I'm still sitting by my phone

It wasn't all too long ago that Harry Reid, champion of the furrowed "I'm an unpleasant person who feels entitled to remake your health care plan" brow, was, as they say, on the horn.

Who was he calling? The Boss. To do what? Apologize.

Reid's comments, printed in the pages of Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's 2009 book, Game Change, were more than fairly cringe-worthy, and on the topic of Obama's race and skin color, no less. Had the comments been made by a conservative or Republican (let's not assume one means the other), the name "Harry Reid" would be synonamous with "Deep-Sixed to Political Mordor." But that's another post altogether.

It also wasn't too long ago that the phones of Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were ringing steadily to announce apologies from wayward Caucasians, who had stumbled (or fallen flat-faced) on somewhat racist or blatently racist remarks. A tirade by Michael Richards at an L.A. comedy club had this former Seinfeld star begging forgiveness from the two columns of African American symbolism.

My point here: American custom, at least in the last 50 years, is for offending members of pop-culture and politcal fame to give token calls to these black leaders, imploring their forgiveness. Ok.

Last week I read that Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, had used an unsavory term to refer to a commercial TV strategy of a liberal activist group.

Now. We know I'm gangbusters over anyone, anyone using the term retarded to refer, in a denigrating way, to a person, thing, act, idea... Yeah. You just don't do it. It's insulting. It's a mockery of disabled personhood. I've heard people defend their use of the word by saying, when challenged, "Oh, well, I didn't mean it, like referring to a type of person."

Oh no? Well, next time I think something's a bad idea, I'm going to say, "That is so like a stupid _____ (race here) woman." We'll see how far that gets me. Probably as far as Al Sharpton's desk line.

But I digress. The only reason, I contend, that anyone is even talking about Emanuel's comment today is that Sarah Palin, torchbearer for loved ones of the disabled, wrote a Facebook note about this incident.

A media burst, a solar flare of criticism and an every-where-you-look explosion of coverage.

And so, what happens? The phone call. Not to Obama, not the Sharptons or the Jacksons.

Nope. Tim Shriver at the Special Olympics. Yawn.

Why does this bug me? Two reasons. First, Shriver is a safe call. He's not one to storm the weekend media shows, demanding justice and a public apology for the disabled. He's a good man, but he's just not that person. Second, Emanuel's own boss set the precedent for this. Anyone for a little presidential bowling?

What would really show remorse (something I'm not betting Emanuel's got in him for this) is a call to someone else. Someone maybe not disabled, but very, very close to the disabled. Someone who's been, shall we say, a pit bull about this cause.

Call Palin. Calling her means that in a way, you call me. You call my mother. You call my sisters and my father. Calling her means you've apologized to someone as close to the special needs community as Jesse Jackson is to the African American population.

I'm still waiting for the phone to ring.

No comments:

Post a Comment