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Sunday, December 31, 2006

10 moments from 2006

Here are ten moments from 2006, in no particular order

1) James Frey-100 little lies

Sure, Oprah shamed him, but it was Bill Bastone and the Smoking Gun which did the reporting on his lying little ass which nailed him cold and served him up for Oprah. We usually let liars slide in America, note Gerald Ford's praise for comity, but in this one case, just one, he got nailed hard, and a smarmy little fuck was made to apologize. Sometimes you find faith in odd places. The Smoking Gun is one of them.

2) Ossie Davis's, Coretta Scott King's and James Brown's funerals

They may have happened on different days, in different places, but they say a lot about how we got from segregated lunch counters to US Senators. Oddly enough, many of the same people showed up at all three.

Ossie Davis was a Harlem legend, in many films, but it wasn't acting which made him beloved. When no church would hold a service for Malcolm X, he made it happen. He supported the family for years when they were out of the spotlight, while Betty Shabazz rebuilt her life.

Coretta Scott King was ill served by her funeral and the manuverings of Eddie Long. They didn't invite Harry Belefonte to speak at her funeral. He kept that family fed in the days after King's death, he was in many ways, their best friend. The weakness of the children shone through. At least Joseph Lowery had the courage to tell the president the truth.

James Brown went out a hero. He was the first popular artist to say simply, that he was proud to be black, and hearing that song as a kid changed the world. He had the kind of flashy, fun, loving funeral he so deserved.

As moments go, these three tributes to three very different people say much about changing black America

3) Mel Gibson's rant

Americans like to pretend that racism, and anti-semitism is part of the past. Mel Gibson, despite being the son of one of America's most prominent Holocaust deniers, hid it well over the years. Then he slipped and the mask came off. Hollywood kept it secrets well. Until this year

4) Tom Cruise goes crazy

No one had seen this before, a major movie star go from respect to ridicule in weeks. For years, Pat Kingsley had protected Tomcat from himself. He fired her and replaced her with his sister, and it was off to the races. Cruise made enemies left and right and people questioned his marriage like it was a movie role. It is rare to see self-destruction in public like that

5) Hezbollah and the IDF

Everyone thought that the Israelis would steamroll Hezbollah and put them in their place. Well, when the flares which screwed up night vision gear kept flying and helicopter evacuations was impossible, Israel found that Nasrallah's boys could fight. Once you allowed people to reach rank without politics, their fighting ability improved tremendously. The IDF were fighting the last war. Hezbollah was not.

6) Swannick, Eaton and Baptiste

When these former generals, two commanders of units which led to higher command, refuted the DOD line before Congress, something changed. Maybe it was small, maybe big, but these were no hippies. These were former commanders, men who could have reached higher rank and retired instead. Bush's war was a fraud and they would fight no more forever.

7) The Muslim Cartoons

The European right did a little racebaiting and got called on it. They thought that they could mock Islam and Muslims would have to suck it up. The riots proved otherwise. It was a silly miscalculation by people with no sense of foresight. A lot of people bought into the free speech argument when it was really about putting minorities in their place. They want to debate burkas and homosexuality when the real issue is inclusion.

Not one US paper would touch these cartoons, in the most open press in the world, for a very simple reason: it was racebaiting. There was no great editorial outcry or protest, because the unsubtle nature of the submissions had nothing to do with freedom of speech.

8) 500,000 people

They didn't know what to make of it, when the streets of LA filled up. All those Mexicans. with kids in the Army, pride in their heritage and a willingness to protest unfair laws. They had to be illegals. The willfully blind like Lou Dobbs and the openly racist like Tom Tancredo, didn't get it. Most Americans didn't have a serious problem with immigration. They didn't like the illegals crossing over, but they didn't want to turn them into felons.

But most of them were Americans and they didn't like the second class citizenship Tom Tancredo and Jim "Kotex" Sensenbrenner wanted to impose on their relatives. It changed the way Latinos saw politics and killed the GOP outreach program dead.

9) Use it or lose it

At the end of the campaign, MyDD's Chris Bowers started a fundraising drive. He asked members of Congress in safe seats to contribute to the national committees. He raised millions of dollars. And all he did was thought it up and did it. Didn't ask permissions, didn't have to call anyone, just started asking people for money. And maybe won a few close elections by doing so.

10) Germany is like everyplace else

The one thing which happened during the World Cup was subtle, but important. The Germany baiting was gone and Germans were able to wave their flags and take pride in their team like everyone else. It's been a long time since the Germans didn't have their history wrapped around them. But when English tourists flooded the country and found the people open and friendly, a lot of minds changed. And if you have a united Europe, the past has to be let go at some point. They started out with the WWII nonsense, but when it ended, that was tossed aside for the present.

posted by Steve @ 2:39:00 AM

2:39:00 AM

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