Thursday, February 26, 2009

to the right of them, . . . to the left of them . . .

In fairness to republicans and the republican party, offense comes from all sides, no matter how politically enlightened I believe a person, or party, to be. Days after Michael Steele verbally launched his party's outreach campaign, the democrats, and the left, began to attack the campaign. Given Steele's comment regarding the "one-armed midget," I should have known that people of short stature would be caught in the middle.

On Tuesday night, Ana Marie Cox, a new correspondent with Air America, appeared on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show. Talking about Steele, the Republican Party, and the party's recruitment of new members, Cox said something to the affect of, "one-armed midgets . . . He can have them."

Common thought among many people of short stature around my age range and older is that we will continue to hear and read offensive language until we die. We will employ systemic outreach to stem the tide of the language, so that one day certain language will be off limits in every corner. But until then, we are forced to let some offenses go, otherwise we'd spend all our time writing emails, sending letters, and making phone calls. The choice was made to respond to Steele because of the potential influence and power he carries. My only hope is that Steele has not opened a door that welcomes m-word jokes; a door that will take a lot of effort to close.

On the bright side, Cox (unlike Steele who still hasn't responded to a note I sent his office last Friday) replied to my email within 30 minutes. After I sent her a note expressing my concerns, here is what she said:

---Original Message-----
From: on behalf of Ana Marie Cox
Sent: Wed 2/25/2009 10:10 AM
To: Gary Arnold
Subject: Re: appearance on the Rachel Maddow Show

I did, indeed, mean to mock Steele, and I apologize sincerely for the way that my mocking came out. I was trying to mock his weird specificity, and his lack of any concrete ideas about what being how party that included "one armed midgets" might be different from the one he currently leads.

I regretted the joke almost as soon as it was out of my mouth and, quite frankly, I am glad to have an opportunity to apologize directly to someone who represents that group, and who understands the real problems Republicans have in appealing to underrepresented groups.

I know I can't apologize to everyone who might have been hurt by my words, but I hope you'll accept this one.

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