The ‘N’ word (5×8 – 11/22/10)

What does it mean to be called a ‘Nazi,’ halftime propaganda, TSA the Playmobil way, cheap turkey humor, and that war thing.


Thanksgiving week. And the Monday Morning Rouser Task Force considered only one possibility this week:

1) THE “N” WORD

Last week I wrote here that Roger Ailes, the Fox boss, is diminishing the impact of the word Nazi by using it to describe NPR. Guy Raz, NPR’s host of Weekend All Things Considered, considered why the word should be preserved for the worst of humanity.


I remember when I was sent to Berlin to take up my first foreign posting as an overseas correspondent more than a decade ago. I was at a party with young Germans, and I thought it might make them feel more comfortable if I made a joke describing a hotel clerk I’d run into as a “Nazi.”

No one laughed.

And it was the first time I realized that that word — Nazi — means something very real to the millions of Germans who have courageously struggled to come to terms with that legacy for 65 years.

2) GOPHERS SIT ATOP COLLEGE FOOTBALL STANDINGS

There’s a headline we’re betting you never thought you’d see. The University of Minnesota was rated #1 in an analysis of half-time propaganda, the short commercials that air during halftime of football games.

(h/t: Chris Worthington)

3) TSA, THE PLAYMOBIL WAY

There’s a kids play set for airport screening, so naturally a blogger uses it for a commentary on the new security rules.

TSA-11a.jpg

Question: What is the motivation for an airport screener to jump out of bed in the morning and run off to work?

20101121__101122TSA.jpg

More airport tales: Yesterday, I posted about the experiences of a Boston radio reporter, who was stranded in Buffalo after his flight made an emergency landing. There’s a similar story about a flight to Minneapolis that had to be diverted to Duluth because of the ice in the Twin Cities. Note that the problem isn’t the event, it’s the failure of airline employees to simply tell people what’s going on.

Today, an analysis shows the rules to prevent tarmac delays are making things worse, not better.

4) THE WAR THING

We just went through a national political campaign in which the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq never became an issue. Over the weekend, President Obama announced the war in Afghanistan will continue at least through 2014.

The New York Times has been tracking the year that the First Battalion, 87th Infantry is spending in Afghanistan and today it’s posted a video of what combat is like. Caution: It has strong language.

5) CHEAP TURKEY HUMOR

I have a sudden desire to head to a turkey barn if only to scream, “Brad Childress is the greatest football coach ever! Who’s with me?”

Bonus: Why can’t we walk a straight line?

By the numbers: An analysis of FBI crime statistics out today shows Minneapolis is the 48th most dangerous city in the country (St. Louis is #1). Or, it’s the 353rd safest city in the U.S., depending on how you choose to look at life.

TODAY’S QUESTION

Tonight is Don Shelby’s final broadcast as anchor of the 10 p.m. news on WCCO-TV. How big a role does the anchor play in your choice of a newscast to watch?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: The latest tech news from smart phone technology to the impact of Facebook’s social evolution to combine text messages, emails and instant messages in the same place.

Second hour: A broadcast of Kerri Miller’s discussion with author and screenwriter Nora Ephron about her new collection of essays, “I Remember Nothing.”

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: The 2010 Milken Award-winning teachers share their ideas about teaching. Jennifer Mitchell and Carolyn Ruhnow.

Second hour: TBA

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The consequences of stopping the START nuclear treaty.

Second hour: Fixing the Bowl Champion Series.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Members of the Red Bull brigade are preparing for their deployment to Iraq next summer. In the meantime, their monthly weekend training sessions take on an important role as they prepare for combat, take language and culture courses and write their wills. It’s all part of the gear up to deployment. MPR’s Elizabeth Baier will have the story.

The woman who runs Minnesota’s prison system will be leaving the department in January. Joan Fabian is retiring as one of the longest-serving cabinet members of the Pawlenty administration Tim Nelson talks to Fabian about the changes she’s overseen.

  • Shane

    In regard’s to the N word, did this type of controversy come up when Seinfeld created the ‘Soup Nazi’ character?

  • Bob Collins

    Not sure. I wasn’t a Seinfeld watcher. anyone?

  • Matt

    Not really. That said, Seinfeld and Larry David are both comedians who are Jewish. Think people have been a little more lenient to intra-group bad words. See: Pryor and the other N-word.

    That said, Nazi as a catch-all term for people who are brutal, sticklers, and gruff has fallen out of favor, much like the R-word for people who are plain dumb. Which is a good thing. What Ailes said, however, was a whole new level of barbed language, and I’m glad he’s gotten some push-back on it.

  • Heather

    It wasn’t controversial in MY group of Seinfeld-watchers, but I’d argue that the use of the word in the context of a sit-com is very different from its use by a news (or even “news”) organization.

    Too bad we don’t ALL subscribe to the view that when the “Nazi” name-calling surfaces, the discussion is over and the person who said it has automatically lost the argument.

  • Kassie

    I heard Guy Raz tell his story on NPR yesterday and it was very thoughtful and compelling. I cried. Too bad the Fox guy will never hear it. He may hear the words, but I doubt he will hear what Raz said.

  • Al

    Looking at the picture of the TSA screener got me wondering. With a little more training and a cough, could the TSA guys do free prostrate screening while you make your way into the airport? Maybe guys could skip the regular check at the doctor’s office. You know, “I’m good on that test, Doc. Got it done at the airport last week.”

  • pap

    Roger Ailes said “These guys don’t want any other point of view.” I think he made a common mistake substituting the word Nazi when he meant fascist. Of course fascism is associated with the right-wing, which kind of puts him in a box.

  • Dave Sours

    I was in Costco the other day and saw Keith Richards’ memoir displayed right next to Nora Ephron’s new book, “I Remember Nothing”. Made me think she got her dibs on the title before he did.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Regarding Guy Raz’ failed Nazi joke when told to a room full of Germans: What joke WOULD get a laugh from a room full of Germans? :-)