Tuesday, November 28, 2006

An Epithet is an Epithet

I just want to start by saying I like Talking Points Memo and I think you should visit that site often. Also, I don't think Josh Marshall is a racist. But...

He has a post up on his site where he fake quotes as if he were Rush Limbaugh. In it Josh uses the term "towel-heads" to convey Limbaugh's racist attitude. I e-mailed him to say that, while I understand the intent of his using the word, I didn't think he had the liberty to use it.

Now, I've e-mailed TPM before and gotten some good responses straight from Josh. This time he ignored my e-mail. I know he's a busy guy, but I sent it to him when he was online because he posted a piece at about the same time. And, he's posted plenty since then.

Anyway, I think this is important. I don't think this is Michael Richards level, not even close. But, I do think that its inappropriate for him to use this term. I think the term is what we might consider a "second-tier slur" -- there are plenty of worse things one could call and Arab or a Sikh for instance. But, it's a slur nonetheless. I don't think we'd be okay with people using second-tier slurs for blacks or Latinos for example. And, we certainly shouldn't have to confront them in places where good people are doing good work.

This might be more about where we are as a nation than about Josh or TPM. Civil rights and racial relations are not high priorities in our national conscience right now. It's somewhat understandable since we're in a poorly considered war with Iraq, have a real scare of terrorism, and of course an economic policy that puts most of us in a precarious financial situation.

Still, civil rights are the guarantors of the promise of America. Until all people have the rights and opportunities that are the American Dream or the American Ideal, we have not truly the America we wish to be. And, this isn't just some dreamy lefty goal. It directly affects each and every person regardless of their race or gender or disability or sexual orientation, or other disfranchisement.

Take for instance housing segregation. Segregation is a civil rights issue and it is at the root of many of our urban problems.

Urban Sprawl: fueled by white flight.

Gentrification: fueled by racial displacement and unwillingness of whites to consider living in majority black or Latino neighborhoods.

Insufferable commutes: fueled by white flight.

Poor mass transit: fueled by hostility toward integration.

School inequality: fueled by unequal property values which are often caused by disinvestment in minority communities.

Do each of these problems have other causes? Sure. But, the problems will never be solved until we address segregation as one of the primary causes.

Unfortunately, we don't value the defense of civil rights or affirmative measures to ameliorate these problems. And, one piece of evidence is when a good person thinks its okay to use a slur.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Glass City Futurama

Toledo's doing it again -- looking to the future that is. The Blade has a story that an east side location is in the running for a wind turbine farm.

There is some concern about bird migration patterns. (Northern Ohio is a very important stop on the migration pattern of many species as Lake Erie lies to the north. I can personally attest to viewing at least a million piles of geese guano in my lifetime.)
But, overall, this looks like a good situation for Toledo.

And, hey, it's on the East Side! I grew up on the East Side. Well, technically I grew up in a suburb. But, it was an east side suburb and my parents grew up in east Toledo. And, I did live in my grandfather's old east side house when he moved out. For those few Toledoans who read this, the East Side is a great place. You should consider it more often.

Anyway, another future-oriented development in Toledo.

btw: Did you know that the Toledo-area is also home to an innovative solar panel company -- First Solar. Will we look to Toledo in the future as a Green Energy hot spot?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Still Around

If you’ve been wondering, I didn’t drive my car off an embankment when the Tigers lost the World Series. I could have though, as my wife and I were driving to Pittsburgh on Friday night and there are a lot of hills – and embankments - around Pittsburgh. I was going to do a post lamenting the way the season ended and recapping 2006, but after sniffing around the net the last few days, I see it’s been done to death. So I will just congratulate the Cardinals and say thank you to the Detroit Tigers organization for what was the most enjoyable season I’ve had as a sports fan.

Since the books are closed on 2006, I will now begin looking forward to 2007 and all that lies ahead for the Detroit Tigers organization. I was going to start my own Tiger website over the offseason – and I still may – but I really need to (start on and) finish my thesis and that probably should take precedence when I’m budgeting my time. However, I will still be posting fairly regularly about the Tigers’ organization, making guesses as to what they will do and reacting to what they actually do. Dombrowski is already on record as saying they need to bolster the catching position in the organization and that they need another middle-of-the-order bat, so I may run with that sentiment in the next few days.

So if you’re a Tiger fan, keep checking in. I should have some good content in this space over the offseason. If you’re not a Tiger fan, I’m hoping the long offseason will also allow some thoughts that aren’t related to baseball to creep into my head. So you should keep peeking in from time to time as well.