Friday, February 03, 2006

The Pig Is Racism, The Pig Is The New York Times

Thomas Friedman, Gail Collins, Nicky K and all the rest can go to hell wearing a white sheet over their White heads.

Wednesday, Gail Collins phoned. She opened with, "How are you, Betinna, I'm not good. This death has upset me so. I'm questioning life and death, purpose and intent, da funk and da noise."
I replied that the death had destroyed me.

"Really?" Gail asked in a curious tone. "You knew of her?"

"I kind of think the whole word did," I replied more than slightly irritated to find Collins seemed shocked that a woman of so much meaning, so much passion, so much drive would be known worldwide.

"I knew her," Gail said.

"Was she as wonderful as she seemed?"

"Much more. You know she really changed people's lives."

"I know!" I agreed.

"Women are so often written out of history, Betinna. Their achievements minimized, their work overlooked. I've written about this topic in book form."

Oh, yeah. That. It reads like it's from the mouth of Cokie Roberts; however, that may be lending its superficial tone too much weight. However, the book is perfect for smacking the bugs that have been crawling around since Thomas Friedman decided that since "someone" was sneaking into his supply of canned cheese and Ritz crackers, he needed to hide them throughout the apartment. "Someone" is clearly Thomas Friedman, something he might realize if he stopped pointing the finger at me and used that hand to shake his ever increasing jelly belly.

"Well Wendy was a good friend," Gail said softly.


"Who's Wendy?"

"Wendy Wasserstein! Hello, she just passed away! Don't you read the paper!"

Oh yeah, I saw that. I saw that front page story on a playwright and the editorial Gail Collins wrote about her. She was big on "the theatre belongs to all!" and, as part of that strategy, she helped low income children, who were 'gifted & talented' see plays. It struck me as another White Ladies Who Lunch program. I mean, if you believe the theatre belongs to all and you really want to help low income children, what the hell are you doing going to the 'gifted & talented' set who will, more than likely, see a play at some point on their own if they want to?
Wouldn't the point be to show struggling students the theatre, to open them up to a new world?
The whole thing struck me as a bunch of overly groomed matrons wanting to reward the 'exceptions' -- not to share the theatre.

I remembered reading the editorial Gail wrote (and signed) and thinking, "Oh, that's how it works. If you're a friend of Gail's and you die you get an editorial."

Meanwhile, what struck me as nationally, globaly, important news was that Coretta Scott King passed away.

1) Coretta Scott King, 79, Dies
In Georgia, Coretta Scott King - the widow of Martin Luther King Junior - has died at the age of 79. She had spent her life fighting for civil rights and preserving her late husband's legacy. In April of 1968 she led a march through Memphis just days after Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated. Later that year she led the Poor People's March in Washington, D.C. She continued working for equality, peace and economic justice for the remainder of her life, both in the United States and abroad.

2) Civil Rights Icon Coretta Scott King, 1927-2006
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Joseph Lowery and Herb Boyd reflect on the legacy of freedom fighter Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King Jr.

I made the mistake of saying that to Gail. She sputtered, she raged and then she hung up.

And I waited. I waited for the editorial on Coretta Scott King. I waited for op-eds on her by the regular columnists (like the fat monkey Thomas Friedman). Surely Nicky K who's always acting like he's the only voice speaking out for injustice would note Coretta Scott King's passing. The woman gave her life to fighting injustice.

And surely Gail Collins, the feminist, would bring in some guest writers to note the passing of Coretta Scott King, right?


On Tuesday, Wendy Wasserstein made the front page as a playwright who died of cancer at the age of 55. We're told "Her Plays Spoke to a Generation." Presumably a White generation and the same sub-set that Sex and the City speaks to and of. Did Wasserstein have any Black characters in her plays? While reading the long article, I felt like every minor actress (plus Meryl Streep) in Hollywood was listed. I didn't see any Black names. On the editorial page of the same edition, Gail Collins went on about Wendy for ten paragraphs.

Coretta Scott King made the front page on Wednesday for her passing. Now Coretta never wrote a play starring Swoosie Kurtz (who I last saw in the teen exploitation rip-off of Dangerous Liasons). Is it Mrs. King's skin color or is it that she was known for politics?

Here's Wasserman's politics:

"My work is often thought of as light-weight commercial comedy," she told The Paris Review in 1997, "and I have always thought, No, you don't understand: this is in fact a political act. 'The Sisters Rosensweig' had the largest advance in Broadway history," for a play (not a musical). Therefore, she continued, "nobody is going to turn down a play on Broadway because a woman wrote it or because it's about women."

Well gee, thanks for paving the way for Lillian Hellman, Jane Wagner, Lorraine Hansberry and assorted others who were there on Broadway, as playwrights who happened to be women, long before 1997.

Success as a political act? Well the paper didn't see it that way when August Wilson died. But maybe his plays couldn't be easily compared to Sex in the City? Maybe if they'd been accused of being "light-weight commerical comedy" and he'd replied, "No, my success is a political act!" the paper would have cared about him?

But I read the long article. The type usually reserved for a head of state, not a playwright whose best days were behind her -- and they were. When you define your power as "success" and when success (ticket sales) begins to fail you (as it did her in 1997), then you're not cutting it. Was failure also a political act? Did it prove that women couldn't be playwrights on Broadway?

There'd be no reason to compare the two women. One was politically and historically significant and it wasn't the one doing watered-down Philip Barry. But the paper begged readers to compare the two women by the manner in which they were treated. Wasserstein dies and gets a front page article and an editorial. Coretta Scott King dies and just gets a front page story.

That's really it. Wednesday the editorials were devoted to "The State of Energy" and "Westward Into War With the Soviet Novelist and Reporter Vasily Grossman." On the op-ed page, two guest writers wondered "Can junior management end the transit wars?" Two other guest writers wrote of "Russia's Sweetheart Deal for Iran." One guest writer wrote "The State of the Union: A Citizen's Rebuttal." Maureen Dowd wrote of whatever she writes about in that attempt at wisecracking-gun-moll she's so fond of (but Ann Sheridan and Eve Arden did it so much better) while Thomas Friedman, the pig, wrote of "Addicted to Oil." Try "Addicted to In Between Meal Snacks," lard butt.

That was the day Gail and I spoke so I expected that Thursday, Coretta Scott King would get an editorial or op-ed devoted to her because Gail, who sees herself as educated, would surely want to right a wrong, right? Wrong.

"When You Wish Upon A Merger" wrote one guest columnist of the earth shattering issue of Walt Disney. Davy Brooks wrote of "The Nation of the Future" which apparently requires no looking back to note a historical passing. Bob Herbert quoted Coretta Scott King (three and a half lines) and actually mentioned that she'd died in his final two paragraph (three lines devoted to her and MLK) in "An American Obsession" or, as I liked to think of it, "Not About Coretta."
And the editorials? "Hamas at the Helm" because anyone a darker shade than beige scares the hell out of the New York Times. "The March of the Straw Soldiers" dealt with Bully Boy's spying even though the reporting in the paper continues to treat it as a non-issue, head-scratcher. And "Seducing the Medical Profession" gave Gail the chance to do what she was hired for, to self-congratulate the paper. ("Reed Abelson reported in The Times on Jan. 24 about a whistle-blower's lawsuit . . ." Yeah, he saw the court docket and somehow that's brave reporting, Gail.)

I thought, "Well maybe Gail considers these important topics for editorials?" Then I saw "Oh, Oscar!" about the Oscar nominations. The Oscar nominations? The Times needs to editorialize about Oscar nominations? But has no time for Coretta Scott King?

"Oh, Oscar!"? Oh, Gail.

I was fuming. I was raging. Thomas Friedman was kvetching, "Who the hell knew I married Angela Dickinson!"

"Angela Davis!" I corrected.

"Oh yeah," Thomas Friedman snorted. "One played Police Woman, the other was hunted by the police."

I just stared him until he stopped laughing.

"Um," he said staring at the ground. "Um, it's, see it's funny because it's juxtaposition."

"And funny because a Black woman is the butt of the joke? Or maybe you thinking Blacks should be hunted down?"

Thomas Friedman retreated to his office where, no doubt, he continued surfing online for fake nudes of the male cast from Saved By The Bell.

This morning, Thomas Friedman hands me the paper and tells me I'll be happy with it today.

Knowing the New York Timid too well, I finish my coffee before opening and flipping to the op-eds and editorials. Editorials? Four. None on Coretta Scott King. Opinion pieces? Paul Krugman writes of the "State of Delusion" which does not cover the paper's own delusion that they're somehow inclusive. Thomas Friedman writes about Bully Boy (he's got a poster of Bully Boy in a onesie nailed to the bedroom closet door) and oil in "Will Pigs Fly" (sooner than Lard Butts, Tommy, sooner than Lard Butts). Graphic designer Barbara Blauber does "Op-Art" about judging books by their cover. (Why not judge papers by what they choose to cover?) And not one, but two guest columnists are brought in to write two separate columns on Pope Joseph Ratzinger who, for the record, didn't die.

I guess Coretta Scott King doesn't matter to the paper. I guess her passing doesn't matter. She's known globally at least as well as Mother Teresa was. She dedicated her life to fighting for equality and peace. She was known around the world as a leader and her husband was as well -- her husband who was targeted by the FBI and who was assassinated. She fought for civil rights, for women's rights, for peace. She fought against poverty, against homophobia. On the national stage, she was certainly as graceful as Jackie Kennedy and she never felt the need to draw the veil and retire from public service.

So I found myself wondering, "Exactly what didn't Mrs. King do? What should she have done to have her death noted by the editorial and opinion staff of the New York Times?"

At first, I thought, "Well she should have written a play length version of Designing Women!" But then I remembered how August Wilson's passing was down played.

Then I thought, "She should have befriended Gail Collins!" Because women with unibrows are too often the butt of the jokes. Gail Collins should not be laughed at for her unibrow. There are plenty of other reasons to laugh at Gail Collins, trust me.

Which left only one thing that Coretta Scott King 'forgot' to do: Be born White.

If Coretta Scott King had been born White, you better believe Gail Collins would have dashed off an editorial to her.

Just as that hit me, Thomas Friedman came lumbering in, grinning, and obviously pleased with himself.

"Did you see it, Betinna?" he asked beaming at me.

"You didn't mention Coretta Scott King, you fat jerk!" I snarled tossing a waffle at him.

I think his feelings were hurt. But it was hard to tell as he had lifted the hem of his shorty robe up to his face in order to lick off the syrup from where the waffle landed.

When he was done with that task, he pointed to his column.

"I've got my readers saying, 'You should have listened to your wife!' about Iraq! I mentioned you! A Colored woman. See I'm not a racist."

That's when I realized the pig is racism, the pig is the New York Times. Thomas Friedman, Gail Collins and the rest are just the sop that gets fed to the pig.