By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
This doesn’t excuse all those hypocritical Republicans who switched off their usual sanctimony once they saw a chance of their party winning. The same Congressman David Dreier who voted to impeach Bill Clinton not only served as the Schwarzenegger campaign’s co-chairman, he turned up on CNN’s Late Editionto personally vouch for Arnold as a great family man. He was going to win anyway, dude. You didn’t have to sell whatever’s left of your soul.
Perhaps the most flabbergasting response was the deathly silence from our famously liberal film industry. Its most visible reaction to the groping charges came from Paramount Chairwoman Sherry Lansing, who proved once again that she’s about as much the champion of women in Hollywood as Quisling was of the Norwegians during the Nazi occupation. She told the L.A. Times that there’s no sexual harassment on movie sets, adding that "Moviemaking is a very gender-blind business" — a line that sent bitter female laughter echoing from Culver City to The Mouse. Quick now, name three women directors in Hollywood.
Still, if anyone should feel embarrassed, it’s those well-known actresses — including Jamie Lee Curtis, Rita Wilson, Kelly Preston and Linda Hamilton — who wrote letters to Premiere complaining about a March 2001 article ("Arnold the Barbarian") that chronicled Schwarzenegger’s notoriously crude antics. They all said they’d never experienced or witnessed any such thing. "Well, of course you didn’t," I wanted to shriek. He wasn’t going to grab Mrs. Hanks’ ass, or sit with the wife of his director, James Cameron, and tell the waitress to put her finger in what the L.A. Times nervously termed her "[vagina]." These women are his peers — or at least he thinks their husbands are. Assuming that they weren’t simply lying to protect him, you can only marvel at the cocooned obliviousness that would keep them from grasping that Arnold would be charming to them and save his barbarianism for those he could harass with impunity.
Dittohead BluesLast Sunday, ESPN’s Sports Reporters devoted a segment to the brouhaha over Rush Limbaugh’s remark that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb is "overrated" because "The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well." Although the show’s panelists agreed that this was a dumb thing to say, the Miami Herald’s Dan LeBatard asked someone to "explain where the racism is" in Limbaugh’s statement. His question was widely echoed on countless radio talk shows. After all, it should be no more inherently racist to call an African-American quarterback overrated than a white one (even if, like McNabb, he’s been to the Pro Bowl three times); nor is it necessarily racist to suggest that some media folk hope for a black QB to do well, although this sentiment grows less true all the time. As Watergate-fanatic-turned-talk-show-host G. Gordon Liddy sagely told Ted Koppel, the most startling thing about Limbaugh’s controversial statement was that it was so dated.
But still potent. For we live in an impure world of racial code words and innuendo — context is all. Had the comments on McNabb come from, say, radio host Jim Rome, a white guy who’s sometimes been criticized for being too soft on black athletes and callers, sports fans might have argued the claim on its merits. But they came from a radio thug who has made his name saying things like "The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies." Knowing this, one asks why Limbaugh chose to bring up race in the first place. After all, right-wingers like him were all for the defeated Proposition 54, which wanted to remove all racial information from state government forms. So why bring up McNabb’s skin color here? Why not bring up the overrated defensive back Jason Sehorn and say he got all those TV ads because he’s white?
Because it fits Limbaugh’s ideologically charged belief that insidious "liberals" — that is, the media and government — keep bending over backward to give African-Americans special treatment that they don’t deserve. (This will come as news to most black Americans, who have a far higher level of poverty than the rest of the country.) We’ve moved beyond the point where big-time media figures will claim that blacks are inferior (and I have no evidence that Limbaugh thinks so). But you can still nab a huge audience by stirring up underlying racial resentments while pretending that you’re actually talking about "the media" — which is precisely what Limbaugh did in the McNabb case. Like many of those who rushed to say that the Jayson Blair scandal was actually about The New York Times cosseting a reporter because he was black, Limbaugh was practicing a kind of second-degree racism — on the carom, so to speak. And when he was called on it — not by his ESPN colleagues, alas — Rush beat a gutless retreat back to the bully’s pulpit of his radio show, where he can insist that widespread revulsion at his words proves they’re actually true (what reasoning!) and if anyone disagrees, he can just cut them off.