Sunday, May 06, 2012

Me, Me, Me Media Senate Race


Having spent much of my childhood in a still-segregated South where the paper-bag test was real and later having run a black newspaper in the biggest S.C. city, I pay attention to the colorism form of racism. Lately here in a city with its own disgraceful history of slavery, ghettoization, and discrimination, I'm still surprised at the obliviousness of the local press.

Most recently, both of the bigger dailies, the Boston Globe and Herald, have tried to outdo each other in exposing (in their minds) U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren for a minority-status issue. That is, an issue they created.

It seems Harvard and some law directories listed her among minority-background faculty and lawyers. Born in OK (as was I; disclaimer), Warren turns out to be maybe 1/32th Cherokee. Growing up in a TV and movie era where very, very white folk put on makeup to play Apaches and so forth, I'm not overwhelmed by the test going on here.

The Globe stories have, if you pardon, kept up the drumbeat with such gems as whether anyone ever alleged she asked for quarter for being a Native American. Not only is there absolutely no evidence of such, but this was only an issue because the competing papers pretended they were being real journalists, following some sort of real story.

In case you are not as provincial as the Globe and Herald staff, be aware that this is totally manufactured. Yet the rags won't drop it. They are like two puppies fighting over a sock.

The short version is that apparently someone in Harvard's admissions collected lists of faculty who had any sort of minority affiliation and then pushed that. Of course, the school on the Chuck is very, very white and very, very male, as it has been for centuries. As a disclaimer, I was in a Ford Foundation grant program in the late 1960s run by their youngest junior fellow in history ever, Joe Rhodes, who was a blend of native Chinese and Pittsburgh black, but he was quite the exception.

More likely, Harvard is by and for rich, white folk. So it's understandable that they pretend to admit and hire women, African Americans and such. It's likewise understandable that hirelings would rummage through résumés (CV's in Harvard lingo) for whiffs of the other.

What's amusing is that the two local dailies continue to 1) create this horse to ride at all, 2) mount it repeatedly, and 3) whip it on again and again. It's a non-story. Even a naive Daily Kos blogger picked up on this with a silly piece, "Has Elizabeth Warren's Campaign Been Dealt a Fatal Blow?" To that, I can snort and say, "Hell, no. Sit up. Pay attention. Read the damn articles. Try to think."

The self-centered, mindless behavior of Herald and Globe reporters and columnists is absurd. Now, there's a story. They should alternate in reporting on each other and how stupid their coverage of an invented non-story is.

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