August 25, 2011
My Latin’s not very good; but then, neither was the centurion’s. At this point in imperial decline, when, Gibbon tells us, the youth of Italy “trembled at the sound of the trumpet,” the centurion was probably an illegal-immigrant mercenary.
They just happen to be African American! In many instances! In other instances—of which we unfortunately have no footage—they happened to be Cambodian American! In future instances we shall be reporting to you, very probably they will happen to be Icelandic American! It’s all a random roll of the ethnic dice, you see? There is no significance whatsoever! If there were, and I noticed it, I would be a racist! Then I’d have to kill myself! And Hitler would have been right! And the Earth would crash into the sun, bringing on the heat death of the universe!
Liking and admiring Laura Ingraham as I do, I feel a teeny bit of guilt at mocking her race panic. It’s normal for someone of her age and background. Most of my younger colleagues are the same. My own notion that race is just a mildly interesting and occasionally important feature of the human condition is so far behind us now, I might as well be walking around in breeches and hose. Race is plutonium, to be handled—if it really must be handled—from behind twelve-inch-thick lead shielding.
The lady is in any case a TV and radio presenter—a pleasant and rewarding career, but one whose working territory is heavily seeded with race-sensitivity landmines. Step on one of those suckers and, as the Chinese say, suan wanle!—you can reckon you’re finished. Anyone in the business can tell you about the many instances of careers that happened to be ended by an infelicitous vocabulary choice: David Lenihan, Tom Burlington, E. D. Hill, Kelly Tilghman, and others. (For a comprehensive list not restricted to media casualties, see the third chapter of Jared Taylor’s densely informative new book White Identity, from which I extracted those names.)
When reporting on anything even remotely race-connected, these presenters are in white-knuckle mode. Hence the frozen look on Laura’s face as she squeezed out between clenched teeth the dread words: “These mostly young people happen to be African American.”
The lady has guts, though. Perhaps—I’m guessing again—perhaps feeling that she’d played a couple of frames without getting a single ball into a pocket, two days later she took on Congressman Charlie Rangel.
The background here was that Republican Congressman Allen West, who is black, had accused the Democratic Party of running a “21st-century plantation” in which the black vote is taken for granted. Rangel was called in to defend the Congressional black leadership.
Laura must have settled on this as a prime opportunity to demonstrate once and for all that race has no significance whatsoever for her and that she could be just as forceful and combative with a black guest as with a white one. Unfortunately, she had forgotten a key rule for coping with neurosis, which applies equally well when, as in this case, one is sharing in a collective mass neurosis.
Key Rule for Coping with Neurosis: A strenuously self-conscious effort to show the world that you do not suffer from a certain neurosis will always end by making it clearer than ever that you do.
She overcompensated badly, not letting Rangel get a word in edgewise, butting in with a new question before he could get to the main verb in the first sentence of his answer to the previous one.
Charlie Rangel is a crook, a liar, and a race-guilt hustler. (In one of his lowest moments, also I think on The O’Reilly Factor back during the 2008 election season, he told the nation that anyone who favored tax reductions is a racist.) For the first time I can recall, though, I felt sorry for the guy. And coming from the class act that I know Laura to be, her performance was a disgraceful lapse. She even pulled the feminist card at one point, pretending to take offense at Rangel’s calling her “a pretty girl”—as if any woman ever minded that from any man!
In all sincerity, wishing nothing but well to a fine American lady, I offer Laura Ingraham the following advice: Stay well clear of race topics. Some people can do them without major embarrassment, but you are not one of those people. Gnothi seauton, ma’am.