Most people don’t know that the term, politically correct, has its origins in Stalin’s Soviet Union. Back then, it meant more than just excommunication from the Party. It often meant excommunication from this veil of tears – a la Trotsky, via an icepick to the head.
Well, it may come to that here as well.
It is certainly headed that way.
Of all things – and of all places – the car business has become hag-ridden by politically correct orthodoxies and while the penalty for running afoul of these is not yet NKVD thugs bashing in your skull, it is serious enough.
About year ago, I wrote a column (here) lambasting the fact that a major automaker – General Motors – actually had a vice president of diversity. An in-house, full-time (and six-figure, maybe seven) Jesse Jackson.
Because – third rail time – as we all know perfectly well but must never say openly , “diversity” means the promotion of and focus on certain racial groups (and sexes and sexual preferences) to the exclusion of one very specific race and sexual (spare me talk of “gender”) preference.
It means bean-counting people not according to who they are as individual human beings or what they bring to the table in terms of individual merit and achievement but according to their hue and reproductive equipment and bedroom inclinations.
Thus, embarrassments such as African Americans on Wheels (yes, really) and GayWheels.com (the relevance of the latter will shortly become clear) and of vice presidents of diversity at a major automaker.
Being a car guy, I figured car companies were places where cars and engineering mattered – as opposed to skin pigment and claspers or not.
I wondered – in print – about the oddity of seeking a color blind society by focusing on . . . color.
And why any of this should be the concern of a major car company, whose business ought to be designing, building and selling great cars – which GM has often done in the past as well as currently.
Is African Americans on Wheels any less noxious than Aryans in Audis – or Jews in Jeeps? Do gay people base their car buying decisions on who they sleep with? Or is it that they object to not having specifically gay people designing – and selling – them?
I wrote in goodwill, as a journalist and one of the few such remaining not hostile to the car industry – and as a Libertarian, who loathes the PC cant and the denial of individuality and individual merit which inheres in categorizing people by group, according to their racial or ethnic origins or because of their sexual equipment and what they do with it.
Within two weeks of the publication of that column – just by coincidence – GM decided it would no longer allow me to test drive its vehicles for purposes of reviewing them. Which I had been doing without interruption – or complaint, as my reviews never slight a car based on feelings or some other non-rational consideration . . . you know, such as race or sex or sexual orientation – for more than 20 years, up to this point.
The denial of access to press pool cars is the equivalent, for a car journalist, of Don Corleone kissing you full on the lips. It means death – or at least (for now) the next-best thing . . . from their point of view.
By kicking me out of the press pool, they hope to prevent me from being able to write about cars – at least, their cars – which is a major problem for a guy who writes about cars for a living.
It is a purely punitive measure – like taking away a White House press pool reporter’s credentials for asking too many uncomfortable questions. It is ugly. Thuggery.
And that’s the point of this column.
GM has every right to deny me or any other journalist access to the press fleet. They are not my cars, after all.
In order to understand, you need to know a little about how it works. Or rather, how it used to work.
Media access to new cars is determined – was determined – by objective criteria such as which publication(s) one wrote for, how large an audience one had. They didn’t loan cars to just anyone. You had to be an objective someone. Legitimate.
I’m pretty legitimate.
I began to get access to new cars to test drive way back in the mid-1990s when I became a columnist for The Washington Times in DC.
As my audience grew (I began to write for national level publications such as the Detroit News and Chicago Tribune as well as major online sites such as cars.com and The Car Connection) I got full access to every major automakers’ vehicles.
It has been so ever since.
Well, until now.
Until that column appeared.
At a stroke, I was persona non grata, which struck me as both odd and suspicious, given two relevant facts.
The first fact being that I have a very sizable audience and write for several national-level publications, have a syndicated column, run the largest, widest-read Libertarian car site on the Net and do regular radio spots all over the country. My audience today is larger than it was when I was merely a columnist at The Washington Times – and also a columnist for major online media such as thecarconnection.com and cars.com and AOL Autos (I was once the car columnist for AOL).
The second fact being that I know for certain that GM has not pulled the press privileges of much lesser journalists – in terms of the size of their audiences and the pubs they write for.
In other words, in plain language, I have been singled out for sonderbehandlung – special treatment. Some will know the reference.
So I inquired, as follows:
Hi Terry (Terry being Terrence Rhadigan, a GM vice president – albeit not of diversity)
I’m hoping someone will tell me why – specifically – GM has decided to rescind my access to press vehicles.
As I wrote previously, it doesn’t make sense given the size of my audience, the national-level publications I write for regularly and the fact that my car reviews are syndicated by Creators Syndicate, which also syndicates Pat Buchanan’s column, among other heavy hitters.
My point being: I know for a fact that several journalists whose audiences are not nearly as large as mine, who do not have a nationally syndicated column or write books, as I do, and who do not appear regularly on major league radio news programs (as I do) are granted access to GM’s press fleet. I was getting GM cars until earlier this year – and had been getting them, regularly, for more than 20 years. My audience is, if anything, larger now than it was a year ago – when I was still regularly getting GM vehicles.
It seems there is some sort of personal problem at issue here. Perhaps with Joe LaMuraglia (this is the guy who defrocked me, more follows below) who has been unprofessional and dismissive toward me, for reasons that elude me.
In more than 25 years as a working auto journalist, I have never had anything like this happen with any other automaker, or with GM.
The whole thing is baffling. Unlike the majority of journalists out there, I am not antagonistic toward GM, love cars and driving. I don’t think I have ever written an unfair review of a GM vehicle. My op-eds tend to favor the industry rathe than the regulatory apparat; I defend you guys…!
I’d like to know why – for the record.
Because absent some resolution, I plan to write about this situation. Because I have to. It is odd – and embarrassing – that I’m not able to review GM vehicles. My readers will want to know why.
I am hoping you will be able to help me explain it to them.
Hope to hear from you soon.
I did hear back from Terry. But I got nothing in the way of substantive answers. Instead, this:
Specifically, this is a business decision, and is not intended to be personal. We are faced with the challenge of doing our jobs with fewer resources than ever before, and with that comes circumstances like this one. You are not alone. Other journalists have also been declined access to the fleet. We regret that we’re not able to cover the landscape like with did when budgets and fleets were larger. We can keep lines of communication open in the future, in the event that circumstances change.
I replied – burning bridges style – as follows:
Yes, but a “business decision” based upon what criteria?
If I am not “big” enough to merit press car privileges, how “big,” exactly, does one have to be? It would be helpful to know. A bar to strive for. It is not an unreasonable question. And some known standard for all journalists seeking access to press cars for purposes of writing reviews would eliminate any hint that certain journalists were simply being excluded – punished – for reasons other than the size of their audience.
I mention this because there are some journalist who are not as “big” as I am – in terms of audience size, national reach and so on – who are still receiving GM press car loans while I am not.
Keep in mind I’m not the new kid on the block. I’ve been at this since the early ’90s and have come to know a lot of people in the business and they know me, too.
It simply does not make sense . . . if the criteria are the legitimacy of the journalist and the size of his audience.
Thus, I strongly suspect I have offended some politically correct orthodoxy. Being a non-corporate guy, I am not chained by such considerations.
Joe – whom I have never met nor even spoken with, by the way – probably took offense at a column I wrote earlier this year critiquing what I style the Diversity Cult. I say this because of his background and because of his dismissive and unprofessional conduct toward me and because my access to GM press cars was pulled shortly after that column appeared; literally within a week of its publication.
After literally 20-plus years of uninterrupted regular access to GM vehicles.
To be very clear: I don’t care at all what a person’s ethnic or sexual background is; whether they are black or blue or refer to themselves as “we” or “they” or what they do in the bedroom or whom they marry. Decent, fair-minded people simply don’t give a damn about other people’s skin color or sexual orientation and want to deal with them as individual human beings, defined by their achievements, their work, what they do, whether they are of good character (and so on) … unless race and sex and sexual orientation are forced down their throats.
I’m a Libertarian. I don’t have any issue with the “gay community” or any other “community” except insofar as they insist on identifying and defining in terms of a collective based on skin color – or whom they sleep with – and make those things the focus of conversation, with genuflection not only expected but demanded.
Most of us just want to deal with other people as people – not as black people or gay people.
Such tripe ought to be irrelevant – certainly when it comes to writing about cars. I care about whether a car is interesting, useful, makes sense, is fun to drive – hits the sweet spot.
And that is all I care about. Not whether the guy behind the wheel – or the guy who designed the car – is “of color” or gay or likes strawberry but not chocolate ice cream.
Joe seems to care about such things a great deal. And if you don’t share those cares . . .
It’s a shame. I’m one of the few remaining people on my side of the fence who isn’t reflexively anti-industry. Who isn’t an air bag-snuggling, “safety”obsessed, ride-sharing-is-the-future, anti-car zealot with pictures of Joan Claybrook and Ralph Nader pinned to his wall.
I appreciate your position – believe me – and thank you for getting back to me. But absent something more substantial than “business decision,” I have to conclude GM has excommunicated me from the press pool because GM isn’t happy with my writing, not that the size of my audience is the problem.
But I did do a little research. I discovered that this Joe LaMuraglia character – who is now oberbefehlshaber of GM’s press fleet – has a very interesting background. As follows:
“Joe founded GayWheels.com and made it successful because he had the vision to see that, although LGBT Americans are some of the country’s biggest car buyers, they had been totally ignored by automakers. He set out to change that – and did. A computer whiz and former employee of a major auto manufacturer, Joe founded GayWheels, a site featuring knowledgeable auto reviews by gay writers, and – a first – a ranking of which auto companies are gay-friendly, and which don’t deserve LGBT customers. This mission, and how well Joe achieved it, was unique among all the pitches I heard as Executive Editor of The Advocate, the national LGBT magazine. I hired Joe to provide our magazine with accurate, timely, and well-written auto reviews. He would call and schedule several reviews in advance; deliver them on time, with the appropriate art; and provide fact-checking information. I found him highly reliable and, also important, a great guy to do business with. And PS: Joe is now Social Marketing Manager for GM. They got lucky!”
Us straight white males not so much.
Notice the verbiage. ” . . .reviews by gay writers” – because you can’t just be a writer anymore. You writing is less relevant than your sexual interests – which must be not merely advertised but define you as a writer.
Like “African Americans on Wheels.”
One can’t just be a car journalist. One must be an African American journalist. Or a gay journalist. But never a white male journalist. That is one color of the rainbow no longer wanted. And if one had the bad taste to launch something like the aforesaid Aryans in Audis, it is doubtful one would receive fawning treatment by vice presidents of diversity, much less access to press cars.
Ah, and this brings us to the piece d’ resistance.
No one even reads Gaywheels.com. I mean that literally.
Have a look, see for yourself.
The first thing you’ll see is zero comments – and no page view counters. Because no one is viewing these pages. And yet, GM is loaning cars – presumable – to “gay writers” such as Casey Williams, who reviewed the Cadillac Escalade (here). Note, again, the lack of even one comment and no “clicks.”
Contrast the above with the recent article of mine about the Chevy Volt (here). Almost 9,000 clicks and 183 comments.
And that was just from EPautos. This column appeared in multiple other outlets, including Lew Rockwell’s site and The American Spectator. This one article looks like it got more eyes – and clicks – than the entire portfolio of GayWheels.com.
Pretty much every article on EPautos.com is read by thousands – and many generate hundreds of comments.
But wait, there’s more. According to Google Analytics, ericpetersautos’ current ranking is 97,460 (see here) while gaywheels is way back there, number 1,232,916. It’s like a drag race between a Prius – an old one, with a tired battery pack – and a new Corvette.
And – mind – ericpetersautos is merely one of my outlets.
But I am unworthy to get GM’s press cars. While the “gay writers” for gaywheels are – notwithstanding no one seems to be reading their gay writing while there is no question people are reading my writing . . . irrespective of my sexual proclivities.
Perhaps because no one cares who I fuck – why would they? – just that I write a decent review.
It is embarrassingly obvious what the deal is here. This Joe LaMuraglia guy does not like me. He is annoyed by my failure to genuflect before the totem pole of “diversity.” Now, I don’t mind that he does not like me. What I cannot abide is that GM is allowing the politically correct agenda of this guy (who is merely one of many, who’ve infiltrated and infected every major corporation) to determine what ought to be – to use Terry Rhadign’s own words – a business decision.
If a writer – straight or gay, hermaphrodite or caprophagic tepischfresser – has an audience, then he (or she or it or they) ought to get cars, period. The numbers ought to be the only thing that matters.
The fact that they are not – that other considerations are given greater weight – says a lot about GM and its problems as a major automaker. A less major one than it used to be, incidentally.
When GM was not hag-ridden by political correctness and not scared shitless of diversity hires such as Joe LaMuraglia who owe their positions solely and only to race (and sex equipment) hustling, they had 50 percent of the entire North American car market. One division – Chevrolet – sold more cars than all of GM does today.
I hate to air dirty laundry, but they’ve left me no choice. And – for the record – I will not gratuitously slam GM as such – or its vehicles – many of which, as I have already mentioned, are outstanding. I will continue to review them on the down low – because I still have friends in low places.
But I will go to the mattresses over this diversity scheisse.
Because someone has to – and I am probably one of the very few independent journalists who can do it.
One of my favorite writers – who never made an issue of his skin color or his sex nor gave a damn about the skin color of others, nor their sex or sexual interests but only whether they could write and had something worth writing about – said that a time comes in every man’s life when it’s time to raise the Jolly Roger.
And so, I have.
. . .
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