Monday, August 21, 2006

Andrew Young, We Hardly Knew You

I'm guessing his invitations for MLK speaking engagements will taper off in 2007. This outburst is just hard to figure:

The civil rights leader Andrew Young, who was hired by Wal-Mart to improve its public image, resigned from that post last night after telling an African-American newspaper that Jewish, Arab and Korean shop owners had “ripped off” urban communities for years, “selling us stale bread, and bad meat and wilted vegetables.”

In the interview, published yesterday in The Los Angeles Sentinel, a weekly, Mr. Young said that Wal-Mart “should” displace mom-and-pop stores in urban neighborhoods.

“You see those are the people who have been overcharging us,” he said of the owners of the small stores, “and they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they’ve ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it’s Arabs.”

Mr. Young, 74, a former mayor of Atlanta and a former United States representative to the United Nations, apologized for the comments and retracted them in an interview last night. Less than an hour later, he resigned as chairman of Working Families for Wal-Mart, a group created and financed by the company to trumpet its accomplishments.

“It’s against everything I ever thought in my life,” Mr. Young said. “It never should have been said. I was speaking in the context of Atlanta, and that does not work in New York or Los Angeles.”
He was on to a legitimate idea--that a company like Wal-Mart with a single-minded focus on low cost production doesn't permit discriminatory practices against consumers by competing stores. And then he soiled himself, badly.

Can anyone figure out if he really apologized, if he concludes his statement by implying that his depiction of Jewish, Arab, and Korean shop owners is valid for Atlanta, though not for New York or Los Angeles?


Anonymous said...

Maybe Andrew Young and Mel Gibson should form a think-tank.

Roland Patrick said...

Unfortunately, Andrew Young's MLK Day speechmaking opportunities will probably increase. His remarks reflect the beliefs of a large proportion of the Black population.

ContraryActuary said...

The guy obviously made a very politically incorrect statement - with his list of jobs, yu'd think he'd know better. But just to play devil's advocate, are we shocked because:
a) He was wrong - no particular ethnic or religious groups in Atlanta's poorest black neighborhoods are worse than any others in regards to discriminatory sales practices,
b) Regardless of whether or not he is correctly describing a trend, he should be more sensitive, or
c) He is absolutely correct, but it still is an insensitive thing to say.
Just Curious...

Andrew Samwick said...

Looking at his conduct today, (b) is the overriding concern. I don't have the facts to back up (a), but if that's the way he felt, he should have done as mayor (or as an entrepreneur himself) what he was more recently trying to do with Wal-Mart; namely, bring a more efficient (or community-minded) competitor to the area to eliminate the perceived problem.

PGL said...

Anderson Cooper had a very good interview with Andrew Young. Yes, he did apologize.