By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
DEALING WITH DIVERSITY
Erin Aubry Kaplan, in response to Marc Cooper’s article on my political transition [“The Devil and Mr. Hicks,” May 24–30], has crafted what must rank as the Weekly’s all-time poorest attempt at a journalistic hit piece [Cakewalk: “Joe, We Hardly Knew Ye,” May 31–June 6]. Instead of raising the ante by dealing directly with the issues, Kaplan goes for the lowest common denominator and simply attacks my motives. I welcome the challenge; I just wish it had been based on sounder reasoning.
After one tries to sort through her logic, the centerpiece of her attack seems to be that I have abandoned “black folks.” Odd. Let me get this straight. If I disagree with the tired old argument that white people conspire against blacks and other “minorities,” and believe that this viewpoint retards additional black social, economic and political progress, then I’ve abandoned blacks? This approach is frighteningly similar to the religious fundamentalist who resents any challenge to his or her beliefs.
Apparently, Kaplan’s view is that “blackness” equates with being “down” with black racialism. Here, she and I agree. But we also agree — sort of, I think — that leftist and black movement politics are linked, that there is no black political monolith, and that much of today’s black leadership is stagnant. However, she then whines that my work with David Horowitz, in her opinion, just simply goes too far. Okay, I’m a supporter of freedom of speech. It is troubling, however, that Kaplan never addresses the current status of black people in the American milieu. If race is really such a large part of everyday black life experiences today — beyond the pathetic, old-style rant of “the white man just won’t gimme a break” — factually, how is that manifested?
Her attack on me neatly avoids dealing with the issues that my defection raises. Has nothing really changed since Dr. King and other valiant civil rights figures assaulted the barricades of white supremacy? Despite the fact that many of today’s black and other minority-advocacy figures continue to look into the face of reality and argue that racism is as strong today as it’s ever been, most folks simply know better. Perhaps in Kaplan’s view, these issues are beyond challenge and unworthy of examination. But others, just as “black” as she, have looked at the issues and judged the current racial orthodoxy retrograde at best.
It is frankly puzzling that someone like Kaplan has come to represent such stuffy, backward views on race. She has reaped the rewards of a culturally rich, black middle-class lifestyle, and has equipped herself to be successful in life. Yet there she is, somehow wandering in “the American desert of place that has always paralleled the universe of American plenty.” Nonsense. Kaplan chooses to lift up an eclectic, artsy form of “blackness” that gives her the cover to operate within the confines of the black political elite, all the while perpetuating the dysfunctional view that blacks are “nomads” and a victimized people. While the black elite sit around and sip chilled Chardonnay and discuss the coming racial Armageddon, the vast majority of black people are concerning themselves with the issues all Americans worry about: safe streets, education for their kids, political representation and paying the bills.
In case Kaplan believes that only those on the right castigate identity politics, the brilliant Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawn rejected this set of beliefs for its reduction to a “coalition of self-centered minority groups and interests.” He offered that these groups are “about themselves, for themselves and nobody else.” Kaplan seems honestly offended that anyone “black” might disagree almost completely with her and America’s self-appointed black leaders regarding race and racial progress. She champions “diversity,” yet can’t seem to handle the fact that others may look at the same issues she does and come to completely different conclusions. That’s called intellectual diversity. Deal with it!
—Joe Hicks Los Angeles
Erin Aubry-Kaplan, in her very odd meditation, reputedly about what might or might not be in Joe Hicks’ cranium, was obviously not interested in Hicks but chiefly in her own obsession with the academic hair-splitting "identity politics" (cue laugh track). All I came away with was a sense of having wasted my time. Where was her editor?
—Marc S. TuckerManhattan Beach
Re: D.J. Waldie’s secession article [“A Necessary City,” May 31–June 6]. What is this? I never read a more diffuse, convoluted piece of silliness. Just what was his point, anyway? He says the Valley secession movement is racist. But he doesn’t provide any proof of this accusation, and indeed he points up that the Valley will have a large Latino population whether it secedes or not.
He then argues that some of the Valley’s complaints are consumer issues. His main point seems to be that he doesn’t think that secession will do everything its backers say it will. He talks about how hard it will be for a new city to provide services. But he never disputes the pathetic quality of services from the city of Los Angeles, nor does he offer any solution. Just what is the point of his wordfest, anyway (other than the fact that the Weekly pays by the word)? Does he also write long, bloated articles arguing that battered women should stay with their spouses because — who knows — the next guy might beat them worse?
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