Friday, February 11, 2005

I woke up about fifteen minutes ago, and I planned to do what I normally do: turn on NPR and stay in bed for a half an hour. But then I heard something that made me sit up in bed and rush out to preserve it for posterity. Honestly, I've heard a lot of shit over the past few days, but this takes the cake.

The story was a commentary by , Ev Ehrlich, Clinton's undersecretary for commerce, about why Democrats need to think about Social Security reform. He said the issue was important to two key constituencies over whom the parties will be fighting: young people and Hispanics. The reason it's important to Hispanics is that the work-force will increasingly be comprised of them. In the future, the number of Hispanic workers will rise and the number of white workers will fall, as the white population ages and retires. Hispanics will be the people paying into Social Security, and white people will be the recipients. And then he said the following thing, which I believe I'm quoting verbatim:

"To put it crudely, and to exaggerate, in the future white people will expect to be supported by their domestic workers."

What does it say about the Democrats, or for that matter about NPR, that their representatives think it's ok to equate Latinos and domestic workers? Maybe the only Latinos that Ehrlich knows are the people who clean his house and make his garden pretty, and maybe he assumes that's true for NPR's predominately white, predominately well-off listeners as well. But it's insane to revert to that stereotype in a commentary that hinges on the fact that Latinos are an increasing economic force in this country. And if the Democratic Party wants to appeal to Latino voters, it might be helpful to banish the racist stereotypes about them. Similarly, if NPR is serious about appealing to diverse audiences, it could start by asking commentators not to equate entire ethnic groups with the household help.

(And for that matter, it's dumb, offensive, and bad strategy for the Democrats to assume that all white people are wealthy enough to be able to hire domestic workers. Eeek! And also, aargh!)

ETA: a half an hour ago, sitting at my micro-film reading machine, I panicked. I thought "I wrote that blog entry about Ev Ehrlich, and it can't be right. He can't actually have said that: it's too stupid and offensive and... stupid. I must have heard wrong. I must have been half awake. I've probably slandered Ev Ehrlich!"

So I went and downloaded the audio and listened to the piece again. And there was no mistake. He really said it.

And there, folks, you have another reason to vote for the Greens. That is, if you're American. Otherwise, you should just be glad you're not. There seem to be very few oases of non-moronic-ness in this country.

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