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Home > World

WAWIBF: Mahatma Coat

9 January 2004

Hillary Clinton - everybody's favourite ex-First Lady after Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martha Washington et al. - this week apologised for joking that Mahatma Ghandi used to sell petrol for a living.

The gaffe came during a speech at a fundraiser for Senate candidate Nancy Farmer last Saturday. Introducing a rousing quote from Ghandi, she said: 'He ran a gas station down in St. Louis.' Then she gurned like Bobby Thompson. Then, when the 200-strong crowd roared their sycophantic approval, Hillary realised her mistake - perhaps a vision of the next morning's headlines - and she offered this clarification: 'No, but seriously, Mahatma Gandhi was a great leader of the 20th century.' But it was too late. The damage was done.

In a statement released on Monday, she said she was sorry if she had fuelled (geddit?) the stereotype that certain ethnic groups were synonymous with dead-end jobs. She said that was never her intention. It was just a lame attempt at humour, she said, humour based on a simple racial stereotype. However, her remarks have angered many. Michelle Naef for one, administrator of the Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in Memphis, who was apparently ready to smash Hillary's face in with a tar baby in a lynching sack. 'Perpetuating racial myths,' said Ms Naef, 'could be incredibly harmful'.

Meanwhile, David Robertson, political science professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, warned politicians to be wary of attempting to inject humour into their speeches. Particularly if they have no discernable sense of humour at their disposal. He added, 'There's no reason to think she doesn't admire Gandhi, like so many people do. After all, Gandhi was influential to Martin Luther King Jr, and I know she respects King.' Although don't get Hilary on the subject: 'Ah, yes, Martin Luther... he used to sell crack and run a gang of whores off Lexington Avenue. No, but seriously...... erm - hello? - is this thing on?'

Silly old Hillary. She could have got a lot more laughs if she'd seen the comedic potential of Nancy Farmer.

Natural As Can Be.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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