Applause for Cosby

Bill Cosby is continuing his campaign to get blacks to take responsibility for their own problems. And he’s speaking to receptive audiences.

“Let me tell you something, your dirty laundry gets out of school at 2:30 every day, it’s cursing and calling each other n—— as they’re walking up and down the street,” Cosby said during an appearance at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition & Citizenship Education Fund’s annual conference.

“They think they’re hip,” the entertainer said. “They can’t read; they can’t write. They’re laughing and giggling, and they’re going nowhere.”

Cosby’s talk was “interrupted several times by applause,” says AP.

He castigated some blacks, saying that they cannot simply blame whites for problems such as teen pregnancy and high school dropout rates.

“For me there is a time … when we have to turn the mirror around,” he said. “Because for me it is almost analgesic to talk about what the white man is doing against us. And it keeps a person frozen in their seat, it keeps you frozen in your hole you’re sitting in.”

. . . He also condemned black men who missed out on opportunities and are now angry about their lives.

“You’ve got to stop beating up your women because you can’t find a job, because you didn’t want to get an education and now you’re (earning) minimum wage,” Cosby said. “You should have thought more of yourself when you were in high school, when you had an opportunity.”

The Rev. Jesse Jackson endorsed Cosby’s statements, though he spun them as a call to “level the playing field.”

Cosby also said he wasn’t concerned that some whites took his comments and turned them “against our people.”

“Let them talk,” he said.

Cosby’s invitation to speak at the Rainbow/PUSH event is significant. Jackson knew what Cosby would say, more or less, and gave him a forum. An awful lot of blacks must be fed up with the old rhetoric. Cosby’s call for responsibility is liberating.

Via Number 2 Pencil.

About Joanne


  1. Sounds like Jesse wasn’t listening. Seems to me that Cosby’s saying that it’s time to stop talking about the field, and time to get into the game.

  2. Where’s theAmericanist?

    This seems to me a perfect opportunity for him to call somebody a racist.

    He’s the champ at that. Well, maybe he’s waiting for the comments to fill up a bit. Somebody please say something that will give this blowhard the opportunity to scream “racist.” Otherwise, he might explode with his own bile.

    And, cheers for Cos!

  3. I am so glad to hear an African-American address the “n” word situation. I teach in a multi-racial school, and several of my students call each other the “n” word. All are African-American. When I asked why they can use that particular racial slur, I was told that it is “okay for black people to do it. We can call each other the ‘n’ word. If you do it, you’re racist.” According to them it’s a term of endearment. A few have even memorized the spiel that if black people use the word often enough, it takes any racial meaning out of it. I don’t think that has happened yet; I don’t plan to start calling any of my black co-workers the “n” word. I’d get punched in the face, and rightfully so. I hope Bill Cosby sticks to his guns.

  4. “Jackson knew what Cosby would say, more or less, and gave him a forum.”

    Looks like Jackson is trying to ride the next wave. Ten years from now, he’ll remind us all that he was a Cosby supporter.

  5. Fletcher says:

    It’s too late for this. Generations have come and gone without learning about personal responsibility. They never learned it so they can’t teach it to their kids. It’s too late.

    Maybe charter schools can salvage some of the kids, and maybe some of the kids who succeed through various programs can later afford a therapist who will ease them through the transition.

    Cosby can say anything he wants, because he has “made it” and thus earned the right to speak his mind. But don’t expect his words to translate into meaningful community change.

  6. mike from oregon says:

    Fletcher –

    On the one hand, I tend to agree with you and your view point. On the other hand, it’s about time that somebody of that particular color stood up and shouted “The king has no clothes!”. If someone of a different color does it, we’re racists, but it a bit more difficult to call someone of their own race that same name (although they try). They won’t listen to the voice of other races, then it’s high time that someone of their own race did something besides, “blame whitey”. Congratulations to Cosby, and if his words change the way that even 5% of the blacks think of themselves and their roles in society, it would be a great start. Now, if we can just get the bleeding heart (white) liberals to get off the “blame whitey” bandwagon, we might be able to start changing things (note: I said, might).

  7. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Think of the education those hours riding buses could have paid for. 40 years of get even is enough. Time now to get going. Equal STANDARDS for all!

  8. Anyone who has read “Angela’s Ashes”, an account of growing up in 1940’s Ireland, will recall the phrase “.. all that the English have done to us in the past 600 long years.”

    This was used as an excuse for every failure.

    Then one day, not so many years ago, the Irish woke up, blinked in the sunlight, and set about transforming themselves into the most educated population in Europe.

    Now Ireland is known as the “Celtic Tiger” and has one of the fastest growing economies in Europe. Hired Englishmen, I’m told, are tending gardens in Dublin.

    Hint, Hint.

  9. stolypin says:

    Bill R,
    Yes the transformation in Ireland has been nothing short of extraordinary as evidenced by the reverse migration and immigration patterns you referred to.

  10. Fletcher says:

    The Irish miracle occurred mainly by cutting taxes severely, both corporate and individual.
    New Zealand managed an impressive recovery in the 80s doing the same thing.
    Iceland achieved prosperity cutting taxes in the 90s.

    If you are suggesting that Africans could achieve the same economic miracle as the Irish, I would certainly like to see tax cutting and government de-regulation in all the African countries. Excellent idea, Bill.
    And if someone wanted to help African-Americans, they could cut their taxes (and all other americans’ taxes) as well.
    Splendid idea.

  11. lindenen says:

    Actually cutting taxes has helped African-Americans over the past 20 years. I’ve read that the poverty rate among African-Americans has dropped by over half since then.

  12. This is not a race issue. It is a parental responsible issue.

    But I bet we will not be hearing that “Parents are responsible for their children including their educations” from any politicians soon.

    Why not?

  13. Dale,

    I don’t believe we will be hearing that particular set of ideas from our elected officials any time soon for two reasons:

    A)Parents don’t want to hear that (not even mine). They won’t re-elect officials who say what they don’t want to hear.

    B)Espousing ideas like that might remind them that they’re responsible to their constituents. Worse, it might remind their constituents of that small fact.

    Unfortunately, I think that those two reasons are more than likely why we won’t hear congress espousing the idea of personal/parental responsibility any time soon. And I believe that these reasons outweigh the reasons the teachers’ unions have for rejecting the same idea.

  14. Walter E. Wallis says:

    And yet Ireland, Adolph’s friend in WWII and Stalins friend in the Cold War are now Saddam’s friends in the war on terror. They place an awful lot of faith in England as a buffer.

  15. John Judge says:

    I suspect that Jesse Jackson may be sincere (at least partially) in climbing aboard the Bill Cosby bandwagon. Surprisingly, during the seventies Jackson advocated the virtues of self-help and self-confidence to his young audiences. Jesse would lead chants of “I AM SOMEBODY!” Remember? Later Jesse changed direction–to affirmative action, etc. Maybe Jesse got tired of suffering the disapproval and disdain of his fellow Civil Rights leaders. Or maybe Jesse got depressed at how his self-help messages had turned off white liberals and their foundations.

    As for Bill Cosby, I suspect that his message is not new. It’s just that until lately he has been giving the message to blacks only, and getting little response. In that regard I remember an Eddie Murphy movie (1987, “Eddie Murphy Raw,” I think). The movie was the film presentation of a standup comedy routine performed by Eddie Murphy at a theater on the Sunset Strip, I believe. In the performance Eddie mentioned that he had recently recived a long phone call from Bill Cosby. Cosby had implored Eddie not to use so much profanity, not to use the N word, and not to be so vulgar. Of course Eddie was telling the story for laughs–and to ridicule Cosby. Maybe Cosby got similar reactions from other influential blacks too.

  16. Mad Scientist says:

    It is truly amazing that only in America the black population behaves like a group of spoiled children, always crying that “Life ain’t fair!”.

    In 2 recent trips to Europe, I was repeatedly pleasantly surprised at the number of blacks in positions of authority (as supervisors), precisely because they were educated, and as educated individuals, respected.

  17. stolypin says:

    John Judge,
    I remember listening to Jackson in the 70s or early 80s and my recollection seems to track yours to a good degree. I remember being mildly shocked that the thrust of his message (and I am not referring to the I am somebody incantations) was that no one is going to give you anything – you have to work at it, etc. was somewhat different from the reported perception of his message.

    As to Cosby – some of the villifcation has already begun. On one cable talk show I think at least one rapper and one intereviewed conference spectator made the allegation that perhaps he had been drinking a bit too much. Sigh.

    Cosby has been preaching this for years and I think the germ can be found in one of his oldest comedy LPs from the 60s. In one skit he talked about flying a lot in his I Spy days. He remembered once sitting on a plane and saying out loud – “Sure hope the plane don’t crash!” to which all the other passengers chimed in – “Yeah, I was thinking that too but didn’t want to say it.” To a certain extent this appears to be the response he is hoping to get now.

  18. Bob Diethrich says:


    You have made a valid point about contemporary black culture and entertainment that I have been saying for years.

    Only half tongue in cheek, I have long maintained that a lot of “black humor” and shows like Def Comedy Jam are actually sponsored by the Ku Klux KLan! πŸ™‚

    The few times I have been able to stomach these shows I have seen nothing but young black males pandering to every single racist stereotype probably held by whites about young black men.

    They talk about not working, scoring with lots of different girls (when did “My Baby’s Mother” become a legitimate familial relationship?), being loud, ignorant and disrespectful.

    To touch on another topic that has been brought up on this board before, I actually heard one foul mouthed Pryor wanna be utter the following, “Hey did you ever go out with a white couple and they ACTUALLY TIP THE WAITRESS?”

    Of course this was greeted with gales of hysterical laughter!

    I was amazed to say the least!

  19. Jim Thomason says:

    A few quotes from Malcolm X come to mind:

    “You can blame a person for knocking you down but you can’t blame that person if you refuse to get back up. . . . However much slave history taught us about the injustice and misery we as a people had suffered, it did not excuse us from assuming responsibility for ourselves and each other by altering its course.”

    “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.”

    “Without education, you’re not going anywhere in this world.”

  20. theAmericanist says:

    I think it really nailed the Cosby’s when an immigrant killed their son — of course: life can be so cruel. I remember when Mrs. C wrote a piece for USA Today about the racist character of her son’s killer which, she pointed out, he had to learn here: there aren’t a whole lot of black people in Russia. In that, she sounded remarkably like Booker T. Washington, who noted the same thing a century ago: one of the weird facts about racism in America is that it is renewable.

    Still — speaking of Booker T. Washington — there is a powerful (and nearly lost) thread in African-American culture, the sort of defiant tradition of advancement DESPITE slavery and racism.

    I don’t think the sort of ‘assimilationist’ shtick that Sowell wants will do it, though: for one thing (as Cosby knows), African-Americans are the MOST American ethnicity. If anything, it’s the rest of us who need to assimilate to the “better angels of our nature”, epitomized by sorta values a Cosby or a Jordan illustrates: the OTHER legacy of slavery.

    (An African-American Tee-Shirt — “Southern Abolitionist: no, WE won.”)

  21. The eminently predictable response of theAmericanist. Every white person in America is racist except him.

    I thought that the moral of the Cosby murder was that Mrs. Cosby kind of made a wild statement under the duress of a family tragedy. In other words, the revelation that her son’s killer was an emigrant Russian kind of threw the racism charge out the window.

    The greater nobility that you assign to blacks is just an inverse manifestation of racism. I believe that in the black community the noble, morally elevated black you so often invoke is called “the magical negro.”

    Every thought of considering blacks just “people” instead of a problem for you to solve? I’d suggest ceasing the weepy condescension toward blacks. Ever thought of getting out of the racism business? It’s an addiction that’s not doing you any good. You probably have personal problems of your own you could be attending to.

    Not that that has anything to do with this thread. Cosby is quite right in what he is doing.

  22. theAmericanist says:

    Stephen, I have refrained from responding to you, cuz you’re useless. But I will note that you challenged me personally on another thread, with the silly idea that I don’t work on this sorta thing. I responded in detail in public, cuz you don’t have the class and competence to discern between a public conversation and a private subject: and you still don’t.

    Cosby, Jordan (Powell, Rice, Gates, etc.) aren’t myths, ya know.

  23. Actually, I’m very useful. I’ve given you some great advice.

    Forget about saving black people.

    Focus your attention elsewhere.

    Stop telling others about your sainthood.

    Your personal life will improve as a result.

  24. Rita C. says:

    While personal responsiblity is a good thing, and to be encouraged by all means, I think this is a vast, vast oversimplification of the problem. And there is a problem. The problem has simply been redefined from a social one to an educational one with the politicization of the achievement gap. Which is fine. There shouldn’t be an achievement gap. And for some kids there isn’t. I always have a number of very bright AA kids who are academically ambitious. I have AA parents who care deeply about their childrens’ education, but the kids won’t do their homework and fail their classes. They call me, send me email, etc. Don’t blame it all on the parents! Many of them are pulling their hair out. Every black person in America does not live in the ghetto. Every black parent who lives in the ghetto is not anti-education. This is more than a problem with the parents and poverty.

  25. theAmericanist says:

    I’ve always been curious at the odd dynamic between African-American culture and the broader society. Cosby points at it, of course: it’d be just wrong to bleach his work, but there’s always been a difference between his act and, say, Redd Foxx. Cosby is at least as self-consciously ideological in his work as, say, Chris Rock, too.

    Still — the real money in rap music is from white suburban teens. Ain’t that odd? It’s just the latest in an amazing string of distinctively American cultural artifacts that are African-American innovations: our language, music, civic culture, are largely defined by African-Americans.

    So what’s with the self-destructiveness? It’s hard to look at Cosby, f’r instance, his corporate success, and conclude that The Man actually cares about much but green. But it IS just odd that the most self-destructive aspects of “African-American” culture (not to mention U.S. law, viz., the disparate sentencing for possession of of powder vs. catalyzed cocaine, or for that matter the Republican party’s support for racial gerrymandering) are exploited by folks who don’t particularly benefit from African-American independence.

    OT — any suggestions on what to do with Stephen? I’m resisting telling him off, but…

  26. “… our language, music, civic culture, are largely defined by African-Americans.”

    More patronizing nonsense.

    Since I am a blues musician, and white, I’m in a pretty good position to talk about this.

    People often advance theAmericanist’s theory, particularly in relationship to the blues, which is asserted to be a black art form. The problem with this is that the chordal and melodic structure of the blues are entirely derived from Irish folk music. Blues is the result of racial inter-mingling, which isn’t surprising since it was born in shotgun shacks, brothels and bars. People go to these places to find a different kind of meat. Since the very beginning, the blues has been about blacks and whites getting together to get down. In fact, a strong case could be made that the most important blues song ever, “The House of the Rising Sun,” was originally meant to be sung by an Asian prostitute in Storyland in New Orleans.

    Nothing penetrates this dogma, because those who advance it do so with the intention of “helping” blacks by elevating their self-esteem. Never mind that the two most dominant blues acts of the past 40 years are Hot Tuna and Eric Clapton. Or, if you like, forget that for decades the best blues bands in the world were the Rolling Stones and the Allman Brothers.

    I am from Chicago and I played with Paul Butterfield, the great Jewish bluesman who often worked with Muddy Waters, I am in a pretty good position to understand how this patronizing works. (And, believe me, I am not denying the powerful influence of black bluesmen like Muddy Waters. What I am saying is that to make Muddy a black man first is to not understand his message. He said “I’m a man.” He didn’t say “I’m a black man.”)

    Here’s the bottom line. When blues is ghetto-ized as black music, everybody loses financially. When blues is recognized as the inter-racial art form that it really is, financial success follows.

    It’s just an example, but Irish folk music plays as great a role as African folk music in the history of American popular music. I’m telling you again, Mr. theAmericanist, this act of yours is old and it is destructive. Just because it sounds so romantically beautiful to you doesn’t make it so. Worshipping blacks as the morally superior “other” isn’t good for anybody, and it’s just crap.

  27. theAmericanist says:

    ROFL — man, you’re just a fool, Stephen.

    You don’t know the difference between O’Carolan and Louis Armstrong? Between Robert Johnson and Eric Clapton? Between W.C. Handy and Paul Butterfield, fercryingoutloud? You figure turnarounds were invented in Clare, not Congo Square?

    (delicately, as one talking to someone hallucinating) And you think House of the Rising Sun is a more important and influential piece of music than, say, Crossroads or Heebie Jeebies or St. Louis Blues?

    And you BRAG about it in public?

    (carefully, slowly) The way it works, Stephen, is that the folks who innovate are the ones who do something new for the FIRST time. They will generally combine different elements from disparate sources — but what makes it an innovation is not the note for note (and badly done) imitations of a Clapton but the startling clarity of the original synthesis.

    (shaking head) It ain’t about race — unless, of course, you’re a fool like Stephen. But it IS about telling the truth.

  28. I love how Jackson couldn’t resist throwing in the old “level the playing field” saw. It almost made Cosby’s comments worthless to anyone who was present… it made people think that Jackson had a point. Which, unfortunately, he really didn’t. He was just glomming onto Cosby’s thunder.

    Kudos to Cosby, though.

  29. How old are you, son, 15? That’s about what I can figure from theAmericanist ravings.

    Son, I knew Muddy Waters and jammed with him. Hound Dog Taylor was a friend of mine, I’m proud to say. So was Paul Butterfield. In fact, Paul’s son came around to play with me a few years ago. When I was a kid, I played with the guys who were in Louis Armstrong’s bands. I’ve performed with every member of Miles Davis’ most famous band, the one that recorded “Kind of Blue.” The drummer, Jimmy Cobb, is a longtime friend.

    The chip on your shoulder is about as wide as it is long.

    Like I said, the best thing you could do for yourself on this subject is to shut up. I listened over the weekend to one of my favorite albums, the duo album Eric Clapton recorded with B.B. King. Perhaps, you should tell B.B. your theory. I’m sure he’d be impressed.

    You are a very confused man. You are confusing your continual display of your halo with just about everything else. Neither Eric Clapton nor B.B. King need your help.

    This is another subject of which you are completely and blithely ignorant. Once again, I’d suggest that silence would suit you better.

  30. theAmericanist says:

    Wow — you really ARE here solely for your ego, huh?

  31. “It ain’t bragging if you can do it.”

    I believe this is attributable to Yogi Berra.

    You might want to check out my web site. I am married to a black/Filipino woman who sings the blues.

  32. Stephen, Americanist, you’re off topic. Please discuss the post, not each other.

  33. theAmericanist says:

    What she said.

  34. theAmericanist says:

    In case anybody actually cares, because somebody asked me, and for those who don’t know 12-bar from a crowbar, it works like this: like speech, ALL music comes from someplace. Even the nightingale doesn’t know how to sing until it hears another one.

    Where it all started originally is beyond knowing, probably.

    But the continuum of music called blues/jazz/rock and roll originated in the United States and can be traced primarily to New Orleans before the Civil War, and even into the 18th century. There were other musical traditions brought to the U.S., to be sure, and as blues/jazz/rock became the dominant American form, those influences affected, or were affected by it. But blues/jazz/rock is the one we’re talking about, not the Scots -Irish or Borderer influence on bluegrass.

    That’s where American pop comes from — period.

    Leaving a mainstream to follow a tributary is a sign of confusion. What defines the main course is what comes to a new influence, changes it, and takes the new and changed thing to the next new influence. That wasn’t Irish folk.

    Most folks understand that a certain basic set of characteristics define blues and jazz, in particular: the 3 chord 12 bar form is inescapable (but not definitive), so are turnarounds (the way the chords resolve), the classic improvised form for jazz calls and response… those things all came FROM somewhere. They’re not much like Irish folk music (although you can make a case for short, simple songs), nor classical European forms. It’s pretty clear, historically: more than lots of other things we figure we “know”.

    Slaves brought African ways of music with ’em, of course (instruments, call and response), and used those the way any people far from home would. But that’s not — quite — where the most distinctively American music came from. It was an amalgamation that transformed — but ya gotta know the mainstream, where the flow is.

    FWIW, that’s why I care so much about this — in denying it, trying to change what it means (cuz it is EXACTLY Cosby’s point, ya know), is just wrong: it means somethin important about who we are as a nation and a people, that it was the presence of millions of African Americans that made citizenship fulfill the promises of the Founding, that in language and music and culture, time and again African Americans have been the driving force of what makes us America.

    New Orleans’ race culture was different from the rest of the Old South, because it was French — more Creole, less rigidly stratified. That meant that many were educated and cultured who were denied access to such in other parts of the country. Plus, the Big Easy was surely the most cosmopolitan city in North America: it didn’t have monoculture ghettoes like NY or Boston or Philly. Very fertile ground.

    As early as the 18th century, slaves were famous for music and dancing in what was called “Congo Square”. (This was shut down before the Civil War as New Orleans became MORE like the rest of the South, particularly in the fear of slave uprisings after Denmark Vesey in SC.) So there is evidence of the musical culture (including slaves educated in European notation and instruments) already being present quite early in which other things happened, later.

    After emancipation, freed slaves formed mutual societies to provide services (like medical care) that they no longer got from their owners. Those societies had bands — and THOSE bands, building on the century old musical tradition that New Orleans already had, began what’s now called blues/jazz/rock and roll. Creole musicians were famously educated and trained — but the street bands took established dance tunes and “jazzed ’em up”, which meant (grin) something not to be repeated in polite company: Buddy Bolden, f’r instance, in the 1890s. It goes roughly (with brass) from Buddy Bolden to King Oliver to Louis Armstrong; (with piano, etc.) from street bands to cathouse pianos, from ragtime to Jelly Roll Morton and W.C. Handy; the guitar was cheap and portable, so naturally Delta bluesman used it, and the banjo, and the harmonica. Then it goes to Chicago, Les Paul and Fender invent the electric guitar, etc.

    But confusing contributing influences (or instruments) with the origin and development of blues/jazz/rock and roll is like figuring it was all just John Philip Sousa, slumming: cuz they used trumpets or blues harps, right?

    Congo Square goes back long before any significant Irish immigration to the U.S., Stephen: that didn’t start in any real numbers until the 1820s, and wasn’t that big in New Orleans, ever. The earliest turnaround written in music was a banjo tune (an African-origin instrument) in 1840. Sure, folk music of all sorts fed into blues/jazz/rock and roll, cuz that’s what music DOES.

    But the idea that African Americans are the MOST American ethnic culture, that they have decisively influenced the most distinctively American forms of music and language, isn’t patronizing. And why on earth would you even think that?

    It’s just true.

    There is something weirdly compulsive about calling it ‘condescension’ when a distinctive culture is given credit for a distinctive achievement.

    (thoughtfully) Though maybe it DOES explain something about why corporate culture exploits African-American weaknesses: it’s “pop culture” when you can claim it’s Irish folk, but “condescending” when you note it’s African-American.

  35. Mad Scientist says:

    Even the nightingale doesn’t know how to sing until it hears another one.

    That has got to be the absolute stupidest thing I have read in the past year.

    So, enlighten us all and tell us where the FIRST nightingale learned to sing?

  36. theAmericanist says:

    ROFL — it never ceases to amaze me how folks don’t bother to read even the next sentence, which was: “where it all started originally is beyond knowing.”

    But the phrase has actually a fascinating history of its own. Robert Timberg wrote “The Nightingale’s Song” about Annapolis graduates John McCain, James Webb, Oliver North, John Poindexter and Bud McFarlane and a lot of others, which is just a great book.

    HE got the title from an apparently true factoid, that he learned from (of all people) Barbara Felden, who played “Agent 99” on the old Get Smart tv show. According to Felden (I don’t remember WHY Timberg was listening to Barbara Felden, or what she was talking about) if a nightingale is raised alone in captivity, it is mute. Apparently, this is not true of other birds — raise a mockingbird or a crow by itself, and it will make sounds just like other mockinbirds or crows. It is only when a solitary nightingale hears another sing, that it will find its voice.

    Go figure, say I. But it made for a great title for a good book.

  37. Mad Scientist says:

    I’ll bet it is all based on slavery.

    Go figure.

  38. stolypin says:

    Agent 99??????

    Agent 99??????

    Well that certainly explains the nightingales. No one ever heard them until Maxwell Smart lifted the cone of silence.

    I’m sorry, Agent 99???????????

  39. stolypin says:

    “Please discuss the post, not each other.”

    Joanne, please. If you actually remove all the portentious, pontificating, peacock preening, self-important, long-winded, off-point, my tool is bigger than yours posturing in the comments section it will only leave us poor mortals with comments about the importance vel non of Mr. Cosby’s comments. Surely that cannot be your goal. Say it ain’t so.

  40. theAmericanist says:

    Would you believe….

    Okay, so you guys made me look her up to see just what on earth she might have been talking about in a public speech, when she told the nightingale story.

    LOL — I didn’t realize that she had actually won the “$64,000 Question” when she wasn’t much more than a kid (oh, with those eyes), which she invested in a NYC art gallery. Did quite well, apparently. I always knew she was smart. (Insert Don Adams joke here.)

    So far as I can tell, she has two ’causes’ — she’s a vegetarian, but I think it more likely that her speech was about being single. She was married in the 60s, but divorced, and felt strongly enough about the single life that she defended it in a book.

    LOL — I also double checked on songbirds. Evidently, it IS true that a nightingale cannot sing like — well, like a nightingale — until it hears another nightingale sing. It is also true of other songbirds that, if they are raised by themselves in captivity, past a certain point they cannot learn to sing like the rest of their species — and, curiously, the ability to sing a variety of different melodies is a major factor in attracting mates. (A sign of intelligence, no doubt. But evidently also, another instance of the importance of a sound grounding in early education.)

    But the nightingale seems to be unique in that it is mute, until it hears another one.

    No, I don’t know how the first one learned to sing. And nobody else does, either.

  41. stolypin says:

    So Agent 99 and Dr. Joyce Brothers (boxing expert if memory serves) have the $64,000 question in common. Never would have thought it.
    I wonder if any other notables made their way on that show.

  42. theAmericanist says:

    Patty Duke.

  43. “No, I don’t know how the first one learned to sing. And nobody else does, either.”

    There are those apologists for atheistic evolution who would argue that last sentence.

    : )

  44. stolypin says:

    Patty Duke? You sure it wasn’t her identical cousin from Britain? Amazing.

    Laura, you may very well have just unleashed a torrent of posts. πŸ™‚ I seem to be following you around today. . . . Ivan

  45. theAmericanist says:

    Yup, Patty Duke. I’m positive. The one carrying the shoe.

  46. Mad Scientist says:

    Laura, the theists would argue that God taught the first nightingale to sing.

    The point is: does it matter?

  47. Mad, I have no problem with the idea that God taught the first nightingale to sing – I think it’s a charming idea, if a bit simplistic. I have even less of a problem saying “I don’t know.” Sometimes a little judicious agnosticism is a good thing.

  48. Mad Scientist says:

    Please help.

    I am having a hard time deciding why I dislike theAmericanist so much. Is it:

    A) self-righteous condesention,

    b) the unbridaled arrogance, or

    c) the unabashed omniscience?

    Thanks in advance.

  49. theAmericanist says:

    It’s ‘condescension” and “unbridled”.


  50. Oh, that’s cold.

    Mad, just don’t let him pull your chain.

  51. stolypin says:

    Oh, I don’t know Laura. Some people are just meant for each other πŸ™‚ he says without having a dog in this fight.
    Night all.

  52. theAmericanist says:

    Now, THAT was cold.

  53. Mad Scientist says:

    Obviously, I display none of those traits. I are a Injunear.

  54. stolypin says:

    By the way – the best protest I have seen in recent years took place outside the hotel hosting this year’s annual spelling bee contest.
    ABout 8 people walked around with signs that read:

    “Enuf is Enough”
    “Spelling shud be lojical”
    “10,000,000 illiterates can’t be rong”

  55. theAmericanist says:

    Alas that it doesn’t exist online, but one of the funniest news cartoons in history that I’ve ever seen is of Teddy Roosevelt on exactly this.

    One of TR’s pet projects was to make the spelling of American English purely phonetic and logical, to get rid of all the fancy Latin and Greek and French idiosyncrasies so it would be easier for folks like his Dakota Territory friends to become literate.

    So some wise guy portrayed him — Teddy Teeth, all spectacles and enthusiasm — in rough rider garb, shooting holes in the dictionary.

  56. Cosby is just saying what everyone knows is true, but whites are afraid to talk about it, and the blacks that do don’t get any press exposure.

  57. theAmericanist says:

    THAT’s the point — or half of it, anyway.

    There is a curious inversion of insults in America: people tend to adopt as identifying badges the very things that others used to insult ’em. For most identifiable American groups, that is positive or at least harmless.

    The original version of the Fighting Leprechaun that is the symbol of Notre Dame University was a downright simian woodcut done by the anti-Irish, anti-Catholic Thomas Nast. But there are lots of examples: Connecticut “the nutmeg state”, Oklahoma, “the sooner state”. All positive.

    African Americans do something similar, changing the accepted monicker: to ‘colored’ with the founding of the NAACP, to “negro’ when Jim Crow adopted ‘colored’, to ‘Afro-American’ back in the day, and now “African-American”, or ‘persons of color’. But — like Cosby — I dunno as NWA is as positive a sign as “the Fighting Irish”, and it damn sure isn’t as archaic as the insult “the paddy wagon”.

    Barbara Ehrenreich points to the other half in today’s NYTimes — much of the underclass myth is just that, a myth. She whacks Cosby pretty solid for basically blaming kids for being young — pretty much exactly the way most American kids are young. I haven’t seen anybody here (or anyplace else) note the distinction, though: youth is the one thing time always cures.

    Mike Barone’s book on Hard and Soft America makes the point that virtually ALL American kids are educated soft — and the fact is, most rap, etc., is sold to white kids in the ‘burbs.

    So how come Barone’s idea of Hard America ideals isn’t identified as an African-American ideal in the same way that rap is?

    I think it’s related to Stephen’s idea that that (relatively slight) influence of Irish folk on American pop is “culture”, but noting that the real roots of American pop (and much of our culture as a whole) are solidly in slavery and African American contributions based on that friction, and that’s “condescending”.

    It gives ‘burban kids something rebellious to identify with, that they can recover from … but it keeps African American kids on the W.E.B. DuBois route, rather than the (perhaps) more productive Booker T. Washington road.


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