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November 6, 2007 7:50 AM   Subscribe

A top immigration official has apologized after awarding 'most original costume' to a Homeland Security Department employee who dressed in prison stripes, dreadlocks and dark makeup for a Halloween gathering at the agency.

...The agency Myers heads is responsible for apprehending and jailing violators of immigration and customs laws, including conducting raids at work sites to round up undocumented workers.
posted by Artifice_Eternity (50 comments total)

 
ThinkProgress notes:

Myers has been sharply criticized for her lack of qualifications to head the division. She is the niece of former Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Richard B. Myers and married to U.S. attorney in Missouri John F. Wood, who was Michael Chertoff’s former top aide.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 7:51 AM on November 6, 2007


Julie Myers is unqualified. If they had any interest in protecting the homeland they would have hired her sister Nina.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:57 AM on November 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


Most original??
posted by DU at 8:00 AM on November 6, 2007


Myers has been sharply criticized for her lack of qualifications to head the division.

And hopefully for her lack of qualifications to judge Halloween costume contests too. A guy in blackface and a prison outfit is what passes for “most original” around there? Come on.
posted by tepidmonkey at 8:02 AM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is newsworthy.

That's depressing.
posted by Pecinpah at 8:02 AM on November 6, 2007


Even Michelle Malkin thinks Myers is worthless. Wait, does that mean Myers is good?
posted by brain_drain at 8:03 AM on November 6, 2007


Man...oh man. That comment section is one heavy piece.
People still have feelings and they still deserve respect.
Yes, we know the Holocaust and slavery happened years ago, but the victims are still feeling it today.

Nepotism is killing this country. Myers...Pelosi...
posted by doctorschlock at 8:04 AM on November 6, 2007


She thinks brown people in prison garb are funny. Perhaps in Bush's immigration agency, that's all the qualification she needs.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 8:05 AM on November 6, 2007


Even Michelle Malkin thinks Myers is worthless. Wait, does that mean Myers is good?

Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
posted by chillmost at 8:06 AM on November 6, 2007 [4 favorites]


How nice that she apologized.

Now, can someone fire her, please?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:06 AM on November 6, 2007


Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Not if one of the hands is missing.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:08 AM on November 6, 2007 [4 favorites]


And BTW, I don't even know who Michelle Malkin is.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:09 AM on November 6, 2007


Bush cronies put in high positions. Hurricane come, He go.
Bush drive drunk, judge go thunk.
Meyers admires rude attire.
posted by doctorschlock at 8:12 AM on November 6, 2007


Back in the mid-'80's, when I was in grade five, I dressed up for Halloween as Aunt Jemima, in blackface and everything. It's something I look back on now and feel totally ashamed of, but I was ten and didn't know any better. What my parents, and my scout troop leaders (who awarded me the best costume prize at the Halloween party that year) were thinking, I do not know. Times have changed, and that's a good thing.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:20 AM on November 6, 2007


I really should have posted this flowchart prior to Halloween.
posted by rzklkng at 8:21 AM on November 6, 2007


Nepotism is killing this country.

You know, its funny: I always sorta figured that all Presidents are guilty of a little nepotism. Maybe putting a trusted campaign advisor from Nebraska in charge of a Department of Agriculture desk or something.

But honestly, it seems like GWB has put every fucking third-cousin's uncle's friend of his into a position of Federal authority. Christ, it's like Tammany Hall on the Potomac.

The joke's on GWB, though. Theres a good reason why normal Presidents don't give out jobs to every sycophant that ever polished his shoes. It's because your talentless hacks in charge of Homeland Security think that blackface is really funny. Nepotism always bites you in the ass. Or the ankles. Hence the term "anklebiters".
posted by Avenger at 8:23 AM on November 6, 2007


True enough, Avenger. The thought, "what if they were competent?" used to scare the crap out of me.

"They could have gotten away with everything if the Iraq war went well, they covered up their politicization of Justice, they didn't make weak legal arguments in their efforts to detain and torture US citizens without access to courts, they didn't create a massive budget..."

But that line of thought refutes itself.

How anyone could think it's ok to go out in public like that is beyond me. How it can be rewarded in some circles... well... that's just plain frightening.
posted by ibmcginty at 8:28 AM on November 6, 2007


um, the word "deficit" belongs up there.
posted by ibmcginty at 8:29 AM on November 6, 2007


Should have given 'em "Most topical."
posted by klangklangston at 8:30 AM on November 6, 2007


Nepotism always bites you in the ass.

How has Bush's nepotic ass been bitten, exactly? He's going to make it to the end and be rolling in dough, just as planned. And the malcompetence will have successfully (further) promulgated the idea that government doesn't work, the core message of conservatism.
posted by DU at 8:32 AM on November 6, 2007


flapjax at midnite: "And BTW, I don't even know who Michelle Malkin is."

Lucky you.
posted by octothorpe at 8:33 AM on November 6, 2007


Not if one of the hands is missing.

You have a Mickey Minya wristwatch too? That's awesome! Where'd you manage to find one?
posted by trondant at 8:38 AM on November 6, 2007


I went as a wetback, and I didn't even get an honorable mention. Mon.
posted by Mister_A at 8:39 AM on November 6, 2007


I'm just wondering what sort of competition this costume faced in order to be judged original by comparison. I'm picturing a room full of orange T-shirts that say "This is my costume."
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:39 AM on November 6, 2007


I'm picturing a room full of people in suits looking at their watches wondering how long they are required to remain at a stupid office party.
posted by brain_drain at 8:47 AM on November 6, 2007


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by damnthesehumanhands at 8:49 AM on November 6, 2007


I'm picturing a room full of orange T-shirts that say "This is my costume."

That's threat-level orange t-shirts to you, buddy.
posted by googly at 8:52 AM on November 6, 2007


She also posed for a photo with him.

I'm waiting...
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:02 AM on November 6, 2007


Awarding anyone in blackface a prize seems insane, but "most original"?

Do peple have to have their ability to remember events more distant than last week surgically removed in some sort of bizarre conservative initiation rite or something?
posted by sotonohito at 9:07 AM on November 6, 2007


The photo of Myers with the employee and any others taken by the official photographer showing the costume were discarded, Nantel said.

Discarded?
posted by cashman at 9:20 AM on November 6, 2007


At work, they gave the costume contest's most-creative award to someone in a store bought costume. Seemed an unusual use of the word creative to me.
posted by nomisxid at 9:47 AM on November 6, 2007


Discarded?

For those not in-the-know, that means there's a copy of it in Dick Cheney's man sized safe.
posted by contessa at 9:50 AM on November 6, 2007


I bet they're dumb enough that the photos are still sitting in the recycling bin on the desktop of the official photographer.

....official photographer? So my tax dollars are going to somebody to take Halloween pictures?
posted by cashman at 10:25 AM on November 6, 2007


He was not wearing blackface but makeup that was a darker color than his skin, Nantel said.

So it was just brownface, not blackface. You people are blowing this all out of proportion.
posted by octothorpe at 10:25 AM on November 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


He also reportedly had a basket with a clutch of Negro eggs in it and won the prize for "best dancer" on account of his simulated natural rhythm.
posted by longbaugh at 10:48 AM on November 6, 2007


You people are blowing this all out of proportion.

Making fun of other people isn't very nice. We have feelings.

The Washington Redskins
The Cleveland Indians
posted by doctorschlock at 11:02 AM on November 6, 2007


You are missing the point! His black face was so good, he fooled them into thinking he was a genuine Jamacian style Negro. The original costume was the Jamaican Negro pretending to be a DHS Agent.
posted by Megafly at 11:46 AM on November 6, 2007


pics or it didn't happen.
posted by Stynxno at 12:07 PM on November 6, 2007


I await the phony press conference where they explain this.
posted by NorthernLite at 12:49 PM on November 6, 2007


Maybe we are totally over thinking this, I mean, how do we know it was supposed to be prison stripes? Perhaps he was going as a Jamaican referee.

That would be pretty original.


... ok, I got nothin'.
posted by quin at 12:53 PM on November 6, 2007


Anyone else notice that they interviewed a representative from La Raza (page 2) for comments on the appropriateness of the apology? Wow. The guy didn't dress up like Speedy Gonzalez, he dressed like an incarcerated black man. So why interview someone from La Raza? Did the reporters just think that any comment from a minority would be good? Nobody thought about calling up any contacts from the NAACP or the Rainbow Coalition?

That's like asking a rabbi if it would be cool to apologize for the Mohammed cartoons.

Anyway, what the hell is up with asking if apologies are appropriate anyway? Racist idiots don't want to say they're sorry unless they have permission to do so, otherwise it's condescending or something? I don't get it. You're either sorry and you apologize, accepting the consequences for your actions, or you don't. If you need a public opinion poll to tell you whether or not you made an apology-worthy mistake, you're an asshole to begin with, so you might as well just be an honest asshole rather than offer up weak apologies for your idiocy.
posted by caution live frogs at 1:39 PM on November 6, 2007


Sounds like nothing out of the ordinary at college Halloween parties with pictures proudly being plastered all over Facebook.
Then again, this was at frat parties in Georgia.
posted by jmd82 at 1:41 PM on November 6, 2007


Was he supposed to be Mumia?
posted by electroboy at 2:17 PM on November 6, 2007


Y’know, taken in contrast with the “Dog” the bounty hunter thing, this has shrank out of proportion. First - ok, Dog’s in a private conversation. Plus he’s just some guy, albeit on television, but that’s a whole not of ‘should’ not ‘must’ and he’s got a whole private contract thing going on. They want to censure him, drop him, fine him, whatever, that’s their deal. But again - private conversation of a non-public servant (albeit a public figure). Perhaps he was cut off by a black guy that day, maybe someone stepped on his toe and it’s completely disassociated anger - whatever. He said “nigger” and said “sorry.”
I myself contemplated saying “Niggers! Amirite?” then posting a short apology with the implication that nothing further would happen to mirror the situation with the DHS. Woulda been pretty damned funny really. *pat pat pat my own back* But I decided against it because, hell, I’m feeling garrulous.

Myers on the other hand works for all of us and this wasn’t a short assertion said in anger (whether Dog is or is not prejudiced aside, that was the form). This was a drawn out sort of deal she actually particpated in - and had no clue why it was wrong.
Drop race out of the factoring - you have an asst. secretary, not very high profile, but a public servant in the public eye - celebrating a prison costume. Pretty much the failure end of the system. On par in terms of bad taste with the “no weapons of mass destruction here” joking by Dubya while men die in the field.
So ok, putting race back in - she didn’t see the problem? Took pictures? This was a prolonged sort of deal, not some private phone conversation.
But, she apologizes and...what? What’s going to happen to her?
Dog, I think, can get away with an apology. He’s going to be dealing with the repercussions of what he says first hand. Maybe someone thinks he’s not such a decent brah, and they run on him or bust his nose and counts on the race card in front of the judge. Well, there’s evidence, isn’t there?
So, great, you’re sorry. Meh. It evens up.
Here, no equalizer. I doubt she - they - even get why it’s wrong. Beyond the “some people were offended.” Well why the hell were they offended? If she could answer that, I might believe her apology. Even then, I wouldn’t want someone with so little savvy that high up in the organization.
I keep thinking of Ollie North and whats-his-name bringing a chocolate cake (in 105F degree heat) to the Arabs during Ramadan. Offensive, certainly, but I feel like Richard Roma when I hear that (paraphrasing): “Where did you learn your trade, you stupid fucking cunt?! You idiot! Any one who works here lives by his wits. I don't care whose nephew you are...who you know...whose dick your sucking on, you're going out! What you are hired to do, is to help us. Does that seem clear to you? To HELP us. Not to FUCK US UP! To help men who are going out there to defend their country, you fairy. You company man.”
Same thing here. How does this help anyone in the field do their job now? “Hi, I’m from the Dept. of Homeland Security” is going to sound like, to any minority, “Hi, I’m on bust niggers (spics, wops, slants, etc) in the head patrol.”
More people are going to help us now? More informants we’re going to have because of this woman? Unbelievable. Who took this woman off the rubber gun squad?
It’s zero tolerance for a kid who draws a picture of a 6 shooter on a cowboy or a 5 year old who steals a kiss but taking pictures with people pretty much caricaturizing the disproportionate incarceration of minorities because of slanted legislation and enforcement as an upper level sworn federal law enforcement official? No problem, just apologize.

It’s not just the powerful > less powerful thing. I’m a fairly well off white guy and this pisses me off. In part because I’m friends with a bunch of different people from diverse backgrounds. But just for sheer practicality sake - hell, 99% of the cooperation we got on the El Rukins was the understanding that we’re all Americans when it comes to terrorism. And now this says - what? If I’m a black gangster, the hell with them. I’ll deal with some foreign nationals because I know the DHS sure as hell isn’t on my side. Worst possible nightmare is the collusion of internal organized crime and foreign terrorist organizations. U.S. law enforcement and the intelligence community has known that for years. You’d think someone in this position would have that tattooed on their forehead. Hell, I know it and I’m just some slob from the midwest.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:31 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


I agree that the Myers & DHS racism is a much bigger problem then something some bounty hunter said, but I think you're missing a level of twistedness there. The message he left on his son's answering machine was more "I can't have you dating that n-word, because we say n-word a lot around here and if you bring that n-word around and she gets offended she might say something to the Enquirer, and I can't risk my career." It's kind of hard to write that off as displaced anger if you listen to the tape.
posted by InfidelZombie at 3:04 PM on November 6, 2007


Chertoff Claims ‘Zero Tolerance’ For Discriminatory Halloween Costume, Excuses Julie Myers’ Role.
posted by ericb at 4:31 PM on November 6, 2007


Yeah, right, "zero tolerance" my ass. No punitive action against Myers means there is indeed tolerance, and plenty of it. She still has her cushy job. Hell, she isn't even being officially reprimanded.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:50 PM on November 6, 2007


“It's kind of hard to write that off as displaced anger if you listen to the tape.”

Fair enough. I haven’t gotten much on it other than what I gleened from cursory glances at t.v. news while flipping though channels. Still - he’s going to be dealing with the consequences of what he said first hand. She likely never will, meanwhile agents in the field who aren’t racist (given there are some, and perhaps some who are racist) trying to do an honest job - will feel the repercussions of this.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:28 AM on November 7, 2007


If I were in Washington I would put on blackface and protest in front of her building. Maybe that would bring some publicity to having a sick racist in charge of immigration enforcement.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:53 AM on November 9, 2007


DHS employee wore offensive costume in office all day.
posted by ericb at 11:31 AM on November 9, 2007


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