Saturday, January 27, 2007

The M.A.C. Attack, pt. 2 (or "Duplicity, thy name is Media") - In a staggering display of equal parts temerity and obliviousness, the media are in full-throated outrage over the MLK day goings on at Tarleton State University. A student-organized party in a fraternity house featured some fraternity members and others mocking black stereotypes. Pictures of the event made their way to Facebook, and showed partygoers in mock gang attire eating fried chicken and drinking malt liquor from paper bags. (The pictures are now at The Smoking Gun, where you can also find a report on another MLK-day related party involving UConn law students.)

At this juncture, clarity is critical; as noted elsewhere, incidents reflecting racist or (the more nebulous) racially insensitive mindset are rampant in this country, as are incidents bespeaking other forms of bigotry. These two events may well have sprung from a racist intent. But none of this confirms the wholly misguided belief that America itself is a racist nation. If anything, the fact that both of these incidents were brought to light by a white-owned media outlet speaks to the fact that Caucasians take seriously their responsibility for policing their own ranks.

Would that the mainstream media were so given to policing themselves. The sad fact is that the very racial stereotypes that these young people were acting out are of a piece with the racist caricatures that anybody with a T.V., a radio, or a CD player can revel in at any time. Indeed, if the young adults in the pictures were black instead of white, we might well assume that the photos were taken on the set of a rap video shoot. The question that we as a society must face squarely is how is it permissible for blacks to stereotype themselves publicly - by way of BET, MTV, so-called "gangsta" rap music (and all of the attendant publications, such as The Source, XXL and Vibe) - and not O.K. for whites, who consume as much if not more of this blatantly stereotypical material, to join in?

Why do we fault the students at the University of Connecticut, but find no fault with rap impresarios like Snoop Dogg, T.I., Young Jeezy, Three-Six Mafia, et. al. and rap music moguls like Jay-Z and P Diddy? Why do the young men and women at Tarleton State get opprobrium heaped upon them by the bushel, but the record labels that produce and distribute the music and the media outlets that play the raunchy songs and air the videos still ply their trades with no hesitation (or remorse)? Why is Jamie Foxx allowed to claim the word "nigga" as his personal expression of endearment, while admonishing whites that they cannot do likewise?

Both of these incidents are plain evidence of the failure of the Left's obsession with diversity, particularly that of behavior. At best, it has all been a distraction, but in situations like these, it constitutes something much worse. By embedding the notion that African Americans dress and act in radically different ways than other races (and therefore are not reasonably expected to assimilate into a common culture or be held to established standards of behavior), progressives in general and the M.A.C. in particular, created the circumstances by which these events could take place. Lest we forget, on the very same day of one of these parties, VIACOM's own VH1 was airing an episode of the stereotype-drenched "I Love New York."

Maybe the N.A.A.C.P. and others are angry that these students have learned too much about diversity. After all, they are merely reflecting back to us what we all seem to believe about how blacks live and behave.

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