03 July 2007

Smitherman's Challenge

The first time I saw and heard Chris Smitherman was in summer 2003 at Sawyer Point. He was one of several unknown candidates stumping and answering questions for anyone willing to stop and listen. Leslie Ghiz, Nick Spencer, and Brian Garry were also there.

I remember being impressed with Smitherman and Spencer and not at all with Ghiz.

Smitherman came off as a genuinely good guy, a down-to-earth person with an almost nerdy interest in local issues balanced with youthful vigor and idealism.

Spencer was very well informed and seemed to have clear ideas about every issue that came up.

Ghiz ("rhymes with 'gee whiz'!") did nothing but recite anecdotes and chirp standard GOP talking points over and over. Sometimes they weren't even relevant to what was being discussed. She came off as someone who just moved into the city, didn't know anything about it, and picked up a pamphlet from the GOP office to decide her platform. Think of a less frightening and slightly more intelligent Jean Schmidt.

In the years since that forum, all 3 of these politicos have had varying degrees of success, but all 3 have lost credibility. Spencer, despite his huge personal commitment to the city, has a personality that rubbed too many people the wrong way. Ghiz's personality isn't much better. One day she's a lawyer, the next she's a petulant brat.

But perhaps most disappointing is Smitherman. The man who first seemed like anything but an ideologue has become just that: self-serving egomaniac who will say and do anything to get ahead. He could have chosen the path of Tyrone Yates, Eric Kearney, Catherine Barrett, or Mark Mallory. But he chose the easy way. The way of Jesse and Al, exploiting ignorance and racism to gain credibility through infamy.

As long as there is ignorance and racism there will be opportunities for those who would exploit them. And as long as Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Chris Smitherman can continue to convince black Americans that they are helpless victims of oppressive white society, they will be able to further their own egos at the expense of people who deserve better.

That's Smitherman's challenge.

Whether Smitherman gets elected or not is irrelevant. The only thing he will do for black Cincinnatians is to help them re-elect him. He will come and go, and Cincinnati will still be two cities, one black, one white.

6 comments:

Radarman said...

Couldn't have said it better myself, so I won't even try.

Anonymous said...

Westender, this is a rather foolish post. Smitherman isn't telling African American's that they are helpless at all, he's educating and emporing them.

He recently led a successful coalition to get African Americans at the table of the Banks Working Group. That's why there is now going to be a partnership with a white and a black developer. Smitherman isn't even in office and is getting results.

Smitherman isn't just representing black people, he's leading a coalition to give all of Hamilton County voters a voice in their future. and the regressive jail tax.

If you think that racism ended because black people got the vote in 1964 you're an idiot. Black people aren't treated the same way white people are and that's a fact. Smitherman has been chosen by the members of the NAACP to lead them and he's doubled their membership in just 90 days.

Smitherman gets things done. You suffer from white privelege. You don't understand how being a white male benfits you. You think life is fair for everybody but just look at the red lining, racial profiling and economic exclusion that the African American community has dealt with in recent years.

If you don't understand what the NAACP does maybe you should get off of your ass and go to a meeting. You will learn something.

WestEnder said...

Your comment signifies nothing more than the vulnerability of weak minds to strong personalities. But it does provide a good addendum to this post.

As in the comments you've left elsewhere, it reveals mostly hero worship for Smitherman and personal insults for those who question it. It's the same thing we see in diehard Bush supporters, diehard left-wingers, diehard religous extremists, and pretty much every other kind of extremist.

You just repeat the same things over and over and over, perhaps hoping that if you say them often enough they'll be true. And anyone who interferes with your cognitive recursive loop is the enemy of justice and must be vilified.

Example: you conclude I'm white without any evidence whatsoever. In other words, you stereotype my race because of my thoughts and politics. Just like you stereotype blacks by thinking they all think alike and support Smitherman because of their race.

Who's the racist here?

I know you need to find a reason to discredit those who oppose you so you don't have to face up to the rational arguments, but it ain't gonna fly here. What you're doing is called a logical fallacy and it's a characteristic of ersatz rationality. It's a hallmark of the neocons and other extremists that you think you're so different from.

Anonymous said...

Westender, I've never claimed Smitherman is a hero that I worship. He's just not a racist and is a great candidate. You have not made any intelligent arguments against him or his record.

I know blacks don't all think alike and I never said they did. You're the one vilifying Smitherman.

You haven't made any rational arguments at all. You simply stated your opinion and I disagree. I actually know Smitherman and so I'm in a better position to judge him.

I'm not an extremist and either is he. It's not the Greens that are Neocons. It's prowar extremist like Clinton and Kerry that supported Bush's bipartisan war. They supported the Patriot act and every other neocon policy.

You don't talk about issues and records, just your wrong impression of a guy that's doing a lot for his community. If you're black you're certainly out of touch brother!

WestEnder said...

I know blacks don't all think alike...

If you're black you're certainly out of touch brother!

The most astonishing thing about you, Green Machine (no idea why you're using "anonymous") is not your bizarre diatribes but the fact that you have absolutely no idea how bizarre and irrational you sound.

I can't help but remember Wilde's words "It is better to keep your mouth shut and have everyone think you a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."

If I were a rich neocon I'd give the local Green Party a million dollars on the condition that they make Smitherman the head and put Green Machine in charge of PR.

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