Race Card: John Galliano’s Meltdown–Don’t Blame it on the Alcohol
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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