Saturday, September 18, 2010

The clothes makes the woman

Reporter Inez Sainz has the right to wear whatever she wants. Jeans that cling like a second skin, belly-baring tops, necklines that just about burst with cleavage.  It's all her choice.  I'm guessing her employer, the Mexican television channel Azteca, does not have much of a dress policy, or it has decided to follow the mantra 'sex sells' and to let Ms. Sainz sell the station's programming the best she knew how.

Now there is absolutely no excuse for the juvenile behavior of the New York Jets coaches and players in the locker room last Saturday, but Sainz would be more than disingenuous if she said the behavior was surprising.  I suspect the sports reporter has found that her style opens many locker doors, giving her access to teams and athletes.   I have no doubt that she understands fully that her clothes play a role in how she is perceived and how she gets her job done.

We must always remember that claiming our freedoms require us to also claim responsibilities and acceptance of consequences.  Young (mostly) black men have the right to wear their pants under their behinds to show off their colorful boxers, boxer-briefs and tighty-whities.  When they unwrap that right, they cannot leave societal assumptions in the box.  There is no complaining about societal perceptions and judgments when anyone wears a look associated with criminals.  Police officers will slow down as they walk by, shopkeepers and store clerks will put their hand to hover just over the silent alarm when they enter, and women will give them wide berth and clutch their purses when they see them.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hate in any shade is still hate

It has become a scary world to wake up in.  The kind of scary that boggles my mind and makes my heart hurt.  2010 seems to be conjuring up the days of Jim Crow, McCarthy hearings and Japanese internment camps.

We went from campaign grumblings about then-candidate Barack Obama's true nationality, to a seeming marked increase in the number of Americans who believe the president is lying about his religion.  The media-fueled debate - is he Muslim or is he not - has been ignoring the most important consideration: Why should it matter?

Tea Partiers, while certainly having the right to take any political position they like, have hinged their movement on attacks against the President's person and race, more than on position statements intended to address the maladies they identify.  The group's racist statements and signage have not stirred the widespread outrage they deserve.

I guess the country's general apathy made for the perfect environment and time for the State of Arizona to try to legalize racial profiling.  The state's Governor Jan Brewer touted untruths and unfounded statistics in her campaign to paint Mexicans as Arizona's biggest crime and social problem.  Few called her on it, and many supported the legislation that would have allowed police to stop and question anyone who 'looked' like an illegal immigrant.

Jan Brewer and others who prey on the fears of the ignorant are largely responsible for my fears. As are those like Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani for whom division and discord have become effective political tools.  What seemed like small pockets of intolerance in 2008, has ballooned into a canvas of xenophobia that threatens to undo all the country's progress of the last 50 years.  The most recent display of hatred is ironically centered around the site of the deadliest act of hatred against the United States, nine years ago today.  The actions of the September 11 attackers were motivated by hatred, intolerance and a warped sense of religious duty.  (Rev. Terry Jones is apparently motivated by the very same things.)  After the attacks, every speech aimed at rousing the country's spirits heralded the precepts that make America great - justice and liberty being chief among them.  We need those speeches again.  We need to see the lunacy of wanting to bar a perfectly legal Islamic center from being built blocks from Ground Zero - whether our discomfort is based on sentimentality or religious indifference.  We need to be reminded that "liberty and justice for all" encompasses those who look, dress, worship and speak differently from us.