Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Not All Republicans are Bad

Not all Republicans are bad. Remember the liberal wing of the party, led in New York State by a man named Jacob Javits? Some of their primitive attempts at thoughtful behavior should be encouraged, even when they are wrongheaded and insensitive. Such is the case with the “Diversity Bake Sale” thrown by Cal Berkeley’s youthful Republicans. Yesterday’s Times reported the event thusly: “Last Week, the Berkeley College Republicans announced its ‘Increase Diversity Bake Sale,’ scheduled for Tuesday. On Facebook, the group listed the price for a pastry at $2 for white students, $1.50 for Asian students, $1 for Latinos, 75 cents for African-Americans and 25 cents for Native Americans. Women of all races were promised a 25-cent discount” (“A ‘Diversity Bake Sale’ Backfires on Campus,” NYT, 9/27/11). The Times quoted Shawn Lewis, a political science major and president of the Republican organization as saying, “We expected people to be upset. Treating people differently based on the color of their skin is wrong, and we wanted people to be upset about that.” Nice try Shawn. Satire is a tough game and if you don’t offend somebody then you aren’t doing your job. You might want to switch your major from political science to English so you get to read the great satirists like Swift. The fully annotated hardback editions of Gulliver’s Travels are something that every young Republican will be able to afford, as long we continue to provide tax breaks for the wealthiest sector of the population. But Swift also wrote A ModestProposal, in which he proposed solving Ireland’s hunger problem by eating the babies. Now don’t jump your guns and get the idea that Swift’s screed should be employed to deal with the growing homelessness, malnutrition and starvation in America. Still, it’s a piece you should take a look at, since it employs two techniques that were missing from your nice little attempt at humor—those being hyperbole and irony. If you have a point to make about inequity, it’s only going to be strengthened by the humanizing force of art.

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