Wednesday, 22 November 2006

Why Would I Thank Hitler?

The fall out from Michael Richards’s racist diatribe continues. My view on it is that his outburst is indefensible, he lost his temper, and when he got going he couldn’t stop. Is he a racist? Well, what do racists do? Long for the days when ‘blacks were strung up’? Shout ‘n*****’ at black guys who annoy them?

His apology on Letterman seemed genuine enough though, he looked nervous, and seemed to have trouble articulating just why he did what he did. He didn’t read from a prepared statement he seemed sincere. When he states that he’s fine with the people involved in the incident to go to the papers he adds that this type of behaviour should be exposed. Sadly, for those of us who loved him as Kramer, he also looked like a bewildered old man, desperately hoping for a lifebelt with which to save his drowning career.

Perhaps he didn’t feel as bad as he seemed on Monday night when he woke up on Saturday morning, perhaps he only felt that way when footage of the incident appeared on Monday.

There’s a Kids in the Hall sketch where an actress accepting an Oscar sees her career end on the podium, as in among her thanks to managers, directors and parents, she absent-mindedly thanks Hitler. “I thanked Hitler?” she asks her manager as he leads her away from a stunned and silent audience. “I never! Why would I thank Hitler?” I can only assume Michael Richards had a similar conversation with his manager at the weekend.

Now let's have a look at what everyone else has been saying about him.

Jay Leno has been having a dig at him.

The New York Times has a good article on how Jerry Seinfeld got Richards on Letterman and how Richards might be able to recover.

This is another New York Times article analysing his apology.

Canadian comics condemn him in this article from The article also highlights the fact that he repeatedly referred to ‘Afro-Americans’ in his Letterman interview.

This is an article in The Independent analysing the incident.

BetUS posts odds on what he will do next.

He will confess to being a KKK member- 50/1
He will write a book titled the Kramer Mein Kampf- 150/1
He will marry an African American man- 20/1
He will donate a million dollars to the NAACP- 10/1
He will attempt to start Kramer Arian youth groups- 150/1

Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks out on Richards in the Chicago Defender.

"I think number one, clearly it is obvious that Michael Richards engaged in a racist rant," Jackson Sr. said. "This is not the first time he has said these things, because he went beyond using the N-word. It seems to me that it's not enough that he should apologize and get treatment.

In the Huffington Post Earl Ofari Hutchinson thinks the incident marks a good time for everyone to take a look at the 'N' word.

The Chicago Tribune provides more analysis from a crisis management expert, as well as’s Managing Editor delight that the video of the incident had been viewed on their site more than 1.5 million times.

Oscar winner and stand-up Jamie Foxx says, "I would have whooped him on sight."

The New York Post digs up no shortage of people prepared to say that Michael Richards was a ‘ticking time bomb of rage’.

Melanie Chartoff, who worked with Richards on the sketch comedy show "Fridays" in the early '80s and had an appearance on "Seinfeld," said he becomes enraged "when someone disagrees with his point of view."

On a similar path, says 'Kramer called me a c***'.

Someone prepared to defend Michael Richards is Chicago based columnist and stand-up Ray Hanania.

"But Richards isn’t a racist. His act doesn’t feature racist attacks against other races and ethnic groups.

Still, African Americans seem set on making an example of him, even though African Americans use the “N” word more often than others on and off comedy stages."

Dave McGurgan of is another to come to the aid of the 57 year old actor.

“How much do you want to bet Jesse Jackson gets involved or even worse - sicks his posse on Richards over this?

Unfortunately Richards has already lost the battle.

Which is a shame because it's impossible to logically draw the conclusion that he's a racist from the incomplete and edited piece of tape that only runs two-and-a-half minutes.

Sure, he says "nigger" an awful lot, but without the entire context of the show, we don't know what factors led up to Richards' tirade against the heckler.”

Kyle Doss and Frank McBride, the two guys Michael Richards directed his anger at have spoken to NBC about it today. Funnily enough the word ‘compensation’ is now being bandied about.

They told "Today" show host Matt Lauer they did nothing to warrant Richards' racially charged invectives and called the comments hurtful and disrespectful. They said they can't accept the apology the comedian issued before cameras on the David Letterman Show because if Richards really wanted to apologize he would have sought them out.

Later in the show, celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, who now represents Doss and McBride, issued a challenge to Richards to meet with her clients to hear the pain his "racist" words caused.

She said he should take the recommendation of a retired judge to determine the compensation for Doss and McBride.

CBS News asks, Richards Facing Ruination Or Opportunity?

1 comment:

Fraser said...

I'm surprised by the amount of people who seem to feel that Richards will just curl up and die in the face of this.

If Jesse Jackson feels "…that it's not enough that he should apologize and get treatment" maybe he can suggest what else he can do.

If I were working for Richards, I'd be pointing him in the direction of sensitivity classes after which he could use his celebrity/infamy to address what obviously remains a serious issue in the USA. I feel Richards' attitudes displayed in the outburst probably reflect those of a significant minority in America and he could examine why these views are held and maybe try to broaden the healing process. I think a sincere attempt to make amends should be recognised if it's made.

The thing that I find even more disgusting than the outburst however is that fact that people are prepared to get up in arms over incidents like this while their (and our) country murders men, woman and children in their droves on a daily basis in what I feel is a racist crusade.

Also, how anyone can be surprised by this kind of thing in America is beyond me, since we're talking about a country where the subjugation and brutalisation of black people has been the accepted norm since the days of the founding fathers.

Maybe that’s why everyone is so angry. It’s so sad that America has made such little progress in race relations down the years.

That’s not to say the UK or the rest of Europe is perfect, it most certainly is not, but what we don’t have is that seething, barely contained hatred ready to explode at any second between polarised communities that seems to exist in the US.

The bottom line here is that in the face of this regrettable incident lies an opportunity to begin a healing process vital to America’s future. I doubt it will be taken, but it’s there nonetheless.