Image“It all depends on whose ox is being gored,” grandpa liked to say – by way of noting that the same words can be acceptable or objectionable, depending on who says them. I thought of that recently when some national figures made headlines. It has been diverting to watch reactions to their words by various parties.

Actor and film director Mel Gibson spun out of control when LA police stopped him on suspicion of drunk driving in the wee hours of July 28. Clearly under the influence of something, Gibson spouted obscenities and ranted about Jews causing all the wars. Police cooled him overnight in a de-tox cell. Later, more or less in his right mind, Gibson apologized publicly. He said he had “disgraced” himself and his family by his “belligerent behavior” and by saying “…things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable. I am deeply ashamed of everything I said.” He went on to say that he has struggled with “the disease of alcoholism” for his entire life and is taking steps to restore his health.

Naturally, Gibson was hammered by Jews and Christians. Columnist Cal Thomas wondered why a married man with a family was carousing at 2AM. Others said the Jew-baiting was “the liquor talking”, but the alcoholism-disease story flopped. Some Jews saw Gibson’s drunken slurs as confirmation of prejudice they suspected when “The Passion of the Christ” was released. Critics had claimed Gibson was anti-Semitic because he ruthlessly depicted Jews as the killers of Christ.

Andrew Young also made the Foot-in-Mouth finals in a mid-August interview with the Los Angeles Sentinel. he had been hired by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., to help the retail giant improve its public image. When quizzed about Wal-Mart forcing smaller stores out of business, Young said:

Well, I think they should; they ran the ‘mom and pop’ stores out of my neighborhood. But you see, those are the people who have been overcharging us, selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables. …I think they've ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it's Arabs; very few black people own these stores.”

Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Los Angeles Simon Wiesenthal Center, responded:

If anyone should know that these are the words of bigotry, anti-Semitism and prejudice, it's him. During his years as a leader of the national civil rights movement, if anyone would utter remarks like this about African-Americans his voice would be the first to rise in indignation.”

Amidst the uproar over his remarks, Young resigned from his Wal-Mart position. Claiming that he had been “misread and misinterpreted”, he told the Associated Press:

I think I was on the verge of becoming part of the controversy, and I didn't want to become a distraction from the main issues, so I thought I ought to step down.”

Democrats had criticized Young when his company, GoodWorks International, was hired by Working Families for Wal-Mart. In his resignation announcement, Young said his work with Working Families had taken far more of his time than he had anticipated.

Finally, George Allen, former governor and incumbent U. S. Senator for Virginia, made off-the-cuff remarks to a crowd at a campaign stop near Breaks, VA. Calling attention to a volunteer who was filming the campaign gathering for his senatorial opponent, James Webb, the senator said:

This fellow here over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is. He's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere. And it's just great. We're going to places all over Virginia, and he's having it on film, and it's great to have you here, and you show it to your opponent because he's never been there and probably will never come. …Let's give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia.”

Senator Allen’s political opponents, including Democrats who anticipate him as a Republican presidential candidate in 2008, immediately jumped on “macaca” – a variation of “macaque” which is a type of monkey. The term is also said to be a French racial slur for dark skinned North African peoples. (Macaca (macaco) means “fool, clown, or simpleton” in Italian.)

S. R. Sidarth, the young Webb-campaign volunteer Senator Allen taunted, is of Indian (India) ancestry, but was born in Fairfax, VA. Allen-campaign workers had called him “Mohawk” during the weeks he filmed the Allen stops because he sported that style of haircut. No one can explain how “Mohawk” morphed into “Macaca” in the senator’s remarks. (A hearing problem, perhaps?)

The Washington Post obsessed for weeks on whether Senator Allen made a deliberately offensive remark and is, in fact, a racist. He later apologized directly to Mr. Sidarth. The latter said he was “…disappointed that a Senator of the United States could use something completely offensive”.

What about these three cases? Some observations:

[1] If you’re a Republican seeking high office, don’t extemporize. Of this Apple Dumpling Gang, Senator Allen is in the biggest trouble because the media will give him absolutely no slack. Pols and reporters will throw any slip of the tongue back at him for the next two years. The macaca “slur” is now in his dossier. It could sink his try for the presidency. The senator probably meant no offense, but he was foolish to speak publicly, in an offhand way, to a known member of the opponent’s camp, using a term whose meaning was unclear to him. (If he knew the meaning, then he is too stupid to be president.)

[2] Black Democrats get a media pass for racial and ethnic remarks, under speech standards unique to them. Mr. Young did not resign his position for talking trash about Jewish, Korean and Arab storekeepers in black neighborhoods. (Black columnist Clarence Page, among others, agrees with him on the stale bread, etc.) No, Mr. Young got flak because it became known that he was a (highly) paid shill for Wal-Mart – the Democrats’ current Great Satan. Just as no Democrat may openly support “George Bush’s Iraq War”, so no Democrat may praise (or represent) Wal-mart.

[3] A talk-show host noted that Andrew Young is basically working the same racial-protection racket as his old civil rights comrade, Jesse Jackson. The Rev. Jackson negotiates large financial settlements with companies to help them avoid “racial trouble”. (This is “code” for accusations of racism he will bring if they don’t pay up.) The Bugsy Siegel of his era, Jackson rakes in millions a year this way. “What,”, asked the talk-jock, “were Young’s exact duties with Working Families for Wal-Mart?” And why (ask I) didn’t he expect those duties to take much time? Could it be that he thought the position required no real work? This stinks to high heaven. I’m disappointed that Wal-Mart let itself be shaken down. Hopefully they learned a cheap lesson.

[4] Entertainers follow a different publicity protocol than lesser mortals. Although His Royal Melness probably got his butt kicked by his wife after his late-night escapade, he will ultimately cry all the way to the bank. He is waaay too big to be hurt by something as trivial as drunken anti-Semitic slurs that probably came from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. (1) Half of the Democratic Party probably agrees with him. (Call it “political outreach”.)

Jewish movie moguls might be annoyed with Gibson for about ten minutes – or maybe until his next boffo film comes out. (Will it show Jewish mobsters assassinating Pope John Paul I?) I’m willing to bet $20 that some ambitious reporter will learn that the entire drunk-driving incident and anti-Jewish tirade were just publicity stunts to put Mel Gibson back in the news.

[5] Jews have had a great half-century run in the USA, but there’s rough weather ahead. Political, academic and media elites have not been so aligned against Jews since the 1930s. The intellectual climate is strongly pro-Islam and anti-Israel. Evangelical Christians are some of Israel’s staunchest allies – a fact which must annoy Jewish liberals no end. Neither Gibson’s nor Young’s remarks caused anything like the uproar their statements might have produced 45 years ago. Much Beverly Hills criticism of Gibson came from movie people envious of his success with The Passion. Young got in more trouble for representing Wal-Mart than for his ethnic slurs.

[6] If you’re a well-known conservative or just an ordinary schmuck who imbibed too freely and banged up your car, you can forget the “alcohol disease” defense. The judge will be vastly entertained, but he’ll jail and fine you. Only lofty liberal personages get to skate on this plea.

[7] The ravings of actors and race-hustlers get too much media attention. Who cares what Gibson, Susan Sarondan, Goldie Hawn or Alec Baldwin say? They’re entitled to their opinions, but do we have to listen to them? Ditto for Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, or Andrew Young. Put a sock in it.

[8] Legitimate politicians should stick to government and public policy issues. Conservatives can assume someone is always listening who means them no good. If Senator Allen wants to be president, he needs to play it straight and leave the comedy shtick to the pros.

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(1) “The Protocols” are a 19th-century fraud detailing a “plan” for Jewish world domination.