Friday May 18, 2007

“The term ‘Miami Mafia’ was coined by castro [sic] himself. To use the term in anything other than a tongue-in-cheek manner (which the tee does and Menendez does not) is to put the lie to what might otherwise be a cogent point she seems to be making.” — nonee moose



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  1. Alex    Fri May 18, 12:21 PM #  

    Yeah, that’s like saying rappers can say hos because they do it in-culture, but Imus can’t.

  2. alesh    Fri May 18, 03:04 PM #  

    I think rappers using “the-n-word” is a better analogy. But yes, it is like that.

  3. Rick    Fri May 18, 05:03 PM #  

    And they’re making money off of it.



  4. alesh    Fri May 18, 05:45 PM #  

    Well . . . so are the rappers. But I don’t think Henry’s getting rich off selling Miami Mafia shirts…

  5. Alex    Fri May 18, 11:11 PM #  

    So, to continue the flawed but less obvious analogy, Ana Menendez would be Leonard Pitts. Is he off-base too?

  6. alesh    Sat May 19, 11:32 AM #  

    Um . . . sorry Alex you’ve lost me.

  7. nonee moose    Sun May 20, 10:36 AM #  

    I guess I should step in. I was merely pointing out out that using the term evinces some conceptual “buy-in” that, in my opinion, Menendez would have a difficult time divorcing from the implications attributed to the term when it was first used by castro, without more. It has become a shorthand term for the anti-castro politic, as seen from the castrist vantage point.

    To use the most appropriate analogy, one cannot use the n-word to describe the whole of black cultural or political attitude, without qualification, and expect that use to be interpreted as something less than the full charge of the term’s use. And you cannot then backtrack and say, “well, I didn’t mean it that way…” without some loss of credibility. Witness all the explanations by and for Imus to interpret his own statements, after the fact, and the difficulty those explanations suffered. Imagine if he had used the n-word. Jokingly, of course.

    The question for me was not so much who can and cannot use the Mafia, but rather in the way it was used.

    Leonard Pitts can use the n-word in any way he chooses, for any purpose he chooses. But whatever his purpose takes on a measure of criticism or praise, and that defines his intentions, at least for all others but himself.

    The same goes for Menendez. She chose to use the words. I’m sure she knew what she meant. And if she’s smart enough, she knew the possible interpretations. She also had the choice to qualify or clarify, right then and there, and did not. That too had to be intentional.

    I think she gets off on all this. If it was love she was looking for, she’d be showing a little less hair, and waxed her words a little better.

  8. Alex    Sun May 20, 01:03 PM #  

    Well, you can use it “ironically” on a t-shirt and then pretend to be offended when Menendez uses it (in your opinion) as it was intended. But the outrage rings as untrue as if, for example, Snoop were to lead the march against Imus. The Pitt example was just to show someone who called such hypocrites on their game. I’m sure he has been called an Oreo on occassion as well.

    (BTW, I like “hos” better, because is more timely, more topical and there’s a radio show host involved in both cases. And it saves me from the dilly dallying of not spelling ot the other word. As if we were not all adults and knew what word we are talking about.)

    I think Ana’s critics also get off on calling her “horse face” and other infantile insults. I think it says a lot about their reduced intellectual capacity.

  9. Rick    Sun May 20, 01:08 PM #  

    The term “Miami Mafia” denotes a particularly unique and virulent strain of anti-Castroism that is found nowhere else in the world but Miami. Where else could people who consider themselves rational, sane, mainstream, and educated people publicly declare that they would like to go out and cut Castro’s throat while he lies in a hospital bed? There is absolutely nothing wrong with that to some of these folks.

    And the loonier the better. Because for some in this community, your “Cubanness” is measured by the degree of macabre that you would like to “do” Fidel Castro. It’s not enough that you would like to see the Cuban people free. Noooooooo. Before the first Havana resident tastes freedom, you have to want to see Castro dragged behind a car, kicked and spat on by the populace and then hung by his cojones in Havana, or, better yet, outside the Versailles Restaurant on SW 8th Street. Then, and only then, can you be a genuine Cuban, according to some.

    As far as the t-shirts go, think about how hypocritical it would be if Pitts printed up a shirt saying “I’m a proud (n-word)” and then bitterly complained when a fellow African-American journalist turned around and actually called him a n-word.

    Perhaps Menendez does “get off” on all this. Maybe she enjoys watching these loudmouths so very, very predictably jerk into spasmodic contortions over her writing because it doesn’t match their own, word for word.

    I can’t say I blame her. Click-for-click, I find that Cuban-American extremists provide some of the best entertainment out there in the Miami blogosphere. Between their rants of who disagrees with them that day, their boycotts (this week it’s olive oil!!!), their interminable criticism of the MSM and, in particular, the big, bad Herald, and their bashing of anything liberal, it’s a veritable potpourri of farcical writing that, like a good car wreck, you can’t drive by without slowing down and looking.


  10. alesh    Sun May 20, 03:08 PM #  

    Firstly, I should say that I would agree with the above quote more strongly if “to put the lie to what might otherwise be a cogent point” were replaced with “weakens what might otherwise be a cogent case.” In other words, I think Menendez has a valid point despite a pointedly poor choice of words.

    Alex~ (When Snoop uses the word “hos” he’s referring to a group of which he is not a member, that’s where the analogy with the n-word is stronger. But nevermind.) I see what you mean now, and you have a point. The fact remains, though, that Menendez’ argument is weakened by her use of the phrase “Miami Mafia.”

    Look, hardline Cuban-Americans almost always disagree with Menendez, and almost always criticize what she has to say. Does that mean she should give up on trying to sway them by peppering her writing with phrases she knows will piss them off?

    Rick~ The mistake you’re making is that you always perceive the anti-Castro group as homogeneous (despite lip-service to the contrary). Again: every passionate group has extremists, moderates, and those in-between who don’t engage in the extreme behavior but think it has a place.

    Example: environmentalists who think that think vandalizing Hummers on dealer lots is not such a bad thing.

    Consider that “Miami Mafia” means different things to different people. Yes there has been violence associated with the term, but you’re taking issue mainly with hyperbolic statements of hate — they hate someone who very well deserves that hate. Many tyrannical dictators have been subject to that hate, and rightly so.

    it would be if Pitts printed up a shirt saying . . .

    Pitts is actually on the opposite side of the issue, he’s one individual, and the term in question is MUCH more culturally sensitive. Shouldn’t the fact that such an off-base analogy is the best you can come up with make you realize you’re missing something here?

  11. nonee moose    Sun May 20, 04:24 PM #  

    Alesh, I said she lied because the purpose of her comments was not to expose some interesting argument on a legimitate phenomenon within the anti-castro politic, it was to taunt that very phenomenon. I think the cogent point may have been inadvertent in this case. I’ve never much agreed or disagreed with Menendez’s opinions, only respected them as her own. So I say she used Miami Mafia with intent, and having done so without more, adopted the intent of the person who originally coined the term. Or so it seemed to me. That said, in my effort to make sense of my own feelings on the matter, and that of my community’s, Menendez has lost much of her lustre as a serious thinker. Someone on another thread on SoTP mused that she was getting her Coulter on, and that may be correct. But that brings with it a certain brand of notoriety, not all of it complementary.

    The issue of the t-shirt is not as simple as it seems. The statement made in that case is directed again at the one who originally coined the phrase, as a mocking gesture. Again, it’s just my interpetation, because I wasn’t in Henry’s head the day he thought up the idea (nor am I in his head now). I think Alex’s remark of hollow outrage is exaggerated, because again, in the case of Menendez’ use and her intent, it was tacit approval of the castrist opinion. It all comes down to context and intent, and I think I’ve kicked that horse enough.

    Alesh, I also disagree with you that Rick is generalizing the anti-Castro view. I am compfortable in saying this after many rounds with him on the issue. As a matter of fact, I would say that he falls into the trap of redefining the term’s meaning by narrowing the target, and accurately so IMO, as “a particularly unique and virulent strain of anti-Castroism that is found nowhere else in the world but Miami.” In Rick_speak_, that is a tacit acknowledgment that there are different strains of anti-castroism, not all so virulent. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that castro had no such distinction in mind.

  12. Rick    Sun May 20, 07:04 PM #  

    Alesh: After everything that I’ve posted at SotP about the way I see CA’s as a very diverse group and the verbiage of my post above, I am almost convinced your characterization of me as viewing CA’s as a one dimensional segment of our population is done solely to stir the pot.

    The Pitts analogy was most likely a mistake on my part. But you understand what I was trying to say.


  13. Alex    Mon May 21, 01:28 AM #  

    As the one who came up with Pitts, let me explain it: Pitts had a column where he basically said Imus was a diverion, a phyrric victory for people who wanted the limelight better more than they wanted to redress an offense agaisnt African Americans. He has been consistent in holding AAs feet to the fire (in education, in civic participation, in crime prevention, etc) and not just blaming the Man. Clear now?

    So to answer your question Alesh: no, she doesn’t have to give up on swaying hardliners because that’s not what she’s doing in the first place. Those people are impossible to sway to start with and in any case that’s an activist’s job, not a columnist’s. All she’s doing is chronicling their descent into irrelevance, and doing it for the benefit of everybody, Cuban or not. The airing of dirty laundry is the “sin” they can’t stand.

    And let go of Rick. The guy has explained himself plenty, much more than I would have done and certainly more than the accusation deserves.