Okay, since the country has officially gone certifiably insane, I guess we’ll need a new series for short observations and news items. I could also go with “America’s Cultural Revolution” since we seem to have graduated from Marxism to full-blown Maoism, but “crazy time” strikes me as a stronger descriptive. Herewith:
• Today’s sacking: the editor of Bon Appetit magazine, Adam Rapoport, because a photo of Rapoport and his wife 16 years ago reappeared on Twitter recently that is denigrating to Puerto Ricans. It is said that Rapoport dressed in “brownface,” but here’s the offensive 2004 photo, so you decide if this is a firing offense from way back before the term “cultural appropriation” had been invented:
Well, if nothing else, Rapoport can get a job on the staff of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam I guess.
The New York Times “news” story* describes a typical Maoist struggle and purge session that led to Rapoport’s ouster:
“I’m likely courting internal reprimand, but I’m appalled and insulted by the EIC’s choice to embrace brownface in the photo making the rounds,” Joseph Hernandez, the research director for Bon Appétit, wrote in a tweet. “I’ve spent my career celebrating Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, and POC voices in food, and this feels like an erasure of that work.”
In an interview, he said, “I’ve been in newsrooms for 15 years, and I’ve had a version of this conversation in each newsroom,” adding, “As a queer person of color, it’s exhausting to have the same conversation.”
The photograph of Mr. Rapoport re-emerged as racial-justice protests took place around the country and as the food-media industry has new, more heated discussions about white appropriation of the world’s cuisines — and about who should tell the stories of those traditions.
I’m wondering if there is a Bon Appetit recipe for popcorn I can look up just now.
* New Power Line style guide: Henceforth I shall refer to all articles in the Times “news” pages with scare quotes.
• Timely reminder from James Madison (Federalist 55): “Had every Athenian been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.”
• Remember Salena Zito’s great line about Trump, that his followers didn’t take him literally, but took him seriously? You can apply that to the left these days—they don’t want us to take them literally when they say, for example, “Believe women,” since we now know you’re only supposed to believe some women, chiefly women accusing Republicans of wrongdoing. There was also “Abolish ICE” (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), which Democrats belatedly got round to admitting that they didn’t mean actually abolishing ICE, you see. And now we have either “Abolish the police” or “defund the police.” Even if they don’t mean these slogans literally, we should take seriously their intent to screw up law enforcement and unleash a huge new crime wave in our major cities.
Already we’re being told that what the left means when it says “defund the police” is merely transforming law enforcement into a uniformed and unarmed branch of the social services department. Apparently we’re supposed to send out social workers in squad cars with officers to resolve crime problems with the techniques of a college conflict resolution seminar. Puts me in mind of that famous scene in Dirty Harry—”the first movie to talk back to liberalism” in the words of the late film critic Richard Grenier— where Inspector Callahan meets his new partner Chico Gonzalez, who informs Harry that he has a degree in sociology from San Jose State.
Harry: “Sociology? Oh, you’ll go far – that’s if you live… Just don’t let your college degree get you killed ’cause I’m liable to get killed along with ya.”
Here’s the whole scene, perhaps to be repeated soon in squad rooms throughout America (except without Inspector Callahan and his common sense):
• Will “defunding the police” reduce funding for their pension plans? Unlikely, since pensions are matter of contract in most cases. In other words, we’re going to find that jurisdictions that do reduce their police budgets will be spending more of the remaining budgets on pensions and less on actual policing.
• Heather Mac Donald wrote her book The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe way back in 2016. It might perhaps have seemed a bit hyperbolic at the time. Now it seems rather mild, and I think we need to get Heather to write a new edition. She’s got a head start on it in this piece.
• Good to see some people on the left notice the problem of police unions in preventing rogue or misbehaving police officers from effective discipline or even firing. That’s also what teacher’s unions do for bad teachers. It will be interesting to see whether Democrats want to open up the question of police union power since the logic of it will apply equally to all public employee unions. Do Democrats want to give up all those campaign contributions?
My contribution to the meme wars on this point: