Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Has American society become insanely hypersensitive?

Around a year ago, I was lambasted on the blog for calling a girl a "girl" in a post I wrote, instead of calling her a woman, even though the other female readers of this blog freely use the pejorative "girl" for girls of the same age as the one I talked about.

In the comments I exposed that double-standard, but at the time I don't recall mentioning the insane hypersensitivity and political correctness that drove the response.

This week I watched with amazement two other incidents (not involving me) showcasing more examples of this hypersensitivity and insane political correctness.

In the first case, Dov Hikind dressed up for Purim as a basketball player. A black basketball player, mind you. And for that he's going to hell, and his career is almost certainly damaged.

Because apparently you can dress up as anything on Halloween or Purim, except as a black man (or am I supposed to say African-American).

In the second case, Seth MacFarlane made some amusing jokes about Jews controlling the Hollywood movie industry, during the Oscar ceremonies. As a result, he was attacked for it by the Jewish watchdogs.

What?!  Are you people insane?

A comedian suddenly can't make jokes about something that is pretty darn near close to true, or certainly used to be.

This hypersensitivity is out of control.

Neither man had any racist intent in their acts or statement. Neither were aware that what they did would be considered racist or insensitive.

And why should they have?

People don't costume up as Chassidim? As Italian Mafiosos? As Arabs? As Rastafarians? You can get all those costumes in the store.

But a black man is off limits? Or is it that costuming as a black basketball player if off limits because it's a stereotype. Though what kind of stereotype can it be when 78% of basketball players are black?

And look how many Hollywood producers and actors are Jewish (or of Jewish descent at least). You've got to be an idiot to not see that.

But apparently it's now wrong to point that out. (Unless you're John Stewart, in which case it's OK, presumably because he's Jewish).

What's next?

Is it going to be racist to point out how many Jewish Nobel prize winners there are? Is that an offensive stereotype too?

It really is time that this hypersensitivity got toned down, and save it for real racism.

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Shaul B said...

According to Rasmussen Reports, 27% of Americans believe it's offensive to refer to an illegal immigrant as an "illegal immigrant".

Next Purim I'm going to dress up as an easily-offended knee-jerk PC liberal.

yaak said...

It was odd that Hikind was slammed even by fellow conservatives. I heard Mike Gallagher, a staunchly conservative, nationally-syndicated talk show host, slam Hikind for this. I could not understand it for the life of me.

Neshama said...

They have been trying to un-seat Dov for years. They will grab at any straw to mock him and try to get him replaced. He is very opinionated, once staunchly combative in defense of any Jew maligned. He is powerful and therefore has made some enemies along the way.

Avinoam said...

I'm very far from being a PC liberal, but you seem to be missing something: he's an elected official.
That means a different standard, being held up to a microscope, like it or not.
I'm not saying for a moment that he's guilty of racism, but he sure as heck is guilty of stupidity.
Whoever posted that pic to Facebook (his son?) is a close second.
If you or I dressed up like that, no problem.
A politician should know better.
I hope he can ride this out.

Josh said...

Though you raise an valid question of whether or not Americans are hypersensitive, you are ignoring the quite legitimate outrage that is being expressed at Mr. Hikind. Whether or not their feelings are legitimate, there is a significant portion of the population that are offended by the sight of a white person in blackface. It borders on insanity that Mr. Hikind, a public servant, would choose to ignore the feelings of those people. In the context of satire or entertainment, such a thing is questionable, but possibly acceptable (ala Robert Downy Jr in Tropic Thunder). In this context, it is, at the very least, irresponsible. Charitably, it is insensitive.

Blackface has historically been a form of racist caricature. For an African American such a costume conjures up the same imagery as for a Jew if someone on Halloween were to dress up as a moneylender with a hook nose and scraggly beard. It is the imagery that is racist.

yaak said...

Josh, according to you, would there have been the same outrage if he would have donned a Lebron James mask, for example, without the blackface?

Josh said...

Yaak, as I do not speak for the entire African American community, I don't believe that I can answer your question with authority. However, I suspect that had he worn a Lebron James mask, if such a thing existed, the outcry would be somewhat less but still present. For a white man to dress as a black man is usually considered offensive.

Whether or not such offense is legitimate or not is beside the point in this discussion. We are dealing with the fallout from a public official who wore a costume that any reasonable adult should know could cause offense to a large number of people.

yaak said...

I disagree that it should cause offense to a large number of people. And I do consider myself a reasonable adult.

My son this year wore a Coby Bryant mask for Purim. A few years ago, another son wore a Barack Obama mask. In no way whatsoever do I figure those to be offensive. We bought them online, and I VERY much doubt that they are only worn by African Americans.

And no, I'm not a racist or bigot. Not even close. I cringe at and often reprimand those who tell racist jokes. I don't even like the word shvartze.

However, wearing black for Purim seems so innocent to me that I cannot imagine people being offended by it. Comparisons to hooked noses and scraggly beards are simply laughable.

I'd instead compare it to someone like Alan West wearing Hasidic garb on Halloween. I know he means no disrespect and just wants to be dressed up as a different culture. That's it. Nothing more implied.

LondonMale said...

As a non-American, I have visited the East Coast of America several times. I experienced a serious and strong racial tension that simply is not present to the same intensity in London, UK as it felt to me in America.

I do not doubt that dressing up as a basketball player is not meant to be racist, but given the history of "Blackface" in American society and media, it was not a clever idea for a costume.
If 22% of NBA players are non-African-American, then would a costume as one of the basketball players be any less "fun"?
Whether the intent was there or not, I think there is a possibility that some African-Americans would be genuinely offended by the costume, though that is just a guess.

Anonymous said...

Hikind did a very stupid thing. He is a public official and should act the part. If you or I wore such a costume, no one would care because we don't represent anyone but ourselves. Hkind represents a large community and thus has to be more careful with what he says or does. Is this really not obvious? If you dropped an f bomb no one would care, if obama did, it would make front page, the difference? Your not the damn president of the most powerful country in the world. It was silly of him to dress up the way he did.

The Bostonian said...

The question is - now that the USA has taken this direction of "Political Correctness" -- is it a better country?

Does this attempt at "cultural sensitivity" make the US a better place?

Has crime gone down?

Has education gone up?

Are people happier?

Are minorities happier? Has their quality of life gone up? Have they positively increased their contributions to American society and culture?

Is America objectively a BETTER place since Political Correctness took over?

Anonymous said...

Hikimd us a liberal, idiot. He's a democrat.

Anonymous said...

Its a question of respect.

Anonymous said...

Blackface and wearing a specific mask of 1 black person is completely different. I suspect if Dov had worn a mask of a specific person there would be no outcry. Personally I have seen more recently white ppl in blackface is causing a huge outcry and the AA community being offended (maybe because of django?) Dov should be smart. Realize it legit offended people. Apologize sincerely - not say sorry you were offended - and we can all move on

Anonymous said...

Given the history of intense racism and slavery in the US including dressing in blackface in film, for him to dress as that is extremely offensive. It would be as if he drew some numbers on his arm and called himself a Jew. Blackface and Afro wig are just a line you can't cross in the US.

Anonymous said...

Good questions from Bostonian. The answer to all of them are 'definitely not'. Don't remember when the word 'racism' has been used as much and hatred been so open everywhere. Political correctness is another word for 'lies'. Because when something is considered politically incorrect, no matter the truth, the 'politically incorrect' are demonized. Better to lie and fabricate anything and everything just to appease society, which, because of political correctness, has made civilization go backwards a thousand years. That thinking cannot lead to a better society. Nothing good comes from untruths. By this point in time, people should have learned respect for one another and forget about phony pol. correctness which prevents a person from being him/her self. Sometimes things are said or done, without an iota of malice, and just because some people take it out of context, the person having said it or done it, is demonized, all because it's the new mishagas.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who thinks dressing in Blackface is not insensitive toward black Americans should watch the movie "Birth of a Nation" - Hikind's costume was insensitive and ridiculously stupid for anyone let alone a politician to wear. Blackface played a significant role in the racism that permeated post Civil War Reconstruction and then Jim Crow America. Anyone with an education knows it's an insensitive thing to do.


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