If you needed any additional evidence (and, really, did you?) that conservative talk radio has completely lost its mind over our little Senate race, you need look no further than this clip from WRKO. Here’s the background: in light of BMG’s awesome scoop of Scott Brown’s Senate staffers doing “tomahawk chops” and “war whoops” outside a rally, Garrett Quinn wrote an eminently sensible post on boston.com pointing out that (a) the behavior of Brown’s staffers in the video is “not exactly racially sensitive,” (b) the whole Native American issue has “finally blown up in Scott Brown’s face” and has “backfired” because, outside the base, voters don’t care about it (that view was again confirmed by the poll the Globe published today showing that 71% of respondents don’t care) and (c) “Boston has a sad racial history and this latest episode just adds to the global perception that my hometown is populated with a bunch of whiskey drinking knuckledraggers that hate the New York Yankees.”
Well, cue the fauxtrage from the rabid right. Todd Feinburg and Michele McPhee had Garrett on WRKO to talk about this issue generally and his post specifically. The 10-minute conversation beggars belief – I strongly recommend listening to the whole thing. Of course, it starts out with Feinburg saying a bunch of stuff about Warren for which no evidence exists. But perhaps the most astonishing highlight is this bit, in which Feinburg tries to refute Garrett’s claim that the chopping/whooping incident had racial overtones. Feinburg says that the chopping and whooping was only
making fun in a positive, light, loving way
and that, in any event, it’s all good because
Americans love Native Americans, have a positive memory of Indians from westerns, movies and TV shows.
No, I’m not making this up. It starts at about 4:55 in the clip. Also astounding is the notion that Garrett Quinn (whom, by way of full disclosure, I consider a friend and with whom I have enjoyed sparring on many a radio show) has fallen into (Feinburg’s words here) the “most bizarre kind of leftism,” and that he has “been brainwashed by a culture that drops the ‘r’ [racism] word constantly to accuse people of doing something wrong when they’re trying to engage in free speech.” Garrett, remember, was a front-pager for Red Mass Group for a long time. He’s a libertarian, but he’s surely no liberal. It’s also worth noting that, according to McPhee, pretty much the whole thing is Garrett’s fault because, as a journalist, he has failed to ask enough questions of the Warren campaign about Warren’s heritage and about whether she practiced law without a license. Seriously – listen to the whole thing. It is mind-blowing.
Batsh!t crazy, folks.
By contrast, check out this excellent Globe column from Kevin Cullen who talked to a Native American (Mohawk) named Bruce Oakes. Oakes, who is a regular at the Eire Pub in Dorchester, the very site of the now-infamous whoops and chops, sees nothing “positive,” “light,” or “loving” (as Feinburg would have it) about the behavior of Brown’s staffers.
“I came into the pub [the day the video was shot],” he said, standing at the bar the other night, “but it was so crowded I took off. I missed all the commotion by five minutes. Just as well, because I would have said something. I would have done something.” …
“What happened outside last week,” he said, indicating the sidewalk on Adams Street, “that wasn’t a joke, and there was no respect behind it. It was ignorant. I thought it was racist.” … “If somebody is not offended by the tomahawk chop, I don’t judge them. But don’t tell me I shouldn’t be offended by ignorance, by stereotypes.”
Cullen offers some much-needed perspective on this whole controversy:
It irks Oakes when some people suggest that Native Americans are too sensitive, too easily offended, over Florida State football fans and Atlanta Braves baseball fans doing the tomahawk chop. He knows that some Indians, including Seminoles in Florida, have accepted the practice, and that’s their right. But he doesn’t want to be lectured by others who haven’t a clue about what it means to be a Native American in this America.
It comes down to something that a lot of Americans don’t like to be reminded of: Native Americans had their land stolen. They had their culture brutally repressed. They were pushed aside. They were ripped off.
You can make all the jokes you want about casinos and reparations. Native Americans got a raw deal.
Oh, but Feinburg assures us that now “Americans love Native Americans” because of the “positive memory of Indians” obtained via the highly accurate and reputable sources of “westerns, movies, and TV shows.” Good Lord. Seems as though Feinburg and McPhee could learn a thing or two by heading down to the Eire Pub and looking up Mr. Oakes. But I’m not holding my breath.
Don’t forget that there’s another debate on Monday night. Bob and I will be there, hopefully live-blogging or tweeting or something, as technology allows.