Sunday, August 25, 2013

50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

Today was the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The march took place on Sunday. August 28, 1963, so the anniversary can be celebrated again on Wednesday.

The "I Have a Dream" speech delivered that day by Martin Luther King, Jr. is perhaps second only to President Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" on the list of great American speeches.

King's speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, tied the two great men together:
"Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity."
My youthful memories of the 1960s start with the moon landing in 1969, so I missed all the excitement and rebellion. But what we think of as the 1960s really beings with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963 and the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution of August 1964. Occasionally I run across things that happened before that which come as a complete surprise:

Hollywood stars Sydney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, and Charlton Heston at the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington.

The Civil Rights movement did a pretty good job on the freedom front, but the dream turned into a nightmare when it came to jobs. This passage in King's speech still rings too true fifty years later:
"One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity."
One can find those islands of poverty fairly easily, just by looking in almost every major American city look for the streets and boulevards named after Martin Luther King, Jr. The mistake is to think these are the only islands of poverty.

On the other hand, my two previous posts are about a multi-millionaire playing golf and a multi-billionaire shopping for expensive designer handbags. That's progress, "deeply rooted in the American dream" and all that.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Oprah Sheds Crocodile Tears for $38,000 Handbag

"Why did she do that? Why did she do that?" Oprah Winfrey tells the blonde white woman reporting for Entertainment Tonight about the small injustice of a "racist" shop clerk not allowing her to buy a black handbag at a boutique in Zurich, Switzerland.

The interview started out with a discussion of whether Paula Dean would be appearing on Oprah to rehabilitate her image, with Oprah suggesting Paula wasn't ready for that. Then Oprah struggled to come up with an example of racism being directed at her, with a detour into the difficulties of telling sexism from racism, and eventually coming around to the Swiss boutique story:
I say to the woman, "Excuse me, may I see that bag right above your head?" And she says to me, "No, it's too expensive." She said, "No, no, no you want to see this one because that one will cost too much. You won’t be able to afford that one.” She refused to get it ... she said, "I don’t want to hurt your feelings," and I said, "Okay, thank you so much, you're probably right I can't afford it." And I walked out of the store.
A lot of people are outraged, mostly at Oprah, but I just find the story funny. A rep for the Swiss Tourism office was quick to take customer is always right approach and apologize on Twitter:
"We are fuming — this person acted terribly wrong. We are sorry this happened to @oprah!"
The Swiss Tourism office followed up with more formal apology.
"Switzerland Tourism is deeply sorry to learn about the experience Ms. Winfrey recently had in Switzerland, and we apologize that her feelings were hurt. We would like to assure Ms. Winfrey—like any visitor to Switzerland—that she is welcome with open arms."
While Oprah carefully declined to name the handbag or the store in her story, the intrepid international press quickly ran that down to a Tom Ford Jennifer crocodile skin leather handbag at the Trois Pommes boutique in Zurich. Tom Ford is the designer, Jennifer Aniston is the muse, and $38,000 (35,000 Swiss Francs) is the price tag.

The way this usually works is that the store apologizes and then sends someone to appear on the Oprah Show and give her and sometimes her audience free stuff. And what woman could blame Oprah for wanting to score a free designer handbag?

Now it's probably begun to occur to you that the inexpensive handbags that the clerk was trying to steer Oprah too weren't the $15 to $40 knockoffs you would find at Wal-Mart. No, when you buy Tom Ford handbags at Neimann Marcus, you can expect to spend $1,890 for the Jennifer Mini Crossbody Bag up to $4,550 for the Petra Zip Frame Calf Hair & Brushed Calf Leather Tote Bag-in-Bag.

It turns out the store kept the $38,000 crocodile-skin leather handbag in a locked display case. I suppose it was for technically sale, but the idea no doubt was that you would fall in love with the style of purse, and then the saleswoman would steer you to the still very expensive models in other leathers and colors. And then you could walk around knowing you carried the "same" purse as the exorbitantly expensive $38,000 one.

The store owner says it was all a big misunderstanding. It turns out she was also invited to the big Tina Turner wedding that Oprah was in town to attend. Tina Turner lives in a Swiss chateau along Lake Zurich and has become a Swiss citizen. The store owner says the sales clerk just wanted to show Oprah that the handbag was available in other materials and was a native Italian speaker who doesn't understand English too well.

Eventually, the mocking became too much and Oprah was forced to resort to Twitter: That seemed to cover it, but Oprah couldn't leave well enough alone: Funny how Nancy O'Dell, the blonde white woman reporter at ET has become Oprah's new best friend. I guess Oprah hopes Nancy can help her rehabilitate her image. But buying handbags designed for another white woman, Jennifer Aniston, I just don't know who can rehabilitate that.

Meanwhile, USA Today has this to report in the Paula Deen case:
"A New York man pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to trying to extort $200,000 from Paula Deen by threatening to reveal damaging information about the embattled celebrity cook if she didn't pay him to stay quiet."
I have never seen Paul Deen's cooking show and have no idea what kind of person she is, but it does appear that the original complainant, a disgruntled former employee, was out for a kind of severance pay blackmail too.

Comments No Longer Banned From Althouse?


No comment yet from Ann Althouse.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

We've Reached the Lazy End of Summer

All the cool people have gone to Cape Cod and all the really cool people have gone to Martha's Vineyard to play golf with the President. So it's quiet, peaceful, and really quite pleasant here in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mr. President

How do they know? I got this picture in an email Saturday morning from

Sunday August 4 is the President's birthday. He is 52. I hope he gets more than one candle on a lousy cupcake, but Democrats are never very generous with their own money. Some party.

Meanwhile, the folks at try to lay a guilt trip but manage instead to feed into fears that they are collecting and analyzing data on millions of Americans.