Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, mentioned as a possible running mate for presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain, yesterday said he feels safer in Israel than in American cities.Uh huh. And how do you know that, governor? Oh yes, when black and brown people are standing outside....
"I have no fear to go to Israel," Huckabee said before boarding a plane at Kennedy Airport.
"I felt more fear in American cities. I can walk down the streets of Tel Aviv at night without a problem. But I, of course, have the knowledge of which places not to go at night, just like any other city in America."
Make no mistake, America has some very terrible neighborhoods (most of which are heavily dependent on the government dole, might I add). But poor and black (or Hispanic) does not mean dangerous.
I'm not saying Huckabee is a racist, but what he said is certainly more likely to be construed as such than the now notorious "Celeb" ad. (That said, coming from a Baptist good ol' boy it strikes me as entirely plausible that it is.) Statistically speaking, he may very well be right to say he's safer in Tel Aviv than he is in New York City or Washington,DC, but the added "where not to go at night" comment was questionable, at best.
It will be interesting to see what kind of attention the media gives the comments.
UPDATE: A friend emailed me to disagree with what I wrote in this post. I think her criticisms are fair, although I stand by what I wrote. In response to her, however, I wrote the following which I probably should have included in the original:
Euphemisms and political correctness have replaced overt racism in the broader American lexicon...The language is benign, often masking a more malicious or callous intent. He would never say "I know better than to go into poor black neighborhoods" -- but in fact, he just did.
UPDATE II: It should also be noted that I don't mean to pick on Israel as a particularly dangerous country. It was the characterization of US cities and the implications of certain sections of them which offended me, not the comparison to Israel. My headline is admittedly overstated, but in no way to dispute that there are places more dangerous in the US to live than Israel.