Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Politics of the Day, Why I <3 Fox News Edition
In case you're wondering (like I often used to) - is Fox News really racist, or is it just a ratings game they're playing?
I had the dubious honor of hearing a senior Fox News guy speak at a recent conference about Myspace. He was supposed to talk about child molesters hanging out on Myspace; you know, security, blah blah.
Curiously (or not), he used the very nice phrase "guys from Gaza" - his fav line, repeated about fifteen times was "do you want your daughter hooking up with/getting in trouble with/molested by/seeing a guy from Gaza?"
Last time I checked, most guys from Gaza were just...uhh...brown, not child molesters. Last time I checked, not wanting your kids to have relationships with people outside your ethnic group was pretty strong evidence of...uhh...racism.
The point: it should be obvious that implying every dude in Gaza is a child molester is pretty much the textbook definition of (an especially sleazy kind of) racism.
Out of deference to the organizer, I didn't say anything (though I strongly regret it now); it was a small conference, and saying something about this would have killed it totally.
But if that conversation tells us anything, at least some people at a fairly senior level at Fox aren't doing these kinds of things for ratings; rather, they are (not to mince words) abhorrent (and unashamed) racists.
The most interesting thing was that this guy had obviously given this speech many times before, and no one had said anything - this was racism built deep into the structure of a social situation. It is as vivid an example of institutionalized racism as I think one might ever hope to find.
Meanwhile, the deafening silence of the American left, perhaps the most castrated political movement that ever was, thunders on.
While Fox News is busy loudly and boorishly spouting the vilest of kind of racism, religious fundamentalism, irrationality, fear-mongering and hysteria, etc, the left has just...shut up about, well, everything except how stupid Bush is (which pretty much everyone knows and already agrees with).
It's troubling for a brown guy, to say the least, to have to go treat these things as parts of "everyday life" - in this case, to go to a conference, only to be hear other brown dudes stereotyped as "child molesters".
Hopefully, this story gives you some insight about why I feel the need to talk about this stuff. The point is not sympathy, or insulting Fox News. Rather, it's that relationships and dialogue are really the only things that stop racism, xenophobia, and the mindless exploitation of manufactured "difference" from festering.
Put another way: there are deep rifts threatening to open across the world. I would like to do my bit to stop them from widening. I think perhaps the best way I can do taht is to share my experiences of these rifts very openly with you guys.
NB - Please note this has nothing at all to do with FIM (Fox Interactive) guys, of which every single one I've talked to has been super cool.
Umair, I agree...you should have stood up and said something. I'm one to talk, as I've had similar experiences and with the same response. What can I say but the world is much less advanced than Americans would like to think. And lately I feel we're falling backwards. Thankfully not everywhere and it takes brave men to change the tide. Be brave.
Just curious how you would place U.S. institutions versus others? The comments I've heard from UK, French, etc. businessmen in context of speaking to "their own" in groups makes U.S. seem rather effete and "p.c." Chinese, Japanese, etc. are much worse than Europeans; and I suppose that meetings of "guys from Gaza" have their own distasteful dialogues.
I'm not defending it, of course. For educated people, and especially people with a modicum of self-confidence, it's just childish. One wonders what the guy was trying to prove. But overall, America and American media are the most thoroughly p.c. in the world.
I think this is not really about being "p.c.". P.c. is having total senstivity to everyone's differences all the time, which is clearly idealistic and impossible.
Rather, I'm pointing out the opposite (racism): deliberately not bothering to differentiate between huge groups of people, and demeaning all of them (even though they are your uhh...fellow citizens and countrymen).
I hate to say it, but imho, having lived and travelled all over the world, there are two bastions of racism left: the States, and Arab Gulf states (Dubai, Saudi, etc).
Ironic (or predictable, take your pick).
Thx for the comment.
I do definitely regret not saying anything now.
Thx for the comment.
Yeah, you should have said something.
It doesn't have to turn into a full blown conference-destroying row. Just some kind of ironic "yeah, 'cos all Gazans are child-molesters, right?". Or, when you're making a point of your own, use some outrageous counter-example. "you have to be careful in case your daughter meets a Klan Kid online".
Just enough to get the audience to notice what you noticed, and to think about what was said.
BTW: I have a big problem cheerleading MySpace because I know it's owned by Murdoch.
Ultimately the attitude of Fox News (just as The Sun in the UK etc.) derives from his leadership. Given the role Fox has played in creating US public opinion over the last 10 years, I'd say Murdoch has more blood on his hands than Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld together.
Hi Umair - thank you for talking about this ugly and impossible-to-uproot ground of racism. We can't *eliminate* it, but we can develop a practice that makes it explicit and transparent. You are an important part of developing that practice. I hope someone will speak up in the moment, the next time this Fox News guy opens up on 'guys from Gaza.'