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A cringe momentMinimize

August 13, 2010 - Courier-Journal

President Obama and his policies are fair game for right-wing radio hosts — and anyone else. But Mandy Connell of 84WHAS upset a lot of people last week when she described the President, the son of a white American mother and a black Kenyan father, as a “young half-breed.”

Chris Hartman, director of the city's Fairness Campaign, e-mail blasted an audio link of the show that included Ms. Connell, apparently aware of her faux pas, explaining, “I say half-breed not in a derogatory way. It was just the first thing I thought of.”

If so, it was an interesting first thought — since Ms. Connell seems a tad young to recall such an old slur that was once common in western movies, usually in reference to the offspring of white settler women taken against their wills by “thieving injuns.”

Equally offensive, however, is how in that same discourse, Ms. Connell opined that, “America has allowed poor people like Oprah Winfrey to come from nothing and create a billion-dollar media enterprise.” Allowed? The implication, of course, is that the heights to which an African American might rise, in Ms. Connnell's view, isn't due to hard work, talent, education or any other qualification, but is instead the natural result of white America's benevolence and indulgence.

Ms. Connell's bosses at Clear Channel insist that she's not a racist, as some critics charged, and that she isn't guilty of any fireable offense, though she was urged to exercise greater care in the future.

Ms. Connell has a right to her opinions. Nevertheless, it's disturbing when white supremacist notions are trotted out so matter of factly over the public airwaves.

And it's of even greater concern if such notions really are the first things that pop into Ms. Connell's mind when she's pontificating about people of color, be it the President or anyone else.

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