What Century is This?

And, later, there'll be games for the kiddies!
I woke up today, performed my morning ablations, made a light breakfast, flipped on the news and discovered I’d fallen a hundred or more years into the past. And, somehow I’d done so in increments. While science tries to figure out how I got here and, more importantly to me, how to get me back, …. oh, I’m kidding, I didn’t travel through time. It just seems like it. And not in a good way. We’ll start with the mildly clueless and work our way down to the “you have got to be f***ing kidding me” level of evil. A recruiter for banking jobs, Mr. Gary Chaplin, received an email sent to 4,000 companies at one time and made two fateful mistakes. One, he replied to it with this; “I think I speak for all 4000 people you have emailed when I say, ‘Thanks for your CV’ – it’s nice to know you are taking this seriously. Please f*** off … you are too stupid to get a job, even in banking. Yours hitting the delete button, Have a nice day!” And, two, he hit reply all, thus sending his accurate message to 4,000 unwitting recipients. His $200,000 a year job is now available, if you have a resume.

Equally clueless, but slightly more dangerous, is Joe Amendola, the attorney for suspected pedophile, Jeff Sandusky. I should note that the sole qualification that Mr. Amendola has in this case is that he once knocked up a 16 year old client while in his 40’s and got away with it by marrying her. It didn’t hurt that the girl’s mom was thrilled that her daughter was “marrying up” by snagging a lawyer.

Yeah, there’s a whole lot of wrong there.

Anyway, in his most recent attempt to get disbarred, Mr. Amendola lobbed this gem into the media hordes; “McQueary, the report says, told Joe Paterno and two university officials, but failed to notify police. If you believe that I suggest you dial 1-800-REALITY.” Um, 1-800-REALITY is a gay phone sex line that promotes “hot young men” and “barely legal teens.”

Ooops.

Moving on.

The Kansas based Freedom Alliance, the local tea Party group down there, is defending themselves against charges of racism. The all white group simply says they’re making a political point by using a skunk on their website to represent the president.

An ultra-conservative ‘Tea Party’ group has defended its depiction of President Barack Obama as a skunk as satirical—after it was accused of being racist.

The Kansas-based Patriot Freedom Alliance came under fire for posting a photo of a skunk on its website.

The caption above it read: ‘The skunk has replaced the eagle as the new symbol for the president. It is half black, it is half white, and almost everything it does, stinks.’

Area president of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) Darrell Pope called the depiction a ‘blatant statement of racism’.

He said: ‘As far as I’m concerned it’s proof of the kind of organisation that they are, which I felt it always had racial overtones in the first place.

‘You would think that an organisation that claims to be about patriotism and what this country is supposed to stand for would have a better way of expressing it than what they’re doing.’

Thomas Hymer, who maintains the website, defended the post which has now been taken down by saying: ‘It’s satire is what it is. Satire in a politically incorrect form.’

And local tea party supporter Chuck Sankey said former U.S. vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin had been the target of worse insults.

He told the Hutchinson News: ‘It just makes a point that we’re in trouble and what’s happening doesn’t smell right. That’s what it means to me.’

Asked about the note to half-black, half-white, seen as a reference to Obama’s dual heritage of having a black father and white mother, he said: ‘Isn’t that the truth? ‘What’s wrong with the truth?’

Well, yeah Skippy, it’s the truth. It’s also 100% irrelevant. If you don’t like the guy’s politics, that’s fine. Offer an alternative.

For whatever it’s worth, I have the same problem with the Tea Party people as I did with the anti-Bush crowd. They hate so much and offer so little that they are accomplishing nothing but clouding the real issues that face us. The only real difference is that the anti-Bush crowd, like them or not, actually elected an alternative. The Tea Party crowd is simply guaranteeing that the same president will win again.

But racism isn’t limited to just the U.S. No the Dutch, makers of fine tulips, wooden shoes, windmills and Apartheid, have long made racism a part of their Christmas traditions. And if you don’t like it they will send you a message that closely resembles the email which we started with today. American Renaissance has the story.

Ah, my home, The Netherlands. Tourists from all over the world wax lyrical about the tulips, the windmills and the widely available weed. What these tourists hardly ever get to see is how institutionalized racism works in this country and the lengths the State will go to in order to protect it. Or how, if you are personally affected by this racism and you summon the strength to protest it, you will be brutally beaten up and arrested.

Now, here is the thing: this is a small country. All matters of racism happen here but they go unreported in international mainstream media because the Dutch language is mostly inaccessible to the world at large. So, these matters remain untold, underreported, downplayed or just ignored. However, international media loves to talk about our most famous homegrown xenophobe: Geert Wilders. His influence is far reaching and international. His words repeated all over the international press; he gets invitations for public engagements and speeches; fellow populist and xenophobe politicians from all over Europe and places as dissimilar as the US, Canada or Australia cite him as a source of “inspiration”. Meanwhile, the general public abroad struggles to come up with an explanation of why, a country that is present in popular imaginations as “tolerant”, “multicultural” and “modern” could be represented by such a divisive and racist force. That is, because systematically, mainstream media misses the context. And I believe that the events that transpired on Saturday, during the official opening of what I like to call “Black Face season”, can provide some of that context.

“Black Face season” is not exactly the official name for what, in reality, is a children’s holiday known as Sinterklass. This is the time of the year when Dutch people carelessly don black face and speak in a faux Surinamese accents. This is the time of the year when, if you venture the streets, you are likely to encounter sights like these:

The above, for those not familiar with our local “traditions”, are popularly known as “Black Pete”, or “Zwarte Piet” in Dutch. These “colorful” characters are the helpers of Sinterklaas, or more formally Sint Nicolaas/ Sint Nikolaas or Saint Nicolas in French. Sinterklaas is a children’s Winter holiday celebrated every year in The Netherlands, Belgium and some cities in the North of France. According to tradition, the Saint arrives to The Netherlands a few weeks prior to the celebration, in a boat, carrying the gifts he will deliver to children. The “Black Petes” are his helpers and they carry candy and control children’s behavior (children who misbehave supposedly get no presents from the Saint). Again, according to “tradition”, these helpers are Moors, or North African slaves. This “tradition” has evolved throughout the years, partially due to increasing protests from groups that find these depictions offensive. Nowadays, it is claimed that the Black face is due to the fact that the helpers have gone through chimneys and as a result, their faces are covered in soot. What again, nobody can clearly explain, is what kind of soot leaves such a uniform and evenly spread residue. Or worse, why these “chimney dwellers” speak in a fake accent that parodies the Black population of the Dutch former colony of Suriname.

Over the years, a small but growing group of people have been protesting this celebration of Black face costumes and ridiculing of minorities. Systematically, these protests have been met with a very strong and stubborn resistance from a majority of White Dutch who refuse to even consider the racist implications of this “tradition”. Those who are against the Black Pete depictions are consistently told that there is nothing offensive in it, that the tradition is not up for debate, that they are being oversensitive and that, and here comes the usual xenophobic retort, “if they don’t like it, they should go and live some place else”. Additionally, people who speak against this are also told that they are importing North American models of “political correctness” that have no place in Dutch society. Moreover, the supporters of these Black face depictions are adamant that there is nothing, absolutely nothing racist in Black Pete’s representations and that claiming otherwise is the result of a cultural imperialism brought upon by North American influences. According to supporters, Dutch culture is so different from that of the US and the context so incomparable that such discussion should not even take place. Any attempt at contextualizing the role of the Dutch in slavery in the Americas and how the continuation of these racist practices owes everything to the mindset that made such trade possible is met with protestations and the statement that “only Americans see offense in Black face, we, the Dutch, are obviously different and not racist in our traditions”. In sum, what they claim is that the rights of White people to don Black face are more or less sacrosanct and native Dutch children have a right to the continuation of this “tradition” undisputed.

Ah, tradition. The time honored way of sticking your fingers in your ears and making neener neener noises as the world passes you by.

Fortunately for all of us, the Netherlands is not run by diseased howler monkeys, as evidenced by the link, so I imagine that this “tradition” like it’s fun predecessor Apartheid, will go the way of all history.

But, closer to home is the winner of the “you have got to be f***ing kidding me” award of the day. An Ohio landlord is fighting a court order to remove his “Whites Only” sign by the pool.

A landlord found to have discriminated against a black girl by posting a “White Only” sign at a swimming pool wants a state civil rights commission to reconsider its decision.

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission found on Sept. 29 that Jamie Hein, who’s white, violated the Ohio Civil Rights Act by posting the sign at a pool at the duplex where the teenage girl was visiting her parents. The parents filed a discrimination charge with the commission and moved out of the duplex in the racially diverse city to “avoid subjecting their family to further humiliating treatment,” the commission said in a release announcing its finding.

An investigation revealed that Hein in May posted on the gated entrance to the pool an iron sign that stated “Public Swimming Pool, White Only,” the commission statement said.

Several witnesses confirmed that the sign was posted, and the landlord indicated that she posted it because the girl used in her hair chemicals that would make the pool “cloudy,” according to the commission.

Hein, of Cincinnati, hung up when The Associated Press called her for comment Tuesday. A message was left at her lawyer’s office.

The commission’s statement said that its investigation concluded that the posting of such a sign “restricts the social interaction between Caucasians and African-Americans and reinforces discriminatory actions aimed at oppressing people of color.”

Commissioners were scheduled to hear Hein’s request for reconsideration at a meeting Thursday in Columbus, commission spokeswoman Brandi Martin said.

If the commissioners uphold their original finding, the case would be referred to the Ohio attorney general’s office, which would represent the commission’s findings before an administrative law judge, Martin said.

Penalties in the case could include a cease-and-desist order and even punitive damages, but the administrative law judge would determine any penalties, Martin said.

It still would be possible for the parties to reach a settlement before resorting to legal action, she said.

Any decision by the administrative judge could be appealed to Hamilton County Common Pleas Court in Cincinnati, Martin said.

When I was a kid and our pool became integrated, I am talking over 40 years ago – not last Tuesday, the pool manager posted a sign asking all women, not just those of color, to wear hair covers. That way everyone was equal and everyone got to swim and ethnic hair treatments stayed out of the water. If a retired Marine in 1964 could figure this out, how f***ing hard can it be?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRfjLfyXYlA&w=480&h=360]

Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280, every Thursday morning around 9:10!

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