This petition is a request for the immediate ouster of Alan Richman from his position as food writer at GQ. The formal inquiry, as voiced by its sole author, Noah Bonaparte Pais, is based around the abject bigotry in Mr. Richman's latest article, "Yes, We're Open" [November '06], in which the writer had the following (and much more) to say about New Orleans' native Creole people:
"Supposedly, Creoles can be found in and around New Orleans. I have never met one and suspect they are a faerie folk, like Leprechauns, rather than an indigenous race. The myth is that once, long ago, Creoles existed … The 'crab and Creole' salad wasn't as interesting as its name—I was expecting a composition that included chopped up Creoles, allowing me finally to glimpse one of them."
Furthermore, Mr. Richman, in one of several letters sent to me amidst a recent maelstrom of withering criticism, attempted to acquit himself with the following argument:
"Was I racist? A ridiculous claim that I refute outright … Were Creoles attacked in the streets by non-Creoles egged on by me? Have Creoles been banned from public schools? Is there a national campaign underway to relocate Creoles to military bases, segregate them behind barbed wire? Did anybody even stick his tongue out at a Creole? Please."
Ironically, this radical defense only goes further toward the realization of Mr. Richman's inherently racist views. Unlike those who flaunt their prejudice (e.g., skinheads or white supremacists), casual bigots do not believe their viewpoints to be slanted at all—they maintain positions which fall within the boundaries of their own self-created mainstream. Hence, when confronted with this accusation, Mr. Richman conjured a holocaustic, Nazi-like dream state with which to contrast his own comments, thereby expressing his own extremist opinion that nothing short of a human rights crisis could possibly constitute harmful racism. That is, in and of itself, the embodiment of casual bigotry, and should be taken as tantamount to a subconscious confession of such.
Needless to say, there is no place in the pages of GQ—or in any other Conde Nast publication, or in any other publication, period—for Mr. Richman's hubris-fueled hatred. As precedent for a dismissal, please review the case of Kevin O'Brien, former head of broadcasting for 13 stations under the Meredith Corporation umbrella, fired in 2005 for alleged comments disparaging African Americans, Indians and Jews, and ESPN's recent removal of radio commentator Brian Kinchen from on-air work, after an offhand remark about homosexuals elicited criticism from listeners. Three weeks after publication, the outrage at Mr. Richman's article eclipses both these examples.
Another passage from the aforementioned letter provides additional insight into this writer's warped psyche. Asked whether he stands by his words, Mr. Richman answered:
"I'm very proud of what I wrote, but that's not a response to your definition of what I should be proud of and what I should not be proud of. I'm proud because this country badly needs a debate on New Orleans --- my naive assumption was that my story might incite a lively, spirited debate."
On two points Mr. Richman was proven correct. His assumptions were indeed naďve, and he has certainly incited a debate: Thousands of people nationwide now want to know why GQ would sponsor and publish hate speech disguised as grumpy gastronomic commentary. Having been libeled 854,155 times over, all currently existing Creoles—both in New Orleans and abroad—are owed at least an honest answer to this question.
Noah Bonaparte Pais
Senior Editor, ANTIGRAVITY
P.O. Box 24584
New Orleans, LA 70184