The Untouchables

I am tired of Georgia’s politicians apologizing and backpedaling. When are we going to start holding politicians accountable for their words and actions? Last week, Andrew Young made disparaging remarks about Jews, Koreans, and Arabs:

. . .they ran the ‘mom and pop’ stores out of my neighborhood,” the Sentinel, a newspaper serving the African-American community, reported. “But you see, those are the people who have been overcharging us — selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables. And they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they’ve ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it’s Arabs; very few black people own these stores.

How uncomfortable for Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor; seems his campaign co-chairman has a little bigotry problem. So, what does he do? He apologizes for him. Andrew Young makes a comment like that, and the Taylor camp makes apologies for him. They tout his

. . . more than 50-year record of fighting for fairness and equality for every citizen, both in America and abroad.

Evidently, Young felt comfortable saying those words to The Sentinel, an African-American newspaper. Where is the outrage? People are outraged over mainstream Islamists not denouncing the work of radical forces in Islam; Mel Gibson is just about run out of town on rails for his anti-semitic comments. Why aren’t people more upset about Young’s comments?

Oh, yeah. . . because Young is an African-American and a former Civil Rights activist. In Atlanta, that makes him untouchable.

If you get to the heart of the matter, Taylor is keeping Young on for one reason only: Young’s presence panders to African-American voters. As Taylor’s spokesman Rick Dent says,

Young has ‘played an important role in outreach to the African-American community, the business community and to the religious community.

African-Americans worship Young. What would happen to Taylor’s African-American voters if Taylor were to fire Andrew Young?

Instead, Young makes his comments to The Sentinel. People question the statement. Young and Taylor’s people issue apologies. All is forgotten and forgiven, even by the Jewish community (who probably still haven’t forgotten or forgiven Gibson’s comments – nor should they, in my opinion), a group to whom the remarks were directed.

It’s almost as if Young and Taylor knew that the comments would be accepted by the African-American community, then with a wink and a nudge, the whole thing is “apologized” away. Taylor keeps his black voters, and the message sent to us all is that if you can bring votes in for a candidate, you can say whatever the hell you want. All you have to do is apologize for it later.

Where is the outrage? Shame on the whole lot of them: Andrew Young, Mark Taylor, and even Sherry Frank, executive director for the Atlanta chapter of the American Jewish Committee. Young needs to be seen for the bigot he is, and Taylor and Frank need to grow some balls.

This voter would like, just once, to see a politician do what is right, not what is right for their campaign or their party.

17 Comments so far

  1. Jim V. (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2006 @ 1:32 pm

    I’ve never seen anything you’ve written politically, so I’m sure you were just indignant when Sonny Perdue campaigned and won on nostalgia for the Confederate flag.

    Is your point that one comment outweighs a life time of achievement?

    Are you saying that Young’s statement is equivalent to “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world?”

    Mel Gibson was considered by many to be anti-Semitic because of his depiction of Jewish people in his film and his stubborn refusal to repudiate his holocaust denying background. Gibson’s words were consistent with his career whereas Young’s stood in opposition to his. Gibson deserves our scorn. Young deserves our forgiveness.

  2. maybe (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2006 @ 2:10 pm

    there’s not much outrage because young has a point. black neighborhoods — even those in lithonia and stone mountain with above average median incomes — are *ROUTINELY* underserved by basic businesses such as grocery stores and banks. those that do come in tend to have craptastic quality. seriously. go to swats, east point and college park. shop in the kroger on s. hairston rd.

    try to understand hiss point of view on this: he’s tired of people ripping off black folks and selling subpar goods in his neighborhood. and in the hood, those folks are not black.

  3. annie (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2006 @ 3:35 pm

    Jim, sarcasm duly noted concerning Perdue and the flag, but actually, while I don’t particularly find it offensive, I find the money we have spent arguing about the issue extremely offensive. If i had it my way, we’d just move on with the new flag and never discuss it again. Complete waste of time and money.

    My point was definitely NOT that one comment outweights a lifetime of achievement, but rather that people should be held accountable for their words and actions. I am also not saying that Young’s and Gibson’s comments were equally offensive; they were both offensive, and i would like to see them both take responsibility for their actions. I just don’t see how someone who could say what Young said isn’t a bigot. If you are so comfortable saying such a thing, and in an interview no less, then i think it’s pretty likely that it is a true image of your thoughts. I think he meant it when he said it and all the apologies in the world don’t make it right. Also, i believe that the whole outcome would have been different if Young were a white man.

    To Maybe: Maybe you should have had the balls to put your real name. Concerning your points, I do acknowledge that goods and services in some areas are not as nice as others. However, i certainly wouldn’t blame that on “Jews, Koreans, and Arabs;” What racial or ethnic group as a whole can be blamed for something like that?

    Try to understand my point of view on this – I am tired of problems in our world and in our city, perpetrated by individuals, being blamed on whole groups of people. I am even more tired of this wholesale bigotry being accepted in cases where it is politically correct to accept it. That, to me, is a double standard.

  4. John (unregistered) on August 23rd, 2006 @ 12:43 am

    Annie, you are spot-on with this and I was making the same point to colleagues at lunch. I’ve lost a whole lot of respect for Mark Taylor. Andrew Young spoke his true mind (as opposed to his politician/lobbyist mind) because he thought he was just preaching to the choir. Mel spoke his true mind because he was wasted.

    As for the comments:

    Jim V.: If I dedicate my life to being an advocate against drunk driving and then kill someone in a crash while intoxicated, should I be exonerated for my ‘lifetime of service?’

    Maybe: Your point is well taken, but calling out those of a certain ethnicity for an action that is perpetrated by people of all stripes (you’re not willing to tell me that an African-American has never ripped-off another African-American, are you?) is a blatant perpetuation of stereotypes, something that is certainly antithetical to what Mr. Jackson has stood for all these years. And as far as “selling subpar goods” goes, well, Wal-Mart cut ties with him the other day, so no worries about that any more.

  5. Annie (unregistered) on August 23rd, 2006 @ 8:25 am

    Jim V. – Well said. Better than I had said it myself.

  6. Jim V. (unregistered) on August 23rd, 2006 @ 9:35 am

    John writes:

    If I dedicate my life to being an advocate against drunk driving and then kill someone in a crash while intoxicated, should I be exonerated for my ‘lifetime of service?’

    Do you really believe that is a fair analogy?

    From the Food Marketing institute:

    Although 50 percent of African American grocery shoppers prefer supermarkets, one in five shop at small, non-supermarket neighborhood stores most often. Since this market segment is predominantly urban, the frequent patronage of small format stores is likely due to store locations and transportation access.

    If you don’t believe that these small stores, currently and in the past, have taken advantage of their captive market to offer worse prices and substandard freshness, then I’d be happy to take you on a guided tour.

    Young pandered to people’s misdirected anger towards the ethnicities who have historically run those stores. For that he should be ashamed. If you don’t see the problem he was speaking to, you should be ashamed.

  7. Annie (unregistered) on August 23rd, 2006 @ 9:47 am

    Oops. Just realized I meant to pat John on the back, rather than Jim V. Jim V., while I agree that poor, urban neighborhoods have less than stellar shopping options, I just don’t see how you can excuse Young’s remarks. (Oh, wait. You just flip-flopped, and now you think he should be ashamed of the pandering. Huh.)
    Seriously, while i think that we can all see the problem to which Young was speaking, we still don’t agree with or excuse the words that he used to describe the problem, or with his assessment of what causes the problem.

  8. Jim V. (unregistered) on August 23rd, 2006 @ 10:07 am

    Annie writes:

    Oh, wait. You just flip-flopped, and now you think he should be ashamed of the pandering. Huh.

    Please re-read my original comments. I said Young should be forgiven. Implicitly, if one is to be forgiven, one did something wrong.

    I’m sure you’re usually a much better reader. I forgive you.

  9. Annie (unregistered) on August 23rd, 2006 @ 11:10 am

    Egads. You are right, JimV. I think I confused you with Mr. Maybe. Anyway, have enjoyed your comments, and both Andrew Young and I greatly appreciate your forgiveness.

  10. John (unregistered) on August 24th, 2006 @ 12:55 am

    Yes, Jim, I think it’s a pretty fair analogy in this case. I never suggested that Mr. Young shouldn’t be forgiven, only that he not be given a free pass. Ultimately, I’m just disgusted at the Taylor camp for not distancing themselves fron this when they had the chance.

    I understand where you’re coming from. The thing is: it’s not that Mr. Young didn’t have a point, it’s that he stooped to the level of race-baiting to make it.

    He should know better, and Mark Taylor should know better than to be complicit in the whole thing.

  11. John (unregistered) on August 24th, 2006 @ 1:04 am

    Or, what Annie said, just more long-winded.

  12. Jim V. (unregistered) on August 24th, 2006 @ 10:26 am

    John wrote:

    Ultimately, I’m just disgusted at the Taylor camp for not distancing themselves fron this when they had the chance.

    I’m disgusted at the attempt by right wingers who got into office by waxing nostaligic for symbols of slavery, who all of a sudden find their sensitivity gene when it comes to Andrew Young’s comments.

    I’m disgusted that an empty suit like Perdue is scoring points off of Andrew Young.

    I’m disgusted that there’s media coverage surrounding the offense of Young’s comments but there’s no media coverage of the issues he was speaking to.

    I’m disgusted that you some how suggest that criticism stopping short of firing Young equates to the Taylor “not distancing themselves.

  13. Annie (unregistered) on August 24th, 2006 @ 10:48 am

    Wow, John. That is one heck of a lot of disgust! I think, though, that you are railing against people who pretty much agree with you on these issues: I also find Perdue’s pandering on the flag issue disgusting. There should be more discussion of the issue to which Young was speaking. (And my latest metblogs post does actually look at one man’s thoughts on that very issue.)

    Personally, I am offended by both Perdue and Young (and countless other politicians in GA and the nation). I find it baffling that an individual cannot criticize someone of a particular political party, without it being assumed that the critic is automatically in support of the opposing party. When did it stop being okay to be an independent, disgusted with politics and politicians as a whole?

  14. Jim V. (unregistered) on August 24th, 2006 @ 11:25 am

    My comments were directed to John, not you.

  15. Annie (unregistered) on August 24th, 2006 @ 11:37 am

    Luckily for me, it is a free country. I could walk down the street, and like, say hello to you, even if you hadn’t addressed me first. Funny the way that works. Welcome to a public forum.

  16. John (unregistered) on August 24th, 2006 @ 12:26 pm

    Believe me, Jim, I have no love for Perdue or the flaggots, either. And you’re right, ideally we should be focusing on the issues raised by Young instead of the inflammatory nature of his words. The thing is, the real issues are always going to be obscured when the discourse takes place at the level of his comments. That is what I have a problem with. Personally, I don’t think Taylor went far enough to correct things. Sorry that disgusts you. I’ll probably still vote for him.

  17. Jim V. (unregistered) on August 24th, 2006 @ 2:03 pm


    I wasn’t criticizing the fact that you responded. It seemed to me that you had misinterpreted my comments directed at John as directed at you. I was just making sure that you (and John) knew to whom my comments were directed.

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