August 23rd, 2017

Afraid of offending: in the penumbra of Robert E. Lee

You can’t be too careful, right? Fearful of ruffling feathers in Charlottesville and elsewhere, MSESPN made this decision:

In a story that seems made for The Onion, but is actually true, according to multiple Outkick fans inside ESPN MSESPN decided to pull an Asian college football announcer named Robert Lee off the William and Mary at University of Virginia college football game because they were concerned that having an ASIAN FOOTBALL ANNOUNCER NAMED ROBERT LEE would be offensive to some viewers.

Did I mention that Robert Lee is Asian?

Is this even real life anymore? This might even be worse than MSESPN apologizing for the fantasy football slave draft a couple of weeks ago.

MSESPN later issued a statement indicating that this was done at least partly at the request of Robert Lee himself, which changes the picture somewhat but still is a reflection of how extreme the catering to tender sensibilities has become, and how great the fear of being the target of the offended ones. I have to say that, even if I were on the anti-Robert E. Lee warpath (I wonder; is “warpath” an offensive word now?), I can’t imagine being triggered by a Robert Lee who was Asian. I just don’t think I’d make the connection, because to me that middle initial “E” has always been a definitive part of the famous general’s moniker.

The whole thing reminds me of two incidents from the past. The first is the attack on what used to be the perfectly serviceable and non-bigoted word “niggardly,” which means stingy. The controversies over that word began close to twenty years ago. Most people (including me) were able to let the word go because there are so many substitutes for it. In fact, I doubt I’ve ever used it in my life, even prior to the brouhaha over it. But that sort of controversy is indicative of where we’re headed, which is that more and more things have become forbidden, and an Asian sports announcer named “Robert Lee” ends up being pulled from a gig.

It also brings to mind the “water buffalo” incident at the University of Pennsylvania:

The incident occurred on January 13, 1993, when Eden Jacobowitz shouted, “Shut up, you water buffalo”, out of his window to a crowd of mostly black Delta Sigma Theta sorority sisters creating a ruckus outside his dorm. Others had shouted at the crowd, but Jacobowitz was the only one charged.

Initially Jacobowitz had an advisor assigned to him, who urged him to accept the University’s offer of a settlement. The settlement required him to admit to violating the racial harassment policy. Instead, he contested the university’s decision under the advice of Penn history professor and libertarian activist Alan Charles Kors.

Jacobowitz explained his choice of “water buffalo” as from Hebrew slang, “Behema” (animal or beast), used by Israelis to refer to a loud, rowdy person. He procured several expert witnesses who attested to this and others, such as Michael Meyers, President and Executive Director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, who gave testimonies that “water buffalo” was not a racial epithet against African Americans.

The case went on for quite some time, and got a lot of publicity. It was finally settled this way:

Despite the public outcry and widespread media coverage, the University refused to discuss or explain its actions.[citation needed] The hearing was delayed for another two months while international press commented and criticized Penn’s decisions…

Despite repeated requests by Jacobowitz’s legal teams to have charges dropped, the University pressed forward. At the hearing the panel decided not to dismiss the charges and issued a gag order to keep proceedings from leaking to the press…

After intense scrutiny by reporters, the University denied issuing a gag order, and University President Sheldon Hackney offered Kors a deal in which Jacobowitz would apologize for rudeness and the University and the plaintiffs would drop the charges. The affair ended when at a press conference the 15 women agreed to drop charges, stating that the media coverage made it unlikely they would get a fair hearing.

It tells you how long ago this sort of thing was being played out on university campuses, and how far it went even back then. It didn’t seem to matter what Jacobowitz’s intent in using the word was, how the word was ordinarily used, what it meant, the location of water buffalos (Asia), or anything else that would seem relevant except the feelings of the listeners and the need of the University of Pennsylvania to signal its own virtue.

26 Responses to “Afraid of offending: in the penumbra of Robert E. Lee”

  1. Griffin Says:

    I especially loved the ESPN flack bemoaning the fact that this would have never been known except for a dastardly leaker.

    Funny how they have different opinions on these things when it’s happening to them.

  2. Ann Says:

    Good piece by David French on the “malicious spirit loose in the land“:

    It’s a general truth in politics and culture that a nation is defined by those who care the most, and increasingly, those who care the most have lost their moorings. There is a malicious spirit loose in the land.

    We’ve certainly seen it on the left. Google’s recent decision to fire an employee for wrongthink is all too indicative of a progressive political culture that’s not content merely to disagree with dissenters. People in error have to be called out, investigated, shamed, and punished. The deeper you move into the ideological cocoon, the less tolerance there is for debate. . . .

    But we on the right are wrong and smug to think that only the Left is losing its sense of proportion or perspective. From the Bully Pulpit of the White House to the tiny pulpits of personal social media, amoral angry populists lash out with a degree of fury and rage that I’ve never seen in my adult life. The goals are similar, to “destroy” careers or to wage “war” on opponents, and it’s not just pundits fighting pundits or politicians fighting politicians. It’s neighbors versus neighbors.

  3. Dave Says:

    If only we could have banned Barrack Hussein Obama from running for president for having a name so reminiscent of mass murders like Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

  4. n.n Says:

    Color diversity, sex diversity, gender diversity, and now name diversity. Something similar happened when the left targeted the near and far associates of the “white” Hispanic or Hispanic “white”. Class diversity (i .e. denial of individual dignity) is a clear and progressive threat to individual dignity.

  5. neal Says:

    Robert The Bruce Lee.
    A little plaid and mascara will take anyone far in this town.

    Even dead warriors. Hell, if John frikkin Wayne can be a cowboy Mongol, everything is open for discussion.

    The Khan has a really large statue, just saying.

  6. Cap'n Rusty Says:

    I just typed “United Negro College Fund” into Google. Yes, it did come up with results. But I’m amazed that my account hasn’t been canceled yet. Any minute now, I’m sure . . .

  7. MollyNH Says:

    So now what happens to going down to the levee waiting for the Robert E Lee ? Can somebody please answer that for me?

  8. Dave Says:

    Bruce Lee’s young brother in fact is called Robert Lee, you can google that, he has a Wikipedia page

  9. Cornflour Says:

    I’m not a southerner, and my southern sympathies are limited to an affection for Flannery O’Connor’s stories. Even so, I can’t help but have an I-am-Spartacus fantasy about this.

    What if millions of southerners marched to their local courthouses, and demanded that their names be legally changed to Robert E. Lee?

    Of course, if they happened to be on vacation in New York, they could demand that their names be changed to Adolph Hitler. What’s the difference anyway?

    Somewhere in there, I should probably insert a sarcasm tag, but I’m not sure where it would go.

  10. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    They will not be satisfied until all thought, speech and behavior has been declared to be either forbidden or mandatory.

  11. neo-neocon Says:


    It’ll be a long wait.

  12. MollyNH Says:

    HA, ha. True that!

  13. Richard Saunders Says:

    Geoffrey Britain — 100% correct:

    “Tom Colicchio Changes the Name of His Restaurant After Learning of Its Racially-Charged Meaning

    “Chef Tom Colicchio is changing the name of his Manhattan restaurant after learning of its ties to racist theories of the Victorian era. The former Fowler & Wells is now Temple Court. The New York Times reports that Fowler & Wells, which opened last October, was named after a nineteenth-century publishing company and educational institute that once operated on the same site in the financial district. Its building was torn down and replaced by Temple Court. The men who started the company, Edward Fowler and Samuel Wells, were advocates for phrenology, a belief, common in the 1800s, that the shape of a person’s skull indicated intelligence levels and personality traits. This pseudoscientific study was often used to justify slavery and the inferior treatment of African Americans.

    . . .

    “Colicchio — who is a strong advocate for social justice on Twitter, often tweeting criticism of Donald Trump — told The New York Times that when he and his team were developing ideas for a name, they only vaguely understood phrenology and its “nefarious” connotation.
    “I don’t think it was a bad idea to start with because we didn’t have any of the information we have now,” he added. “I have a fairly liberal persona and never in a million years would consider myself a racist, so it never crossed my mind.”

    “Colicchio — one of The Daily Meal’s 50 Most Powerful People in Food for 2017 — has frequently used his considerable influence to support charitable causes, including organizations that combat hunger and food waste in America.”

  14. charles Says:

    “Shut up you water buffalo”

    OMG! LOL! I so totally want to use that on the next loud-mouthed jerk on our commuter train’s quiet car!

  15. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Asians are not white or black ,but they tend to get stuck with the discriminations of both.

    They are discriminated by blacks for “acting white” or being chi chi martial art stereotypes. Basically, their brains are so smart the Asians don’t have to do any work, while whites are so rich because of their silver spoons. It’s an inferiority complex of the blacks and ghettoes, but has consequences for asians.

    Then there is the discrimination of asians by whites because they aren’t blacks or acting black. Nor are asians “old American” prestige families, so they don’t get into the clans of Bush or Clinton or Hussein’s mother back to Washington.

    China town exists because the Chinese find it easy to provide mutual aid and comfort to each other because they share the same language and culture and work ethics. Economically, they also buy and import goods that blacks and whites don’t necessarily want to use.

    In order to bring the war that will sink America to its knees, one requires more than just white abolitionist vs white slave lord or black vs the slave lords.

    It has to be a free for all. Asians vs blacks vs Latinos vs whites vs everybody.

    Only then, can you sink a country as deep as Atlantis.

  16. AesopFan Says:

    neo-neocon Says:
    August 23rd, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    It’ll be a long wait.
    * * *
    Neo, you made a joke!
    (And just yesterday you were worried about losing your sense of humor.)

  17. AesopFan Says:

    Ymar Sakar Says:
    August 23rd, 2017 at 9:50 pm
    Asians are not white or black ,but they tend to get stuck with the discriminations of both.
    * * *
    So do White Hispanics.
    ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ … ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’

    The Left will not let anyone rest until they are the undisputed master of what all words mean.

    Orwell nailed it, of course.

  18. AesopFan Says:

    I remember the Water Buffalo fracas, but had forgotten it was so long ago.

    The inability of the Left to be reasonable has always been a characteristic of their existence.

  19. AesopFan Says:

    The example from Hitler’s history was unfamiliar to me, but the principle has been hashed around on the internet for some time now. The Left profited from the PR of Suppression back in the McCarthy back-lash, but doesn’t seem to think it can happen when they are in the role of the Suppressors.

  20. AesopFan Says:

    Whoops, wrong thread.
    Oh, well, fits anyway.

  21. Mr. Frank Says:

    The Robert Lee decision at ESPN is an example of Orwell’s observation that some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them. A blue collar guy or gal in fly over country would have guessed it was a joke.

  22. Ymar Sakar Says:

    The Left will not let anyone rest until they are the undisputed master of what all words mean.

    That is precisely why people find it strange that I have such a thick skin to social demoralization and the various names they like to call me.

    Just from this place alone, “crazy” is perhaps the most infamous and the most credible. To be crazy in the eyes of the world and of the publically educated “rabbis” here, is an honor to me actually. The second most well used is “ignorant”. The third is probably “long winded”, but Art and Aesop is more vulnerable to that kind of thing.

    Christians, with a capital C bearing their cross as they would attest, calls me a heretic or a devil worshipper. Shrugs.

    The Alt Right calls me a cuck, weak, or a compromiser. The Ctrl Left calls me a racist in 2008 and warmonger in 2005.

    After awhile, around 2007, I figured that I didn’t actually need to convince the majority of anything. The Left will smash your face into the concrete enough times that you will be forced to believe that everything Ymar said was true. I don’t have to lift a finger.

    Made things much easier for me. The Left wasn’t going to stop just because people refused to believe my warnings and words in 2007. In order to obtain the truth, they must Suffer.

    Since Christians also say Latter Day Saints are cultists and not christian… I stopped wanting to capitalize wannabe followers of the “Christ”. Also there is no such thing as “the church”, just the one people follow. People want to be biblically challenged and testified, so they sometimes use “the church” to mean the body of believers. Then again, who determines what the heretics and apostates are…

    Two diametrically different meanings for one term, might as well go with slavery = freedom.

    This world is corrupt, and it will soon destroy itself. I’ll be looking forward to that one.

  23. AesopFan Says:

    Ymar: Sometimes I’m long-winded, but mostly I’m just quoting in the long form.

    If I post a link without excerpts, it’s not clear what particular item in an article triggered my response.
    Stitching them together helps me figure things out and clarify my own beliefs.

    Also, I’m usually coming late and closing the thread, so I figure there aren’t many people reading them anyway.

  24. AesopFan Says:

    to Ymar again:
    There are actually only two churches: that of the Christ and that of the Devil. The word always translated as “church” in the New Testament is actually “ekklesia”meaning “an assembly” or “called out ones”; roughly, “affiliates”.

    Middle English chirche, from Old English cirice, ultimately from Late Greek kyriakon, from Greek, neuter of kyriakos of the lord, from kyrios lord, master.

    People give their own temporal “team” different names to suggest their alleged allegiance to the first (fewer are open about belonging to the second). But, people of any group can belong to either of the two existential churches; worldly “churches” are pretty inclusive.

    Yeah, some Mormons are going to Hell, and some Buddhists are going to Heaven, and we’re all going to be surprised where we end up and who is (or isn’t ) there.

    Most of us just do our best to muddle along and not cause too many problems for other people along the way.

  25. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Hell is originally described in the Book of Enoch as a place reserved for the angels.

    Jude and Peter both quote from the Book of Enoch, it is where the term “shackles” and pit of darkness or Tarterus came from. These concepts aren’t easily found in the Old Testament portions. In fact, I don’t think scholars have found a single instance yet apart from the previous.

    So before the final judgment, people still have to fight the Final Battle. No warrior would be credible if they didn’t want to participate in the final battle of humanity, the Final War that humans have been talking about since WW1 if not before.

    Chuck Missler was talking about the church of pergamon vs the other churches in some biblical letter.

    Check out his video about the Vatican. It’s almost the same as the Apostasy taught in LDS doctrine or Protestant attacks against the Papists.

    Ragnarok is another post Babel fragmented legend and oral history about the last battle of humans and gods. The Hebrews would call the latter the “Watchers” or “angels”.

  26. AesopFan Says:

    Ymar, you have obviously read enough to know that LDS doctrine includes three “heavens” the least of which most approximates what other Christian sects view as “hell” and then adds the REAL hell of “outer darkness” for the Sons of Perdition (those who know the truth about God and deny it, or shed innocent blood (lots of debate on what that one actually means)).

    Angelology isn’t well-developed in Mormon thought, although we believe in John’s translation to something between mortal and immortal (and add Three Nephites).

    Something interesting about threes and religious doctrine…

    Margaret Barker has done some impressive research into ancient Judaism, and how much was lost — or deliberately discarded — in the inter-testamentary period and the feuding over the “Jesus movement”.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

Monthly Archives


Ace (bold)
AmericanDigest (writer’s digest)
AmericanThinker (thought full)
Anchoress (first things first)
AnnAlthouse (more than law)
AtlasShrugs (fearless)
AugeanStables (historian’s task)
Baldilocks (outspoken)
Barcepundit (theBrainInSpain)
Beldar (Texas lawman)
BelmontClub (deep thoughts)
Betsy’sPage (teach)
Bookworm (writingReader)
Breitbart (big)
ChicagoBoyz (boyz will be)
Contentions (CommentaryBlog)
DanielInVenezuela (against tyranny)
DeanEsmay (conservative liberal)
Donklephant (political chimera)
Dr.Helen (rights of man)
Dr.Sanity (thinking shrink)
DreamsToLightening (Asher)
EdDriscoll (market liberal)
Fausta’sBlog (opinionated)
GayPatriot (self-explanatory)
HadEnoughTherapy? (yep)
HotAir (a roomful)
InFromTheCold (once a spook)
InstaPundit (the hub)
JawaReport (the doctor is Rusty)
LegalInsurrection (law prof)
RedState (conservative)
Maggie’sFarm (centrist commune)
MelaniePhillips (formidable)
MerylYourish (centrist)
MichaelTotten (globetrotter)
MichaelYon (War Zones)
Michelle Malkin (clarion pen)
Michelle Obama's Mirror (reflections)
MudvilleGazette (milblog central)
NoPasaran! (behind French facade)
NormanGeras (principled leftist)
OneCosmos (Gagdad Bob’s blog)
PJMedia (comprehensive)
PointOfNoReturn (Jewish refugees)
Powerline (foursight)
ProteinWisdom (wiseguy)
QandO (neolibertarian)
RachelLucas (in Italy)
RogerL.Simon (PJ guy)
SecondDraft (be the judge)
SeekerBlog (inquiring minds)
SisterToldjah (she said)
Sisu (commentary plus cats)
Spengler (Goldman)
TheDoctorIsIn (indeed)
Tigerhawk (eclectic talk)
VictorDavisHanson (prof)
Vodkapundit (drinker-thinker)
Volokh (lawblog)
Zombie (alive)

Regent Badge