Thursday, February 19, 2009

New York Post Prints Blatantly Racist Cartoon


The New York Post has published a blatantly racist cartoon showing two policemen shooting a monkey and then saying, "They will have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."

Whether the NYPost meant it to be racist or not is almost irrelevant. The fact that Blacks have been regularly stereotyped with images of apes and monkeys is undeniable. It is as fundamental part of that stereotype as large noses and money bags are of the Jewish stereotype.

The fact that it was juxtaposed with a picture of President Obama signing the bill did not help the NYPost's claims that the monkey did not mean Obama. [There was a pet monkey shot in NY a few days ago but that does not explain away or excuse the racist elements of the cartoon.]

This is what the editor of the paper said in trying to justify the cartoon:
"The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy."
The explanation does not fly and NYPost, which even if it did not mean it to be racist [I know it is a long shot but just maybe], rather than try to justify itself, should apologize.

And those folks who are rightfully sensitive to use of antisemitic stereotypes should make their voice heard.

49 comments:

Zak Safra said...

Deborah,
I agree with you that this was an racist cartoon. But, one point to consider, isn't their readership mainly black? Would they do something like that intentionally?

(Love the blog)

Zak Safra

Deborah Lipstadt said...

Thanks Zak and no i don't think their readership is primarily one ethnic group... and certainly not black....

Are you a relative of Jacques?

Roman Werpachowski said...

Even if it did not have the racist content (i.e. if the President was white), it would not be funny. It's violent and disgusting.

StGuyFawkes said...

The New York Post was founded by Alexander Hamilton and had a distinguised history as the highbrow rival to the New York Times until 1977.

In 1977 Rupert Murdoch purchased the Post and made it into a British styled tabloid like "The Mirror".

Th Post specializes in celebrities, nightlife, gossip and pictures of girls wearing bikinis. It reached it's apogee of influence with the most famous Tabloid headline ever which read "HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR".

It is considered to be a right wing newspaper which shares the views of Rupert Murdoch.

People from all social classes and backgrounds give it a read for the gossip and the dada-esque headlines.

In the 80s hip denizens of the Lower East Side would read it saying they needed their "dose of the Post". It is considered the beginninig of New York's descent into "scratch and sniff" journalism.

It was the newspaper satirized in Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities.

Put this obviously racist cartoon in context and it makes perfect sense.

JafaBrit's Art said...

I am going to make a reference to this issue on my blog tomorrow but wanted to comment here about voices being heard. I don't feel one should have to be sensitive or personally offended to speak out but do so because we don't want to empower those who would demean or dehumanize others with our silence.

Even if I were to buy the intent, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand the impact of such an image given the history of its usage to demean people of colour (and most recently during the presidential campaign) and the context in which it was used. Either they think people are stupid, or they don't care, they are stupid or they are racist, but whatever it is it should be confronted.

Deborah Lipstadt said...

I don't feel one should have to be sensitive or personally offended to speak out but do so because we don't want to empower those who would demean or dehumanize others with our silence

Of course not. Edmund Burke said that all you need for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing....

Having said that, however, i do think that those who are sensitive to one kind of stereotyping because it hits close to home [Blacks, gays, women, etc.] should be particularly vigilant in speaking out in the case of other types of stereotyping...

Deborah Lipstadt said...

Apparently NYPost employees -- or many of them -- are embarrassed by the cartoon. Check out the Huffington POst.

Zak Safra said...

I do think that the African American community in NYC are one target audience for the paper. My choice of the word "mainly" was poor. If it wasn't a cartoon with racist intent thought, it shows that the newspaper is in badly run one.

I see two offensive elements in the cartoon, the first was the racist comparison of an African American President to a monkey, the second was the image of two white policemen shooting - an extremely sore point for the African American community.

Those who defend the cartoon (it seems) are arguing that "monkey" can be used to mean someone who did something stupid (including George W Bush who was often depicted as a monkey), and that the 2 white policemen in the cartoon were just there because of the chimpanzee/police story in the press at the moment...perhaps the whole issue would have been avoided if one of the policemen in the cartoon was black?

But is it intention or results matter?

I feel that the same question could be asked about the cartoons in UK's Guardian that showed Ariel Sharon (then Israel's PM) tucking in to a meal of Palestinian children. The cartoon was deeply offensive to Jews - it brought back memories of the Blood Libel - and many Jews (including myself) felt offended by the image. The artist on the other hand, would probably vigorously deny being an anti-Semite.

Hume's Ghost said...

At least the employees of this Murdoch owned enterprise are embarrased. I don't recall any employees at Fox News speaking out when Fox and Friends doctored photos of an editor and reporter at the New York Times in a pretty blatantly anti-Semitic fashion (Indeed, Bill O'Reilly explicitly defended it.) Notice that the Jewish reporter got his image distorted worse than the editor.

Hume's Ghost said...

I also find the imagery terribly disturbing considering the number of white supremacists who are fantasizing about killing Obama.

dan said...

Wow. I saw this cartoon in CNN International outside the USA and then online on blogs and the NY Post website too. I don't see what the fuss is all about. I didn't perceive the cartoon as racist, I knew immediately it was about the chimpanzee that attacked a woman in Connecticut the day before and was big news on CNN too. And I didn't think Obama, who I adore, wrote the stimulus bill. Some committee of legislators wrote the bill. I do not think of Obama in any other way than as a great statesman-to-be. I think Al Sharpton made a big to-do about this funny, comical, political cartoon -- which by the way, Deborah, does not represent the NY POST at all, it was drawn by a Post cartoonist, but that is his own particular POV of life, NOT the POV of the POST per see. A cartoonist works for the newspaper but his cartoons are his own points of views. I saw nothing offensive in that cartoon art all, until I heard on CNN that so many people were upset, mostly blacks, and then now also I see whites and Jews are also upset, but I just don't get it. Just like that cartoon from the student at Emory last fall, I also saw nothing offensive in that cartoon. Cartoons are just cartoons. Why is everyone so sensitive about this? Am I the only person who thinks the Post cartoon was okay? I sometimes wonder if America is going crazy with alll this PC stuff. Obama is not a monkey, the cartoonist was not saying that. You are reading too much into that. But this is a good discussion. More important to talk about here is that antisemitic play in London now by Caryl Churchill called "Seven Jewish Children" or something. Now THAT is something worth talking about here. Not this silly inoffensive cartoon! Obama didn't mind it at all. He is above all this. Just Sharpton and his cronies. Color me blind, but that is how I see it, Deborah. You are making a big brouhaha out of nada. It's just a cartoon. Cartoonists are biting, satirical angry people. That's why they have that job. But don't blame the NY Post. That cartoonist is just an employee there, he did his job, which is to draw a daily cartoon about news events, politics or culture or VIPs, whatever, and the POST has an editor who okays the cartoons and off they go into the world of print journalism. Just a silly cartoon. I don't get why you are so upset. Blatanly racist? No, maybe unconciously racist on the part of viewers. Think about THAT, all ye who lurk around here!

Hilary Ostrov said...

Deborah,

Maybe I've been reading in all the wrong places, but in all that I have read, my impression was that the actual *writing* of the bill was primarily the work of Pelosi & Reid.

Although I was aware of the CT monkey shooting, I was not aware of the monkey as a black stereotype (but I am aware of Jews being regularly tarred with the epithet of "apes and pigs" by those Arabs who don't like us very much!)

Consequently, when I saw the cartoon here, I was somewhat puzzled by your headline ... because the first thing that occurred to me was that the cartoonist was making an oblique reference to the proverbial 1000 monkeys at a typewriter producing a work of Shakespeare!

Incidentally, your "published" link goes to another copy of the cartoon. I tried to find the correct link for you, but didn't come across it. However, it seems that the N.Y. Post has now apologized:

http://www.nypost.com/seven/02192009/postopinion/editorials/that_cartoon_155984.htm

[looks like blogger is cutting off that URL at ed for some reason ... the last part should be:
itorials/that_cartoon_155984.htm]

"It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill.

"Period.

"But it has been taken as something else - as a depiction [...]

"This most certainly was not its intent"; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize."

The piece also comments on some in the media and "public life" who've taken issue with the Post - and to whom they offer no apology. The writer then concludes:

"Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon [...]

While I'm here, btw, on a slightly different note ... there was rather long but, IMHO, well worth reading Opinion piece in yesterday's U.K. Independent by Howard Jacobson, "Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is"

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/howard-jacobson/howard-jacobson-letrsquos-see-the-criticism-of-israel-for-what-it-really-is-1624827.html

Jacobson notes that "Rhetoric [...] has warped report and analysis" of the fighting in Gaza. During the course of his piece, he observes:

"Berating Jews with their own history, disinheriting them of pity, as though pity is negotiable or has a sell-by date, is the latest species of Holocaust denial, infinitely more subtle than the David Irving version with its clunking body counts and quibbles over gas-chamber capability and chimney sizes. Instead of saying the Holocaust didn’t happen, the modern sophisticated denier accepts the event in all its terrible enormity, only to accuse the Jews of trying to profit from it, either in the form of moral blackmail or downright territorial theft."

Jacobson hits many nails on their proverbial heads. He concludes by speaking of the "gradual habituation to the language of loathing. Passed from the culpable to the unwary and back again."

Regards,
Hilary

Deborah Lipstadt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deborah Lipstadt said...

Hilary: Thanks for catching the glitch, I will try to repair it. You were so helpful when i was just getting started with this blog.

To Hilary and Dan: Pelosi and Reid may have written much of the bill but it is considered Obama's bill. He pushed for it. He argued for it. He identified with it. You both are losing sight of how much it is associated with him.

Africans -- and by extension African Americans -- were stereotyped as closer to animals than people. [That's how the Nazis explained Jesse Owens's and other Blacks's victories in the Olympics.]

And among those animals the monkey, ape, and chimp figure prominently.

Dan: The cartoonist is an individual but the editor chooses what to accept and what not to accept. Cartoons are rejected all the time.

Hilary: On the other matter, yes I have been alerted to that article and planned on posting a link to it. I still will probably do so so more readers will spot it.
Thanks again for all your help.

dan said...

Deborah,
We agree to disagree which I was always like your blog and you. Hillary Ostrov said it well. One note: the cartoonist here is not a freelancer, he is a staff cartoonist for the Post, that is his job, to churn out daily cartoons, and as a staff cartoonist his cartoons are never edited or spiked or rejected. Unless they cross the line, in which case he would never have been hired in the first place, and if he did cross the line one day after being hired, he would be fired immediately. I think the Post apology said it best: it's just a cartoon, folks. Everyone, or most everyone, took it the wrong way. This says ALOT about race relations in America today, yes, but not what you think. This cartoon was never directed at Mr Obama. What's happening to my dear beloved America these days, everyone is so touchy and on pins and needles and looking for racism where there isn't. Again, I say do a post on that awful Churchull play now being stated in London. Hurry!

dan said...

and this, Deborah, the most important part of the Post's apology is here:

"However, there are some in the *media and in *public life who have had differences with The Post in the past - and they see the incident as an *opportunity for *payback.

To them, no apology is due.

Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon - ***even as the opportunists seek to make it something else."

It was NOT a blatantly racist cartoon, Deborah, as your headline of your post says. Maybe you could call it a "blatantly controversial" cartoon, that is was. But it WAS not racist.

Chill.

David Ben-Ariel said...

JaffaBrit says: it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand the impact of such an image given the history of its usage to demean people of colour

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that WE ARE ALL PEOPLE OF COLOR and that using that phrase for non-whites exclusively is racist and ironic since, technically, black is the absence of color.

JafaBrit's Art said...

"aving said that, however, i do think that those who are sensitive to one kind of stereotyping because it hits close to home [Blacks, gays, women, etc.] should be particularly vigilant in speaking out in the case of other types of stereotyping..."

absolutely!

Hume's Ghost said...

For what it's worth, I browsed Stormfront yesterday ... the cartoon was compared favorably to a cartoonist from some white nationalist newspaper.

Of course, they're predisposed to interpret things in the worst possible way - which is sort of my point in the first place. The cartoon is irresponisble regardless of what its intentions were.

Hume's Ghost said...

I also noticed just now that some other white nationalist site linked my blog as a reference to this story, since they liked one of the quotes I found at Stormfront.

The entry at the Pan Aryan Insurgent News site on this topic reads "Are you [i.e. some white nationalist] sending cartoons to the New York Post"

hockey hound said...

"The cartoon is irresponisble regardless of what its intentions were."

You've hit the nail on the head, Hume's Ghost. Well said.

dan said...

The cartoonist, Sean Delonas, denies that he was targeting President Barack Obama and says he did not mean to imply that the nation's first African-American President is a monkey. CNN reports:


Delonas, the cartoonist, said to CNN, "It's absolutely friggin ridiculous. Do you really think I'm saying Obama should be shot? I didn't see that in the cartoon. The chimpanzee was a major story in the Post. Every paper in New York, except The New York Times, covered the chimpanzee story. It's just ridiculous. It's about the economic stimulus bill. If you're going to make that about anybody, it would be [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi, which it's not."

Hilary Ostrov said...

Deborah,

I have given much thought to your concern that Dan and I "are losing sight of how much [the bill] is associated with [Obama]". I can't speak for Dan, but I certainly don't dispute that the bill is very much associated with him.

However, what you seem to be suggesting is that - in this instance, at least - this "association" trumps not only the news context and what was actually written, but also what was conspicuously absent from the cartoon (i.e. any identifiable caricature of the supposed target, which is typically found in a cartoon, cf Zak Safra's mention of the infamous Sharon cartoon).

Not to put too fine a pun on it, but it strikes me that there's something wrong with this picture!

And it creates a conundrum: How is one to communicate effectively if words can no longer mean what they say (or are to be ignored) and images are to be construed as containing that which they clearly don't?!

Regards,
Hilary

hayden said...

George Bush was regularly depicted as a baboon in the international media. I never once witnessed a debate as to the offense that this might have caused him or other white people.

Why is there outrage in one context but not the other?

It seems in the US that racism and bigotry is justified so long as the target of it is deemed to be an "oppressor". All that need happen to justify racism, it would seem, is to define yourself or your group as a victim. This sets a dangerous precedent because the notion of righteousness and victimhood are entirely subjective. Isreal behaves as it does in Palestine because it has defined itself as a victim and, by doing so, inevitably believes that its responses are infinitely just.

It sets a dangerous precedent for any group of people on this planet to believe that they are more entitled to dignity and fairness than anyone else. Such beliefs at at the very heart of racism.






Personally, I think this sets a worrying trend because the idea of "victim" and "oppressor" is always subjective. Racism

David Ben-Ariel said...

Yes, blacks always get to play the victim and continue to milk white guilt and enjoy double standards, aided and abetted by self-hating and/or self-righteous whites (too often liberal Jews) who are actually being racist and condescending for failing to hold blacks to the same high standards as whites.

Deborah Lipstadt said...

Depicting Bush as a baboon is quite different than using that imagery in connection with a Black man. It's the same as using the stereotype of the rich, unforgiving person in connection with a Jew.

The imagery takes its powerr when connected to a stereotype. So to say Bush was depicted as a monkey and that makes it ok, is just silly.

I post the last comment because I think it absolutely borders on racism and thought it should be up there as a case in point.

I will criticize a Black person or a Jewish person when they are deserving of criticism, e.g. I think the Black Caucus was all wrong to push for the seating of Roland Burris as Senator. He was appointed by a man accused of being an outright crook and no one he touched should have been appointed.

On the other hand to depict Obama as a monkey -- it is his stimulus bill even if Congress wrote it -- is nothing but racism.

hayden said...

Well, I think it would be helpful to define what it is you mean by racism. What is your definition?

And how, in your opinion, does the right to freedom of speech tie into this? Presumably a state could arise in the near future in which freedom of speech is stifled by those who claim others right to speak offends them. Should we stop reporting war, for example, because some people are offended by what they see? It seems like a dangerous root to go down and, more than ever, societies are selectively self censoring. Often the very things that should be talked about are those things for which there are the gravest social consequences.

hayden said...

To Deborah: I think it would be more productive if your arguments centered on reason and evidence rather than assertion. To merely assert that calling George Bush a monkey is better than calling Obama a monkey is based entirely, as far as I can see, on a personal value judgement rather than reason.

If arguments are to continue on the basis of assertion then it is more a mud-slinging contest than a debate.

Deborah Lipstadt said...

Hayden:
I never said it was "better" I said it was different. Both are demeaning and, one could argue, show a lack of respect for a president. That's a different issue.

But calling Bush a monkey, however offensive you may consider it, is NOT racist. Calling Obama one is.

This is pure reason. Not mud slinging or assertion.

[I doubt that I will be answering further on this but I will post comments regarding it.]

hayden said...

Deborah: Could you provide us with what your definition of racism is?

hayden said...

" But calling Bush a monkey, however offensive you may consider it, is NOT racist. Calling Obama one is."

This is a pure value judgement, how can this be called reason? There is no attempt to define racism and then provide evidence for the Obama example fitting your definition. The notion of racism here is based entirely on what you consider to be racism. At the very least please provide us with your criterion for assessing racism. thank you

hockey hound said...

"Deborah: Could you provide us with what your definition of racism is?"

This question, Hayden, suggests that you are either feigning ignorance or arrogating yourself into the position of moral authoritarian.

I see no need for Prof. Lipstadt to submit any definition to you. Moreover, she deserves the same honour due an experienced fighter: she has nothing to prove to anyone (including you) participating in this discussion. Where is your respect?

David Ben-Ariel said...

Those who charge others with racism are under honest obligation to define "racism" since they've assumed moral authority to judge others. It's only logical to ask by what standards they're condemning others, since it's apparent all don't share the same views or standards.

Why would anybody have a problem with explaining their position unless they have the chutzpah to think they're above reproach and shouldn't be questioned?

hockey hound said...

"...it's apparent all don't share the same views or standards."

This is the side-show called "moral relativism". There are no absolutes. You say tomato, I say tomato, ad nauseam. In the world of moral relativism there is no crime in amputating the hand of a child for stealing an apple from the market, no crime for stoning a women to death buried up to her shoulders in the sand, no crime in executing young girls at half-time in a soccer stadium accused of adultery but who were really gang-raped. It all depends on where you hang your hat.

If you don't think the cartoon was racist, if you are unable to submit your mental faculties to absolutes, why bother dragging Prof. Lipstadt into an endless discussion about anything to do with a racism which, according to the noetic adventures of how many relativists, can never really exist?

"honest obligation"

Only those who dutifully submit to absolutes, it's true, can be called upon to obey any sort of "honest obligation." The relativist, however, is not burdened with such an obligation; the relativist simply obviates from reality by constructing and destructing his own set of morals as he goes along.

Heaven forbid (in the world of the relativist) anyone should have the chutzpah to accuse a totally tactless cartoonist of insensitivity or abradent racism.

David Ben-Ariel said...

If your rage didn't blind you, you would notice I never said the cartoon wasn't racist. I simply asked a few questions that obviously further disturbed your comfortable pontifical chair. LOL.

hayden said...

All we are asking is that you explain what you mean by racism. Given that the whole debate of whether the monkey is offensive depends on what we mean by racism, this doesn't seem like an unreasonable request. Nor does it have anything to do with moral relativism.

I note with interest that my former post to hound was never published.

hockey hound said...

"I never said the cartoon wasn't racist."

Then what were you saying, David Ben-Ariel? I'm sorry you interpret my statements as one pontificating. It doesn't feel that way when I'm writing them, David. I'm just so tired of no-one taking sides but rather they "drift to and fro on the misty flats." Even worse, they attack those of us who have the chutzpah (like Prof. Lipstadt) to stand up against racism and abradant humour, the sort as was prominent in the New York Post via the cartoon we now debate about.

What is racism? Why don't we wait until the Durban II summit is over and we can then read the definition of racism agreed upon by those brilliant minds of the UN. (I've just read today that Canada, United States, and Israel are boycotting this event.) Why should you and I contend over what is racism when all we really need is to wait until the compounded genius of how many member states of the UN come up with that answer for us?

"They see visions of great cities and wild regions; they are in the marts of commerce, or amid the islands of the South; they gaze on Pompey's pillar or on the Andes, and nothing which meets them carries them forward or backward, to any idea beyond itself. Nothing has a drift or relation; nothing has a history or a promise. Everything stands by itself, and comes and goes in its turn, like the shifting scenes of a show, which leaves the spectator where he was." -Henry Newman, from The Idea of University (1873)

hockey hound said...

"I note with interest that my former post to hound was never published."

I'm assuming most of you are from the city. Me, I'm from rural Canada. On the farm we have what is called a manure-spreader, the purpose of which is, I suppose, self-evident in its title. My uncle once made the sagely observation that "the manure-spreader is the only invention of man that is pulled across a field kicking the shit out of itself." (Please forgive yet another expletive, Prof. Lipstadt)

I think whenever Prof. Lipstadt witholds some of our posts (some of my more furious posts have been witheld), its to prevent us from doing to each other what the manure-spreader does to itself.

hockey hound said...

"Even if it did not have the racist content (i.e. if the President was white), it would not be funny. It's violent and disgusting."

Well said. It most certainly is "violent and disgusting," even profane. There is nothing funny about shooting an animal.

hayden said...

Hockey hound:

1. Your comment about my comment being left unshown is presumptious to say the least.

2. You haven't given us a definition of racism.

Well, how about we start with the dictionary definition since you won't commit yourself to your own definition. Even these definitions are contested by some. In general, most dictionaries define racism as:

"The belief that skin colour accounts for differences in personality, character or intelligence"

In this context please consider what evidence there is that the cartoon is racist.

I, as an African, am quite bored of white liberals who claim to champion the rights of blacks. It is, in my observation, almost always to do with moral dissociation (The desire to dissociate morally from society in order to live guilt free lives). I observe that liberals in the West (white and black) are obsessed not with actions, but with words. Indeed, events like this cartoon mean nothing; accusations of racism are based on meaningless details, not substance. The white liberals jump to the fore to distance themselves from the words with...words (not actions). In doing so they promote a noble image of themselves and morally dissociate from their raging sense of guilt.

hockey hound said...

"The white liberals jump to the fore to distance themselves from the words with...words (not actions). In doing so they promote a noble image of themselves and morally dissociate from their raging sense of guilt."

What sort of "action" are you referring to? The civil rights movement? There were a lot of "white liberals" involved with that dangerous task, many of them Jewish, I might add. Were those "white liberals", in your opinion as an African, compelled into action by their "raging sense of guilt"? And if you're of the opinion that the cartoon is not racist, what is it you want to say here anyway? That all good things, whether words or deeds, emanating from white and black liberals are, in your estimation as an African, worthless and merely for the purpose of their living "guilt-free lives"?

Honestly, I have done everything I can in order to live a guilt free life (I'm not always successful). I really didn't think such a purpose was peculiar; I thought it rather widespread (in the West anyway). But also, and with as much honesty, I cannot confess to a raging sense of guilt about whatever is veridical racism. Does this mean I am ignorant and stupid? And after your excoriation of [white and black liberal] mankind and their selfish good deeds, I am convinced that whatever definition I give will surely be exposed as insufficient when collocated with your moral standards.

So why don't you put forward your definition of what you, as an African and beyond our mere sciolistic existence, is racism, Hayden. Dispense to us all here the judicious measure of guilt you feel we so deserve. Conduct us as to when and where we should NOT interfere in making the world a better place.

"It is one of the beautiful compensations of this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself." -Charles Dudley Warner

hayden said...

My point, dear Hound, is that you shouldn't feel guilty at all. Your guilt is your undoing and arises because, I suspect, you don't believe that all races are equally fallen and flawed creatures.

My definition of racism follows the dictionary definition that I gave in the previous post. By this definition people are racist if they believe that negative (or positive) character traits are determined by skin colour.

Where racism becomes a grey area is when skin colour and culture correlate. There is, for example, no scientific evidence to suggest that race one race is intrinsically better than another. In some contrast, however, there is abundant evidence that some cultures are more effective than others. When cultural traits correlate with racial traits then this often causes perceived racial differences. For example, the most successful culture in history is the Jewish culture. An analysis of it shows 4 traits which have allowed it to be more successful than other cultures: 1. Jews work harder, 2. Jews revere education, 3. Jews have community cohesian, 4. Jews shun social norms that are unproductive. Indeed, almost all successful cultures have these traits.

Black immigrant communities from Somalia, for example, are richer than both the average black american and the average white american within two generations of their arrival in the US. If racism were the only explanation for black americans not advancing, then why would other racially equivalent groups do so well?

The same disparities exist between asian immigrants and native white americans.

If we are to follow the traditional western liberal rationale, then we assume a priori that all observed statistical descrepancies in racial socio-economic distributions are the result of racism. From this vantage point we then assume that this can only be corrected by combatting the latent racism that exists within society.

By this rationale, it would also be logical to conclude that Asian and black immigrants are oppressing white americans because they are richer than white americans. By the same rationale we should also assume that white rednecks, who have the same socioeconomic indicators as native black Americans, are similarly discriminated against.

The empirical evidence suggests that some cultures are better geared to success than other cultures. The Jews, for example, are the most successful culture of all time. Rather than accept that what they have done is an achievement, we instead, as human beings lacking the capacity of introspection for our own shortcomings, assign these achievements as pre-existing advantages. I have heard statements to this effect: "The jews are drawn to money like flies to shit". Such statements perfectly betray the rationale that some how Jews consume wealth rather than creating it through their hard work and sacrifice. I have observed similar sentiments expressed by white Britons towards Asian shopkeepers, black South Africans towards Black Somali immigrants and Black Kenyans towards indian Kenyans.

The reason, I suspect, Black americans don't do as well as black immigrants, is that they don't work as hard as them or revere education as much as them. Whilst racism is of course a problem it is important to quantify the extent to which it holds people back from advancing socially and economically. If socio-economic disparities are a simple case of endemic racism, then why has the socio-economic standard of black americans fallen since the civil-rights movement began? There is an important debate to be had about what extent racism exists and what extent these discrepancies are the result of an uncompetitive black-ghetto culture. Nobody seems willing to have this debate.

Racism, far from being a simple phenomenon requiring no debate or scrutiny, is actually very complicated. Where do we draw the line between racism and prejudice? These are, at heart, different phenomena. Prejudice arises through generalization which need not be based on a racist belief. For example, a black man

White liberals, for the most part, don’t seem to be interested in such analyses because it doesn't suit their interests. They acquire no noble image from challenging black americans to introspect and empower themselves. Instead, they prefer to regard themselves as the knights in shining armour, rushing to save the poor black man from the ravages of the enigmatic conspiracy against him. Paradoxically, such behavior only entrenches the sense of inferiority that white liberals are, presumably, helping black Americans to escape from.

Those are my views, since you asked for them, Madame Hound. So, no, please don’t feel guilty. Just get on with your life, treat people with the kindness of your heart, realize that we are all flawed. Join a local charity, help people. Live a normal life and have normal human responses to human situations. Thank you.

hockey hound said...

"For example, the most successful culture in history is the Jewish culture"

How do you measure success here? I remember a Rabbi once saying about Madonna's disgusting misrepresentation of Kabbalah, "She wants to be Jewish? Let her experience anti-Semitism!" Is it "success" to be hated and the victims of pogroms to no end down through the ages? And are you describing Jewish success as occuring within or without a religious context?


"1. Jews work harder, 2. Jews revere education, 3. Jews have community cohesian, 4. Jews shun social norms that are unproductive. Indeed, almost all successful cultures have these traits."

You could be describing innumerable non-Jewish American or Canadian families, no matter what their backgrounds. I can't see how you can compact these virtues to "culture" alone. "There are good and bad in every crowd." Some persons are lazy, some are not. Some persons have vision, some have not. Diligence is not the fruit of culture. It is the manifestation of intellect and sound reasoning. Who is generalizing here?

I judge people one person at a time, Jew and Gentile alike. If someone is rude to me, I am offended by that person alone. I can't understand how you so insouciantly and shamelessly use the term "white americans". And you are offended by racism?


And again, I cannot confess to a "raging sense of guilt." This summation of "white americans" is racist, in my opinion. And your contention that the NYP cartoon is not racist is an imposture and simply your way of misconstruing Prof. Lipstadt's condmenation of this cartoon as a manifestation of her "raging sense of guilt." Could this be one of your "normal human responses to human situations"?

"treat people with the kindness of your heart, realize that we are all flawed"

Yes, definitely. Now if only you could practice what you preach and stop talking like a racist.

hayden said...

Hound:

Success can be measured in many ways. In a country like America it normally rests with social standing, monetary wealth and intellectual and artistic achievement. Jewish culture produces all of these qualities in abundance compared to other cultural groups.

You are right that there is good and bad in every crowd. The question to ask, however, is:
"To what extent are people in any given crowd good or bad?" As someone who touts themselves as a moral absolutist you shouldn't have a problem with passing judgement on what is good and what is bad. Did people in the Nazi party, for example, not behave worse than Buddist monks? Or should we, in a drive towards moral relativism, assume that buddist monks and Nazi's have no discernible moral difference in behaviour. Should we conclude that they are all equally likely to be good or bad people?

Culture, by definition are those behavioural traits that are passed on from one generation to the next outside the context of genetic heritage.

When I refer to white Americans by history or socio-economic standing I don't believe that I am being racist because I don't believe that their behavioural traits are the result of genetic differences to myself. What I quoted to you about the socio-economic conditions of certain groups of white Americans is, from what I have seen, empirically verifiable (I can provide you with some reading references if you care to explore the matter).

The notion that generalisations cannot be made (as you seem to imply) is logically self-negating because it assumes that all information in the world can itself be generalised to have no pattern (therein lies the logical absurdity of such a proposal).

In response to your quote:
"You could be describing innumerable non-Jewish American or Canadian families [with my 4 point defition of why cultures are successful"

Yes, I have no doubt that you are right. It is very likely that these "innumerable" families are also successful. The important question to ask (as I keep labouring) is": What proportion of these families have a productive life philosophy and how do this compare, in a relative proportion sense, to the belief systems of families within different cultures. If we are to use the fact that observation of the individual negates completely a group generalisation then, by your rationale, it would be correct to refute the (statitistically verifiable) generalisation that Scandinavians are, on average, over 6ft tall because you can attest to having met one short scandinavian. Whilst you would be right in your observation of the individual, your conclusions of the group would be wrong. Why should it be any less different for cultures than for height?

In response to your statement:

"Diligence is not the fruit of culture. It is the manifestation of intellect and sound reasoning"

Such an argument assumes that culture bares no influence on how we think. It is assumed that intellect and reasoning spring magically from the individual without any influences from the surrounding environment or from our history. If this were the case then scientific progress would not have been more rapid following the enlightenment period than at any other time in history. The enlightenment period, in which mankind entered a period of rational deductive reasoning, was (and still is) the main reason for scientific and technological progress (I doubt you will find a historian that will disagree with this reasoning). The enlightenment period in Europe was a cultural shift that we inherit to this day through our education system (is this not evidence enough that intellect and reason are, to some extent, products of our culture?).

In response to your statement:
"And your contention that the NYP cartoon is not racist is an imposture and simply your way of misconstruing Prof. Lipstadt's condmenation of this cartoon..."

This, from what I can tell, is an assertion. What I hope I have displayed is reason, evidence and thought. I would appreciate debate and common sense over ad hominem attacks on reason and thought.

hockey hound said...

"Such an argument assumes that culture bares no influence on how we think."

I did not say that culture bares no influence on how we think. I opined that you cannot attribute the ideal of diligence to culture alone ('I can't see how you can compact these virtues to "culture" alone.'). This is still my belief.

"The reason, I suspect, Black americans don't do as well as black immigrants"

If you want to talk numbers, what of those "blacks" whom those immigrants left behind in their country of birth. You're only numbering the "black immigrants" who made it to America. In university I'm guessing some would accuse you of sounding "elitist". You must include in your estimations of the worth of "black immigrant" "culture" (if that is the direction you must "labour" in) the measure of success of those blacks who remain as part of the community or culture the "black immigrants" left behind before you collocate "black immigrant" "success" with the overall contributions and accomplishments (and there have been many) and success of "black Americans". You're making it sound as though the immigrants had no "reason" for leaving behind their country of birth, reasons like civil unrest, anarchy, theft, murder, rape and war, etc. The West gets only those who have made the grade, as it were.

Every country has its down and outs. Somolia (as an example) has theirs, with the exception, of course, of those who aren't robbing ocean liners and oil tankers or killing people for the cause of one of Islam's future national identitites. Would you class the destitute and low-income earning "blacks" yet living in Somolia as the inhabitants or perpetuation of a "ghetto culture"? Your observations are partial within the frame of this larger context. And in this larger context, "black Americans" don't look so lazy and lethargic as you would picture them to the readers of this blog.

Not to sound like another "ad hominem attacks" but you do sound as though you overtly despise "Black americans" simply because they're Black Americans and not the ideal, hard working "black immigrants". Perhaps you believe the cartoon in question is not offensive simply because it was insensitive only to the sufferings and history of "Black americans" and not in any way related to those hard working "black immigrants"?

"The enlightenment period in Europe was a cultural shift that we inherit to this day through our education system"

Who taught you that the "Enlightenment period" was a "cultural shift"? I am of the opinion (based on what I've read and whom I've listened to) that the "Enlightenment period" was an intellectual shift, with the "cultural shift" transpiring afterward. But hey, what do I know? I'm just a stupid, lazy Canadian farm boy.

"I would appreciate debate and common sense over ad hominem attacks on reason and thought."

Just as an aside, don't you think the above statement is an ad hominem attack? In the same manner as was your veiled insult that I should "Live a normal life and have normal human responses to human situations"? This is not an ad hominem attack?

I'm finished with my argument on this matter. Our correspondence is becoming disjointed from the original debate, which was whether or not the NYP cartoon was racist.

"Never try to reason the prejudice out of a man. It was not reasoned into him, and cannot be reasoned out." -Sydney Smith

My apologies for the rabbit trails, Prof. Lipstadt.

hayden said...

Hound:

With regards to :
"The West gets only those who have made the grade, as it were"

This is true and supports my point. They are more successful because they have made the grade. In the context of the original question it is important to ask, "How can we improve the grade of native black americans?"

If immigrant blacks can do what native black Americans can't then the problem is one which can be fixed (at least to some extent) through a change of attitude (on behalf of black americans).

This goes back to my original point that the extent to which racism exists should be debated in America. The assumption that racism explains all socio-economic disparities does not stand up to scrutiny. The NY cartoon, to me, looks like an attempt to scrape the barrell for ever greater and far fetched conspiracies of racism in order to explain the current socio-economic predicament of black americans. Like I said, that's not to say that there is no such thing as racism, only that it is counterproductive to assume that racism accounts for all racial disparities when evidence and reason suggests that it only accounts for some.

Your main theme on this matter ("the west only getting people who've made the grade") appears to be the same as mine: That beneficial cultural traits give immigrants a competitive advantage (I appreciate that there are reasons for this, as you mentioned).


In response to "I am of the opinion (based on what I've read and whom I've listened to) that the "Enlightenment period" was an intellectual shift, with the "cultural shift" transpiring afterward."

This, to me, is non-sensical. That an intellectual shift happened is not in dispute. The question is, what transmitted the intellectual shift from the enlightenment period to now? Culture, as I have already defined, are those attributes of a group that are passed on from generation to generation outside of genetics. So, if there was no cultural transmission of this set of intellectual values, then we would not, in our own age, exhibit the thought processes characteristic of the enlightenment period of hundreds of years ago.

My point was only that the enlightnment period gave rise to a productive mode of thought which has equipped those eminating from that period with a competitive advantage over other cultures. This ties into my argument that the ideas we inherit through our parents, school and larger society account for alot of our success, and that the absence of success can, to a healthy extent, be attributed to having unproductive ideas and values.

" Not to sound like another "ad hominem attacks" but you do sound as though you overtly despise "Black americans" simply because they're Black Americans and not the ideal, hard working "black immigrants" "

It was not my intention to create the impression that I despise black americans. All I have said is that I think a debate about the extent to which racism in society accounts for their socio-economic position should be debated.


" "I would appreciate debate and common sense over ad hominem attacks on reason and thought."

Just as an aside, don't you think the above statement is an ad hominem attack? "

An ad hominem attack is an attempt to discredit an argument by devaluing the person making the argument. I believe there are examples of myself being accused of being racist and prejudiced (for which I can provide illustrations) and these assertions fall under the definition of an ad hominem attack (as far as I can tell, maybe I'm just being oversensitive). When I request that I not be subjected to ad hominem attacks, I don't think that doing so can itself be construed as an ad hominem attack. My statement does not, to my knowledge, devalue you as a person in order to combat your reason.

thank you.

hockey hound said...

Hayden, if you were not really attacking "Black americans", then I apologize. It sounded so to me, and for that I'm sorry. But before you "blame" Black Americans, you must acknowledge that they shoulder an immense burden of pain which no measure of guilt felt by individuals like me can ever hope to alleviate. I in no way blame myself for this inconsequence.

Perhaps you cannot appreciate the insensitivity of the NYP cartoon (or the immediate concern of Prof. Lipstadt) and the abradant tactlessness (I condemn it as jounalistic provocateurism; think about it, Hayden. Why would this idiot publish such a cartoon? You know how these people love sensational reaction) of the cartoonist in using the caricature of an ape.

A book you would surely be impressed with, Hayden, is 'A Map to the Door of No Return, written by the African Canadian author Dionne Brand (one of the best and most inspiring books I have ever read). In it she write of this "burden": "As if a face would not be a face without a scar, a finger not a finger without being broken, or a foot not a foot without a limp. Or a life not a life without tragedy. These things I knew before I knew they had something to do with the Door of No Return and the sea."

I believe that a people's culture is the manifestation of whatever is the preponderant ideology of that people. I believe the culture of fundamentalist "Islamic jihad" and "suicide bombing" ("homicide bombing" as some of my Israeli Jewish friends call it) is the manifestation of the malefic ideology of the Koran. I believe the success of the Jewish people and the culture which, as you point out, contributed to that success, is the immediate product of their Law.

"I think a debate about the extent to which racism in society accounts for their socio-economic position should be debated."

I agree, Hayden. If I can help you, let me know. Why don't you start a blog?

Friends?

Sincerely, Hockey Hound.

Happy Shabbos, Prof. Lipstadt.

hockey hound said...

A story from today's Toronto Sun:

Police are probing the racist taunts and death threat contained in a disturbing envelope of newspaper clippings mailed to the Canadian Federation of Students' Ontario office after the launch of their anti-racism campaign.

Hildah Otieno, the CFS Ontario representative, was "shocked" to see the black-marker racist scrawl on two newspaper clippings -- one of which was a photograph of her that appeared in the Toronto Sun on Feb. 19.

"KKK" was scrawled on a CFS button she was wearing in the photo. Otieno is black.

"It was shocking," she said, adding she felt threatened. "You hear about it everyday but when it hits you, it's very different. It makes you feel very, very isolated and exposed. So then we called the police."

The airmail envelope was received at the Bloor St. W. and Avenue Rd. office on Feb. 23 -- five days after the Feb. 18 launch of the CFS's on-campus anti-racism task force. The Sun photograph of Otieno was from an article of that launch.

The envelope also contained a controversial New York Post editorial cartoon depicting police shooting a monkey and remarking, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."

Also written on the clippings was "REFUGEE DOG".

Otieno, a York graduate who now attends Ryerson, said the letter proves the legitimacy of the task force, which will release a report outlining ways to combat campus racism after conducting hearings at schools across Ontario.

"It's a testament to why we need to be doing this."

The envelope contained a reference to a mental health organization and had on it a return address of 441 Jarvis St. in Toronto, she said.

The address is home to the Ontario Mental Health Foundation (OMHF) and a small real estate office.

Alexander Greer, OMHF's executive director, said yesterday that he is "outraged" somebody is using their address on the hate mail.

Greer also explained that the foundation provides research grants. It doesn't offer services to mental health patients and as such, doesn't receive visits from patients.

It would be highly unlikely somebody from the real estate office sent the mail, he added.

hayden said...

Hockey hound, no hard feelings. Thanks for the discussion and reasoned thought.

I do intend to start an angry blog about the world some day soon...