Paul R. Lehman, Eastwood’s antics a matter of subjective intrepretation

September 9, 2012 at 11:55 am | Posted in Bigotry in America, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, fairness, Hollywood, justice, Prejudice, President Obama, Respect for President, whites | 1 Comment
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The classic song by Sly and the Family Stone “Everyday People” has a line that states “Different strokes for different folks,” and this line came to mind when reading the various reactions to Clint Eastwood’s appearance at the Republican National Convention. Those reactions revealed a world of differences among people who witnessed the same event but came away with different reactions. Regardless of the many reactions, Eastwood’s performance showed ignorance, stupidity, and arrogance.

The reference to Eastwood’s performance being ignorant is an assessment of him not knowing what was expected of him at that time. In effect, appearing before the audience during prime time carried a certain degree of importance to the organizers of the convention. Their expectations included a boost in support for their candidate by this famous movie personality. Evidently, no one told Eastwood about the expectations, so he went on stage and improvised for twelve minutes with an empty chair. For the organizers of the convention, television time, especially prime time, was important for the party to get its message out to as many viewers as possible, so to have twelve minutes during prime time go for naught was not an effect use of time. According to some reports, Eastwood did not inform anyone as to what his plans were nor did anyone from the convention meet with him before his entrance on stage with the chair. So, the reference to ignorance points to a lack of information by Eastwood and the people responsible for the stage participants. Because no one knew what to expect from Eastwood, everyone was surprised by his performance.

Eastwood’s performance as reported by theDaily Beast.com offered a sampling of remarks from a number of people. For example, Todd McCarthy, a critic for The Hollywood Reporter said “It was very bizarre.” He added that “To see this wackier thing happen is not in line with his super-cool personality that we’re used to.” Film critic Roger Ebert noted that “Clint, my hero, is coming across as sad and pathetic.” Ben Affleck noted that “Even though I disagree with his politics, I’ve seen far more boring speeches in my day.” Many other comments were given and they all represented a variety of reactions that reflected the uniqueness of the individuals.

To say that Eastwood’s performance showed stupidity would be an understatement in light of the time and place he presented it. Since no one but Eastwood knew what was going to happen, no one was prepared for it. Since no one was prepared for it, time was wasted in the viewers trying to grasp just what was happening. If Eastwood was to use his celebrity to enhance Romney’s candidacy, he selected an ineffective avenue of approach to accomplish it. One must ask the question “what was the payoff in the performance? Everyone witnessed the same spectacle of Eastwood on stage talking to an empty chair. Each individual had the opportunity to draw his or her conclusion about what was witnessed and it effectiveness. To many people, it was thought to be stupid and a wasted of time.

Some time after Eastwood’s performance we learned that he arrived at the convention about fifteen minutes before he was to go on stage. He had no prepared speech or notes with him. Just before he walked on stage he asked one of the stage workers to give him a chair. He walked on stage with the chair and proceeded to start a dialogue with an imaginary President Obama. These actions reflect an arrogance that defies logic and just plain common sense, not to mention disrespect and absurdity. The show of arrogance comes from the willingness to assume to berate the President of the United States like a child being given a “time out”, for whatever reason. Why would any person believe that placing any president in that position would garner respect from the performer? The effort indicated a total disrespect for the office of the President and a lack of understanding of how both he and the imaginary President might be perceived.

In adding insult to injury, Eastwood impugned the integrity of the President by engaging in a dialogue that suggested the President used profanity in making a reference to Mitt Romney. This action was totally out of place and inappropriate for Eastwood. However, we must assume that he felt comfortable in doing it because of his celebrity that places him about regular folk and gives him license to do things regular folks cannot or would not do. We still wonder about the purpose of the performance and the effect it was supposed to have on the viewers. We wonder if Eastwood was affecting a character from one of his many films or was he being himself. Either way, his lack of respect for the office of the President reflected poorly on him.

Some people might question the reasons for criticizing Eastwood and /or his performance since it only involved him having a conversation with a chair. His performance can be and was taken on a variety of levels and depending on the interpretation of the individuals and how they viewed the action and words, an assessment was made. The statement “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” provides an example of subjective interpretation, meaning that the criteria for making a judgment comes from the beholder. That being the case, we can understand how some people might have interpreted Eastwood’s performance as a biased attempt to denigrate, disrespect, and dishonor President Obama, to “put him in his place” which meant an African American, regardless of his position, below and behind this European American celebrity.

Since subjective interpretation rests with the individual, we can simply go back to the words of the song to underscore the reality of “Different strokes for different folks. And so forth, and so on….”

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Paul R. Lehman, Opinion writer shows fear and disgust for Jackson and Sharpton’s visit to Tulsa

April 15, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, American Racism, blacks, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, fairness, justice, Killings in Tulsa, Media and Race, minority, whites | 4 Comments
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Too often opinions offered on opinion/editorial pages of the newspaper as well as the electronic media cause confusion and misinformation if the writers or speakers are not informed about the subject. We certainly do not stand in judgment of someone’s opinion if it is offered as an opinion. However, when an opinion is offered as fact and it is inaccurate, then we should call it into question. A particular selection published in the Oklahoman (4-13-120) entitled “Media circus is the last thing Tulsa needs after killings” focused on the visits of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Rev. Al  Sharpton to Tulsa, Oklahoma. The language, attitude, and tone of the article promoted the ideas inconsistent with reality and the truth.

The choice of words used by the writer of the article seems to suggest disrespect and disgust with the subjects, Jackson and Sharpton, as well as the situation, the recent killing of three African American men and the wounding of two more by two European American males. The mere suggestion of a circus coming to town in the persons of Jackson and Sharpton creates a sense of entertainment rather than seriousness about the incident. The underlining suggestion is that Jackson and Sharpton are clowns and therefore their appearance in Tulsa is for a show or entertainment. The headline is correct in stating that a “circus is the last thing Tulsa needs after killings,” so why would it suggest the appearance of these two men would create a circus?

The first paragraph of the article reads:”The Rev. Jesse Jackson came to Oklahoma City 17 years ago this month to express solidarity with black victims of the federal building bombing. Fortunately, we were spared the presence of Rev. Al Sharpton.” This statement suggests that Jackson came to Oklahoma City specifically to express solidarity with African American victims of that event only. To suggest that is misleading and untrue. Jackson expressed solidarity for all the victims. As a Christian and a minister he recognized that all people are children of the same God. The article reference to the city being “spared” the presence of Rev. Sharpton suggest that he would have brought something sinister or destructive to the city with him. One wonders what that might have been in order to cause such a negative reaction.

In the next paragraph we get a sample of more uncomplimentary language associated with Jackson and Sharpton: “ Tulsa won’t be so fortunate. Jackson and Sharpton will descend on Tulsa just as (and because) the national media has descended on Tulsa following the Good Friday killings that appear to be racially motivated.” So, the suggestion is that the national media is the real reason for Jackson and Sharpton “descending” on Tulsa, and not the killings. Wrong again. Jackson and Sharpton were both asked and invited to come to Tulsa because the people in Tulsa knew that the national media would follow Jackson and Sharpton. By bringing those two men to Tulsa, national attention would focus on the killings. History and experience underscores the fact that most crimes in America with African Americans as victims receive very little media attention if any at all.

In addition to the denigrating language associated with Jackson and Sharpton, the attitude suggested in the article is one of suspicion and deceit. The article states that “Police, prosecutors and city officials have their hands full trying to tamp down the emotions surrounding this case. The last thing they need is a media circus with Jackson and Sharpton serving as ring masters.” One wonders what evidence, facts and or experiences lead that writer to think that Jackson and Sharpton would start some sort of physical, violent, and unlawful disturbance? The only evidence of any kind of unlawful, unorganized, and disruptive actions comes from the writer’s own words. Jackson and Sharpton have always maintained that their objective in accepting the invitations extended to them by people involved in situations where justice and fairness is concerned is to seek justice and fairness, nothing more, nothing less. So, why would they be characterized as “ring masters” when, in fact, there is no circus in town?

The tone of the article is one of arrogance and stupidity regarding history and present day occurrences. The article’s author makes a reference to the national interest in Tulsa with reference to the 1921 Riot. The statement reads “What’s the connection? None. In the earlier case armed gangs divided along racial lines. It was certainly not a mass murder like the bombing or the Tulsa shootings. It was less a race riot that a race war.” Evidently, this statement shows a gross lack of concrete facts and reliable information regarding the 1921 riot as well as recognizing the difference between a riot and a war. He might want to read Tim Madigan’s The Burning, or Rilla Askew’s Fire in Beulah for an account of that tradegy. His emphasis is unfortunately, on the physical violence and destruction when the real problem is the administration of justice and fair treatment for all people. He certainly cannot say that the African American community in the Greenwood section of Tulsa was treated fairly after the 1921 riot, and to a degree today.

Without going over the entire article paragraph by paragraph to point out the various areas of ignorance and stupidity let us look at two comments to make our point. Again, referencing the 1921 riot, the article states: “What happened in Tulsa in 1921 was an outbreak of violence exposing widespread racial division that’s not evident in Tulsa today.”If that is true, then no bigotry exists in Tulsa, and the two European Americans arrested cannot be charged with a hate crime (they have been charged  with committing a hate crime). If bigotry is no longer a reality in Tulsa why have not the city moved to make amends for the destruction it participated in back in 1921? The article suggests that no so-called racial division exists in Tulsa today. How true is that? If that is so, why were three African Americans killed by the two European Americans and charged with hate crimes?

Finally, the article’s author asks the question why Jackson and Sharpton are in Tulsa: “So what’s the point of the Jackson-Sharpton visit and the lamentations of members of the Legislative Black Caucus? What will these things accomplish that excellent police work, vigorous prosecution and swift sure punishment of the guilty won’t do by themselves”? That is precisely the point! Jackson and Sharpton want exactly that to happen now, because it has not happened with any regularity in the past. By their presence, the need for equal justice and fairness for all American citizens will be closely scrutinized by the national media brought there by Jackson and Sharpton.

If the writer of the article would stop and think for a moment, what should become apparent is the fact that Jackson and Sharpton are not the enemy as they are portrayed. They simply want for African Americans and all Americans fair and equal justice under the law. Why would anyone object to that? The language, attitude, and tone of this article indicated a fear and expectation of evil, violence, and unlawfulness that is purely unwarranted.

 

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