Sunday, March 21, 2021

Of Course Robert Aaron Long Committed a Hate Crime. Against Asians. Against Women.

Of course the Georgia murders at three women-owned massage and spa parlors were a hate crime. It is a misogynistic crime. Women were the target. Yes, it matters six of the eight victims were Asian, but equally, if not more important, Robert Aaron Long hated women.

Long didn’t attack men masseurs (the lone male among the eight dead was a tradesman at one location at the most tragic time possible). Long targeted women.

When will we accept the reality women face—discrimination that too often leads to violence (physical and emotional) in the workplace and at home?

According to the FBI, a hate crime is a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”

It seems obvious to me the Georgia murders fit the hate crime definition.

Culture Wars: I never liked reading Dr. Seuss to my kids and grandkids. Ditto for the Berenstain Bears. I was flabbergasted to discover the good doctor allegedly seeded his stories with racist images and messages. No word yet on what cultural improprieties the Berenstain family might have woven into their books, other than undermining the authority and intelligence of the father bear.

Was I prescient in keeping the six offending Dr. Seuss books away from my children’s developing sensibilities? Not really. In fact, had I read the six books now proscribed by their publisher I would have been disappointed if my children didn’t ask why the Chinese man had a long pigtail of hair and why he used sticks to eat his food. I could then have explained the origin of the long hair as a symbol of servitude and the use of chopsticks even by young children.

“The Little Mermaid” is a classic children’s story but the original Hans Christian Andersen version ends much darker than the Disney cartoon movie and musical (spoiler alert—she dies). It is our obligation as parents to protect our offspring, but not to shield them from truth and reality. Fairy tales do not always end up happily ever after (see “Into the Woods” if you don’t believe me).

Counter culture has seemingly taken over all public discourse. I am pleased that Turner Classic Movies, one of my favorite TV channels, has not cancelled airings of cinemas filmed when mores were painfully different and not so enlightened. “Gone With The Wind” might gloss over the evils of slavery and demean blacks, but it is an historical portrait of how large segments of our population viewed life before and after the Civil War.

Al Jolson appeared in black face in “The Jazz Singer.” So did Fred Astaire in “Swing Time.” Were they racist? Not to my knowledge. 

Movie studios regularly exploited child actors, even into their adult years. Are we to ban all Judy Garland movies because of her drug-abused treatment by Metro Goldwyn Mayer?

Context is important. So is informed discussion. Let’s not quickly ban the images and writings of previous cultures without recognizing the values and lessons that may be learned from a thoughtful review of their standing within the period in which they were created and how they relate to our present understanding of prejudice and social justice. 

Let’s keep in mind that even the most popular book ever sold, and presumably read, is full of cultural norms Western society would find repulsive. The Bible contains such inappropriate themes as fratricide, incest, idolatry, sedition, rebellion, vengeance, genocide, slavery. And, of course, misogyny.

The Cult of Cuomo: Working for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been compared to living inside a cult. 

I have no doubt the experience was all consuming. Even toxic. Like any cult. Why else would anyone devote virtually all of their waking hours to advance the interests of one person?

There can be little doubt Cuomo spoke too often like a  frat boy with no legitimate relief outlet for an enhanced testosterone level. He is far from the only politician, workplace manager, or just your average Joe, to share the condition.

Did his behavior rise to the level of resignation or impeachment? No, not even if you figure in the shady reporting of COVID-19 nursery home deaths. No one, so far, has accused him of rape, as Donald Trump has been. He did not violate any laws as one of his predecessors, Eliot Spitzer, did by patronizing a prostitution ring, causing him to resign. New York’s pandemic deaths were not underreported, just misreported. 

It should be left to Cuomo to decide if he can effectively govern during the remaining 21 months of his third term. 

That said, another no doubter is Cuomo will not be able to outdo his father Mario. He will fail to secure a fourth nomination much less a fourth term leading the Empire State. Doubtful any bridges will be named for him, unlike his father’s namesake, The Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, which most Hudson Valley residents still refer to as the Tappan Zee Bridge.