Joking about Klan just doesn't fly

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8-5-99 "Jacobs as Klansman; Larkin as shill"

COLUMN from THE PLAIN DEALER, by AFI-ODELIA SCRUGGS, August 2, 1999

"... On July 13, the afternoon of baseball's All-Star game, about 14 folks boarded Dick Jacobs' private jet and headed toward Boston ...

Brent Larkin, the editorial page director of this paper, got an invitation ...

Sometime during the trip east, Jacobs disappeared into the cockpit. He came out wearing a white hood, with cut-out holes for eyes. Jacobs even held a sign saying, "How do we get to the Justice Center?" ...

This incident demands more than "I told you so."

It requires outrage ... because Dick Jacobs contemplated such a joke. He made a costume, prepared a sign and brought them along on his trip.

He entertained his guests by dressing up as a bigot. And they were all amused ...

There is another "context" that has to be examined, too: Jacobs' blindness to the very notion that his baseball team has elevated a racist logo to an icon.

Larkin bristled when I mentioned Chief Wahoo and Jacobs in the same breath.

"That has nothing to do with Jacobs," Larkin told me.

Yes, it does. Jacobs is the team. If he said so, Chief Wahoo would be interred tomorrow.

But a man who has no qualms about playing around with racism obviously can't recognize his role in perpetuating it.

And, incredibly, neither did his passengers. Because, according to Larkin, no one on that plane objected to Jacobs' actions.

Nobody reminded him that the Klan is a violent, supremacist organization that advocates the oppression of blacks, Jews and Catholics ..."

E-mail: ascruggs@plaind.com Phone: (216) 999-4327

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"City Chatter," Cleveland Free Times, 8-5-99

"KKK chaos... Give those white-hooded racist idiots credit. They have exposed the moral bankruptcy of our town's power structure, offering clear-cut proof that ... Brent Larkin is a compromised, biased, ... Plain Dealer editorial page editor. Look for Indians owner Dick Jacobs to be fined by Major League Baseball officials for his racist antics on his private jet."

A Thousand Clowns, BY ROLDO BARTIMOLE, Cleveland Free Times, 8-5-99

"Jacobs as Klansman; Larkin as shill

Well, it's a three-ring circus now. Send in the clowns.

Developer and Cleveland Indians owner Dick Jacobs and Plain Dealer editorial page director Brent Larkin have joined in with ... the Ku Klux Klan in the political debacle bringing shame upon this community.

They're all embroiled in a messy community battle over an otherwise inconsequential rally of a handful of Klansmen that should have been ignored by most Clevelanders ...

It was recently revealed that Jacobs, one of Cleveland's wealthiest citizens, played Klansman as a joke on his July 13 airplane flight to the Major League All-Star game. As he walked the aisles of his airplane - hooded to 'amuse' his guests, who included ... PD editorial boss Brent Larkin ...

Plain Dealer editor Doug Clifton learned of the incident when he was presented with an anonymous letter in the newspaper's city room ... The PD's report of the incident - 18 days after it happened - was written in a very low-key tone and, ironically, quotes Larkin, one of Cleveland's leading political pundits.

Apparently Larkin did not want to embarrass his friends by doing what newspaper people are supposed to do - inform the public. This latest event ... has become a personal test for Clifton, still new to the PD.

Clifton has to deal with the potential conflict of interest stemming from one of his top editors taking favors from a businessman who has enjoyed vast subsidies for projects backed editorially by the newspaper.

Larkin's loyalty to his newspaper and to the public comes under serious question. It tests not only his credibility but also the newspaper's trustworthiness on issues of crucial importance to its readers and the citizens of the Cleveland area. ... His mere appearance among the business clique puts him in a place where his credibility and that of the newspaper's editorial page are tested.

Clifton must ask himself what secrets Larkin - a lawyer who does some outside practicing - might be keeping, and for whom. During the time when this entire sad episode was unfolding on the pages of the newspaper and in its editorial pages, Larkin remained silent ...

And what is Clifton's editorial director doing hobnobbing with ..., Jacobs and a bunch of business people who rely upon the press to treat them with respect and to back projects that cost hundreds of millions of dollars in tax money, anyway?

If it doesn't destroy the credibility of the PD's editorial page, it certainly calls into question countless editorials written under Larkin's direction. By virtue of his position, Larkin ostensibly has control of which politicians the paper endorses for office, which politicians the PD slaps around and which politicians get treated with velvet gloves.

Further, Larkin has the ability through his Sunday column to lecture or beat up on political figures. Clifton now has to assess whether Larkin is speaking for the newspaper or some of the business people he associates with as buddies ...

Through the years, Larkin has offered solace to his political friends not only by what he has written but also by the targets he has avoided ..."

Roldo Bartimole publishes the newsletter Point of View. He can be reached at pointofview@stratos.net

Date: 8 Aug 1999 23:59:42 -0000 From: "The Scoop"

The Scoop - http://www.bobharris.com/

... It sure is great to hear that folks in my hometown of Cleveland are all outraged over plans for the Ku Klux Klan to hold a rally. Apparently the good people of northeast Ohio consider themselves far beyond such primitive racial stereotyping, embarrassed that such a thing could occur in their fair city.

Good for them.

Just one thing here, however...

All you Clevelanders wearing Indians baseball caps? Take a good hard look at what you're walking around with on top of your head.

Chief Wahoo, the buck-toothed, bug-eyed, featherheaded fire-engine red Sambo you take such pride in wearing is every bit as offensive and thoughtless as the little black guy they used to have on the label of Darkie toothpaste.

Seriously, can you possibly wear a Wahoo cap while protesting a Klan rally? Could you retain even a shred of credibility? If not, you shouldn't be wearing them at all.

Now granted, maybe you don't hear a lot of actual Indians complaining about the logo. But that's because you don't hear a lot of actual Indians, period. And just exactly whose fault is that, again?

If you love baseball, great. Me too. I've been a rabid Cleveland baseball fan my whole life and still never miss a game on TV. But loving the team and its tradition doesn't justify the most offensive racial stereotype remaining in all of sports.

Besides, there's a practical reason why Wahoo should be dumped: baseball is a game built on superstition as much as tradition. Every true baseball fan knows of the legendary "Curse Of The Bambino." The Red Sox haven't won a World Series since they let Babe Ruth go to the Yankees.

I'd like to suggest maybe Cleveland has something similar going on. Chief Wahoo arrived in 1948, the last year the team won the World Series. And they haven't won a single title ever since.

Coincidence?

Maybe it's just Ku Klux Karma ...

Bob Harris is a stand-up comedian, political writer, and syndicated radio humorist. His new book, Steal This Book And Get Life Without Parole, is now available from www.commoncouragepress.com.

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