“... racist thought and action says far more about the person they come from than the person they are directed at.” — Chris Crutcher, family therapist and author of “Whale Talk.”
Racism has been in the news recently. There have been strong overtones in the recently concluded trial of George Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin. Just as sensational was Paula Deen being fired from her TV show and losing several sponsors because of not only saying the N-word but having proposed a wedding reception for her brother featuring black waiters dressed in slave-era costumes. The resultant furor added fuel to the fire even though the reception was not done as first conceived.
There are several blog sites defending Deen and her actions and in some cases it seems that racist views are widely prevalent, and not only in the South.
In Las Vegas, John Curtas, local food critic and attorney, tweeted almost a year ago about a YouTube video titled Takeo Ischi-New Bibi Hendl (chicken yodeling) and described it as the “best Jap-German collaboration since 1941” in a probable facetious remark about this weird video.
Gann Matsuda, who is on the Manzanar Committee (which, like the NAACP, tries to monitor racially insensitive comments), politely informed Curtas with the following “Hey @eatinglasvegas: don’t think you intended to offend, but you need to apologize for using ‘Jap’ in a recent tweet.”
`This innocuous response provoked Curtas to reply, “@manzanar.com and you might want to keep your sniveling, totalitarian, language policing to yourself.” This is from someone who is an attorney and once was president of the bar association. His father fought in the Pacific Theater during World War II and might have transferred his feelings about Japan to his son.
The Manzanar Committee was formed to inform the public about the mass evacuation of people of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of whom were American citizens, into concentration camps (euphemistically called relocation camps). Use of the “J” word helps to perpetuate negative attitudes toward this community that the Manzanar Committee tries to correct.
Curtas then escalates the situation by saying “Oh great … now I have the hypersensitive Asian language police on my ass. #getoveryourself.” He is now on a roll and says, “I offend people for a living. I am also something of a humorist, satirist and social commentator (as well as a restaurant critic). Political correctness is not my thing, but neither is racism.”
Well, John, I am not laughing.
Anyone thinking of hiring Curtas as counsel should give serious thought to his judgment as this episode illustrates. Use of correct words and language is what distinguishes good attorneys and an adept one could have easily and smoothly ended the matter rather than escalating it.
Unfortunately, in our society, the perpetrator must be hurt in the pocketbook to get any meaningful response. One way to accomplish this is for the whole community, not just Asians, to boycott the companies associated with him and for these companies to cease all connection with him or be labeled as endorsing his racist views. Deen’s fate should also be applied to Curtas. At least Deen apologized and may one day regain her program and sponsors.
I wonder how Max Jacobson, a food critic who collaborated with Al Mancini and Curtas to write “Eating Las Vegas,” a restaurant review book, feels since his wife is from Nepal.
John Curtas reminds me of someone who said, “I hate two things: racists and ‘J’s.”
Glenn Nakadate is a Boulder City resident and can be reached at email@example.com