Unintended Consequences

by Harry on April 28, 2006

David Beito reminds conservatives that they can’t always get what they want. Apparently Michelle Malkin complained vociferously about a math teacher at Bellvue Community College asking the following question:

“Condoleezza holds a watermelon just over the edge of the roof of the 300-foot Federal Building, and tosses it up with a velocity of 20 feet per second.”

As a result of the campaign by Malkin and others the teacher was upbraided, the President of the College expanded the administrative staff dealing with diversity issues and the consequence of the whole thing has been a nice bounty for another diversity expert:

In response to Malkin’s campaign, Bellevue College not only has given the diversity police more monitoring authority over the curriculum and personnel evaluations, but will hire the notorious Glenn Singleton to conduct ideologically one-sided training for faculty and staff. Apparently, it will be mandatory.

(Readers with long memories will know that I am less than enamoured with Singleton’s trainings).

David Horowitz take note!



snuh 04.28.06 at 10:06 am

as long as the mandatory diversity training is in english, i don’t think the current incarnation of malkin cares one way or the other.


Steve Reuland 04.28.06 at 10:07 am

Malkin and her ilk have become a kind of lame, caricatured version of the very thing they profess to hate: self-appointed thought-police who comb through the vast and largely mundane world of academia looking for trivial violations of orthodoxy to feed their contrived outrage.

It would be sad, if it weren’t so hilarious.


Espen 04.28.06 at 10:50 am

Pardon a clueless European here, but I don’t get it. What is wrong about the question? Is there some reference I am not getting?

As far as I can tell, it is a fairly simple physics question, and whether the name of the character is Jesse or Concoleeza or Fred or George or Jane or whatever shouldn’t matter at all?


Michael 04.28.06 at 10:58 am

espen: Condoleeza is a name typically associated with black women. Watermelon is a fruit stereotypically associated with black people. It’s also round(ish), so it’s good for physics problems. However, the stereotypical watermelon-eating black person is often associated with some very negative impressions of blacks.

If Condoleeza had thrown a snow-globe containing pictures of Iraqi prisoners being mistreated by soldiers in the air at 20 f/s, there would have been no potential interpretation of racism.


joel turnipseed 04.28.06 at 11:00 am

espen: google “racism” + “watermelon” & see what you turn up.


alkali 04.28.06 at 11:02 am


The reference is to Condoleeza Rice, the U.S. Secretary of State who happens to be African-American, and to a stereotype that African-Americans are fond of watermelon.

That bit is not disparaging in itself, of course — there’s nothing wrong with liking watermelon — but it ties in to a bunch of other antiquated stereotypes about African-Americans (simple-minded, happiest when doing agricultural labor, etc.) that people do find offensive.


dipnut 04.28.06 at 11:31 am


As a footnote to 4 and 6, I’d like to add that with regard to identity politics in America, the patients run the asylum.

Oh crap, now they’ll bust me for disparaging Persons Of Alternative Mentation!

Gotta go.


bi 04.28.06 at 12:45 pm

Amitabha. Hatred breeds hatred, which in turn breeds even more hatred. How can one break out of this cycle of hatred? By following the Eightfold Path. Amitabha.


Anyway, what’s Malkin’s response?


KCinDC 04.28.06 at 3:34 pm

Condoleez[z]a is a name typically associated with black women.

Is that true? I only know of one black woman, or person of any kind, named Condoleezza, and since her mother invented the name I doubt there are any others unless they’re named after her (in which case they’re probably not old enough to be women).


Jim Harrison 04.28.06 at 3:48 pm

Invented first names are also associated with black people, especially black women. Saturday Night Live once did a skit on the topic.


Espen 04.28.06 at 4:20 pm

Post 4 – 6: Aha. And I have six years in the States and thought I was somewhat familiar with Americanisms…… Always something new to learn.


Slocum 04.28.06 at 5:02 pm

Similar event at the local high school. Recently ‘Parade Magazine’ published their ‘what people earn’ issue. One of the people featured inside was a local (black female) English teacher. Another (white male) teacher cut her picture out of the inside of the magazine, pasted it on the cover over the top of the first of the wallet-sized ‘what people earn’ photos on the cover — in other words, in what he thought was a place of honor. He then pinned it on a bulletin board. But, unfortunately for the thoughtful but unsuspecting teacher #2, the main feature on the cover of the magazine was…King Kong. You can well imagine that the shock of the juxtaposition was so great that teacher #1 went on ‘medical leave’, and teacher #2 has been sentenced to diversity re-education camp.


Slocum 04.28.06 at 6:27 pm

Post 4 – 6: Aha. And I have six years in the States and thought I was somewhat familiar with Americanisms…… Always something new to learn.

It’s interesting–I doubt my high-school aged American kids are aware of the racist connotations of watermelon either. On the one hand, many of these are disappearing from public consciousness (and that’s a good thing). On the other hand, there’s an expectation that everyone should somehow be exquisitely sensitive to all these potential land-mines and that ignorance is an unlikely explanation for any miscue.


goatchowder 04.28.06 at 6:45 pm

The whole world has gone bat-shit crazy.

That is all.


bad Jim 04.29.06 at 1:30 am

Q. How do you turn a fruit into a vegetable?

A. Throw a watermelon into the air and it comes down squash!

The watermelon attains an altitude of 306.25 feet and, 5 seconds after Condoleeza tossed it, impacts the pavement at 140 feet per second.


Steve Reuland 04.29.06 at 2:02 am

Silly person. Squash is a fruit. Heck, it’s even a melon.

And don’t try to tell me it was all just a joke; you can’t hide your ignornance through that tired trick.


MikeN 04.30.06 at 5:41 am

Condeleeza holds a captured (but not charged, tried or convicted) terrorist suspect just over the edge of the 300-foot Federal Building…and Rumsfeld says that’s okay with him.


markg 04.30.06 at 1:40 pm

How about Condi tossing the honor and dignity of the United States off a building? Would that hypothetical (but metaphorically accurate) example be inappropriate too?

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