Friday, September 17, 2010

Courtland Milloy: D.C.'s Very Own Tea-Partier

By now, we all know how much I admire Sally Quinn, and her amazing ability to hang onto a job despite her utter lack of talent. Well, kids, there's a new contender in town for Washington's Worst Journalist:

Courtland Milloy

He was previously known for filling up the news hole with the reasons women wear wrap dresses (so we can show our bits), or discussing his annual "blood fast" (whatever the heck that is). Sometimes, he even says it's fine when 80 kids brawl on the Metro, because at least nobody was carrying a gun. Yesterday, he sank to new levels. In Milloy's world, once you hit the bottom of the taste barrel, it's time to grab a shovel and see how tacky things look in China.

Read this. I'll wait. Then I'll start ranting, hopefully a mite more coherently than Mr. Milloy did.

First, I'd like to point out that the original title was "Ding dong, Fenty's Gone." Classy.

But let's take a page from Vincent Gray, and let's start healing and uniting and joining hands and buying the world a Coke. Let's get past Milloy's sore winner bleating, the flights of fancy, and the writing that reads more like a 13-year-old girl's journal entry. ("Adrian pushed my cafeteria tray out of my hands and then Michelle laughed at me! Mom says they're jus jellus. I'll show them tomorrow in study hall!")

Let's try to discuss his essay on its merits.

Lordy. What merits?

The argument: Adrian Fenty is a mean bad man because he didn't show proper deference to little old ladies, because he fired city employees (who occasionally happened to be black women), and because he just wasn't a nice enough guy.

Also, if you voted for Fenty, you're pretty much a racist.

Mr. Milloy, we get it. You really, really don't like white people. And you hate Facebook and Twitter, and wish the clock would stop and we wouldn't have to use those newfangled things called tellyphones. And white people who use "social media" (quotation marks courtesy of Mr. Milloy) are "myopic little twits."

Of course, if you object to his inflammatory rhetoric, it doesn't matter who you voted for. You're a racist, too! You're saying "You blacks, always playing the race card." (Milloy's words.) You also want to return to a "plantation-style" of government. Oh, and Fenty is a "fascist," which makes you a sympathizer if you voted for him. Personally, I can't picture myself as Scarlett O'Hara Butler Mussolini, but I do think it would make for a nifty Halloween costume.

Does anyone else get shades of Glenn Beck/Sarah Palin when they read this? A throaty sing-song of, "Only those who agree with me are the true patriots, so let's all demonize the enemy and shake our tiny fists at the heavens"? Just me? Ok.

I was an undecided voter right up until I walked into the booth, but in the end, I voted for Fenty. If that makes me a honky interloper and a "myopic twit," so be it. This city is my home, I love it here, and I'm not going to listen to anyone who tells me I don't belong because I enjoy the occasional cappuccino and think bike sharing is sort of neat.

I voted for Fenty because the city's school system is criminally inept, and it's been shortchanging kids for generation after generation. The best D.C. jobs are held by suburban imports because the locals don't get the required training, which excaberates poverty and hopelessness. We need real schools where kids can learn.

Michelle Rhee managed to get a new contract with the Washington Teachers' Union, a body mostly known for stonewalling, advocating tirelessly for the downtrodden and incompetent, and egregious financial scandals. Tenure for life after two years of service? Not any more. I'm forever grateful. That alone gets my vote. And if the WTU endorses and campaigns for you, like it did with Gray? You better believe I'm voting for the other guy.

I'm willing to give Gray a chance. I'm all for healing and progress and scooping up those who have been left behind. What I'm against is the likes of Courtland Milloy, "responsible journalists" who gloat and excaberate tensions just for the sake of settling scores and slinging metaphorical monkey poo.

In the comments, tell me if I'm a racist. Or run a find-replace and republish Milloy's essay swapping the words "white" and "black," if you need to further understand what an offensive piece of schlock it truly is.


Titania said...

I think "racist" is the fashionable insult these days - as it is/was "socialist", "Hitler" or whatever... name calling when those that use it don't really understand what it means... so, yeah, very Palin-Beck-Limbaugh if you ask me....

Michael J. West said...

That article pissed me off and pissed me off mightily. I voted for Gray --- I agonized over voting for Gray. And even after I voted for him I agonized over whether I'd made the right choice. I'm pretty sure I did, but there were very, very compelling reasons to vote either way.

More than the racial bullshit or the gloating, Milloy pissed me off because his article showed me that he didn't get it --- any more than did the national pundits who swooped into a city they don't live in or understand to wonder how ANYONE could be so stupid as to vote against Fenty. Forgive the pun, but it just ain't that black and white.

Sorry. You're a proxy soapbox today, Shannon. I've been warned (by the Mrs.) to shut up with the Facebook political rants. :-)

Brando said...

Milloy's column was racist pure and simple and should not have been printed in the Post (except maybe as satire?). I love how he uses the words "fascist" and "plantation" and then the strawman that whites will say he's using the race card. Er, maybe that's because he IS!

I just hope Gray is a much better person than some of his supporters appear to be. It'd be a shame to see the city slide back into the Barry-esque cesspool it used to be.

E R Hull said...

I think Milloy's column was at it's heart racist as is the underlying sentiment of many district residents that there is omething wrong with white people moving in. I disgree that "racist" is the fashinable insult these days because whether fashionable or not people say and do racist things, like argue that there is something wrong with a race of people moving in to your neighborhood/city. If it were a white city and blacks (or latinos more realistically today) were moving in and that were an outcry from the white residents, what else would we call that but racist? THis is no different.

I posted on Milloy's column today as well:

Shannon said...

Titania - I don't know if it's "fashionable" so much as a damn shame. I'm a believer in hearing people out before demonizing them, but apparently common sense is no longer in style.

Mike - Rant away. Can't blame you. I love DC, don't want to ever leave, but I personally cannot foresee myself starting a family here because I don't want to send my kids to DC schools. Otherwise, I'd stay forever. But hey, if we leave, that's two fewer myopic twits mucking things up for Courtland!

Brando - Well, if Gray does turn into another Barry, it'll only be because the bitch set him up.

ER - Thanks for posting the link! And thanks - I've been in my neighborhood for going on 11 years, and I've never once been made to feel unwelcome. Sure, my name at my first building was "White Girl," because I was the only one. But it was friendly and all in good fun - which makes me think Milloy is manufacturing a great deal of this drama to position himself as a latter-day Black Panther. Minus the legitimate gripes and free breakfasts for poor kids, of course.

Titania said...

E R, I am not saying that there is no racism, I fully agree with you (and Brando) that this article is extremely racist, and that there is a lot of racism out there. What I am saying is that, the word "racist" is used very lightly these days, in situations where the adjective was not called for - almost like the it is "in" to call people racist in the public eye, whether or not it is merited.

Michael J. West said...

I'm not worried about backsliding into Barry-dom. After Tony Williams and Adrian Fenty, I think we're past the point of no return. Remember, even the people who voted for Gray think that the city is moving in the right direction under Fenty.

And I genuinely don't believe you're going to see a tremendous shift on the school reform front either. For a whole variety of reasons.

J said...

I can't get that upset about this, but for a fairly simple reason: the man makes himself too easy to dismiss.

He strikes me as someone with one fair point (Fenty may have been more dictatorial than someone like Gray or Barry), but who loses credibility when he cites his lack of meetings with old ladies as a reason to dislike him. Not because they're old ladies, but because quite frankly, it's entirely plausible the Mayor of DC has better things to do with his time.

And by arguing for ineffective teachers over Rhee, he loses more credibility in my mind. It sounds eerily like he is arguing that it doesn't actually matter WHY they lost their jobs, because it's more important that they stay employed. Above all else. Which is something I heartily disagree with (employment for the sake of employment).

As for racism, I'm trying not to read into it, mainly because I don't really need to in order to disagree with the guy. I think there's something to be said for the democratic process, but Fenty was hardly a man who subverted democracy in untoward ways. He made the most of the power he was elected to.

FoggyDew said...

Milloy is just another person who wants to return to Barry-era management when the city was in a hole so deep it could barely see the sky above.

Fenty, in my view as an Arlington resident, dared to challenge the city's screwed up me me me-first conventional wisdom. He shook things up and tried, tried to provide the start of what may eventually become a school system that doesn't merely warehouse kids until they're old enough to drop out. If you want to draw new businesses (and keep the ones you have) the most important thing is a creditable school system. Without one, no one is going to want to move their families to your town. So he stepped on some union toes, that alone shows strength of character. A willingness to do something you know people are going to scream about.

Sad to say, but if Gray doesn’t hold people accountable – himself, teachers, cops, everyone – I think the next four years in D.C. are going to be the start of a return to exactly what Milloy is ranting against. As a wise person said last week “I’d rather have the competent bastard.”

Shannon said...

Titania - That makes a lot of sense. Remember, if you can't call your opponent a fascist or a socialist, call them a racist! Or a 'reverse racist' - whatever the heck that means.

Mike - My only real concern with school reform is the damn WTU. (Man, I hate the WTU.) They supported Gray, and you better believe they're going to expect a big payday.

J - It's IMPOSSIBLE to have anything more important to do than meet with little old ladies! What are you, a myopic twit?

Foggy - I was wondering when you'd join in! I agree that the schools have much to do with the city's economic woes. Why start a company in DC, where you'll have to pay higher taxes and import your trained workforce from the 'burbs, when you can start that same company in Tysons Corner and have a hypereducated workforce streaming in the doors from day one?

E R Hull said...

To me, racism generally, is something I'd rather point out, matter-of-factly, than get angry about. I point it out, whether from white people or black people or whomever, so that it's identifiable and hopefully better understood and diminished. But, I don't think it's any worse (at least the non-violent sort expressed in Milloy's column) than body odor. It should be pointed out, but nobody necessarily needs to get upset about it.

Michael J. West said...

I think the WTU is in for a disappointment, all things considered. The teachers' contract is signed; bullcrap like lifetime tenure is gone and it ain't coming back, and the WTU is screwed forever if they think they're ever going to regain the position where teachers effectively outrank principals. And as the Examiner pointed out this morning, Vince Gray has to demonstrate that reform is continuing to move forward if he wants the city to keep its $75 million grants. Surely nobody thinks he's going to just let those slip away.

I believe (and hope) what you will find in the WTU's favor is more about basic gestures of respect: Teachers will still be fired if they're ineffective, but without attribution to bogus budget shortfalls and exaggerated stories of sex with students. And perhaps fired teachers will be allowed to leave the premises without police escorts (which were a Rhee specialty, regardless of how calmly and rationally the teachers greeted news of their terminations).

Ibid said...

I don't pick who I'd vote for based on looks, but if I did there's no way I'd vote for Gray. If he were an actor instead of a politician he'd always be cast as the villain. He's perfect for the role of the king's scheming adviser who inevitably kills the king and forces the queen to marry him so he can rule with an iron fist. He wouldn't get cast as Ming the Merciless just because his evil mustache isn't curly enough, but it screams evil in a way that even a Hitler mustache can't quite pull off.

Shannon said...

ER - It's less offensive than baffling. At the end of my first reading, all I could do was sort of spin things around in my mind, trying to figure out if there was any way I could NOT be a racist in Milloy's world. Maybe if I eschewed coffee shops, deleted my Facebook, voted Gray and then immediately moved to Fairfax?

Mike - Fair points, all. I agree with the substance of what Rhee has done, but her style is extremely harsh and grating. (Anyone remember the Wicked Witch magazine cover?)

Ibid - Plus, there's no way Gray could pull of Ming's snappy wardrobe. Glittery Eton collars? I think not!

Jamie said...

For the record, the WTU endorsed Fenty in 2006, and publicly approved of the reform plans at first. While it's easy to call out unions generally for bad behavior I don't think that it's at all reasonable to say "because the union supports someone they are bad." Unions exist for very good, demonstrable, historically relevant reasons, and while far from perfect they do serve a purpose. It is too easy to say the WTU is anti-reform because they represent teachers. Teachers don't just teach because it's a paycheck, probably more than just about any other job. Maybe they truly believed that the reform isn't working well.

Anyway other than that I agree that Milloy's column was far less useful than a piece of toilet paper. He manages to insult the intelligence and motives of every single person in this city with one broad, confusing stroke.

Michael J. West said...

I will give Milloy credit for one single point:

"As for you blacks: Don't you, like, even know what's good for you?"

Because there WAS an undercurrent of this in the election cycle. The majority of the city is black, but the VAST majority of the public school population is black. The black community therefore has significantly more direct experience and involvement with DCPS than the rest of us, and yet a good many middle-class white people I've heard, read, and talked to assumed that the anti-Fenty crowd within the black community couldn't possibly be making an informed, pertinent decision that was to the benefit of themselves/their families/their community.

Too bad Milloy steamrolls that very point with the rest of his article.

Alpha Za said...

He is Bumfuck moron.

Nice rant.

Gold On Runescape said...

I think Milloy's line was at it's center improper as is the actual feeling of many region citizens that there is omething incorrect with white-colored individuals shifting in. I disgree that "racist" is the fashinable offend nowadays because whether stylish or not individuals say and do improper factors, like claim that there is something incorrect with a competition of individuals shifting in to your neighborhood/city.
cheapest rs gold
World of Warcraft Gold Kaufen Billig
Buy Blade Soul Gold said...

For those of us who lived through the long, dark years of a post or two a month, this is no problemo. You know what I do miss? The snarky TV reviews. We gotta find you a new Seventh Heaven.