Archive for July, 2011

Herman Cain’s bigotry

WASHINGTON — If we didn’t already know this, here’s what Herman Cain’s regrettable campaign for the Republican presidential nomination has taught us: Black Americans are as capable of ugly and inexplicable prejudices as any other group. Our collective history as victims of ugly and inexplicable prejudices has not made us immune to the virus of bigotry.

So you knew that already? So did I. Still, Cain’s reflexive animosity toward law-abiding Muslim Americans has served as an unnecessary reminder.

In a recent appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Cain told host Chris Wallace that the U.S. Constitution gives Americans the right to ban any mosque they don’t want built nearby. Having spoken out specifically against a planned mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn., Cain seemed oblivious to the fact that the people attempting to build the mosque are also entitled to First Amendment protections.

A retired Georgia businessman turned rightwing talk radio host, Cain had been building to …

Continue reading Herman Cain’s bigotry »

Why can’t our politicians handle the truth?

MONROEVILLE, Al. — The drought is severe here and the  weather miserably hot, with temperatures reaching triple digits frequently this summer. That’s what occupies ordinary folk in my small hometown.

My mom’s friends and neighbors talk about the crops that are withering in the fields — corn stalks turning brown, cotton seed too parched to sprout. They talk about Casey Anthony’s culpability in the death of her young daughter. They talk about jobs. Or the lack of them.

They don’t talk about the federal deficit or the debt-ceiling negotiations that consume the nation’s capital. They are too worried about their own household budgets to fret about the federal treasury.

Spending a week here has reminded me of the stark divide between ordinary Americans and the representatives they send to Washington to serve their interests.  Here in the real America — at least the part of it that is in decline — the inside-the-Beltway political gamesmanship, competing news …

Continue reading Why can’t our politicians handle the truth? »

Why don’t we name victims of rape?

WASHINGTON — After weeks of professed certainty, New York City prosecutors have recently admitted significant doubts about the case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the influential French banker accused of raping a hotel maid in May. In many ways, the controversy swirling about the case is no different from countless others in which the court of public opinion has rendered a verdict with which a jury might disagree. (Has anyone ever heard of Casey Anthony?)

But there is one profound difference between this case and many others that briefly consume public attention in the cable news age: The alleged victim has not been named by major U.S. news media organizations. We have read and heard much about her, including the country of her birth, her immigrant journey and her current associates. Still, her name and photograph, while readily found online, have not been routinely used in news stories.

Because of common mores and lingering misunderstandings about human sexuality, sexual …

Continue reading Why don’t we name victims of rape? »