Race Card: John Galliano

Nadra Kareem Nittle
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John Galliano

The past week has been awful for designer John Galliano. He was arrested, trashed by Natalie Portman, and fired from Dior. By now, you likely know the reason why. It all started on Feb. 24, when the 50-year-old reportedly pulled a woman by the hair and called her "a dirty Jew face" in a Parisian café. According to reports, he also spewed racial slurs at the woman's Asian friend. Following these outbursts, French authorities arrested the superstar designer. After news of his arrest spread, another woman surfaced who accused Galliano of behaving similarly towards her last October. If that weren't bad enough, then a video emerged of Galliano declaring his love for Hitler and that if Hitler had succeeded, Jews "would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be f—ing gassed."

None of the people Galliano made these hurtful remarks to were actually Jewish, but the French government classifies any anti-Semitic statements as "incitement to racial prejudice," a crime punishable by up to six months in prison. By week's end, Paris prosecutors will decide if Galliano should face trial, but the possibility of jail time is the least of the designer's worries. Galliano's main concern is if his career will be able to bounce back in light of his hateful remarks.

To repair his public image, Galliano—who'd reportedly been drinking during these episodes—has made a predictable move and checked into rehab. Why do I say this move is predictable? Because we've seen it before when a celebrity's bigotry makes news headlines. Mel Gibson sought rehab when his anti-Semitic streak became public in 2006. That same year, Michael Richards announced his decision to enter counseling after he hurled the N-word at black hecklers who taunted him during a standup performance.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that Galliano doesn't need rehab or that Gibson and Richards didn't either. I'm pointing out that their move to enter rehab/counseling not only comes across as disingenuous but also suggests that alcohol led them to make bigoted remarks, which is highly doubtful. People who view Jews, Asians or blacks as equals don't suddenly mouth off against these groups when they're wasted. Unfortunately, some people fail to recognize this, including The View's Whoopi Goldberg. When Mel Gibson was caught on tape last year making bigoted remarks once again, Goldberg said, "Drunks say stupid stuff to people all the time ... because they're drunk, they're out of control, they're not thinking, they're idiotic."

But guess what, when drunks murder, rape, crash their cars, etc., they're still responsible under the law. So, why should drunks who make anti-Semitic or racist remarks be let off the hook?

In addition to his reported drunkenness, the extreme pressure Galliano felt at work has been used to excuse his recent tirades. Plus, fellow designers such as Donatella Versace and Giorgio Armani have said respectively that Galliano didn't mean to be racist and just had a moment of weakness. Huh? Let's see. There's a video of Galliano declaring that he loves Hitler and women who encountered Galliano on two separate occasions have accused him of making insensitive remarks. The designer clearly has an anti-Semitic/racist streak. It's as irresponsible to blame his bigoted rants on a moment of weakness as it is to say that alcohol made him do it.

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3 Comments Have Been Posted

Things I've Done When Drunk:

1) Kiss ill-advised people
2) Think that I can sing
3) Dance like my mum
4) Attempt to matchmake, horrifically unsubtly
5) Think that the room is spinning
6) Vomit. Eveywhere

I think we need to draw a distinction between unacceptable and expected behaviour of drunk people.

I agree with the article in

I agree with the article in general and in terms of how some people are trying to defend racial prejudice.
However, the video I saw was just a heavily edited and bleeped snippet that I couldn't understand except for the subtitles. Is there a full, uncensored version? because if not, I'm not sure I can so readily judge Galliano, his intentions or his attitudes toward race. I've also heard many different versions of the incident and the police report, even some that claim that there was no arrest... I don't know, I think I'll reserve my judgment until he gives a post rehab tell-all as he surely will!

I'm with Georgie on this one.

I'm with Georgie on this one.

Alcohol lowers inhibitions meaning it only reveals what's already there. I mean when I got drunk I tried to go kiss the guy I had a crush on secretly. When this guy gets drunk he goes on anti-Semetic and misogynistic rants.

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