Tuesday, January 21, 2014

How's that minority outreach program doing?

I took the last month and a half off to move, spend holidays with my family, and enjoy the benefits of non-stop anxiety attacks. While I still don't have a home or a job, my decline and fall has temporarily paused. That means I have to get back to writing. I'm making some progress on the book. Now, I think it's time to get stupid again.

Let's review the rules of The Stupid Files. Inaugurees into the Files must be public figures who say something gob-smackingly stupid. Their stupidity can be factual ("If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.") or politically (such as racial insensitivity so blatant the entire political spectrum cringes). Political figures who bring shame on their parties get preferential treatment.

Today's winner, as is so often the case, is a racist boob, Republican County Executive L. Brooks Patterson of Oakland County, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. Patterson had this to say in a profile published in New Yorker magazine this week:
Anytime I talk about Detroit, it will not be positive. Therefore, I'm called a Detroit basher. The truth hurts, you know? Tough shit.
Before you go to Detroit, you get your gas out here [Oakland County]. You don't, do not, under any circumstances, stop in Detroit at a gas station! That’s just a call for a carjacking.
I made a prediction a long time ago, and it's come to pass. I said, "What we're gonna do is turn Detroit into an Indian reservation, where we herd all the Indians into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and the corn."
Is it fair of me to call Patterson a racist? Of course it is. We can argue about whether his fear mongering over carjacking is a race-baiting dog-whistle aimed a provoking white suburban stereotypes of black urban crime (it is). The concentration camp for Native Americans is not open to question. What the hell do Indians have to do with Detroit? It's not uncommon to hear fearful outsiders and their demagogues snarl about the local metropolis that we should put a wall around it and let "those people" kill each other. And they assure us that they mean "those people" in a totally non-racist way. But, bringing in a third, unrelated group and saying their entire race should be ghettoized (in the historical sense of the word (no, not "slag heap")), there is no other way to read that. In case you're still not sure whether Patterson is a racist, check out the blankets and corn stereotype.

Patterson's spokesman, Bill Mullan, deserves some recognition for obliviousness here. Faced with a social media shitstorm, Mullan pulled a boiler-plate, Republican response out of the file and gave it no more thought. Ignore the actual issue, blame the liberal press for quoting him accurately, and tout his record on something unrelated.
It is clear Paige Williams had an agenda when she interviewed county executive Patterson. She cast him in a false light in order to fit her preconceived and outdated notions about the region. Mr. Patterson’s record on advancing regional issues in a transparent and responsible manner is unparalleled.
Sorry, Bill. This one is going to need a little more than an off-the-shelf press release. "I'm sorry you didn't understand my brilliant humor" isn't going to make it either. You're going to actually have to get off your butt and do some damage control on this one.

"I'm called a Detroit basher," Patterson says. Now, he can also be called an Indian hating, genocidal boob.

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