent academic minds with a choice: Accept the plan and let the intellectual descendants of Critical Race Theory dictate the bounds of permissible thought to the sciences and the rest of the college, or insist on discussing the plan’s shortcomings and be branded as racists. Most of my colleagues chose the former, and the protesters are in the process of articulating the terms. I dissented and ended up teaching in the park.

Weinstein also disagreed with the “Day of Absence” at Evergreen, where all white people have been asked to stay off campus. He wrote an email protesting the event which induced accusations of racism and ignited a campus firestorm.

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This has given outlets like Breitbart apoplexy.  To be honest, the concept of asking any group to stay away does seem a little over the edge, although the idea of being on the same side as Breitbart on this or any issue is dread-inducing at best.

The Washington Times reports some of the action this way:

A video of the confrontation, captured by Mr. Vincent, shows Mr. Weinstein attempting to reason with dozens of students who routinely shout him down, curse at him and demand his resignation.

When the professor tells the students he will listen to them if they listen to him, one student responds, “We don’t care what terms you want to speak on. This is not about you. We are not speaking on terms — on terms of white privilege. This is not a discussion. You have lost that one.”

Another protester asks the professor whether he believes “black students in sciences are targeted.”

After asking for a clarification, Mr. Weinstein says, “I do not believe that anybody on our faculty, with intent, specially targets students of color.”

That remark prompts shrieks of outrage.

Weinstein, a lifelong liberal, is now literally under siege and his resignation has been demanded. In a lengthy interview on the Rubin Report, he claims that student protesters threatened to kidnap him

Equity in action at Evergreen State College. Ugh.

Screwie speaks: Multiculturalism

My cousin Screwie came over the other day with a couple of six-packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon to watch the Celtics get crushed by the Cavaliers. He was flipping through channels after the game and landed on an episode of “All in the Family”.

It was the one where they flashed back to the time Gloria, the budding flower-child daughter, first introduces Michael, her long-haired leftie boyfriend, to Archie, her old-school working-class father.  Archie and Michael (or “Meathead”) are left alone to get acquainted.

Archie: What kind of a name is Stivic?

Meathead: Huh?

A: Where you from?

M: Oh, uh, Chicago.

A: I mean what’s your nationality?

M: (A little baffled) I’m an American.

A: I mean, where are your people from?

M: They’re from Poland.

A: (Rolls eyes) That would make you Polish, then.

Screwie’s had three or four PBRs at this point and says. “See? See how far we’ve gone in the wrong direction? This is why I hate St. Patrick’s Day. And Columbus Day”.

“What are you babbling about?”, I politely inquire.

He explains that in 1971, forty-six short years ago, this joke was on Archie. He was unenlightened and bigoted, and wanted to impose some sort of negative stereotype on Michael for being “Polish” when Michael wasn’t Polish at all, but a proud American, indeed every bit the American that Archie was.

Archie’s impulse was to “other” the Meathead, to assert his own right as a “real” American to decide who else had the Bona Fides to join the club. This was the definition of small-mindedness at the time – the opposite of what it meant to be “progressive”. Archie didn’t understand that everyone in this country (except the indigenous peoples, the “real” Americans) was an immigrant or the child of immigrants, all aspiring to be “American”. The audience roared. Archie was an idiot.

So I say, OK cousin, but what does this have to do with St. Patrick or Columbus?

Screwie says, “Look at this recent St. Patrick’s Day parade we just had. It was the usual cast of characters from Southie, having their one big moment to assert their “superiority” by keeping others out, namely gay people. None of them were “Irish”, any more than the Meathead was “Polish”. They were all Americans, the same as you, me, Archie, and Meathead. I’ll bet you none of them has ever even been to Ireland.” Even the Boston Globe writes, “The St. Patrick’s Day parade is the embarrassment that never goes away.”

“Same with Columbus Day. Columbus stumbled onto the “new world” while trying to do something else entirely, and ‘discovered’ a continent of people who were doing just fine for ten thousand years without him. And now all the “Italians” here want to have a parade. But they’re not “Italian”, they’re American.

And their antecedents, like the Irish, Polish, and all other immigrants before them, were desperately trying to scrape a few cents together to leave whatever hell-hole they were living in to come here and be ‘Americans’. Only generations later does that old country become something to hang your hat on and brag about, no matter how horrible it really was. And how horrible would it have to be for you to want to escape it without any money, prospects, English language skills, or anything else? Pretty bad.”

“Huh”, I reply, incisively.

But now Screwie is on a roll. “The problem is this crazy idea that’s taken root called ‘Multicuturalism’. The old idea of accepting the ‘tired poor huddled masses yearning to be free’ has morphed into ‘bring all your crazy shit over here and pretend you’re still in Beirut or Guadalajara or Mogadishu or wherever.’ Don’t bother learning English or Baseball or anything else – we’ll just accommodate you no matter what because that’s just how ‘progressive’ we are. Never mind that if you keep doing what you were doing over there, pretty soon life for you will be the same over here.”

“The very thing we saw as regressive and bigoted in Archie Bunker is the thing we now celebrate – no one wants to be just an ‘American’ now like Meathead and all the other enlightened people of 1971 did.”

Screwie is an organized thinker, and likes to make lists to clarify his points. The subject of multiculturalism is no exception, and he forges ahead, opening yet another PBR.

He says,
“1) Multiculturalism is an American obsession – no one else cares about it or thinks it’s a good idea. That’s because we’re the only country founded on the principle that everyone is welcome to jump into our melting pot. It makes a big stew called ‘American culture’ from all the ingredients brought here from everywhere else. Lately, we’ve forgotten about the melting pot and have become a Tapas place, where everyone has their own identity and ‘culture’, and ‘American’ culture, if it exists, is something to scorn.

2) It’s a one-way street. When I travel to Malaysia for business, I first read “Culture Shock – Malaysia”, because I don’t want to offend anyone. When in Rome, I try to do as the Romans do.  I learn that in Malaysia you don’t shake a woman’s hand when we meet in the office, because they’re Muslims and it’s not cool. When our diplomats travel to the Arabian peninsula, the women wear head-scarves to be respectful of their culture.

But when the Malaysians or Saudis come here, the women don’t shake my hand here either (and their men don’t shake the hand of the women here, even the CEOs), and their women still wear the veil here.  No one is reading “Culture Shock – America” when they come here, hoping to fit in. We defer to their ‘culture’ when we are there, and we defer to it when they are here. No one defers to American culture.

3) Multiculturalism marginalizes and even denies American culture, even though it pervades the world. When the Iranians refer to the ‘Great Satan’, they are not talking about our politicians or our foreign policy or our Christians and Jews. They are talking about American ‘culture’, that siren song of temptation – the movies and music, sexual freedom, gender equality, consumerism, pornography, hedonism, atheism, etc. etc. All of it. It threatens them and their culture (at least they worry that it does). I’m not saying American culture is better than anyone else’s or even that it’s good. I’m saying it exists, but that when we elevate and aspire to ‘multiculturalism’, we are denying it.

4) It re-enforces identity politics and grievances and gives old prejudices sustenance. That’s what Archie was doing with Meathead, and we used to understand it as a bad thing.

Remember that news story in Cambridge the other day? The one about the high school kids on the bus that were acting up and playing their music way too loud and annoying the other passengers? They were kids being kids and being inconsiderate and annoying, as kids will be. The driver tells them to pipe down, and that’s when the story becomes ‘news’.

See the driver was Whatever-White-American and the kids were African-American. So a seventeen year old girl starts in on how this is a ‘micro-aggression’ and racism because in her ‘culture’, music and sound and blah blah blah.  Not too long ago, the kids would have said “sorry” or “fuck off, old man” or whatever, but insisting that their right to annoy others is based in their ‘culture’? And that the driver is a racist? This is what they’re now taught in school. Wow.

5) Multiculturalism perpetuates and accentuates what divides us at the expense of what unites us. Another example from school: the kids have access to video equipment so they can create stuff to be shown on their own little TV station, which other citizens of Cambridge can watch. Kinda cool.

So I’m watching this perfectly charming piece made by a girl about her neighborhood and family and what she likes about school, etc. And she says, ‘On my street, there are about half American families and half Muslim families’.  Holy shit, I think. This is a problem.

A couple of months later, the Boston Marathon bombing happened.  A little punk named Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, along with his older brother, did the crime. He went to the same high school as the video-maker girl, where he was given a college scholarship by his Cambridge neighbors, wrestled on the school team, smoked some dope, and appeared to be like any other kid. He lived just a couple of streets over from the girl who made the video in which the distinction between Americans and Muslims was casually and innocently asserted, and not corrected or edited out by any teacher. You do the math.

6) It weakens our position in foreign policy matters when our own people are hyphenated. I don’t think we’ll be going to war with Ireland any time soon, though with President Crazy-pants you never know. But if we do, should we send our Irish-American troops?  Or just our British-American ones?

Remember the Japanese internment after Pearl Harbor? It is now recognized as one of the worst things we ever did – rounding up Americans with Japanese antecedents because we couldn’t trust them to be ‘Americans’. Just when we got to the point where we realized that mistake, we are now reversing direction and glorifying and encouraging everyone to maintain their real ‘identity’, i.e membership in some group that is not ‘American’.

7) People no longer come here to be ‘American’. They come here to remain what they were, but with political stability, economic opportunity, and social equality. This cannot sustain. And it’s un-American, There. I said it.

8) If we insist on everyone’s right to maintain their own culture, we are ignoring the many areas of conflict between what we want our culture to be and what you insist yours is. Should we encourage ‘culture’ hostile to homosexuality or women’s rights? Or one that includes genital mutilation, polygamy, or honor killing? We say we want to honor the other cultures, but some other cultures are built on what we abhor, and some are downright hostile to ‘American’ culture. See point 2 above.”

By this time my head is spinning. Screwie’s a lot smarter than I am, so I never just dismiss what he rants about. But after all those PBRs, I’m not sure he really means it all, and he’s starting to slur his words a little. I figured it was time to kick him out.

Anyway, it was time to fix dinner for my house-mates, who are proud Feline-Americans.

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Only in America

The other night, at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, host Hasan Minhaj finished his remarks by saying, “Only in America can a first-generation Indian-American Muslim kid get on this stage and make fun of the president. It’s a sign to the rest of the world, it’s this amazing tradition, that even the president is not beyond the reach of the First Amendment.”

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For the first time since Reagan was in the hospital recovering from being shot, the president wasn’t there. Trump was in Harrisburg, PA, because he’s a pathetic coward and dangerously thin-skinned narcissist who can’t take a joke. And because, unlike Minhaj, he doesn’t respect the First Amendment at all, as it apparently allows people to disagree with him publicly.  He spent the evening leading chants of “Lock Her Up”, asserting that all news (except FoxNews) is fake, that coal mining jobs are coming back, that the first hundred days of his presidency were much better than anyone else’s, and so on.

But today’s blog isn’t about Trump. It’s about Asian Salad, or should I say “Asian” salad. There was an opinion piece in the Rapidly Failing New York Times (the “rapidly” is new, just added in Harrisburg!) a few days ago by author Bonnie Tsui, complaining about the casual racism of the word “Asian” in this context.

Am I taking this too seriously? The casual racism of the Asian salad stems from the idea of the exotic — who is and isn’t American is caught up wholesale in its creation. This use of “Oriental” and “Asian” is rooted in the wide-ranging, “all look same” stereotypes of Asian culture that most people don’t really perceive as being racist. It creates a kind of blind spot.

Most of the RFNYT readers who commented on the piece thought that, yes, she was taking this too seriously, though some agreed vehemently that these sorts of “micro-aggressions” must not be tolerated. Quite a few noted that it was just this sort of over-sensitivity and identity politics that invites the backlash that ultimately leads to Trump getting elected.

I don’t have a strong opinion about this controversy, except to celebrate that at least it is someone with “Asian” roots complaining here, unlike, say, the concern trolls who want Chief Wahoo banished from baseball. The minute Native Americans complain about him, as they well might, Wahoo has to go. But they haven’t yet, at least as far as I’m aware.

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But what struck me most from the “Asian Salad” article was this sentence:

“To a white audience, it reads as diverse. To actual Asian-Americans, it reads as ridiculous.”

I started thinking, is there a corollary to “Asian Americans” anywhere in Asia, or anywhere else? In other words, is there a sizeable population of second-generation “North American-Koreans” living in Seoul, say, who are offended by some local fast food joint selling American Bar-B-Q or whatever? I don’t think so.

Yes, there are pockets of American ex-pats and conscientious objectors who have established a beach-head elsewhere, but in general they attempt to assimilate and become like everyone around them. If they move to France, they aspire to become French, not to sit around Les Deux Magots complaining that they’re insulted by the American Hamburger on the menu. More likely, they’d join in the criticism of America from their new home. And if, against all odds, Le Figaro published some complaint along these lines, does anyone imagine Parisians chastising themselves for their own insensitivity?

Our country is really the only one in the world founded on the idea of accepting everyone from everywhere else, and turning them into “Americans” (again apologies to indigenous peoples here). Or letting them retain their own culture and respecting that, if they want, though you’ll be hearing from my cousin, Screwie Generis, on the subject of multiculturalism soon enough.

It’s galling to hear other people elsewhere in the world (I’m looking at you, Germany), criticizing us for racism, cultural insensitivity, and intolerance. Do we have a lot of work to do and a lot of room for improvement before every last citizen is treated as they’d like? Yes, of course.

But only in America has this goal been enshrined in the founding documents. That’s why so many people want to come here (or to escape here, if you prefer), and so few want to leave.

And if a new arrival or one of their descendants wants to point out that the rest of us are a bunch a racists for putting Asian Salad on the menu, the New York Times is ready to give them a platform to fire away. The rest of us will give it serious consideration.