Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Race Hustling on "The Point"

Mark Hyman loves to call Jesse Jackson the country’s “number one race hustler.” This is a classic case of projection if there ever was one. Hyman, the man who once equated non-documented immigrants with al-Qaeda terrorists, has proved time and again that he is willing to use race as a wedge issue, and his most recent editorial is a case in point.

Hyman begins by claiming New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin essentially said “no whitey welcome” when he made his dopey remark about New Orleans returning to a “Chocolate City.” Nagin’s ridiculous comments were justly criticized and lampooned, but to his credit, he did apologize for making them, and Hyman’s paraphrase intentionally distorts Nagin’s meaning. Nagin’s comments were wrongheaded on a number of levels, but that doesn’t excuse the willful distortion of their meaning for political purposes.

Parenthetically, Hyman takes another swipe at Nagin’s handling of Katrina, conveniently eliding the devastating evidence of mismanagement on the federal level.

More troubling, Hyman lifts a comment by Jesse Jackson out of context to imply that Jackson is a racist. Hyman quotes Jackson as saying, “"There's a profound population shift. The Latino population was 3 percent. It's now 20 percent..." and suggests that this means Jackson is angry that Hispanics were getting jobs in New Orleans “while New Orleans residents were collecting public assistance as refugees elsewhere.”

First, let’s look at the Jackson quotation in context:

There's a profound population shift. The Latino population was 3 percent.
It's now 20 percent, and it's not just South Central Latin America.
It's also east and Europeans as well. They have been trafficked in
and their cheap labor has been used while businesses are still locked out, so
you have outside workers displacing New Orleans citizens and outside no-bid
contractors displacing Katrina citizens.

So what Jackson was worried about had nothing to do with race, other than the fact that the sudden surge in the Latino population was symptomatic of a larger problem of outside contractors and labor landing jobs in place of those desperate to return to their city. Given the established pattern of the federal government giving primo no-bid contracts to political pals in the “rebuilding” of Iraq, Jackson’s concern is more than merited.

Even more disgusting is Hyman’s use of the phrase “New Orleans residents were collecting public assistance.” This has nothing to do with the issue at hand, and can only be a vaguely veiled suggestion that New Orleans’ black citizenry are too lazy to go back and work in their city. Hyman snidely implies they were happy collecting “public assistance” (a phrase intended to suggest they were getting something they weren’t owed by a government that allowed their homes to flood and neighbors to drown) while outside workers filled the labor void in the city.

Actually, race hustling is too good a term for Hyman’s rhetoric. It’s simply racist.

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 6.58


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