Ammo Grrrll DON’T CARE WHO “LOOKS LIKE ME”! She writes:
When I was a kid, back in the era of the single black rotary wall phone and the kerosene guitar, we could watch sporting or cultural events and appreciate the performance rather than obsess over bean-counting the race, gender or sexual orientation of the performer. What wonderful innocent days! How much we all have lost with wretched identity politics.
When I was in junior high, my beloved grandfather, a World War I vet and hardcore South Dakota Republican, once showed me his John Madden-type Dream Team of all-black baseball players. He probably called them “colored” then. He loved baseball and he admired talent. Although he was born in 1891, and undoubtedly believed several backward things — such as that a man found lurking in the ladies’ room in a dress and lipstick is a man who will soon be punched in the lipstick -– he was as fair-minded as the day is long. For him, talent trumped skin color.
The other night, Mr. AG and I watched an interesting history of the comedy clubs in New York and Los Angeles. It was fun to see George Carlin with neat hair and a suit and tie and Jerry Seinfeld as a scrawny young kid in long hair. One of the last people featured was a lovely young black woman, a comic just starting out, who said she loved doing standup. As a 30-year veteran retiree I thought, “I would love to mentor her.” And then she said, “I wish there were more people who look like me.” I have heard this phrase repeatedly in recent decades and wondered how it ever got such a strong toehold. It never resonated with me or even made much sense. How would that behoove you in any way, young lady?
I can look in the mirror any old day if I want to see “someone who looks like me.” In fact, exactly like me. Why would I ever have limited my role models to short, pale, tomboyish girls?
In truth, darn few people I watched or admired “looked like me.” John Wayne and Gary Cooper had the right to trial by jury in common with me, but not a whole lot else, and I loved them both. They – and pretty much ALL the cowboys we 50s kids were raised with –- taught me courage, independence and fighting back against bullies. If High Noon does not teach us what one righteous person can accomplish by standing firm, then nothing does. It never occurred to me that that lesson did not apply to me because Mr. Cooper was more than a foot taller than me, male, and rather better-looking!
I delighted in welcoming the Twins franchise to Minnesota in 1961. My three favorite players were Harmon Killebrew, Earl Battey, and Zoilo Versalles. I failed to notice at the time that I admired a white slugger whose grandfather was the strongest man in Idaho, a black catcher and a Cuban shortstop. None of whom looked like me except in an x-ray.
As you can guess, I loved comedy from an early age and would memorize routines to do for my friends, whether requested or not. But the routines I loved the best involved exquisite timing: Jack Benny. Bob Newhart. Early Woody Allen.
I loved Minnie Pearl and Phyllis Diller and later admired Joan Rivers, but I never felt they were any more “role models” than the male comics just because they had lady bits like mine. I learned Bill Cosby’s “Noah” routine word for word, with its catchphrase delivered by a resonant God, “Noah, how long can you tread water?” Clearly, I had little in common with Mr. Cosby then, and even less now, as I have only rarely been forced to drug a sexual partner unconscious, which can only end in severe disappointment for the woman.
My little ol’ country Mama’s (b.1921) favorite song when I was very young was Nat King Cole’s “Mona Lisa.” One of my earliest childhood memories is of her switching radio stations repeatedly, hoping to find it. She had not a racist bone in her body and loved people whether they looked like her or not.
My own musical taste runs from Brahms and Mozart to Gladys Knight, Sam Cook, and The Temptations; to Kiri TeKanawa, the Maori opera singer; to Ella Fitzgerald; to The Eagles, Toby Keith, Don Williams, and Brooks and Dunn. And, of course, the Beatles. Who looks like me in any of those groups? If I don’t stop overeating, I may soon look more like Pavarotti or Meat Loaf than Stevie Nicks. But why in the name of all that’s Holy would I limit the lifelong daily pleasure I have received from music to only small Jewish women artists? You can only listen to Janice Ian’s “At Seventeen” so long before sticking a fork in your eye.
Identity politics pretends to be about “diversity” but it is about power. In a textbook case of “irony,” what identity politics really does, quite simply, is shrink one’s world down to a bland, cultural desert consisting of only people who can check all the same boxes as we do – black, gay, urban woman, for example. Exploring any other culture, befriending any other humans, eating unfamiliar food, all those things that actually EXPAND our worlds are verboten. Either it’s cultural appropriation – another of the most vile, stupid concepts around – or “Uncle Tomism” if a black guy likes Brad Paisley instead of rap, or even along with rap.
And, of course, the list of boxes representing trivial things that divide us grows ever larger, as the circle of tolerance for differences gets ever smaller, until that circle looks like one of my quarter-sized groupings from plinking. Haha. Little boastful gun joke there.
Jewish women are unwelcome in leftwing anti-Semitic feminist circles; long-time feminist warriors find themselves read out of the movement unless they accept and embrace “women” without vaginas. And on it goes. Some moron asserted that heterosexual black men are the “white men” of the Diversity World. Good grief! “No man is an island,” wrote poet John Donne, but the leftist loons are working hard to make every American isolated, envious and enraged.
Meanwhile, I intend to be joyful and content. And to continue eating tacos, Massaman Curry, Thai Potstickers, and brisket, wearing hoop earrings, listening to reggae and the wonderful Mexican music my housekeeper’s young son listens to with guitars and a tuba. (Example: Ulices Chaidez, Te Regalo, YouTube it! Especially if it might annoy the “cultural appropriation” crowd.) I plan to associate with whomever I please whether or not they look like me. The Talmud asks, “Who is wise?” and answers, “Who learns from everyone.”
I refuse to be put in a box. Because history has shown us that the next thing that happens when you allow yourself to be put in a box is that some tyrant nails down the lid.