Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Red Card, New York Times.

New York Times, we have to talk. Yes I read you every day. Yes you are the basis of my knowledge of news and culture. Yes because of you I know more about New York real estate than most people who aren't brokers.

This World Cup has provided an opportunity for a number of mediocre and badly researched articles in your pages about South Africa. Yellow card, New York Times, yellow card. I will not even stoop to linking them but if any of you have read in the Gray Ladies pages about how soccer heralded the end of Apartheid, represents the new South Africa, will prove a testing ground for the new South Africa, or is otherwise a Very Big Deal in ways it clearly is impossible to explain well in the course of one newspaper article, you know what I mean.

One quote, though, took the cake, and to continue the metaphor, pretty much draws a red card from me. This article discusses how apparently South Africa did a surprisingly good job as host, surprising given the problems, racking the nation. Fair enough topic - nothing innovative, perhaps, no real news there, or data, or item of interest, but yes, the World Cup went well, and yes people had low expectations, so there you go.  But what is this?

“The thing that overwhelms most is the level of professionalism of native Africans in knowing how to serve a bottle of wine properly,” said Philip Crawford, a designer of luxury homes from Noosa, Australia. 

Really? Really?? I try not to let my naturally left leaning self-righteous overflow when writing here, or really in general, but really? So first of all, my disgust is aimed squarely at the New York Times, who chose to publish this, not at the ignorant nitwit who said it.

Let me try to explain the foul here. The story in this article, insofar as there was one, is that the World Cup experience has been great given the obstacles South Africa faces: crime and poverty. This quote, in contrast, suggests that the South Africa, in hosting a fantastic World Cup, has overcome obstacles of, well, being full of "native Africans" - native Africans who apparently, should be expected to live in ignorance of wine pouring and other European arts.

Furthermore, New York Times, can you think of the greater significance of accolades to black Africans for being able to properly serve a visiting white man? Do you think this is the first time a someone has hopped off the boat and been pleasantly surprised how good Africans are at serving drinks? Do you think Africans haven't been pouring wine in Cape Town for 500 years? Really?? I am so so unimpressed.