Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


*Now THAT"S an Answer!

Go here http://www.breitbart.tv/?p=611 for Fred Thompson's answer to Michael Moore's challenge to debate health care.

Class act!

*I'm finishing a fascinating book, 'Hollywood Party' by Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley. I may review it - but it'll be difficult because it's so chock full of stuff that'll grab any old movie fan.

It's about "How Communism Seduced the American Film Industry in the 1930s and 1940s." The cast of characters that you're familiar with and movies that you've seen makes it gripping.

Among the sordid lot of commited communists, fellow travellers and gullible dupes (which some of whom, like Humphrey Bogart, had the brains and guts to realize and admit) two stand out for sheer heroism.

One is a now-unknown labor leader Roy Brewer, a New Deal Democrat with socialist leanings.

The other is Ronald Reagan. (Who by the way, remains the only union leader America has ever elected President.)

A few salient facts that deserve to be remembered stand out:

1) the Communist Party USA was not a native American expression of communism, but a wholly owned - and funded, branch of the Comintern that followed it's directives to the letter, even when the American party could have told them that their directives were counter-productive.

2) The House Committee on Un-American Activities, amidst all the publicity-seeking foofraw was actually asking some legitimate questions. Among them; in a conflict with the Soviet Union, which side would you be on?

3) Nobody's life was "ruined" by the House investigations. Those writers who were blacklisted (by the studios - not the government by the way) never missed a paycheck. Many went abroad and wrote for Hollywood under different names - and paid little or no taxes on their earnings due to then-current regulations about working abroad.

Some actors fared worse, but it really seems like a question of not-overly-talented people who weren't worth the trouble they caused the studios. Many of them went back to the stage and returned to Hollywood when the heat died down.

4) The CPUSA was dangerous. As in ruin-your-career and bust-your-head dangerous.

I'm reading it with my computer on the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com).

*George Will has an article on Shelby Steele on Barack Obama well worth reading, here:

"America's foremost black intellectual has published a slender book about the most interesting presidential candidacy since 1980. Shelby Steele's characteristically subtle argument is ultimately unconvincing because he fundamentally misreads Barack Obama. Nevertheless, so fecund is Steele's mind, he illuminates the racial landscape that Obama might transform."

Interesting stuff - and yet I'm troubled. For one thing, I think Thomas Sowell is the foremost intellectual in America today, and he's black.

Secondly, why did he have to say, "America's foremost black intellectual "?

Yes, yes, I know he's making a point about race in America and citing Shelby Steele because he might know a thing or two about it. Obviously I'm making a point here. (And do read the article, it's interesting.)

My point is, every time we use a qualifier of race or sex ( I hate that term "gender") we are implicitly implying an inferior category.

Think of "female athlete."

No women compete with men in any major sport. They couldn't, so they have their own category.

Some may remember when a man who'd had a sex-change operation, Dr. Rene Richards, wanted to compete in a women's tennis tournament. Women players howled in protest. And quite rightly so. Dr. Richards still had the musculature of a man, in spite of all the cutting, chopping and rebuilding of his plumbing.

Point being, putting "female" before "athlete" clearly means, "can't compete on an equal footing with men."

So what does "black intellectual" mean? And what does the term say about the people who use it? (And no, I don't mean George Will in this case.)

Notice that you rarely hear "black athlete." If you do, it probably refers to historical time when sports were still segregated.

*In a similar vein, how do you describe a female friend?

Well you wouldn't generally, but what if (like with George Will) you want to refer to the opinion of a friend on a subject where her sex is relevant to the opinion, i.e. that it's a woman's opinion on a subject where it matters?

Woman friend? Awkward. Girlfriend? That implies a romantic relationship if you're male. Lady friend? Ambiguous. Female friend? Sounds too clinical.


  • At 9:42 AM, Blogger MadMabel said…

    This comment is focused on one small part of this essay, the mention of Rene Richards.

    As someone who has made the transsexual change herself I can assure you that Dr. Richards did NOT have male musculature. One of the effects of estrogen on a male body is to greatly reduce the muscle mass and strength. Richards skeleton remained essentially the same (i.e. heavier than a female skeleton) but she had less muscle to move it. Rather than having an advantage she had to play with a distinct disadvantage.

  • At 4:33 AM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    Really? That's interesting. So were the female tennis players just misinformed in your opinion?


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