“The instant word hit the street that actress-singer Jennifer Lopez had used a racial epithet in one version of her new single, ‘I’m real,’ black protesters hit the barricades. The fact that Lopez is of Puerto Rican ancestry made no difference.
“The Lopez flap has by now become part of a well-worn pattern. A non-black celebrity, politician or sports figure slips or intentionally uses a racially offensive word or makes any other racist reference. They quickly offer their mea culpas, and they hope and pray that their careers aren’t ruined.
“The problem is that many of the blacks who rage at Lopez, and others who casually toss around racially loaded words, do not unleash the same fury on blacks who use the same words. In the crossover world of hip-hop culture that Lopez hails from, the use of racially offensive words has become a high art. Her scandal-plagued ex-soulmate and rap kingpin, Sean ‘Puff Daddy’ Combs, once led a concert crowd in [an obscene chant using a racial epithet]. And fellow rapper Ja Rule, who’s black, co-wrote Lopez’s controversial song, and does a duet with the singer on the cut.”
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, writing on “The war against J-Lo,” Thursday in Salon at www.salon.com
Bobos and Nietzsche
“The thesis [of David Brooks’ book, ‘Bobos in Paradise’] is that America’s ruling class is composed of Bobos, meaning people who have successfully combined values bohemian and bourgeois. The further argument is that Bobos will remain the ruling class because they are able to co-opt challenges to their rule.
“[University of Virginia sociologist James Davidson] Hunter pointed out that the Bobo world is more fragile than it appears, however. It is completely dependent upon economic prosperity and the lack of serious testing. Bobos are more than a little like Nietzsche’s pitiful ‘last man’ who goes on living the manners of morality after the moral bottom has fallen out. It can’t last, and it won’t.”
Richard John Neuhaus, writing on “Bobos in Paradise, But Maybe Not for Long,” in the August/September issue of First Things
“Looking at the pictures of burning cars in Belfast, watching the war-games between police and anti-globalization rioters in London seeing the scenes in the north of England as youths wreck shops while gangs chase each other through the streets and the police charge, I have been teased by an idea which is quite at odds with the earnest commentary each conflict has provoked.
“The participants are getting a kick out of it, aren’t they? Disorder is recreational.
“A whole media industry has grown up around explaining disorder. The sequence is familiar: first the incident; next the pictures; then the reporters; finally the commentators. This last phase is the most extended. Discussion may continue for weeks, even months, after a single petrol bomb. You cannot debate a volcano, but there is no limit to the discussion a race riot can provoke.
“Liberal England is resistant to this possibility but liberal England will never understand the rioting in Oldham or Bradford or the violence in Belfast because liberal England has missed the point about human nature. Breaking things is fun. Torching a leisure center is itself a leisure activity. A fight between an Asian gang and a [white supremacist] gang satisfies the same instincts as tennis. Young men join the police not despite the fact that the job may entail fighting, but because of it.
“Until we accept that smashing windows and breaking heads can be fun, we shall continue to miss the point. Riots are their own explanation.”
Matthew Parris, writing on “The truth is, they are having an absolute riot,” July 14 in the Times of London