Thursday, 01 April 2010


Ken Berwitz

If you have watched TV or read the newspapers over the past 10 days or so, you would certainly know that media are repulsed by hate speech. 

After all, didn't they tell us how outrageous it was that Tea-partiers called Reps. Lewis and Cleaver "nigger" - in a crowd of people with media everywhere and recording equipment galore, but no audio to back it up? 

Didn't they tell us how outraged they were that a Tea-partier spit on Rep. Cleaver - which Cleaver subsequently admitted did not happen? 

Didn't they tell us how outraged they were about all those email and telephone threats to Democrats?

And didn't they also tell us all about the threats to Republicans like Jean Schmidt and Eric Cantor, and the brick thrown through a Republican campaign window, and the youtube-posted death threats to Cantor and his family, including a reference to his being Jewish?  

Oh, wait.  Maybe they didn't tell us about those Republican threats, or just barely covered them.  I guess the news cycle stopped just about that time.  

(Hey, that reminds of Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist who took all those millions from Indian tribes and promised to spread it around congress and get them OKs for casinos?  He was a big story when the news was that Republicans got the money.  But then it turned out that abramoff also directed significant money to people like Harry Reid,Tom Daschle, Richard Gephardt, Patrick Kennedy, Patty Murray and others (read all about it here).  And the news cycle stopped right then too.  Just like the threats to Republicans in congress.  Funn how that works.....)

So does this apparent selectivity in what hate speech is and isn't newsworthy extend to other areas of media as well?  Let's consider what bill maher said on The Tonight Show last night and see.

From Brent Baker, at

Maher Credits 'Tea Baggers' for Health Care Passage, Palin First to Know About Killing 'Useless' People


By Brent Baker (Bio | Archive)
Thu, 04/01/2010 - 02:23 ET


Bringing his belittling commentary toward conservatives -- disguised as comedy -- to a wider audience, on Wednesdays Tonight Show on NBC Bill Maher repeated some of the lines hes spewed in recent weeks on his HBO show. Maher used the sexually-derogatory tea baggers term as he credited Tea Party activists for getting the health care bill passed:


I'm sure they're saying, What are you talking about, Bill? I was so against the health care bill, I marched on Washington with tea bags hanging from my hat, dressed up in my founding fathers costume with a picture of Hitler, you know, and Obama's face on him and, you know, screaming about his birth certificate. And America saw that and said: What loons. We're going with the calm black man.


On Palin: Sarah Palin screaming about death panels? You know what, Sarah, if we were killing off useless people, you'd be the first to know.


(From late February: Maher: Brain-Dead Palin a Babbling, Barely House-Broken, Uneducated Being)

From the Wednesday, March 31 Tonight Show with Jay Leno:

BILL MAHER: I thank the tea baggers....Any tea baggers here tonight? They're the ones who got it passed. I'm sure they're saying, What are you talking about, Bill? I was so against the health care bill, I marched on Washington with tea bags hanging from my hat, dressed up in my founding fathers costume with a picture of Hitler, you know, and Obama's face on him and, you know, screaming about his birth certificate.

And America saw that and said: What loons. We're going with the calm black man. [cheers and applause]

These idiots can't even spell go back to Kenya, you know? Sarah Palin screaming about death panels? You know what, Sarah, if we were killing off useless people, you'd be the first to know. [cheers and applause]

JAY LENO: But now, the GOP are not giving up. Now they want to repeal this thing. They want to replace it with a a new one.

MAHER: Oh, they're such sore losers. Sore losers. And I'm not just talking about the gunfire. I mean, you expect that from the right wing when they lose a a political battle. Of course, the bricks through the window, the death threats on phone machine you know? That's all acceptable, you know? You have to throw a little tantrum when freedom, as we know it, dies because I know what it means to be a patriot, is to make sure that kids don't get checkups.

Think about a Republican - any Republican - saying anything at all like this in any venue under any circumstances.  There would be demands everwhere that he/she be made to apologize and then banished from the air.  There might even be charges filed. 

But we're talking about the hate filled hard-leftist bill maher.  And his hatred is against Republicans, the right and, more generally, against anyone who protests what Barack Obama is doing to the country.  So it's ok. 

Heck, it's nothing maher hasn't said over and over again on HBO.  And, as we all know, HBO gives equal time to comedians who attack Barack Obama while noting that he is a Black man, don't we?

Well, don't we?

The most amazing part of all this, is that these same media people then wonder why they're called biased.


Ken Berwitz

Regular readers of this blog know how deeply I feel about racism - how innately wrong it is, and how, even so,  it remains a pervasive element of our society.

They also know how deeply I resent when charges of racism are used as a cheap, phony political strategy to deflect attention from something else.

With that in mind, please read this short article from today's New York Daily News, and see exactly what I'm talking about:

Rep. Charles Rangel likens conservative foes of health care reform to racist foes of civil rights

BY David Saltonstall

Thursday, April 1st 2010, 4:00 AM

Scandal-plagued Rep. Charles Rangel, long a target of the right, fired back Wednesday at conservative opponents of health care - likening them to racist foes of civil rights.

Noting that he had been "cursed at and spat at" in the South in the '60s - as some Democratic congressmen say they were last week by anti-health care activists - Rangel said the similarities to Tea Party backers are striking.

"The group that were in Washington fighting against the health bill and fighting against the President, [they] looked just like and sounded just like those groups that attacked the civil rights movement in the South," Rangel, 79, told NY1's "Inside City Hall."

The Harlem Democrat is facing a slew of ethical probes for his failure to report income on assorted investments, including a Dominican Republic villa, and for failing to pay taxes on that income.

Wonderful.  If you're against ObamaCare, you must be one of those southern segregationists from 45 years ago.  Just ask charles rangel.

Let's get real:  charles rangel is as dirty as dirty gets.  And, ironically, it is racism - or, more exactly fear of being called a racist - that has facilitated his dirty actions over the years.

If you think the various tax scandals media told us about for a few days and then dropped are the extent of how corrupt charles rangel is, you need a quick stroll down memory lane.  Here, via Steve Malanga of the Mannhattan Institute, is part of that stroll:

The history and evolution of the Harlem development group HUDC illustrates how the good intentions of the War on Poverty were quickly suberted by local pols like Rangel. Created in 1971 as a subsidiary of the New York Urban Development Corp., the HUDC was supposed to help jumpstart the economy of Harlem with government dollars handed over to community leaders, a dubious proposition at best. Rangel joined the board in 1976, several years after being elected to Congress, according to an investigation of the group, and soon thereafter the organizations board asked for the special privilege of operating with more autonomy and independence from the state. This unusual request, granted to no other local development group, was racial in nature.


There was and continues to be a feeling at HUDC that it is necessary to demonstrate to...the white power structure in general that uptown [that is, HUDC] could do as good a job as downtown [state officials] in developing large projects, wrote an attorney for the state in a memorandum uncovered by investigators about the special status of HUDC. Under pressure, the state acceded to the groups request for autonomy and eventually allowed the Harlem group to run completely on its own, electing and appointing its own board members and lobbying legislators for its own funding. In 1983, when former computer company executive Bill Stern took over as head of the states economic development agency under Governor Mario Cuomo, Stern was surprised to learn the HUDC was beyond his purview.


I met with HUDC executive director Donald Cogsville to find out what his public-benefit corporation was doing, Stern wrote in 1997 in City Journal. Mr. Cogsville didnt have much patience with me. When I asked him why he had a state car and driver, he asked me if I was a racist.


Stern made some inquiries. I called Cuomos chief of staff, Michael DelGiudice. I asked him for the story on HUDC. He said, Bill, HUDC is Charlie--Charles Rangel, that is, the longtime congressman from Harlem. HUDC was a patronage machine for Rangels local cronies.


The long, sweet deal came unexpectedly to an end when a little-known Republican state senator, George Pataki, unexpectedly upset Mario Cuomo in the 1994 gubernatorial elections and subsequently decided to challenge Rangel and rein-in HUDC. A 1997 audit found that the agency had received nearly $100 million over its lifetime but had not completed a single new economic project in Harlem-hardly an endorsement of the development prowess of the boys from uptown. Meant to invest in Harlem, the groups operating budget, which included among other items $1,650 in car washes billed to taxpayers, was three times the size of its investment budget. The groups biggest contribution seemed to be the injection of millions of dollars into the areas underground economy via off-the-books payments to employees listed as consultants. The residents of Harlem would have been better off if the HUDC had merely distributed the $100 million directly to them.


Shortly thereafter another Rangel-headed institution came unwound, the Apollo Theater Foundation, a nonprofit group which ran the Harlem theater with a heavy dose of government money. The groups board had given a deal to Inner City Broadcasting, run by former Rangel political ally Percy Sutton, to produce the television series Its Showtime at the Apollo but collected practically nothing from Sutton in payments over four years for the privilege, in the process straining the theaters budget. As a result, despite some $16 million in public money invested to restore the theater, under the Rangel led-foundation the Apollo had fallen into disrepair and was dark on most nights.


Eventually Rangel agreed to step down from the foundations board and Time Warner agreed to take over the theater and help Sutton pay back fees he owed for rights to the show. Conveniently for both Rangel and Sutton, the state attorney general who originally pressed the case against them and sought more than $4 million from Sutton, Republican Dennis Vacco, lost his post in the November, 1998 elections to Democrat Eliot Spitzer, who upon assuming office promptly reduced the amount Sutton and Time Warner needed to pay to $1 million and then closed the case.

As should be clear, HUDC and the Apollo Theater Foundation are sordid combinations of racial hustling and Democratic enabling - with charles rangel in the center of both.

The plain, sad truth?  If charles rangel were White, and pulled a tiny fraction of this sea of corruption, he would have been out of congress and in jail long ago.  Compare his actions to, say, Republicans Robert Ney and "Duke" Cunningham" or Democrat James Traficant, all of whom have served/are serving jail terms, and see what I mean.

But rangel didn't go to jail, did he?  And he wasn't forced out of office, was he? 

rangel, today, is still a member of congress in good standing (that's his status, not my opinion I assure you).  He is "temporarily" relieved from chairing the House Ways and Means Committee, with no indication that the removal is permanent.  And not a peep about it from our wonderful "neutral" media.  Hey they don't want to be called racists, do they? 

It is people like rangel, abetted by our media, who trivialize the issue of racism down to nothing.


Ken Berwitz

The wonderful teacher and wonderful man, Jaime Escalante, died of bladder cancer Tuesday at the age of 79. 

Many people can think of at least one teacher who particularly inspired them.  But how about a teacher who inspired a class, a school and a community?

I was going to write my own words about Mr. Escalante, but the Philadelphia Inquirer's editorial today is so well done that I will defer to it instead:

Editorial: Stand, deliver, and inspire


Not so long before he became one of the most famous teachers in America, Jaime Escalante was a Bolivian immigrant whose teaching credentials weren't enough to earn him a classroom in his new home.


So he worked as a busboy and a cook, learned English, studied electronics. A National Science Foundation scholarship, and more course work, helped lead him back to teaching.


In his life, he modeled one of the very things he told his students over and over - and which he whispered to an interviewer last month while dying of bladder cancer: "Determination. Plus discipline. Plus hard work. That is the path."


Escalante, 79, died Tuesday. His own determination - to prepare students for the Advanced Placement calculus exam to earn college credit - was legend. He was teaching at Garfield High, a dysfunctional school in a poor Hispanic neighborhood in East Los Angeles. Few of his students' parents even had high school diplomas.


Didn't matter. No excuses. He cajoled and entertained in class. He called parents when necessary. He was there for students after school and on weekends. Each year, a few more of his students passed the AP calculus exam. In 1982, 18 of 18 passed.


This huge accomplishment became even bigger when the Educational Testing Service suspected cheating. Many saw racism in the charge, but Escalante stayed calm. He had 12 students retake the test. All passed - again.


His fame would grow, with the release of a biography, and then the 1988 movie based on his work, Stand and Deliver. With fame came complications, but never a loss of focus. His message in a last interview should resonate with teachers in struggling schools across the nation: "Believe in your kids. They will surprise you."

The bad news is that Mr. Escalante has passed away.  The good news, however, is that there are many teachers - more than you might realize - who have the same level of dedication, perseverance and love to inspire their students.  Let us respect and value them, because they are so instrumental to our hope for the future.

Jaime Escalante's accomplishments stand as a shining light, which illuminates the reality that there do not have to be any limits.

May he rest in peace.


Ken Berwitz

What happens when today's conventional wisdom regarding date rape is set on its ear by someone who insists that women have responsibility for what happens to them?

Here is an issue on which I can genuinely argue both sides.  Maybe you feel more strongly about one side or the other. 

Without further ado (and without further comment, I will now post the entire story - exactly as written by Susan Donaldson James of ABC News.

You decide:


American University Erupts Over Date Rape

Girls Who Get Drunk at Frat Parties 'Responsible' For Date Rape, Says Student Newspaper

April 1, 2010

Today begins Sexual Abuse Awareness and Prevention month -- and American University is in an uproar over an anti-feminist diatribe in the student newspaper charging that some women who survive date rape invited it.

Let's get this straight: any woman who heads to an EI [fraternity] party as an anonymous onlooker, drinks five cups of the jungle juice, and walks back to a boy's room with him is indicating that she wants sex, OK?" columnist Alex Knepper, 20, wrote in the Eagle, the school paper.

"To cry 'date rape' after you sober up the next morning and regret the incident is the equivalent of pulling a gun to someone's head and then later claiming that you didn't ever actually intend to pull the trigger," he said.

The column -- "Dealing With AU's Anti-Sex Brigade" -- sparked a backlash and nearly 300 online comments on the newspaper's Web site, chastising the Eagle for being "open-facedly offensive" and publishing a "slap in the face to so many women, and men, in our generation."

Students bombarded the Eagle's office, gathering the March 28 issue from dispensaries and stacking them outside the door. More protests were planned today as letters to the editor poured in to the newspaper.

Others from American's Community Action for Social Justice Coalition (CASJC) hung a sign: "No room for rape apologists."

Knepper, an openly gay political science major and a two-year columnist with the Eagle, is known as a provocateur, according to CASJC member Drew Franklin.

"It's not typical of what you see at American, a very liberal school, but it is typical of Alex," he said. "This sparked a lot of outrage. It's a pretty big deal on campus."

Franklin, 22, and an audio production major, said he wasn't protesting Knepper's ideas, but rather the platform the newspaper gave the writer for "hate speech."

"They crossed the line when they marginalized survivors of sexual assault," he said.

One in six women will survive sexual assault in her lifetime, and college-age women are four times more likely to be victims than others, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). Only about a third of all rape victims report these crimes and about 73 percent know their assailants.

About 90 percent of college women who are victims know their assailants -- usually a classmate, friend, boyfriend, ex-boyfrend, or other acquaintance, according to 2006 statistics from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services at the Department of Justice.

Most acquaintance rape victims do not label their assault as rape, perhaps because they know the assailant, and often initially blame themselves.

Advocates worry about rhetoric like Knepper's because when women blame themselves they are less apt to report these crimes. Survivors are also more susceptible to eating disorders, drug abuse and post traumatic stress disorder, according to RAINN.

The issue of consent is at the heart of the crime.

"It's not your fault," said Katherine Hull, spokesman for RAINN. "Even if you drink and wear short skirts -- that is not consent."

Provocative Dress Is Not Consent

"Even if a woman gave consent previously, it does not mean consent for right now," she said. "Dressing provocatively is not an invitation for sex or rape, even with alcohol."

Though laws vary from state to state, a person's consent can be compromised because of age, mental disability and lack of consciousness (under drugs or alcohol) or even a state of duress, according to Hull.

"If someone doesn't have the capacity to consent, they can't," she said.

Leanna Swain, a 19-year-old student at the University of Texas, has a close friend who was a victim of date rape, and says the consequences were "disastrous."

"It's horrific," she said. "It doesn't matter if she is drunk or sober, if she doesn't want to have sex and makes that known in some way, then it doesn't matter if they are in a frat room, a hotel room or an apartment. It's rape."

"Anyone who has ever made out on a bed with any alcohol in their system and not been raped should be grateful that that the opinions held by this columnist were not held by their partner," said Swain.

But Knepper said women give "implied consent" when they put themselves in the "sexual arena" at a party where there is an expectation that there will be drinking and sex.

"If she cannot summon up the strength to say 'no,' she shouldn't be engaging in anonymous sex," said Knepper. "In that situation, men can only know the information that is given to them."

He defends his position that men need clarity and not mixed signals.

"If you say unequivocally no, then it's a real rape," said Knepper, who is adamant that rape is a heinous crime that should be severely punished.

According to Department of Justice statistics, in more than three-quarters of all college rapes, the offender, the victim or both had been drinking, which impairs good judgment.

Which was precisely Knepper's point.

"The EI frat on campus is notorious for its hardcore parties and which do end up with manipulating and drugging," he said. "If you do not accept the risk, things go awry."

EI is short for Epsilon Iota, an underground fraternity at American University. Its charter was pulled by the national organization, and its recognition was withdrawn at American because of "misconduct," according to school officials.

"While it's not a woman's fault, it's incredibly stupid behavior to go to that party," he said. "Knowing what you are getting yourself into is what being an adult is, knowing the risks and the signals beforehand."

Student: 'Hook-Up Isn't A Rape'

A surprising number of American University students agreed with Knepper, according to campus reports. So did some at other colleges.

"If you put yourself in certain situations, there are always consequences," said Becca Forsythe, a 20-year-old student from Texas A&M. "A random hookup is not rape. In my eyes, that is just her trying to cover up for her own irresponsibility.

"What about riding in a car without a seatbelt on?" she asked. "If you get in a wreck and become severely injured, there is definitely some blame [because] you did not have a seatbelt on.

"Rape is always a touchy subject, but in this case, where you are drinking and letting your guard down, you cannot say you were taken advantage of unless someone drugged your drinks," she said.

Luke Turner, a 21-year-old from Sam Houston State University, said girls who make mistakes are often "looking for a scapegoat" and blame fraternities.

"This has actually gotten to be such a hot topic that there are a lot of sororities that will not allow their girls to be at a fraternity house if there is any alcohol present," he said.

American University officials have now weighed in on the firestorm, writing a letter to the editor of the Eagle. .

"We emphasized our support for students on all levels and for free speech even if we find it offensive," said university spokeswoman Camille Lepre.

"We want to create a safe environment for all, and we do not tolerate rape in any form," she said. "We have been stunned and mobilized by the [newspaper] opinion on date rape."

The school has a policy for handling date rape cases, but promised an "enhanced statement on rights, responsibilities and resources" concerning date rape, which is currently under active review for approval.

But some students say the date rape police is long overdue and the university has dragged its heels for two years.

"The campus is really tense and so volatile right now," said Kerrigan Scrimshire, a 24-year-old graduate student. "The administration has been hands off on this issue. Date rape is very real and services are lacking."

Meanwhile, Knepper has offered to have a "public conversation" with the university's Women's Initiative, whose director, Sarah Brown, wrote a letter to the editor, calling his column "irresponsible and shameful."

Knepper said Brown refused.

"Of course men have to behave themselves," he said. "These are freedoms women have fought for -- the same opportunities and ability to go into these sexual realms. But they have the same risk and responsibilities.

"There is a pattern of infantilizing women," he said. "If they have too much to drink and do something stupid, they still have to be responsible for their actions."

If you are a survivor of date rape, you can find help at RAINN's anonymous online hotline.

There it is, folks.  Your call.


Ken Berwitz

Did you know that a European country is in the process of banning the burqa (they spell it with a k, but I use a q)?

Here, from London's Daily Mail, are the particulars:

Belgium moves to become first European country to ban the burka

By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 8:08 PM on 31st March 2010


Belgium is on the verge of becoming the first European nation to ban the burka.

A parliamentary committee agreed yesterday to outlaw the wearing of face-covering veils in public. The full Parliament will vote later this month.

Under the proposals, women could face a week in prison or a fine for wearing a veil in public.

There are an estimated 650,000 Muslims in Belgium 6 per cent of the population.

The text of the new law does not specifically mention burkas but makes it illegal for anyone to wear clothing that covers all or most of the face in any public place.

Left-wing MP Denis Ducarme left no doubt the rules were targeting-Muslim extremists.

He said after the vote by the home affairs committee: This sends a very strong signal to radical Islamists.

The French- speaking liberals who have proposed the law argue that an inability to identify people presents a security risk and that the veil is a walking prison for women.

Daniel Bacquelaine, the bills chief promoter, said the ban might also be used against potentially violent demonstrators who covered their faces.

He estimated that only a few hundred women in Belgium wore facial veils, but said it was a rising trend. 

The MP said Belgium did not wish to follow the bad examples of Britain and the Netherlands, where he said many Muslims lived in separate communities.

The proposal is expected to become law as early as June as it has the support of all five parties in the coalition government. But opponents may appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

There have been debates over banning the burka in France, Switzerland and Italy.

This week Frances highest administrative body said a full burka ban, which is supported by all political parties, could violate the French constitution and European law.

Brussels has been linked to Islamic extremist terror operations a number of times since September 11. In 2003, 18 men were convicted of involvement in a terror cell with links to Al Qaeda.

I have somewhat mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand, if a woman wants to wear a burqa or any other attire, religious or not, which hides her body and face, that is her business. 

But she must: open that burqa and show her face on demand, for security purposes - e.g. for an ID picture, at a security check, etc.  If she refuses, then she cannot get what the ID is needed for and cannot go through the security check.  Period.

In looking at the letters to the editor about this article, I found one writer (and I suspect there may have been others as well) who said - incredibly - that:

"you can say wat you want about this ruling but the descsion ill never last .What you shold know about the veil is that some of us wear it through choice and it does not imprison us it LIBERATES us so dont bother commenting so ignorantly on your own views its not always about what society wants jus remember when its summer in this country you dont particularly want to see semi naked people and nearly naked people but what sould the ruling be on that ban all the bikini clad women and shorts in the society oh what to do"

I'm sure that some Muslim females, for whatever their reasons, either wear a burqa by choice, or would wear it if they had a choice.  But - let's be honest here - a great many Muslim females, probably most, wear the burqa by compulsion and/or out of fear of what will be done to them if they choose not to.  And a burqa worn that way is about as liberating as a straitjacket.

In any event, there's the story.  Now, will other European countries, fearing the loss of their national culture and identity, follow suit?

We'll see.


Ken Berwitz

It may be April.  And this man may be a consummate fool.  But what you are about to read and hear is not - repeat, not - an April Fool's joke.

It is far worse.  It is really, really real.

From Mark Hemingway of Commentary Magazine:

Too dumb to mock: Dem. Rep. wonders if additional Navy personnel will make Guam 'tip over and capsize'

By: Mark Hemingway
Commentary Staff Writer
03/31/10 10:19 PM EDT

I wish I was making this up. It's too depressing to even mock. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., was questioning Admiral Robert Willard about the Navy's plans to relocate 8,000 personnel and their families to Guam. After noting at some length that the island is narrow, Johnson says "My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated it will tip over and capsize." And yes, there's video -- the comment comes around the 1:15 mark:


UPDATE: For what it's worth, Johnson apparently has Hepititis C, which means "he regularly gets lost in thought in the middle of a discussion. He is easily fatigued and often impatient and irritable." But I'm not sure that accounts for what's going on here.

Well, there it is. 

And unless you believe Hepatitis C brings on delusions of islands tipping over and capsizing, you probably have concluded that Hank Johnson is a transcendental idiot.

Me too.  And you have to wonder what is wrong with the voters in that district, don't you?  First the hate-filled, violent, anti-Semitic idiot cynthia mckinney.  And now this. 

Who's next for that district?   Roger Rabbit?

free` These are the people that have taken over health care, may God save us all. (04/01/10)

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