Monday, June 22, 2015
Week of 06/22/2015
The Unspoken Word Is “Fraud”
It’s somewhat frustrating for me as an online commentator when one news story eclipses another.
Like syndicated print columnists, I have one week to come up with something to talk about, and while sometimes I have to struggle to come up with a subject, there are other times when I have the perfect subject to talk about when all of a sudden another subject pops up that demands attention like a spoiled child.
Having said that, I think Rachel Dolezal lucked out, albeit at the demise of nine people.
Prior to the events of June 17th, Ms. Dolezal was spiraling towards media ruin. People were talking about her, and not in a good way. They weren’t talking about the things that she did or the positions of prominence she was able to get in her adult life. They were talking about who she really is versus who she claims to be.
People were talking about the fact that, despite her claims of being “black”, her parents point out that she grew up very blond and Euro-Caucasian.
And she was losing everything in the process. She lost her various positions of prominence. She lost her various jobs. Worse yet, she was only digging herself deeper and deeper in the mess when she tried to explain herself.
Then, suddenly, one racist killer bursts into the scene in South Carolina and steals the attention from the subject in a very violent way.
Well, I’m not here to talk about Dylann Roof or about the nine people he callously murdered in Charleston in his demented hopes of starting a race war. That is a subject for another time, and, more likely than not, that time will be soon.
Rather, I want to talk about Ms. Dolezal, because there is something that seems to have been absent in the big media discussion about who she is versus who she claims to be.
The media and pundits and personalities all have their take on her and what she’s done and whether or not she should have to “prove” that she’s really “black” (as opposed to being “African-American”). Too many people think that she’s being unfairly punished because she’s a messed-up woman who “identifies” herself as being “black”, and that, supposedly, makes it okay.
And, personally, it doesn’t matter to me if she “identifies” herself as being “black”. We just got done with the prefabricated hype over Bruce Jenner now “identifying” herself as “Caitlyn Jenner”.
What bothers me is that she doesn’t just “identify” herself as being “black”, she has claimed to actually “be black”.
That’s what she put down in application forms for some of those prominent positions. She claimed to be “white”, “black”, and “Native American”. And while the singer Meat Loaf would say “two out of three ain’t bad”, her own parents say that “one out of three” is, especially since she now denounces the one that is true.
Worse yet, she now questions her parents being her actual parents. Strange that while her parents were Christian missionaries, the whole “honor thy mother and thy father” part of the Ten Commandments seems to have been lost on her. On the plus side, she can rest assured there are legions of “Truthers” with plenty of experience trying to pass off fabricated birth certificates of President Barack Obama that can help her complete that particular delusion.
But that brings us back to the word that has so far been unspoken. The one word that sums up the whole issue and why we should care about this subject.
That word is “fraud”.
Here’s the legal definition: A false representation of a matter of fact—whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of what should have been disclosed—that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury.
In other words, you misrepresent something or someone (such as yourself) for personal gain.
When Traci Lords got into the world of X-rated movies in the mid-1980’s, she didn’t tell anyone that she was underage until authorities found out in 1986. She lied about her age to gain employment in an occupation that required she be a legal adult. That is fraud, and people were wrongly persecuted and prosecuted because of her fraudulent actions.
When Stephen Glass made up parts of his stories for The New Republic, he committed fraud. He lied about certain elements of his stories in order to continue his employment. That is fraud, and the disgusting part is that he was far from the only one who was caught doing that.
Most recently, NBC’s Brian Williams was caught fabricating an experience he was never a part of in order to make himself look credible when it comes to war experiences. That is fraud, and he is still paying the price for it, as well as for the network that recently decided to keep him, albeit in a diminished capacity.
And let’s get brutally honest here... what Rachel Dolezal did is also, essentially, fraud. She misrepresented herself in order to gain positions of prominence.
Granted, it really shouldn’t matter. And in an ideal world, racial identity wouldn’t really be an issue. That’s the eventual goal, right? Unfortunately, we live in a reality where a certain racial identity can still provide an advantage over others. Where we all have to sign our names on a piece of government paper under penalty of perjury that says we’re telling the truth about who we are and what gender we are and what race we are. Not what we “identify” with, but what we are. As long as these things still exist, then fraud is still a subject that needs to be dealt with.
Sadly, though, this issue really won’t be discussed in the way that it deserves to. Because on June 17th, a 21-year old white loser decided to slaughter nine people in a predominantly African-American church. His bigoted hate has pretty much ended any serious discussion on the subject as we turn our eyes to him and his manifesto and his archaic view of how things should be. Because of him, the discussion of racial identity and honesty gets shelved.
Maybe next time around we can actually have that talk about identity and fraud. After all, there will be others like Ms. Dolezal. It’s just a matter of time, and hopefully better timing.