Me, racist? But my best friend is Italian

Kevin Nealon wrote an op-ed that ran in The New York Times last week. While this fascinating tidbit might lead to a column about the state of editorial writing in America, I was actually interested in what the former Saturday Night Live “star” had to say.

Nealon was writing about his joy at finding his name on the list of people Hollywood private investigator Anthony Pellicano (who now faces racketeering and conspiracy charges) thought “might have some useful information.”

I didn’t know what Nealon was talking about at the time, but now, over a week older and much wiser, I understand his joy. Never in my deepest, darkest fantasies did I imagine the amount of attention my column “Getting by in good ol’ Torino” would bring me. This may have something to do with the fact that most of my deepest, darkest fantasies involve Jessica Alba, but I cannot underemphasize the pleasure that I have derived from readers’ responses to my column.

Before I go on, let me emphasize this to “bad boy” Kevin Nealon and the powerful Hollywood and New York Times interests — that is, powerful Jewish and liberal media interests — that back him: I thought of the idea for this column before you did. I don’t care how “powerful” or “dangerous” you are. I’ve survived angry letters to the editor and nasty e-mails, so I am sure I can deal with you.

“The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about,” the much-quoted Oscar Wilde once said. It’s true. Some columnists might be averse to receiving large quantities of sometimes well-written, often misspelled hate mail, but I am not the cowardly type.

You know that scene in one of the early “South Park” episodes where Cartman wins a $20 bet with Kyle, changes the money into pennies, and then bathes in it, yelling “Kyle’s money! Kyle’s money!”? Well, I did Eric one better. I printed out all the e-mails telling me I’m a racist, ethnocentric American idiot and shredded them into confetti. Then I danced around my room throwing them up in the air again and again. “Someone besides my editors reads my column!” I gloated. It was magical.

I kept the electronic copies so I could read them over. Again and again and again.

All this unexpected controversy has changed my life. “I liked your column,” someone might say in the dining hall, pretending they read it. “Not everyone did,” I’ll respond, mysteriously, and watch them lunge out of their seat and up to their room to check the letters to the editor. Just being someone who gets hate mail gives me endless satisfaction. “Hey baby,” I’ll say to my girlfriend. “Do you know you’re dating a pariah – a man shunned and detested by many both inside and outside the Yale University community?” She lives for that stuff.

My parents and siblings look at me in a different way now, too. No longer do they tell me I’m an idiot for nearly missing my flight, not being prepared to do my work in Torino and not being able to speak a foreign language (even French). Now they just tell me I’m an idiot for writing about it and getting so many people mad at me. “You think you’re too cool for school,” they’ll say to me. “But I have a news flash for you, Walter Cronkite … you’re not.” Or maybe it was Derek Zoolander who said that. All the anger that has been directed at me has left me stressed and confused.

But really, I feel bad about all the anger and hurt feelings my column caused, so I would like to issue a few corrections.

1. Bode Miller is not a “city in Japan,” and Michelle Kwan does not “lay hits that would knock you off your skates and out of your socks.” Miller is a skier on the U.S. drunken skiing team, and Kwan is a figure skater, but not good enough to skate in the Olympics.

2. The sentence, “Now, I don’t expect everyone in a foreign country to speak my language. I could just as well try to learn theirs,” should have read: “I hate foreigners. We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. Also they should speak English.” This is how everyone who was angered by the column seems to have interpreted that sentence, so it must have been what I meant to write.

3. The sentence, “Everyone is incredibly friendly and helpful” should have read, “The people here do not work, use the Internet or ride buses, and I really hate them,” because that’s obviously what it implied. How did I get so many things wrong?

I suppose I’ll cap this off with a general apology. I am sorry if people other than my family or friends (the hell with them) were offended by my column two weeks ago. I did not mean to hurt anyone’s feelings. I am sorry that you most likely did not read the serious pieces about Helen Resor ’09, a great hockey player and a great person, that accompanied my column. I am very sorry that I have a column in this paper that allows me to get the last word in this whole exchange. And I am extremely sorry that I am going to have to keep on writing it, no matter what people think of me. I am a bad boy like that.

I do it for the hate mail. Nealon understands.



Nick Baumann is a senior in Morse and a former Sports Editor for the News. He is a charter member of the liberal Jew media.

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