Friday, October 22, 2010

Nasr, Thomas, Sanchez...Itzkoff?

I stumbled across a recent interview by New York Times arts writer Dave Itzkoff of "Mad Men" creator and show-runner Matthew Weiner the other day and found one part particularly interesting. At one point, Itzkoff, while questioning Weiner about the show's development (and historical atmosphere) over the past four seasons, addresses the role - or lack thereof - of minorities in the show's cast and plot:

Itzkoff asks: "We’re now well into 1965 on the show, and there are no major black characters, no characters who are any kind of racial minority -"

Weiner cuts him off: "Do Jews count as racial minorities? Because there have been a lot of Jews on the show."

Itzkoff responds: "I don’t think so."
When comparing this exchange with the lead up to the widely-reported Rick Sanchez quote - the one that got him fired from CNN - one can see many similarities. When radio host Pete Dominick argued that "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart was just as much a minority as a Cuban-American, Sanchez replied: "C'mon, how is he a minority?" to which Dominick explained, "He’s Jewish."
Sanchez: "Yeah, very powerless people!"

Dominick: "Whoa."

Sanchez: "He's such a minority. I mean, you know. Please. What? Are you kidding?...To imply that somehow they - the people in this country who are Jewish - are an oppressed minority...yeah."
Strangely enough, Dominick then attempted to analyze the traumatized Jewish mind, claiming that, in his opinion, "every Jewish person" lives in "constant fear in the back of their head that [they] should resist the Holocaust." Moreover, Dominick explained that, due to the Jewish "history of oppression," Jews in the United States "can relate to oppression" and to the discrimination faced by ethnic minorities in America.

Sanchez, somewhat bewildered by Dominick's suggestion, replied, "So, just because someone’s Jewish means they are not capable of being prejudicial, is that what you’re trying to tell me?"

Dominick then backtracked.

So, why is it that Sanchez has been ridiculed and fired for saying essentially the same thing Dave Itzkoff said to Matthew Weiner? Was Weiner offended that, in Itzkoff's estimation, Jews (namely American Jews) do not constitute a "racial minority"? Perhaps he was - after all, he's the one who classified them as such (unsurprising, considering he's a proud Zionist) - yet never was there any outrage over Itzkoff's statement. Not that there should have been, of course. But this may be yet another example of who is "allowed" to discuss such topics and who is not in the mainstream media.


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