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  • The Arrogance of PC

       November 07, 2005

    Regular readers may know that I have a love/hate relationship with Oprah Winfrey. I usually keep at it because the entire Oprah world is intriguing to me. Anyone who utters even one critical word about Winfrey is usually treated to a litany of defenses, ranging from her charity to outright personal attacks on the author. And for some things, it's usually not worth it, although her accusing the Hermes store on the Champs d'Elysee of racism came close for me (Oprah dear, they probably weren't turning you away because you are black, but because you're an American. But how reassuring it is for Red America to now know you can stroll the Champs d'Elysee without running into racism!). But it was Friday's show that put me over the edge. It wasn't because it was outrageous, but rather one little item in one little segment that just highlighted the casual arrogance of not only Winfrey, but the entire racial dialogue.

    The show was aired on November 4 and was titled "Oprah's Pros Reveal Their Secrets." The part I caught was a frankly gratuitous bit about how she got her guest house redecorated and we were all treated to the Life of Oprah's Guest in all of its glory. But one part really irked me. They were going through the living room (the picture is after the jump) and there was a painting by Eugene A. Montgomery over the fireplace. It was of a woman with a mandolin, titled curiously enough "Woman with Mandolin." Winfrey made a point of mentioning the "paintings of African-American women."

    Oh, the casual arrogance this highlights. First, how do we know the woman in the painting is even American? This reminds me of the whole Vonetta Flowers incident.* And how do we know she comes from Africa? I mean, is it because she's black that we can assume that, as if no black people come from, say, Detroit? But if the argument is that even if she's a mandolin player from Detroit (something which would guarantee her ass-kicking, I'd think) that we can trace her ancestry back to Africa, doesn't that mean we all are African-American? I mean, I thought current anthropological theories put the cradle of Humanity in Africa, meaning we all come from there. But if that's the case, then the term "African-American" is meaningless because it describes everyone (well, every American, that is).

    But aside from the PC label, isn't it a little strange that the first thing Oprah Winfrey mentions about the art piece, indeed the entire way she chooses to describe it, is centered around the skin color of the subject? I thought there was a word for people who chose to use skin color as a defining characteristic, and that word was "racist." Indeed, not even the artist has the skin color of the woman mentioned in his's simply "Woman with Mandolin." So is it there because it's a painting of a black woman? What if it was a white woman, but the rest of the imagery remained the same. Would it still be there? And imagine if we were doing a tour of President Bush's ranch and he pointed out the paintings of the white women...would that not be cause for an uproar, possibly led by Winfrey herself?

    And hence my ire. When we start getting into racial labels like this, at what point do they start doing more harm than good? And isn't there just a hint of the double standard in it?

    But it's OK. Oprah Winfrey is very charitable!

    *Vonetta Flowers was the first black athlete to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics. However, NBC reported her as the "first African-American to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics." Funny, Flower's partner is rarely if ever mentioned. Anyway, the insistence on using the term "African-American" made people wonder if she was the first black American to win a gold medal or the first black athlete from any country. It wasn't until a day or two later that the Washington Post ran a story and clarified that she was the first black person ever to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics. The Flowers story is a good example of journalistic accuracy and credit for one's achievements being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.

    Here is the guest living room of the egalitarian and humble Oprah Winfrey:

    "Woman with Mandolin" is above the fireplace.

    Posted by John Tant at November 7, 2005 11:44 AM

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    #  November 7th, 2005 12:00 PM      BVBigBro
    Taking on the Legion of Oprah again, I see. You were warned.  
    #  November 7th, 2005 3:11 PM      JohnTant
    Yes, I'm critical of the High Priestess of the LOO.

    Hey, did we just coin a new term? Hooray!  
    #  November 7th, 2005 3:15 PM      BVBigBro
    I'd say you were digging the hole deeper, but I suspect the LOO will go over the heads of most of its' members.  
    #  November 8th, 2005 12:49 AM      Daddy
    Oprah's a skunk.

    You go, John!  



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