| I haven't paid much attention to the flap over racism that the Perfesser kicked off over a racist letter (pdf) that was sent to the Missoulian's Jodi Rave. Certainly Wulfgar! expressed the proper outrage, as did Rave's readers. 'Nuff ced.
But then I stumbled on Natelson's latest, in which he "proves" there's too much coverage of American Indians and not enough of white "taxpayers" by entering terms like "Indians," "Germans," "Irish," "Hmong," "taxpayers," "professors," etc, into the Missoulian search engine, and then tabulating the results. Naturally, "Indians" wins hands down.
Sadly, Natelson is looking in all the wrong places for references to white or other cultures. The coverage is there -- and right beneath his nose. Take today's newspaper:
Lead story? A ski jumping competition at Snowbowl. How's this for an alternate lede? "A crowd of mostly white people today enjoyed the traditionally Nordic sport of ski jumping at a local white-owned ski area." The picture that accompanies the article is a white man with his white child.
Second story, on wilderness proposals, tells of the mostly white upper legislative body in a government formed from Anglo-European traditions of democracy, which is debating bills (along European parliamentary procedures) that would use a legal system based on English Common Law to enact a contemporary Anglo-American notion of public ownership of land -- an interesting component of European views on property ownership.
Third story, a review of a Russian ballet -- a European classical dance -- performed by the Missoula symphony orchestra, a body of musicians playing classical European instruments and arranged along classical European music traditions. They play in a typical early 20th century Anglo-American performance hall.
Get it? If it's a report about the dominant culture -- Euro-Anglo, white American, whatever -- it's not explicitly mentioned. White culture is implied, it's the norm. To Natelson, a debate on wilderness bills is inherently neutral alongs lines of race, ethnicity, gender. However, I suspect there's probably a young Native American woman out there who instead views the debate through the prism of her particular race and culture, who sees a bunch of old, rich middle-age white guys in suits and ties arguing over how they're going to divide up land that once belonged to her people. Her perspective is entirely legitimate.
Don't mistake this post for as an indictment against Anglo-Euro culture. I thrive in my culture. What I'm doing now -- the act of typing, crafting a rhetorical argument, sitting on a wooden, hard-backed chair at my kitchen table, drinking a cup of coffee -- is firmly rooted in my culture.
Instead this post is a plea for perspective and empathy, characteristics that the Perfesser sadly seems to lack when he writes, as a suggestion to "counter-balance" Jodi Rave's stories featuring American Indians, "have other reporters assigned to subjects that concern the rest of us. For example, a taxpayer columnist might do a semi-weekly column on legislative bills...This sort of thing is supposed to be done by the Lee Bureau in Helena, but there has never been a huge amount of sympathy for taxpayers there."
Here's the thing, Rob. American Indians are taxpayers.