Light Bulb Going On

Q: Who invented the light bulb?

A: Thomas Edison.

Q: Sort of. He invented the light bulb, but his had a paper filament that burned out quickly. So, who invented the light bulb with an enduring (carbon) filament?

A: No idea.

Do you know? It was Lewis Howard Latimer.  I had no idea until I watched this powerful video featuring Michael Holding (West Indian former cricket superstar).

I highly recommend you watch the whole video.

The point he makes about people not knowing Latimer seems spot on. A truly white perspective on history. I, for one, have been educated twice over: once about Latimer (clearly a wonderfully smart guy) and twice about just how deeply racism can seep into society.

Michael Holding, I salute you.

(A big tip of the hat to Michael Horesh for pointing this video out to me.)

No excuse for racism. Not even for Bibi.

Last week, the Elder of Ziyon posted an article: How to explain “racist” Netanyahu’s unprecedented support of Arabs?

The story claims (probably correctly) that Netanyahu governments have given substantial preferential treatment by way of aid to Israel’s Arab minority. And done without claiming credit or publicity.

Why? The Elder dismisses other explanations and offers the following:

Which brings us to the real answer.

Netanyahu has a vision for Israel’s strength and security for the next century. That is, and has been, his paramount goal. He cannot accomplish that goal without winning elections – the opposition parties simply do not share his strategic vision, if they have one at all.

To win elections, Bibi has to sometimes appeal to the less liberal elements of his party and of Israeli society. If he doesn’t win, in his mind, Israel loses.

Bibi’s supposed “racism” is public – he doesn’t give a damn if people think he is racist because if he doesn’t win, nothing can be done to help Israel in his mind. His true attitudes towards Arabs are revealed by what he does behind the scenes, and the anecdote that the article begins with shows that he has done far more to help Arab society in Israel than any previous prime minister from any party.

Do you buy that? I don’t.

Read the whole thing to make sure I am not misrepresenting the position.

The Elder’s position appears to be that it’s OK for Netanyahu to be racist – which he undoubtedly was – because, in the long term, the end (Bibi’s rule) justifies the means. That is irresponsible and dangerous. Die hard Bibi fans like the Elder can try and excuse his dreadful behavior, but ultimately they must fail because there is never an excuse for it. Never. It’s plain wrong. Would we excuse antisemitic behavior from anyone?

As a separate issue, Bibi’s achievements are not all they are cracked up to be, and his failings are many. I do not fall into the camp that demonizes Bibi, but this almost deification is way off base.

On this point, the Elder and I see things very differently.

Black and white nonsense

She's an actress.

She’s an actress. Source: Wikimedia

The complaint by some so-called anti-racist campaigners that Zoe Saldana is not black enough for the role of Nina Simone (in the film of her life), is political correctness gone mad. It’s also racist nonsense.  Brendan O’Neill at the Spectator nails it, concluding as follows:

“Some of us don’t want to be racially aware. We don’t want to judge people according to their skin colour. And when Nina comes out, we will see, not a ‘half-black person’ mimicking a ‘real black person’, but a good actress doing her very best to capture the soul and life of another human being. That’s what humans do — we reach across made-up racial and cultural boundaries in an effort to understand and feel what other people feel.”


Do also check out this Harry’s Place piece.

To finish, here’s a trailer for the film:

When comedy is a cover

The discovery that Jon Stewart‘s replacement on the Daily Show had made, over the years, some offensive tweets about Jews and women, has been met with a variety of responses.

There are those, like me, who condemn the racism and sexism. And there are those, like Lucie Pohl at the Guardian, who give him a free pass: “If you don’t like it, then just don’t follow.”  That’s quite a gulf.

The key issues, to me, are as follows:

First, it’s not relevant if he tweeted one offensive tweet out of a million tweets; that tweet remains offensive.

Second, it’s not relevant when he tweeted an offensive tweet; unless he’s claiming that he was under the age of legal responsibility at the time.

Third, to describe these tweets as jokes that did not land, is a cover. If he were not a comedian, would these tweets remain acceptable? Are only comedians allowed to be sexist and racist?  If I call myself a comedian, can I tweet offensively about…

Fourth, if something is sexist or racist, it remains that way, regardless of context. It’s a fact that he tweeted in that fashion.

Fifth, I cannot help wondering if he had tweeted in a similarly offensive manner about Islam, or Muslims, would he still be getting such a free ride. What do you think?

For the avoidance of doubt, he is free to tweet (in my opinion) whatever he wants, offensive or otherwise, so long as there is no incitement to violence. He must be free to express his views. But if he steps into the public light of being a performer, or even more significantly, a performer on the Daily Show, he becomes a representative.

So, it will be interesting to see how he tailors his comedy and his message. Will there still be offensive tweets? Will women or Jews be the butt of what he calls humor? I’d like to think he takes on board the concerns expressed, even if his response to the row was unimpressive. However, I do suspect there will be one of those two insulted groups, that from now on will be untroubled. Guess which one.

Academic fails to think

From the Guardian, a little insight into part of Australian society:

Professor Barry Spurr suspended by Sydney University over offensive emails

Spurr, a consultant to the federal government’s national English curriculum review, has been suspended over ‘serious allegations’, university says

The University of Sydney has suspended Prof Barry Spurr over emails in which he called the prime minister, Tony Abbott, an “Abo lover”, Indigenous Australians “human rubbish tips” and Nelson Mandela as a “darky”.

In a statement, the university said Spurr was facing “serious allegations in relation to offensive emails sent from a university account”.

Spurr, a poetry expert, was a specialist consultant to the federal government’s national curriculum review looking at English from foundation to year 12.

The emails, first obtained by website New Matilda, have seriously damaged the review’s findings, with Labor calling them “tainted” and the Australian Education Union saying the review had been exposed as “an ideological waste of time from the start”.

In a series of emails over two years sent to senior academics and officials within the university, Spurr wrote that Abbott would have to be surgically separated from his “Siamese twin”, Australian of the Year and AFL star Adam Goodes, who is Aboriginal.

He said the university’s chancellor, Belinda Hutchinson, was an “appalling minx”,’ while other women were described as “whores”. He used terms such as “mussies” and “chinky-poos”.

Oh dear.

Here’s a prime example (if it is true) of how a smart guy, a noted academic, failed to think:

Spurr had not responded on Friday, but has said previously the emails were part of a “whimsical” game with another person to outdo each other in extreme statements and were not meant to be taken seriously.

Not a great idea to play such a daft game.

There’s a whimsical interest of mine to know whether his professional abilities as a poet were a major factor in his attraction to a game of racist name calling. Is that performance art, perhaps?

Given the Guardian’s promotion of its own manifesto in its Middle East reporting, is there any of the same phenomenon going on here? For example, whatever the quality of Aboriginal literary culture may or may not be, does the Guardian believe it should be positively promoted? Regardless? If any independent thinkers out there (who are knowledgeable on the subject) would care to enlighten me, I would be grateful.

See the complete train wreck, here.

Out with it

Disgraced (as far as I am concerned) politician Aryeh Deri cannot redeem himself at a stroke. However, according to this Ynet piece, his declaration in the face of Anti-Arab graffiti that:

“The hands that spelled out this sentence ‘Arabs out’ needs to remember that the hands of our greatest haters wrote ‘Jews out’. It’s the same thing.”

“We need to take responsibility; there are Jews all over the world. We can’t be shocked to see this in Europe and cry ‘anti-Semitism’ while not condemning it here at home. It’s not Judaism, it’s the opposite of Judaism and Torah. Whoever did this, has hurt the Torah.”

…is at least a step in the right direction. I wish there had been more Israeli politicians showing solidarity and support for the victims. We need to stamp out this racist rubbish.

George’s gall

I saw this video – of a debate at Christ Church College, Oxford – first at Guy Fawkes‘ blog:

Quite something, isn’t it?

The Guardian coverage (here) contains the following interesting pieces:

The Oxford student newspaper Cherwell – which has video footage of Galloway’s exit – quoted Aslan-Levy as saying afterwards: “I am appalled that an MP would storm out of a debate with me for no reason other than my heritage. To refuse to talk to someone just because of their nationality is pure racism, and totally unacceptable for a member of parliament.”

The debate organiser, Mahmood Naji, told “At no point during my email exchange with Mr Galloway’s secretary was Eylon’s nationality ever brought up or mentioned.” He added: “Nor do I expect to have to tell the speaker what his opponent’s nationality is.”

As if to answer Mr Naji’s sensible observation, we get this back from Mr Galloway by way of a tweet:

“No recognition of Israel. No normalisation. Christ Church never informed us the debate would be with an Israeli. Simple.”

In other words, George never asked about the “nationality” of his opponent. Why not? Was he too ashamed to ask the question? Or did he – perhaps knowing or guessing his opponent was an Israeli Jew – always plan the walkout?

Meantime, this commentary from Adam Levick at CiFWatch struck a chord:

George Galloway, by, in effect, boycotting and refusing to recognize the moral legitimacy of Israelis (and not merely the state or its institutions), is attempting to consign six million Jewish men, women and children to pariah status, and social exclusion from the international community.

This is the hideously racist moral place the malign obsession with the Jewish state, which often is the sine qua non of the BDS movement, inevitably leads.

As Adam reminds us, we are referring to an individual who “has paid homage to Saddam Hussein, “glorified” Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, and even praised the Syrian butcher, Bashar al-Assad.

And those types of people, apparently, create a comfortable home for BDS.

I hope his constituents are proud of him. (Unfortunately, for some that is likely to be true.)