Selective outrage

A prominent president, one who commands enormous resources and can influence the lives of many women, has recently made disgusting sexist comments.

No, not Lawrence Summers of Harvard, who merely had the temerity to suggest as a possible hypothesis, and in a non—public academic seminar, that women might not go into hard sciences in large numbers because, on average, their brains might not be quite wired for it, and because many women choose to focus their energies on raising children rather than on their careers. And for doing what academics are supposed to do — freely entertaining hypotheses and investigating their limits, implications, and consequences — Summers has been forced to grovel in the public spotlight.

The comments we reference are really sexist and disgusting. Nasty and vulgar words about the sex life of a prominent and highly distinguished woman, and her need for what he could readily supply but won't. For this kind of deliberate and malevolent sexism, no public outrage has erupted, and no apologies have been forthcoming.

If none of this rings a bell, you have plenty of company. The American media have imposed a near—total blackout on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's televised crude and rude sexual verbal assault on Dr. Condoleeza Rice last Sunday, during the period that her nomination for Secretary of State was being held in limbo by ex—Kleagle Senator Robert Byrd and his merry mini—Klaven of Senate Democrats.
 
The kinds of things Chavez said in his weekly television show "Alo Presidente," speculating about sexual intercourse with her like a lowlife on his jail bunk, showed decisively that he's a man deeply beneath his office.

But there has been no U.S. media scrutiny. It was broadcast right out loud on Venezuelan radio and television; there are full transcripts in the Venezuelan press, and the U.S. media paid no attention. And this is not about some internal politics in a faraway country but an attack on our own Secretary of State designate!

It hasn't helped that the wimps at the State Department, in a briefing recently, replied to a reporter's question about the matter by saying 'we're big boys now, we can handle insults.'  Not one word, and not one retort from the U.S. government.
 
All that has appeared in the U.S. press so far is a footnote in a watered—down story in the Miami Herald about deteriorating U.S.—Venezuelan relations. Not one word appeared in the two newspapers which claim to offer the best coverage of fireign affairs and diplomacy. And not even in the New York Post, which surely could have sold a few newspapers with a well—chosen banner headline, has taken up the story. All of this during a period where the victim of the slur was the focus of intense national attention.

Why is it that the American media has ignored such a brazen, egregious insult to the most prominent and powerful American woman, who, incidentally, happens to be black, from a sitting head of state?

Editors who were quizzed about why they ignored the story told one of us that the comments were simply too disgusting to present to their readers, and that Chavez is frankly regarded as a loony. Of course, if these criteria were seriously applied to other stories, Michael Jackson's trial in Santa Barbara County would not be attracting any press coverage.

Another reason cited by some editors is that Americans just don't perceive Latin America as important. Maybe so. But isn't it the job of editors to tell the public about important matters they don't yet know about? And aren't Spanish—speaking Americans the largest single minority group, as well as the fastest—growing demographic component of the population?

But all of this is beside the point. Condoleeza Rice's ascent to the head of most prestigious cabinet office is history—in—the—making, and not just because she is the first African—American woman to hold the job. She is one of the most brilliant and highly—accomplished officials ever to take a seat in the Cabinet Room of the White House. A champion figure skater and highly accomplished pianist (she has accompanied Yo—Yo Ma in concert), the youngest provost of a major American university (Stanford) in history, Dr, Rice is the very embodiment of hard work and achievement. She embodies the American dream, and is powerful symbol not just for African—Americans but for all Americans who dream big dreams. She is a heroine.

She is also the focus of intense political controversy. And, she was the target of an effort by one political faction to discredit her in the eyes of the world, before she even assumed office, thereby damaging her ability to discharge her official duties, and ultimately damaging her further career prospects, such as, for instance, as a candidate for Vice President or even President someday. There is, to put it bluntly, a political war underway, and this news would have negatively affected one side. The side which provides 80% of the members of the national press.

To report that a foreign head of state, a close friend and ally of Communist Fidel Castro, was picking up the ball thrown out by Democrats, and attacking the Secretary—designate in even more vile terms, could definitely affect the American public mood. As a people, we do not like to see our officials slandered by foreign despots. We also do not react favorably when African—American women, in particular, are subjected to disgusting sexually—degrading verbiage.

In other words, reporting Chavez's comments would create sympathy for Dr. Rice. And it would make the left wing faction of Senate Democrats who slandered her as a 'liar' look worse than they already do.

There is no question about it. Our news diet has been managed, in order to avoid reporting highly significant and vivid news, partly because it would arouse sympathy for a target of the left wingers in the Democrats and the media.

Chavez has gotten away with this outrage, and the message to the Venezuelans is clear. fire away. The Venezuelan press is already taking the ball and running with it. A cartoon  far too vile to reprint (link here, in untranslated Spanish), with even worse explicit sexual insults to the Secretary of State, was just published in the Venezuelan press. Venezuelan women and girls are now on notice that they, too, will be subjected to the worst kind of verbal assault (or worse) if they get out of line.
 
And like it or not, this officious tyrant, as a head of state in a neighboring state, sets the standard for political discourse, demonstrating what the press will tolerate.  Somehow the U.S. media seems to think it's okay for a black women to be attacked with racist, sexist epithets by a tinpot dictator, who supplies every sixth tank of gas you put in your car, so long as she's a Republican. Somehow, an insult directed at a black woman is not quite as newsworthy as a perceived insult directed at the largely white women who are present in U.S. sciences. This is simply an outrage. And a failure on the part of the free press to report the news. And now Chavez knows he can talk like this as often as he likes, because apparently, it's an acceptable standard.
 
Larry Summers was only expressing a hypothesis that was opposed by liberal dogmatism rampant in academia. Hugo Chavez was expressing outright filth. The word is out that so long as your target is black, female and Republican, no trash talk is too low in the minds of the U.S media.

A prominent president, one who commands enormous resources and can influence the lives of many women, has recently made disgusting sexist comments.

No, not Lawrence Summers of Harvard, who merely had the temerity to suggest as a possible hypothesis, and in a non—public academic seminar, that women might not go into hard sciences in large numbers because, on average, their brains might not be quite wired for it, and because many women choose to focus their energies on raising children rather than on their careers. And for doing what academics are supposed to do — freely entertaining hypotheses and investigating their limits, implications, and consequences — Summers has been forced to grovel in the public spotlight.

The comments we reference are really sexist and disgusting. Nasty and vulgar words about the sex life of a prominent and highly distinguished woman, and her need for what he could readily supply but won't. For this kind of deliberate and malevolent sexism, no public outrage has erupted, and no apologies have been forthcoming.

If none of this rings a bell, you have plenty of company. The American media have imposed a near—total blackout on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's televised crude and rude sexual verbal assault on Dr. Condoleeza Rice last Sunday, during the period that her nomination for Secretary of State was being held in limbo by ex—Kleagle Senator Robert Byrd and his merry mini—Klaven of Senate Democrats.
 
The kinds of things Chavez said in his weekly television show "Alo Presidente," speculating about sexual intercourse with her like a lowlife on his jail bunk, showed decisively that he's a man deeply beneath his office.

But there has been no U.S. media scrutiny. It was broadcast right out loud on Venezuelan radio and television; there are full transcripts in the Venezuelan press, and the U.S. media paid no attention. And this is not about some internal politics in a faraway country but an attack on our own Secretary of State designate!

It hasn't helped that the wimps at the State Department, in a briefing recently, replied to a reporter's question about the matter by saying 'we're big boys now, we can handle insults.'  Not one word, and not one retort from the U.S. government.
 
All that has appeared in the U.S. press so far is a footnote in a watered—down story in the Miami Herald about deteriorating U.S.—Venezuelan relations. Not one word appeared in the two newspapers which claim to offer the best coverage of fireign affairs and diplomacy. And not even in the New York Post, which surely could have sold a few newspapers with a well—chosen banner headline, has taken up the story. All of this during a period where the victim of the slur was the focus of intense national attention.

Why is it that the American media has ignored such a brazen, egregious insult to the most prominent and powerful American woman, who, incidentally, happens to be black, from a sitting head of state?

Editors who were quizzed about why they ignored the story told one of us that the comments were simply too disgusting to present to their readers, and that Chavez is frankly regarded as a loony. Of course, if these criteria were seriously applied to other stories, Michael Jackson's trial in Santa Barbara County would not be attracting any press coverage.

Another reason cited by some editors is that Americans just don't perceive Latin America as important. Maybe so. But isn't it the job of editors to tell the public about important matters they don't yet know about? And aren't Spanish—speaking Americans the largest single minority group, as well as the fastest—growing demographic component of the population?

But all of this is beside the point. Condoleeza Rice's ascent to the head of most prestigious cabinet office is history—in—the—making, and not just because she is the first African—American woman to hold the job. She is one of the most brilliant and highly—accomplished officials ever to take a seat in the Cabinet Room of the White House. A champion figure skater and highly accomplished pianist (she has accompanied Yo—Yo Ma in concert), the youngest provost of a major American university (Stanford) in history, Dr, Rice is the very embodiment of hard work and achievement. She embodies the American dream, and is powerful symbol not just for African—Americans but for all Americans who dream big dreams. She is a heroine.

She is also the focus of intense political controversy. And, she was the target of an effort by one political faction to discredit her in the eyes of the world, before she even assumed office, thereby damaging her ability to discharge her official duties, and ultimately damaging her further career prospects, such as, for instance, as a candidate for Vice President or even President someday. There is, to put it bluntly, a political war underway, and this news would have negatively affected one side. The side which provides 80% of the members of the national press.

To report that a foreign head of state, a close friend and ally of Communist Fidel Castro, was picking up the ball thrown out by Democrats, and attacking the Secretary—designate in even more vile terms, could definitely affect the American public mood. As a people, we do not like to see our officials slandered by foreign despots. We also do not react favorably when African—American women, in particular, are subjected to disgusting sexually—degrading verbiage.

In other words, reporting Chavez's comments would create sympathy for Dr. Rice. And it would make the left wing faction of Senate Democrats who slandered her as a 'liar' look worse than they already do.

There is no question about it. Our news diet has been managed, in order to avoid reporting highly significant and vivid news, partly because it would arouse sympathy for a target of the left wingers in the Democrats and the media.

Chavez has gotten away with this outrage, and the message to the Venezuelans is clear. fire away. The Venezuelan press is already taking the ball and running with it. A cartoon  far too vile to reprint (link here, in untranslated Spanish), with even worse explicit sexual insults to the Secretary of State, was just published in the Venezuelan press. Venezuelan women and girls are now on notice that they, too, will be subjected to the worst kind of verbal assault (or worse) if they get out of line.
 
And like it or not, this officious tyrant, as a head of state in a neighboring state, sets the standard for political discourse, demonstrating what the press will tolerate.  Somehow the U.S. media seems to think it's okay for a black women to be attacked with racist, sexist epithets by a tinpot dictator, who supplies every sixth tank of gas you put in your car, so long as she's a Republican. Somehow, an insult directed at a black woman is not quite as newsworthy as a perceived insult directed at the largely white women who are present in U.S. sciences. This is simply an outrage. And a failure on the part of the free press to report the news. And now Chavez knows he can talk like this as often as he likes, because apparently, it's an acceptable standard.
 
Larry Summers was only expressing a hypothesis that was opposed by liberal dogmatism rampant in academia. Hugo Chavez was expressing outright filth. The word is out that so long as your target is black, female and Republican, no trash talk is too low in the minds of the U.S media.