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by Joe Fitzgerald
Saturday, Dec. 21, 2002 at 10:48 AM
Trent's a victim of Political Correctness in America. The First Ammendment needs to be revised to say that free speech is guaranteed only so long as politically correct.
Massachussetts Senator John Kerry, puffed with righteous indignation, waded into the Trent Lott furor, demanding the Republican's head on a platter.
``There can never be an appearance of racism or bigotry in any high position of leadership,'' he declared.
Funny, but that's pretty much what prominent Italian-Americans were saying about Kerry the morning he tried to come off as droll on the Don Imus show, quipping, ``The Iraqi army is in such bad shape, even the Italians could kick their butts.''
State auditor Joe DeNucci led the angry backlash, charging, ``He wouldn't have the guts to say that about Jews or blacks,'' prompting a Kerry spokeswoman to suggest DeNucci cool his jets, that the senator was obviously being facetious.
Of course, that's the same thing his office said following another appearance on the Imus show when, attempting to belittle Bill Weld's work ethic, Kerry described the former GOP governor as ``a guy who takes more vacations than people on welfare.''
Is this to suggest our junior senator really has a bias against Italians, or that he looks upon the downtrodden with contempt? Not at all. It's just to suggest that he, as much as anyone in public life, ought to understand how a comment made in jest can make a speaker sound like a jerk.
Lott, by the way, did not seek Kerry's resignation.
Then there was Mike Wallace, a little harder to dismiss when, during a break in the taping of a ``60 Minutes'' piece on minority borrowers, he suggested they might have difficulty reading complicated contracts ``over watermelon and tacos.''
When Herald TV columnist Monica Collins called him on it, Wallace pleaded, ``It was light-hearted! I ask you to be fair.''
Isn't that what Lott is asking everyone today?
There's no recollection here of Kerry racing off to Italian-American lodges to clarify his remarks, or Wallace visiting black churches to explain himself.
Nor, for that matter, is there any record of Jesse Jackson showing up at B'nai B'rith breakfasts to convince the ``sons of the Covenant'' that his characterization of New York as ``Hymietown'' was a figure of speech, that's all, a harmless appellation.
Does anyone remember Kerry, that self-styled pillar of propriety, questioning Jackson's anti-Semitism? If not, what did Jesse ever do to deserve the benefit of anyone's doubt?
Alan Dershowitz once charged Billy Bulger with using ``code words'' like ``manipulative'' and ``crafty'' to communicate a bias against Jews, yet there was no ambiguity whatsoever when Dershowitz claimed English au pair Louise Woodward couldn't expect a fair trial in Cambridge because ``it has a very large Irish population.'' No bias there, right, counselor?
Really, it isn't complicated. Anyone who writes for a living understands the truth of a Red Auerbach maxim regarding communications: ``It's not what you tell people that matters; it's what they hear.''
Does Kerry believe Italian soldiers are inferior, or that welfare recipients are slothful? No. The assumption here is that he tried too hard to be what he's not, i.e., witty.
Does Wallace view blacks as cartoon caricatures? No. The assumption here is that he engaged in careless idle talk.
Does Dershowitz believe the Irish can't be expected to have integrity? No. The assumption here is that he was looking for any angle that might enhance a defense.
And the other assumption here is that Trent Lott wasn't speaking from a heart filled with malice when he tried to flatter a man who had just turned 100, assuring him he did indeed have the stuff of national leadership, essentially giving him a eulogy he could hear.
An act of hatred? Please. It was an act of kindness.
Indeed, Harry Belafonte likening Colin Powell's support of President Bush to ``a slave in the master's house,'' or Ted Kennedy's insistence that Robert Bork's appointment to the Supreme Court ``would take us back to the days of segregated lunch counters,'' were much clearer examples of irresponsible commentary. But it served their purposes and both got away with it.
Lott has nothing to apologize for, save a misconception.
It's the ones now exploiting his embarrassment who ought to be ashamed, especially the ones who have been down that road themselves.
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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 16 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
|speach protected, stupidity not
||Saturday, Dec. 21, 2002 at 10:54 AM
||Saturday, Dec. 21, 2002 at 11:30 AM
|you are missing the point
||Saturday, Dec. 21, 2002 at 12:25 PM
|no, im not missing the point
||Saturday, Dec. 21, 2002 at 1:43 PM
|I stand corrected
||Saturday, Dec. 21, 2002 at 7:35 PM
||Saturday, Dec. 21, 2002 at 9:39 PM
||Saturday, Dec. 21, 2002 at 10:06 PM
|This is just politics as usual...
||Saturday, Dec. 21, 2002 at 11:00 PM
|the main problem
||Sunday, Dec. 22, 2002 at 7:25 AM
||Monday, Dec. 23, 2002 at 3:12 AM
||Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2002 at 9:27 AM
|and what about those blue dog democrats too
||Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2002 at 10:54 AM
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