by Erik Rush
Recently someone asked me what sort of people "qualified" as "white trash" given what passes for conventional wisdom in America. My response included such things as lower-income, undereducated whites with a preference for colloquial speech and occasionally, a proclivity toward racking up misdemeanor offenses. A healthy dose of low self-esteem generally helps, too. Indeed, as may seem obvious, it's much more about attitude and mindset than ethnic or genotypic qualities.
Inamsuch as the above gives rise to subcultural niches, I don't have any problem admitting that I occasionally use the "n-word." That we've come to a point where I have to be concerned that using the word in a column might be edited down to "the n-word" is pretty absurd, in my view. I also don't have any problem admitting that I occasionally use the w, g, d, s, h and k-words (have fun figuring those out) when I find myself frustrated with the behavior of individuals who insist upon adhering to societally counter-productive, self-destructive and often offensive, irksome stereotypes.
Journalist Juan Williams versus gangsta rapper Snoop Dogg, for example. One is a black gentleman, the other, well… a quintessential specimen. I used an example of someone with whose politics I heartily disagree for the "gentleman," of course, lest I be accused of having a capacity for viewing only race-traitor, oreo conservative blacks as gentlemen. "Oreo" (used to describe blacks who act or think "white") is itself a racial epithet, but is largely excused because it is used by blacks to vilify other blacks. Why this doesn't count as racism – why it isn't called "the o-word" – is an example of our collective hypocrisy.
Leaving aside the bevy of activists and media continually perched like buzzards, waiting for an opportunity to foment or exacerbate racial tensions in the U.S., one would have to be comatose or taking the dirt nap to have missed the recent coverage of actor-director Mel Gibson's drunken, anti-Semitic tirade whilst being cited for driving under the influence of alcohol, or the more recent career suicide of comedian Michael Richards that involved extraordinarily derisive racial epithets hurled at two black hecklers during his stand-up routine.
While Richards' "performance" was abominable and his subsequent wild-eyed apology hollow, leading to the general consensus that we could stick the fork in him (as in "the bird is done"), many Americans and followers of this sort of thing (myself included) wondered what effect Gibson's escapades would have on the market viability of his new film "Apocalypto." Clearly, there were prominent figures in the media (or with access to it) who were thoroughly displeased with him and had no reservations apropos expressing same.
As important as such individuals may think they are, in the final analysis their opinions really don't count, illustrated by the fact that "Apocalypto" is a smash hit. While it's been relatively easy to observe stress in Gibson's face during the recent obligatory interviews in which the film is discussed, in those appearances Gibson has been candid and accepting of responsibility for his mistake; and a mistake it was, regardless of his true beliefs.
Whether Gibson or Richards hold racist views or not, quite frankly I could care less. I've been aware for a long, long, long time that quite a few high-profile entertainers who, in addition to having delusions of godhood, belong to a particularly odious, craven variety of bigots while maintaining the façade of ambassadors for universal brotherhood.
What interested me was the difference in the effect of the two incidents on the careers of these men – and, more importantly, why the difference.
There was a time not too long ago where Gibson's antics might quickly and easily have done him in. When I was a kid, knocking Jews was something one simply did not do. I mean, I knew Holocaust survivors. The prevailing wisdom at the time was that the Jewish people had earned a good, long break from racist oppression, thank you very much.
Although the following statement often raises accusations of racism, the fact is that an inordinate number of power players in the American entertainment industry have always been Jewish. The odd aspect of this is that they've seldom been religious Jews, but secular liberals. As more and more drifted away from their religion and younger ones, wholly unschooled in their traditional faith, came on the scene, they ceased to identify with being Jewish at all.
One has to remember that those at the top of the Hollywood food chain breathe the same rarified, hallucinogen-laced air as do the entertainers themselves. Thus, as international socialist thought insinuated itself into mainstream American liberalism, Hollywood and the media's support for Israel and Jewish causes in general began to erode, to be replaced by animas toward Jews, Israel and Jewish causes in general. At this juncture, the biggest advocates for Israel in America today are Christians
– another group the entertainment industry at large considers profoundly dangerous.
The moviegoing public can forgive a guy who gets blotto and mouths off about Jews (his blotto-ness being no guarantee that he actually dislikes Jews), especially when he apologizes with class – and makes truly excellent films. Indeed, there are millions of Americans who can identify with having said or done stupid and damaging things while intoxicated.
In much of Hollywood, however, there's nothing to forgive. Many of those in the industry likely agree with that which came out during Gibson's rant – and it shows in their politics: What are we wasting so much blood and treasure in the Middle East for anyway? Why do we even need a foothold there? Look how many enemies supporting Israel has made us. They're a large part of the reason we are where we are. If we'd just bought the Arabs' oil and let them have their way in the region, we'd all be friends.
Of course, there would be no Israel, and probably several million less Jews on earth; obviously, you and I can readily see the bunker-buster missile-sized holes in this logic.
Blacks, on the other hand (whom Michael Richards attacked) are the darlings of American liberals – assuming they're loyal and obedient liberals as well. Knocking blacks is something one simply does not do if they wish to have any friends at all. Blacks are given much more social latitude than any other ethnic minority in America, which is why there are Jesse Jacksons, Cynthia McKinneys, Al Sharptons and gangsta rappers thriving in the first place, all of whom can make pretty much any racist statement they wish with impunity.
Then, there are the other unfortunate points of fact:
1) Richards wasn't drunk at the time of his attack on the hecklers (as far as we know).
2) His on-camera amends were bizarre, pathetic and vacuous.
3) Although Seinfeld was a monster hit and Kramer (Richards' character) was memorable, Richards just aint the talent or the player Mel Gibson is.
4) Richards' attack was personal, whereas Gibson's was made to a police officer, whom people perceive as getting paid to endure abuse, regardless of whether a slur is directed at them or not.
5) Finally, there's the protracted, venomous, and graphic verbiage in what Richards said to the two black men – which was subsequently broadcast over the entire globe – again, and again and again.
"You'll never work in this town again!" was an oft-employed oath used in films when a character ran sufficiently afoul of the wrong people in Hollywood. While the verdict is still way out on Michael Richards, it's already apparent that at least one of the two offenders will have plenty of work for some time to come.
Once again, as with much of the increasingly absurd and unbalanced social convention in America, many forms of emotionalism, warped logic, human frailty and, of course, malignant sociopolitical machinations are in play. At the end of the day, I still see media-driven, socialist politically-correct dogma and conscientious Americans' faintness of heart in honestly addressing the phenomenon – and elected officials who support it – as being far more to blame than a couple of entertainers' one-time use of repellent and obnoxious forms of expression.
Erik Rush is a New York-born columnist and author who writes a weekly column of political fare. He is also Acting Associate Editor and Publisher for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets. An archive containing links to his writing is at www.ErikRush.com. His new book, "It's the Devil, Stupid!" is available through most major outlets. His new book, Annexing Mexico, is scheduled for release shortly.