Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Forget the greater issues--I just find this video . . . creepy

This is a video produced by Tom Gordon, soliciting votes from Delaware's Muslim community.

There is nothing inherently wrong about making a video that is focused on winning the support of a particular group; I have seen many, and I am certain that it happens all the time.

But this video is disturbing for a number of reasons.

The first is, to be honest, esthetic.  Tom Gordon looks and acts in it like a vampire who has been asked to stay up past sunrise.  Maybe this is just Tom Gordon, I don't know.  Yet is it so strangely dispiriting a prerformance, so lackluster a delivery, that I cannot imagine that anyone--Muslim or otherwise--could find it compelling.

It's creepy.  I defy you to watch it and think it is not.

Secondly, Gordon's repeated equation of what he is promising to do for Muslims with what he asserts that he has already done for African-Americans is a problem, not just in that it mixes an ethnic group with a religion.

The case for recruiting more African-Americans into the county police force, for example, is a case in which--aside from the non-discrimination aspects of hiring and recuiting--there is an issue of having a police force that looks at least partly like the community it serves.  Because we know that 21.9% of the population of Delaware (and a larger percentage in Wilmington and New Castle County) is African-American, there is a case to be made for positive recruiting policies.

But we don't actually know how many Muslims there are in the United States, much less in Delaware, because we do not enumerate people by religion in the census.  The best rough estimate of Muslim population in the US has probably been done by the National Opinion Research Center, which ten years ago suggested that there were about 1.9 million Muslims in the US.  Based on the figure of 1,209 mosques, and doing a little back-of-the-envelope chicken-scratch calculating, I'd guess that Delaware's five mosques serve a population of a little under 8,000 believers.  Other sources suggest that the Muslim community is less than half that large.  The Census Bureau tells us that there are about 132,000 African-Americans in New Castle County.

In other words, the Muslim population is hardly comparable to the African-American population, and there is certainly not a valid case to be made, statistically speaking, that the New Castle County Police needs a diversity recruitment goal aimed specifically at increasing (hell, creating) Muslim numbers on the police force.  In fact, since some stats suggest that only 34% of the people in Delaware are religious at all, there is a far better case to be made that the New Castle County Police should be actively recruiting more atheists.  (Oh, and how do you do that, anyway, since Federal guidelines pretty much make it impossible to ask applicants their religion?)

This is, quite simply, ridiculous pandering by a politician who seems to have been embalmed prior to making this video.

Finally, most of Mr. Gordon's other promises seem so thoroughly banal that you have to wonder why they would entice any self-respecting Muslim (or anyone else!) into voting for him.  He proposes supporting a Muslim Chamber of Commerce, sensitivity training for police officers, and more Muslim-related books in county libraries.

And there I have finally found precisely what makes Gordon's video so offensive.  Mr. Gordon has made the assumption that Muslim Delawareans are not specifically interested in economic issues, or tax burdens, or job growth, or government transparency when considering the candidates they will support.  He assumes that they can be bought by promising them more books on their religion in the library.

What's next?  A Gordon video promising to play jazz-based elevator music in county office buildings to court African-American voters?  Maybe one that offers a recruitment drive to put more Baptists on the police force (there are roughly four times as many Baptists as Muslims in Delaware, apparently)?  Perhaps he will offer police sensitivity training to the cultural values of evangelical (or even atheist!) families into whose homes the officers might be called.

Do atheists have cultural values?  Is Tom Gordon still actually breathing?

h/t Libertarian Republican


kavips said...

I didn't catch the negatives. I read your review first so perhaps I was expecting something more ghoulish, but didn't see it.

On another note, even though you phrased it as pandering, which it is, for members of the Muslim faith this is a light switch going on. I'm sure, Clark nor Sheehan, is concerned about what Muslims care or think, and here you have a candidate who a) met with Muslim spokesperson, b) actually remembered what those concerns were, c) addresses those concerns in message to that minority audience.

I was impressed because I'd, enlightened as I consider myself, have never given thought to what Muslim children must go through returning back from their Christmas break, while school was in session.

Most importantly, is the psychological relief, of being a minority who is constantly ridiculed and derided, to have, a former chief of police no doubt, treat you as a person.

So, for once, and politicians do pander, i think this one used it to rise above the normal pandering and show a side of character that up to now, most of us thought he had been lacking...

I was pleasantly surprised.....

Steven H. Newton said...


I'll stand by my gut that Gordon is creepy in this. I don't care who he is talking to.

As for Muslim children coming back from religious holidays and being mistreated by the school system up here, that's pretty much an urban legend. I won't say it never happens, but all the districts up here are exceptionally sensitive to, and flexible about, religious requirements. Aside from that, Gordon doesn't have any power over the school system in that regard anyway, so it's pretty much an empty promise.

Nancy Willing said...

I agree with Kavips on all points. Tom seems to be talking naturally and normally after a rocky start. From the post, I was expecting a terribly stilted performance but instead it was warm and thoughtful.

Anonymous said...

Steve: Did you know there are 7000 muslims living in New Castle Co. Many of them are business people and/or in hi-tech positions? Dontcha think its time their issues be discussed, after all they live here, pay taxes and should have equal rights as every other faith. The faith issue is regarding "their" holidays, and not having the benefit of making up the time. I saw the video and Gordon made no promies to them, other than to assure them their issues should not be neglected. It just proves that Gordon is a man who believe's in equality and justice for all. When a muslim family calls 911, do you think there is a bi-lingual person who can translate their problem? Much a do about nothin. Perhaps you didnt know but Chris Coons met with them several times, and spoke at their events.

kavips said...

I didn't know that. Coons did meet with them? That's great. 7000 is not a big number, but it is a good bet they all vote. I doubt the 4 blocks surrounding Locust and 27th would be able to point to that high number at the polls. But the idea of inclusion, is good to see they have begun to hit critical mass.

kavips said...

I didn't know that. Coons did meet with them? That's great. 7000 is not a big number, but it is a good bet they all vote. I doubt the 4 blocks surrounding Locust and 27th would be able to point to that high number at the polls. But the idea of inclusion, is good to see they have begun to hit critical mass.