By on November 29, 2010

Bill Mitchell, only the second man to head General Motors styling when he took over from the monumental Harley Earl, was not a man about whom people were impartial. GM’s official history reveres him. Harley Earl’s family reviles him. His coworkers and subordinates at GM either loved him or despised the man. Even landmark designs that were signatures of his reign at GM Styling, the split-window 1963 Corvette Sting Ray and the boat tail Rivieras, are polarizing designs that had detractors, including some on the GM Styling staff. He admittedly ran that department like a dictator, though he rarely fired anyone. Mercurial in temper, he’d have screaming fits at his design staff, laced with the most vulgar epithets, then defuse the tension with an offhand joke as he left the room. Shamelessly ambitious and self-promoting, often taking personal credit for his staffs’ designs, had the term “larger than life” not existed, Mitchell would have coined it to describe himself.

By today’s standards of workplace political correctness, diversity and racial and sexual harassment law, Bill Mitchell was an atavistic throwback to an age when ethnic jokes by supervisors were uncomfortably endured by the brunt of that ‘humor’. An executive then could tell his secretary to order him up some hookers after a multiple martini lunch, knowing that she’d hold all calls and cover for him if his wife (or another executive) got jealous. As a result, in addition to whatever praise and criticism his aesthetic direction and management skills have garnered, Bill Mitchell’s legacy has been somewhat tarred with the brush of bigotry.

The question is are we being fair to the man? Are we applying contemporary standards to an era that was simultaneously more innocent and more evil in terms of racial, ethnic and other prejudice?

Just about every biographical account of Bill Mitchell written since his death uses the word “bigot”, mentions his profanity and his heavy drinking, and also usually references his recreational activities with those of the two X chromosome persuastion. It’s in Motor Trend Classic‘s profile of the man and shows up in Ate Up With Motors’ history of the Cadillac 60 Special, the first important design that Mitchell directed.

Based on how Mitchell’s vices usually come cataloged together, my hunch is that most of these accounts ultimately rely on Michael Lamm and Dave Holls’ encyclopedic A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design first published in 1995. In introducing their book’s section on the Bill Mitchell era at GM Styling, Lamm and Holls characterize the man thusly:

“He was tough and dictatorial, a bigot, a womanizer; he often drank too much [and] had a foul mouth…”

That Mitchell was a womanizer is in no doubt. He had a contentious divorce with his first wife, and was estranged from one of his daughters when he married his second wife a day after it was granted. According to Peter Robinson’s piece in MT, Mitchell’s indiscrete foursome with three women got him banned from an upscale Frankfut hotel. Lamm & Holls quote Chuck Jordan, Mitchell’s lieutenant and successor as saying, “He certainly loved women,” and Mitchell himself often said “If God made anything better than a woman, He kept it for Himself.” A former administrative assistant (they were called “secretaries” in those antediluvian days) said that had the laws existed then, she could have filed a hundred sexual harassment suits against him. One account had him hiring seven prostitutes for a lunchtime orgy. When he discovered that he was short of cash, he sent an underling to the bank with his personal $1,000 check so he could pay each of the working ladies her $100 fee.

When it comes to the ladies, Baruth ain’t got nothin’ on Mr. Mitchell.

He also drank quite a bit. At a party at GM designer George Moon’s home Mitchell was seen tying one on, only to disappear. The next morning they had to call the police and fire department to get him down from 50 feet up in a tree. Another time, he and Oldsmobile design director Art Ross got stuck trying to drive a horse drawn carriage they’d stolen in Central Park into the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton hotel.

Mitchell’s vices are documented but prejudices are a bit harder to pin down. He did have very clear gender roles.

Harley Earl was rather progressive in his thinking. He hired Jews, Latinos, openly gay men and women as designers. Though Arthur Ross had changed his name from Rosenman, he didn’t hide his Jewish ethnicity, and Earl hired him, eventually promoting him to head the Cadillac and Buick design studios. He hired the first female designer in the industry in 1943. Automotive design was often seen as a struggle between the “pretty boys” (designers) and the “tough guys” (engineers). Engineers would called the designers “pantywaists” and “fairies”. As a result of those perceptions Earl himself affected a hyper-masculine persona to have some leverage with the engineers. Still, as a matter of practice, Harley Earl hired some openly gay men for his design staff. Recognizing that women usually cast the deciding vote on car purchases, he made a point of having at least one woman on each design team. Today we’d probably call that tokenism, but in the 1950s it was genuinely progressive.

Earl even used the women on his staff for promotional purposes. Sue Vanderbilt and other female designers chafed at the PR copy that focused on them making cars living rooms on wheels, and weren’t thrilled at being relegated to interior design teams. Still, they were team players trying to get ahead in a very competitive field, so they didn’t complain about being “Damsels of Design” until after they retired. They took the opportunities presented to them, including a 1956 display at the GM Building of ten cars “feminized” by GM’s women designers and the chance to contribute to GM’s 1959 Motorama cars. Earl said, around the time of his retirement in 1958, “I believe the future for qualified women in automotive design is virtually unlimited. In fact, I think that in three or four years women will be designing entire automobiles.”

That prediction did not come to be and interiors would still remain the female ghetto at GM Styling for decades. Bill Mitchell said, “No women are going to stand next to any senior designers of mine on any exterior styling of Cadillac or GM’s other major brands,” and proceeded to demote all the females on the design staff. Not long after Mitchell succeeded Earl as VP of styling, Vanderbilt got a leave of absence from her position as an assistant styling director in order to get her MFA at the Cranbrook Institute. However, when she returned to GM after only two years away she had to start over as a junior designer. Men who left GM Styling and returned usually came back at the same or higher level than they left. Mitchell also paid his female designers less than the men, though this was standard practice in industry at the time and not necessarily due to Mitchell’s personal sexism. Vanderbilt does note that while restricted to interior design, she indeed moved up in the hierarchy at GM. She also points out in her oral history that GM Styling was intensely competitive and that she and other female designers did not always have the stomach for the political and corporate combat needed to move up in rank.

In terms of other prejudice, specifically racial, religious or ethnic bias, the question is a bit murkier. The Lamm/Holls book gives the perspective of the people who knew Mitchell and were likely to be on the receiving end of some of his epithets. Lamm and Holls characterize Mitchell’s bigotry as reflecting not the man, but the era. I’m not entirely convinced. He may not have discriminated against people because of what they were, he just seems to have enjoyed making them squirm for the same reason. I’m not sure that it’s much of a defense to say that someone wasn’t a bigot, just selfish and cruel.

His bigotry was perhaps typical of the era. “Minorities had a difficult time under Bill,” observed designer Stan Wilen [a GM brand design head]. “If you were Black or Latino or Asian, he’d put an adjective in front of a reference that would make conversation a little awkward. I qualified as a minority, so I hear[d] those things. Sometimes when he did not like the design of a front end, he’d say it looked like a grouper. But if someone was in the room who was Jewish, like me or Jerry Hirschberg [later vice president of Nissan Design International in California], Bill would use the word “jewfish” instead of grouper. Maybe he was just teasing, but maybe he wasn’t.

“Or he’d be up in the executive dining room, and there’d be all of his men around him. We’d be eating lunch, and Bill – with no [excuse that he'd been drinking] alcohol, because it wasn’t allowed there – would start telling stories. And Juanita, the waitress, would be serving a salad or something, and he would come up with some of the most outrageous sexual comments. Even the guys around him would curdle. But Juanita would look straight ahead… and pretend she didn’t hear any of it. I mention this to demonstrate a dimension of cruelty in his humor.”

Jerry Hirschberg had another explanation. “Mitchell was never an introspective man. He was all reflex and intuition., and it was clear to me that there was little intent in many of his statements and actions. I heard the ‘jewfish’ comments but also found myself being moved up the [GM] management ladder as swiftly as anyone. The words Jew, Jap, Wop and Nigger tumbled out of him, but his passion for beautiful cars and the talents needed to make them prevailed. Being Jewish never seemed to hurt my career at GM Design Staff, although it occasionally did hurt! Mitchell’s contradictory nature reflected the turmoil and pain around him – and the levels of energy and even inspiration that prevailed.”

Lamm and Holls continue:

Chuck Jordan likewise maintained that Mitchell didn’t intentionally hurt people; he was just thoughtless. And Corvette designer Larry Shinoda, who’s Japanese-American, said he never noticed any racial malice in Mitchell, “…none at all.” Shinoda often accompanied Mitchell on racing junkets and the two became quite close until Shinoda left to go to Ford. Strother MacMinn further pointed out that Art Ross, who was Jewish, not only worked closely with Mtichell on cars like the 1941 Cadillac [60 Special] but was also his friend and faithful drinking companion.” – Lamm & Holls, pg. 173.

Since the Lamm/Holls book has become a standard reference on the history of automotive design and designers, that would probably be where the issue ends: a man of his times whose use of slurs was more personal than prejudicial. However, as I discovered, Strother MacMinn’s reflection on Mitchell’s relationship with Art Ross was not the same as that of Art Ross himself.

How I got to that discovery requires a small digression, so please bear with me.

In recent years the fine art world has discovered and started to appreciate (in both senses of the word) the original artwork and illustrations done by automotive designers. In 2005 Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts published Future Retro: Drawings From the Great Age of American Automobiles, with an introduction by Frederic Sharf and selections from his collection of original design art. In 2007 the Louisville [KY] Visual Art Association put on a show, “Designing an Icon, Creativity and the American Automobile,” with over 100 original art works and clay models, with the assistance of Bill Porter, who drew the 1968 Pontiac GTO. That collection has been shown at a variety of museums, schools, galleries and automotive related institutions, most recently last week at the Northwood Institute.

In reviewing Future Retro, I came across some works by Jerry Brochstein, a GM designer from the late 1950s to the late 1980s. Bill Porter and other colleagues hold Brochstein’s work in high regard, though Brochstein is somewhat embarrassed by the fact that Sharf’s book features work he did as a student, not an experienced designer. Among Brochstein’s designs at GM were the distinctive spoked and spinnered hubcaps for the ’63 Vette (which showed up in later iterations on the Riviera and other ’60s GM cars). He also worked on the AeroVette and Olds AeroTech concepts. Brochstein’s 1988 Cadillac Voyagé, to my eye, established the profile of the mid 1990s B-body Caprice/Impala.

I took note of Brochstein’s somewhat Jewish sounding surname and thought about adding him to my list of “car Jews” I’ve been keeping for a possible book about Jews with notable roles in automotive history.

When Brochstein’s son told me via email that his family was “as Jewish as Tevya”, I added him to the list. Searching for information on his role at GM, I found the name of Art Ross, son of Sheckel and Miriam Rosenman, another name for the list. I was able to contact Ross’ son, Carson, via the web sites he has set up to honor his father’s artistic legacies (and sell reproductions, now that such art is considered gallery worthy and collectible).

In discussing Mitchell’s relationship with his father, Carson Ross said that at one time they were indeed close, had been friends, and worked closely with each other at GM. The junior Ross said, though, that the relationship changed as Mitchell gained more power, first as head of design at GM and then later as VP after Earl retired. Earl had hired Ross, was a bit of his patron, and ran interference for him with Mitchell. Once Earl retired, Ross resigned from GM, starting his own successful design firm. Despite what Jerry Hirschberg said, Carson Ross told me that his father considered Mitchell to be an anti-semite, and that one reason why he left GM was that he had grown tired of Mitchell’s frequent use of the word “Jew”. Mitchell would frequently “joke” about Ross being “GM’s token Jew”. Considering that GM hired other Jewish designers like Wilen, Brochstein and Hirschberg, and that both Ross and Wilen rose in the GM hierarchy to head brand design staffs, the joke sounds more pointed than funny. Considering, too, that for a decade and a half after he hired on at GM Mitchell’s paychecks were signed by Meyer Prentis, GM’s treasurer, comptroller and Alfred Sloan’s right hand man, the comment is even less funny, though definitely ironic.

So was Bill Mitchell a sexist, homophobic, racist, anti-semitic bigot? Unlike Mad Men’s Don Draper, Mitchell was a real person who caused real hurt with his remarks, not a fictional character who “evolves”. I don’t think that it’s applying today’s standards to a previous era to say that Bill Mitchell could be bigoted and cruel, but that he also appears to have never let that bigotry or cruelty get in the way of assessing talent.

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137 Comments on “Was GM Design Head Bill Mitchell A Sexist Bigot?...”


  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    This would seem to be an impossible task . . . that is, if you want to avoid judging yesterday’s man by today’s standards.  Mostly because, you would have to recreate the standards of the time.  The best evidence, of which you have been able to collect some, would be the comments of his contemporaries.
    And, I think no matter how you would try to avoid it, such an inquiry would end up being a judgment of yesterdays standards by today’s.
    For example, President Woodrow Wilson (a native Virginian and former governor of that state) reveals himself to be, by today’s standards, a raving bigot.  But, is that really relevant to any assessment of his stature as US President?  Or, for that matter, to an assessment of how he brought Princeton University (of which he was President) from pretty much of a country-club Ivy League school of the privileged (best-described in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “This Side of Paradise”) into a serious intellectual powerhouse, worthy of comparison to Harvard and Yale?

    The reality is that timidity is not nor ever has been a path to distinction in any endeavor. The audacious are the ones who accomplish big things. The relevant question is how much of their audacity is channeled into socially productive uses . . . and how much is channeled into socially negative behavior.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Wilson was governor of New Jersey (his time at Princeton had brought him into the public eye). And his raving bigotry was a key a factor in the segregation of the civil service while he was President, so yeah it’s relevant.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      @bumpy ii Oof! My bad on the governorship in question. I agree with your point about relevance.

    • 0 avatar

      Wilson also segregated the armed forces. Harry Truman desegregated them, but it’s not well known that he was reversing the policies of a fellow Democrat. It’s one of the ironies of American politics that Truman desegregating the armed forces and Richard Nixon appealing to the law ‘n order sensitivities of southern whites somehow offsets over a century of genuinely racist Democrats like Wilson.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr Lemming

      Ronnie, it may be useful to add that the Democrats prior to the New Deal weren’t the same kind of political party, e.g., it was dominated by southern whites who still hated the Republicans due to their role in the Civil War era.  FDR began to change the basic character of the party, and by the end of the 20th Century the Democratic and Republican parties had completely switched roles regarding racial issues.

    • 0 avatar

      by the end of the 20th Century the Democratic and Republican parties had completely switched roles regarding racial issues.
       
      You’re deliberately distorting reality when you imply that contemporary Republicans are racists. I’m sure that Alan West and the other black, Asian and Latino Republicans elected to high office a few weeks ago would strongly protest your smear. The Democratic party was the home of genuine racists and the KKK. I know that it serves your political agenda to label Republicans as racists but to say that Democrats and Republicans have “completely switched roles regarding racial issues” is simply not accurate.

  • avatar
    brandeselitch

    I read a lot about automotive design, but seldom if ever comment on what I read on the Web. As an avid student of this subject for the last 40 years, I must thank you for publishing this article, a good amplification of the Lamm and Holls book I read years ago.  It is articles such as this, which constitute solid original research and thinking, that cause me to return to your site.  Keep up the good work.
    Sincerely,
    b.e.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Mitchell sounds like an a-hole.
     

  • avatar
    Zackman

    In the white world back then – even into the seventies – that pretty much reflects that  corporate era. I worked in U.S. Civil Service the second half of the seventies, and while things were much different in that atmosphere – sort of the opposite, actually, which was almost as harmful – up to that time, especially by the end of American combat in Vietnam, it really was a different world. If you were w.a.s.p., you had an entry-level ticket given to you, gratis. Any other variation of “white”, a bit more difficult. A different color – all too often, it was the equivalent to: “sailors and dogs keep out”. Thank goodness that finally changed for the better, as it was nothing to be proud of. The ONLY thing I can think of that would’ve benefitted from that atmosphere was that one didn’t worry about the politics and ramifications of every word and phrase used, appropriate or not, taking up more of one’s time dealing with such and being able to focus on the goal, not necessarily how you got there.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    “Are we applying contemporary standards to an era that was simultaneously more innocent and more evil in terms of racial, ethnic and other prejudice?”
     
    Perhaps, but contemporary standards are what we have to apply. An evil act committed in an evil time is still evil. We don’t release the rulers of medieval Europe who were responsible for executions carried out by pouring molten lead into the hands of criminals, ripping their intestines out, and tearing their arms and legs off while they were still alive.
     
    In addition, it’s not just temporal acceptance. Different places in the world had different mores; in Sweden, for example, it’s unlikely that Bill Mitchell would have been looked on with admiration. So absolving him due to the times he lived in is more a matter of absolving him due to the people who were around him, and that’s even less reasonable. I’ll resist an inclination to Godwin the thread here, but I think you get my drift.
     
    The fact that Mr. Mitchell was merely an a*shole rather than a sadistic tyrant doesn’t excuse his actions – they were both similarly accepted during their times. In the future, our time may be looked on (and presumably will be, if history is any indication) as having accepted actions it shouldn’t have, or failed to accept those it should have. The fact that we don’t know any better now doesn’t necessarily abrogate our actions.

    • 0 avatar
      Amendment X

      Uh oh, the PC Police are here! Lighten up, will you? The guy told some off-color jokes and liked to get laid. People who get their panties in a knot over these issues are perfect examples of why we live in a feminized society.

    • 0 avatar
      leshnah

      So… spelling “asshole” with an asterisc is the right way to do it? We still know what you wrote. The dude was an asshole, pure and simple. No need to be so absurdly PC dude.

    • 0 avatar
      thebeelzebubtrigger

      “…absolving him due to the times he lived in is more a matter of absolving him due to the people who were around him, and that’s even less reasonable.”
       
      People, times, it comes down to changing culture. Mtchell undoubtedly developed his persona the way most of us do, by experimenting to find what works. In the USA back then being a super macho, sexist, racist, bully is what people admired/feared/respected. And let’s face it, things are not all *that* different today. I don’t read a lot of puff pieces in praise of Trump, Jobs, etc… And the few truly wealthy people I personally know are probably not in danger of winning any humanitarian awards.
      The bottom line is simple enough, IMO — high level execs are usually jerks, and jerks used to be able to get away with things that are illegal now. Of course OTOH back then no one could get away with what the top brass at so many companies have pulled in more recent times… I’m sure it all evens out somehow.
       
       

    • 0 avatar

      And the few truly wealthy people I personally know are probably not in danger of winning any humanitarian awards.
       
      That’s a truism about people in general, wealthy or not. Most of the wealthy people that I’ve known may not be humanitarians but they sure give away a lot of money to philanthropic causes. Were it not for the wealthy people who supported the schools that I went to or the institutions that benefited me, I’d be much worse off.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Perisoft: In addition, it’s not just temporal acceptance. Different places in the world had different mores; in Sweden, for example, it’s unlikely that Bill Mitchell would have been looked on with admiration.

      But they still would have let him work, if he had possessed the right talent, which, of course, is the key question. Europeans are humans, too. If Mr. X had made a company money while behaving in a less-than-savory manner, said company would have covered for Mr. X’s behavior as much as possible. Even if the company was based in Sweden, the Netherlands or Germany.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    Also, he looks a bit like Terry Bradshaw. I’m not sure that’s forgivable under any circumstances.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Ha Ha Ha Ha! Love it! I have to admit, though, T.B. sure is funny when he comes on the Tonight Show. He and Jay play off each other quite well.

      Anyway, well-written comments.

  • avatar
    aspade

    Yep.
     
    As were nearly all of the other men who civilized the world.
     
    Where GM (and in the broader picture, America) was then and is now seems quite an indictment of the squat to pee types who have inherited it.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    Other than Shinoda and Vanderbilt this article seems to focus entirely on Mitchell’s attitude concerning Jews.  Was it not possible to find information about his behavior towards any other minorities?

    • 0 avatar

      this article seems to focus entirely on Mitchell’s attitude concerning Jews.
      Your comment isn’t accurate, but if it was, so what? Should I have ignored Mitchell’s comments about Jews just because you’d prefer to pretend that Jew-hatred doesn’t exist? Should I not have shared the information that Ross’ son offered with TTAC readers? Does the fact that I myself am a Jew disqualify me from discussing the subject of bigotry?
      For the record, I wasn’t planning on writing about Mitchell’s biases – I’m a lot more interested (and I think the B&B are as well) in the cars that Art Ross, Stan Wilen and Jerry Brochstein designed than the customizing job their mohels did on their foreskins.
      I get the impression that I’m somehow being accused of bias because I’m a Jew. For the record, the idea for this article originated with Bertel Schmidt. Do I really need to point out Bertel’s ethnicity to deflect the implication that I’m somehow carrying water for the Elders of Zion? (<- hyperbole, relax).
      Some folks seem to have Jews on the brain. It affects their reading comprehension, to wit:

      If you were Black or Latino or Asian, he’d put an adjective in front of a reference that would make conversation a little awkward.

      The words Jew, Jap, Wop and Nigger tumbled out of him,

      As I mentioned, the Lamm/Holls book is the primary source for most of the accounts and I excerpted just about everything on the topic. Since Lamm & Holls interviewed Wilen and Hirschberg, that reflects the view of a couple of Jews on Mitchell’s staff. Carson Ross gave me his late father’s perspective on Mitchell.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      Wow Ronnie.  Thank you for your assessment of my reading comprehension.  I see now that I did not word my question precisely enough.  Perhaps you could find a black, latino, homosexual, italian, asian (other than Shinoda who didn’t seem to mind him) or woman (other than Vanderbilt) and find out what they thought about him.  I did not realize that you were doing a book review, rather than an article on Bill Mitchell (there’s my reading comprehension acting up again).  For an internet writer you have a pretty thin skin.
       

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    We live in at least as ‘evil’ a time, when hiring decisions are made with preferential treatment given to favored groups. We aren’t producing Stingrays or Apollo spaceships anymore either. Coincidence?

    • 0 avatar
      silverkris

      Excuse me?  You mean back in Bill Mitchells’ day, they didn’t have hiring preferences, as long as you were white, male and straight (to paraphrase Henry Ford’s Model T color variety)? 

      Puh-leez.  

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      So you’re saying it was wrong then but is right today? Think better.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Yeah, it’s nice to know that all the hiring biases are kaput. So I dare you to smoke a cigarette to your next interview . . . . .

      And that’s a universally beloved, very PC bit of discrimination – that’s for the good of society, of course. So it’s just and proper.

  • avatar
    sfdennis1

    “So was Bill Mitchell a sexist, homophobic, racist, anti-semitic bigot?”

    Um, pretty much seems that way. (sarcasm) And probably a sex addict and an alcoholic to boot. Amazing, the amount of priviledge and unchallenged power that straight, white ‘well-connected’ men had back in the day…the power to abuse, to demean, to insult, to treat others as absolutely less than human, and suffer virtually no consequences.

    It’s all pretty disgusting, by any current understanding of human dignity…and still there are so many who lament the passing of the ‘good old’ days, and who would love to have the kind of unchallenged authority and permission to be an as*hole without consequence. Pathetic.

    All I can say is thank Jeebus those days are over…as a result of those who were being sh*t upon taking back their own power, and basically saying “F you”, we’re not taking your crap anymore…’bout friggin’ time.

    In today’s world, Mitchell would have had to shut his bigot mouth, keep his zipper zipped (at least while on the clock) and at least make some attempt to keep his alcoholism in check…too bad they didn’t really have ‘rehab’ back in the day, maybe underneath all his well-documented as*holism, there was a decent human being somewhere in there.

    Back to cars…does any of this make the ’63 Riviera any less beautiful, or change the fact that Mitchell presided over the design and creation of some of the most iconic American cars of all time? Not really…great designer, awful human being, and stone cold dead. Glad many of his beautiful creations will outlive his all-too-numerous human flaws. History can be kind that way….

    • 0 avatar
      silverkris

      Agreed.  Yes, Bill Mitchell was a jerk but as they say, you can admire Sinatra’s music without having to admire Sinatra the person (and Frank was, quite often, a real jerk, too). 

    • 0 avatar

      All I can say is thank Jeebus those days are over
       
      I’m not a Christian so I’m not personally offended, but it’s generally considered bad manners to mock people’s religious faith. I’m willing to bet that you’d never similarly make fun of Mohammed. Sure, it’s safer to mock Christians than Muslims. After all, what are Christians going to do, forgive you?
      You won’t mock Islam for two reasons. To begin with, Muslims are now considered an anointed identity group by lefties like you. Even in this thread you talked about how mosques are supposedly being deluged with attacks, when statistics show that there are far more attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions than on Muslims and mosques. Anti-Muslim acts may be less common, in fact, than anti-Christian attacks.
      Of course the real reason is that you’re afraid of Muslims. It’s ironic to see just who is and who isn’t “islamophobic”.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    So was Bill Mitchell a sexist, homophobic, racist, anti-semitic bigot?
     
    Who cares?  He’s dead.
     
    Today we’re taught to hide it and deny it, since every criticism is labelled as ‘hate’ speech, except anti-Christian rhetoric, which remains in-style.

    • 0 avatar
      sfdennis1

      So sorry that Mitchell is getting called out for what he was…his ignorance and intolerance is still popular in certain segments of society who wish they could turn back time and get away with the crap that he did.

      Yeah, the poor Christians, the most persecuted segment of our society….so many get fired from their jobs because of their religious beliefs, or beaten to a pulp in the streets by christian-phobic thugs yelling slurs, or get thrown out by their families as teenagers when they reveal they have been a ‘closeted’ christian, or bullied and harassed at school until they commit suicide because they go to church, etc etc etc.

      Seriously, give me a break.

    • 0 avatar
      forraymond

      It is the Christian bullies that are the problem.  If they would follow the teaching of the Bible, and not their made-up Church doctrines, we would all be better off.  And GET THE HELL OUT OF POLITICS!

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @sfdennis1, forraymond:
       
      Thanks for making my point.  Substitute ‘Jew’ for ‘Christian’ in your comments and suddenly your comments sound bigoted by today’s standards.
       
      There are plenty of ‘Bill Mitchell’ types today who make fun of openly Christian people, and nobody bats an eye.

    • 0 avatar
      gessvt

      You’re spot on about all those Christian bullies.  I’m really sick and tired of Christians sawing peoples heads off, blowing themselves up in crowds of innocent civilians and flying jetliners into buildings.  I hate how Christians make women cover up their faces in public like the shameful whores they are.  The public executions for adultery are the worst.
      Damn Christians.

    • 0 avatar
      sfdennis1

      @slippy

      Nobody bats an eye because christians endure a very small FRACTION of the hatred, discrimination and violence directed against them. A SMALL FRACTION. In fact, just about all that happens to the poor beleaguered christians today  (compared to minorities, gays, and others) are perhaps hearing some unkind words directed at them, or being made fun of on The Daily Show…how does one endure such oppression? With a thin skin, apparently…

      ***as Mosques, Synagogues, and gay-friendly churches are firebombed, as gays are physically attacked and/or beaten to death regularly, as minority teens are bullied, as millions of people in this country still deal with genuine oppression , etc etc etc***

      Again, seriously slippy, give it a rest…christians ain’t got it that bad in this country, and to claim otherwise is just being a drama queen *snap*

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @sfdennis1:
       
      Using ‘this country’ [presumably, the USA] as a gauge for bigotry is a bit slanted for many things.  The United States has been much more tame in the abuses generated against differing races, religions, and lifestyles.  Africa, Asia, and the Middle East still have awful examples of slavery, ethnic cleansing, and religious persecution unheard of in the US since the 19th century, if ever.
       
      So my comments about anti-Christian bigotry are not meant to be a whine, but rather to offer perspective on what is considered acceptable today.  Of course it’s not as bad here as elsewhere, and it’s mild compared to what others have suffered, but it’s still in style.  Just tune in to Jon Stewart.  But would I censor him?  Never; the First Amendment needs to protect him also.  And even I enjoy a good laugh. :)
       
      As for Bill Mitchell, no question he was a jerk, even for the times in which he lived.  Most people didn’t conduct themselves that way even back then.  But it still happens today:
      http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,365752,00.html

    • 0 avatar

      his ignorance and intolerance is still popular in certain segments of society who wish they could turn back time and get away with the crap that he did.
       
      Do you also think that Andrew Breitbart wants to return us to the days of slavery? Nobody’s looking to turn back time, at least not anybody who is significant. For every white American racist you cite, I’m sure that I can find a similar example like the New Black Panther Party or Jeremiah Wright.
      There are many, though, who see how the political left has abandoned any notion of equal opportunity in favor of anointed identity groups. For perspective, nothing Bill Mitchell is reported to have said comes close to the racism of MeCHA and other “Hispanic” racialists.

  • avatar
    newfdawg

    Bill Mitchell’s attitudes toward women and minorities, while reprehensible, simply reflected the
    attitudes of the time. That doesn’t justify the behaviors, and hopefully we have since moved on
    to a more rational level of behavior that benefits everybody.
     

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Duh!

    You spend 1000 words describing the pig, and then ask if he is a pig.
    Yes, he is.

    Put it in any time, any suit…it’s still a pig.
    They still exist today. Egotistic maniacs, male or female, will be around forever just like war, death and taxes.

    Speaking of Don Draper (what a name), i don’t think he is considered this same type.
    His character has always given opportunities to women.
    He just can’t stop being a whinny little baby and every time some stress pops up, he grabs a girl.
    He addresses any stress with sex.

    But as your story shows with the department head before him, Harley Earl , in an even MORE male  dominated period, you can be in the towers and NOT be a pig.

  • avatar

    he stole the design position out from under Lauve who deserved it, while entertaining his desire for underage European girls.

  • avatar

    Lauve, as designer of LeSabre and more, was more rightly entitled to the position succeeding Harley. Mitchell was also attracted to underage Euopean girls.

  • avatar
    mikey

    A hard drinking, profane,sometimes bigot. Sounds like a Foreman I had in the early Seventies. Foremen were instructed to fire any hourly employee that was late or absent during thier ninety day probation period.

     At the time I was in the pit, on gas tank install. A two man operation,it was, and my 18 year old partner was a black guy. The older guys called us the salt and pepper team.

     Well… my partner came it 15 minutes late one day. I could hear all the guys up top hollering, “here comes the boss, thats the end of the salt and pepper team” 

      So there is now three of us standing in the pit. Were running at 45 jobs per hour building full size Chevs, and both Canadian and American Pontiacs. The pit is four feet wide five foot deep,and you got maybe 20 ft to get the tank installed. The foreman is a good 6’2″ with massive shoulders. So he says to my partner “you know I’m supposed to be down here to fire your b—a$$ out the door, My buddy nods,and we go back to grab the next job. The dude had to be down there 10 minutes. “WTF is he doing” my buddy says. My guess? he was looking at scenery. The next job down, the assembler had to feed three gas hoses through a bracket welded to the body. Then push the hoses onto the steel gas line and the secure the clamps. The girl doing the job was maybe 5’2″and had to reach to her limit to get her job done.

     Finally the boss turns to us and says “I’d look forward to going to work if I could look at that all day long, and I woudn’t be f—ck late.

     

    • 0 avatar

      Lincoln freed the slaves, but he never cared about freeing slaves or about seeing black people as equals.
       
      While saving the Union was Lincoln’s primary focus, according to Henry Louis Gates, after meeting and having long talks with Frederick Douglas, Lincoln stopped believing in the inherent inferiority of blacks.
      BTW, none of that black, Irish and Chinese labor would have meant anything had not some entrepreneur put them to work.
      I’m not convinced that America was built on the backs of the disenfranchised, even if that’s appealing to those raised on Howard Zinn’s comic book history of the US. To begin with, the south was terribly inefficient. Slaves are crappy workers and the lazy Southern aristocracy regarded commerce as less than noble. The plantations were not viable economic models. Since much of America’s wealth was created not by growing or extracting raw materials but rather by adding value with industry (textiles are more valuable than raw cotton).

    • 0 avatar
      dewfish

      “While saving the Union was Lincoln’s primary focus, according to Henry Louis Gates, after meeting and having long talks with Frederick Douglas, Lincoln stopped believing in the inherent inferiority of blacks.”
       
      thats nice that lincoln had a change of heart before he died, but it dosen’t change the fact that he lived the majority of his life as a bigot. that is not me “demonizing” him, or viewing history through a present day lens, its fact. David Duke could cure cancer, still wouldn’t change the fact that he was a member of the KKK. Things like that have a way of sticking to you. Jenna Jameson could single-handedly create world peace, people will still view her as an ex porn star.
       
      “BTW, none of that black, Irish and Chinese labor would have meant anything had not some entrepreneur put them to work.”
       
      I’m sure the slaves were grateful that they got the chance to work with such “great entrepreneurs”.
       
      I’m not convinced that America was built on the backs of the disenfranchised, even if that’s appealing to those raised on Howard Zinn’s comic book history of the US. To begin with, the south was terribly inefficient. Slaves are crappy workers and the lazy Southern aristocracy regarded commerce as less than noble. The plantations were not viable economic models. Since much of America’s wealth was created not by growing or extracting raw materials but rather by adding value with industry (textiles are more valuable than raw cotton).
       
      Once again people, this is not about “appealing” to anyone. It is fact. How you “feel” about it is irrelevant. It may not have been as efficient to your liking, but it made a ton of money. the “Southern aristocracy” may have turned up their noses, but they had no problem taking the money. Look down on the business model all you want, a ton of money is still a ton of money. Textiles was profitable, but it didn’t exist in a vacuum. Textiles still need raw material. Said raw material was provided via slave labor. Extracting raw material is very costly if you have to pay all of those workers wages. Those costs would normally get passed up the chain to the textile industry. How can you brag about textile profits and ignore the very thing that made them profitable?

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      dewfish: thats nice that lincoln had a change of heart before he died, but it dosen’t change the fact that he lived the majority of his life as a bigot. that is not me “demonizing” him, or viewing history through a present day lens, its fact.

      Yes, successfully waging a civil war that ended up abolishing slavery in this country and saving the union in the process count for nothing.

      dewfish: David Duke could cure cancer, still wouldn’t change the fact that he was a member of the KKK. Things like that have a way of sticking to you. Jenna Jameson could single-handedly create world peace, people will still view her as an ex porn star.

      It helps to use examples relevant to the discussion. Lincoln’s change of heart regarding the equality of African Americans and his decision to craft the Emancipation Proclamation play directly to his views on race and slavery, and stand in direct contrast to his earlier views. 

      David Duke curing cancer or Jenna Jameson bringing about world peace – if they did achieve these worthy goals – have nothing to do with the actions that brought them scorn in the first place. David Duke can still be a racist and find a cure for cancer. Jenna Jameson can still be a porn star and somehow broker world peace.

      Abraham Lincoln’s conversion after his conversation with Frederick Douglass represents a direct repudiation of his earlier views on race. Big difference. 
       
      dewfish: I’m sure the slaves were grateful that they got the chance to work with such “great entrepreneurs”.

      I’m sure that it beat starving to death from lack of work. 
       
      dewfish: Extracting raw material is very costly if you have to pay all of those workers wages. Those costs would normally get passed up the chain to the textile industry. How can you brag about textile profits and ignore the very thing that made them profitable?

      He is noting that slavery held DOWN the South and the textile industry. Both would have been more profitable if free labor had been used. (Also, please note that slave labor does have a cost. Slaves have to be clothed and fed, and supported in their old age, when their productivity declines. These costs were reflected in the product – plantation owners could not afford to completely absorb them.)

      The simple fact is that the slave-based economy HINDERED the South, and kept it from being competitive with the North. By the eve of the Civil War, the South lagged the North in population, wealth and productivity. Northern cities far outstripped their Southern counterparts in size, output and intellectual vigor. Northern institutions of higher learning were superior to their Southern counterparts. This was not the case at the time of the Revolutionary War.  

      Slavery did not “build” America. It kept one half of the nation from growing to its potential, but the leaders in that half were too stubborn, dumb and racist to realize this. Read the works of Hinton Helper. He was a white southerner who, in the 1850s, wrote a stinging critique of slavery’s negative effect on the South.  

    • 0 avatar
      dewfish

      “Yes, successfully waging a civil war that ended up abolishing slavery in this country and saving the union in the process count for nothing.”

      I never said it counted for nothing. re-read what I said.
       
      “It helps to use examples relevant to the discussion. Lincoln’s change of heart regarding the equality of African Americans and his decision to craft the Emancipation Proclamation play directly to his views on race and slavery, and stand in direct contrast to his earlier views.
      David Duke curing cancer or Jenna Jameson bringing about world peace – if they did achieve these worthy goals – have nothing to do with the actions that brought them scorn in the first place. David Duke can still be a racist and find a cure for cancer. Jenna Jameson can still be a porn star and somehow broker world peace.
      Abraham Lincoln’s conversion after his conversation with Frederick Douglass represents a direct repudiation of his earlier views on race. Big difference. ”

      And my point still stands. He held these racist views as president during the civil war. The damage was already done. having a “change of heart” in the ninth inning is meaningless.

      “I’m sure that it beat starving to death from lack of work. ”

      yes, because working for free instead of living life as a free man and watching your family get beaten and raped in front of you is such a “great opportunity”. your family also gets to watch you get beaten and/or killed if you have any objections to this. those must be “added benefits.” but hey, at least you’re not hungry. Even though that wasn’t true either.

      “He is noting that slavery held DOWN the South and the textile industry. Both would have been more profitable if free labor had been used. (Also, please note that slave labor does have a cost. Slaves have to be clothed and fed, and supported in their old age, when their productivity declines. These costs were reflected in the product – plantation owners could not afford to completely absorb them.)
      The simple fact is that the slave-based economy HINDERED the South, and kept it from being competitive with the North. By the eve of the Civil War, the South lagged the North in population, wealth and productivity. Northern cities far outstripped their Southern counterparts in size, output and intellectual vigor. Northern institutions of higher learning were superior to their Southern counterparts. This was not the case at the time of the Revolutionary War.
      Slavery did not “build” America. It kept one half of the nation from growing to its potential, but the leaders in that half were too stubborn, dumb and racist to realize this. Read the works of Hinton Helper. He was a white southerner who, in the 1850s, wrote a stinging critique of slavery’s negative effect on the South.  ”

      The fact is, it WAS free labor. You can’t pay a person any less than zero. Yes, there were still some costs, but it was a lot less than if they had to pay those millions of slaves actual wages. are you thinking at all?
      Slavery did not hinder the south, its the only thing that kept the south economically competitive with the north. Why do you think Lincoln abolished slavery? Its not because he gave a damn about black people. its because the south wanted to secede from the union, and the money from slavery allowed them to be financially independent from the north. Go pick up a history book man.

      Hinton Helper could write all the “stinging critiques” he wants, slavery was making too much money to be ended easily. It was big business, and the south had to be forced out of slavery. Its funny how everyone in this comments section trying to pretend slavery was some little fringe business on the side that happened to be immoral. It was huge business that spanned several continents. You would have to be a moron to pretend that this was just some small scale thing that could be done away with easily.
       

    • 0 avatar

      Slavery did not hinder the south, its the only thing that kept the south economically competitive with the north. Why do you think Lincoln abolished slavery? Its not because he gave a damn about black people. its because the south wanted to secede from the union, and the money from slavery allowed them to be financially independent from the north. Go pick up a history book man.

      Well, since you mentioned history books, your statement seems to be saying that Lincoln abolished slavery before secession. In fact the Emancipation Proclamation was issued well after secession.
      Howard Zinn isn’t history. I’m more impartial when I write about Democrats and Obama than he is writing about the United States. Another tenured radical who’s made big bucks because his fictions are assigned as history texts. As Baruth pointed out, the humanities in the academic world are a joke, devoted far more to political agenda than to dispassionate scholarship.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      dewfish: And my point still stands. He held these racist views as president during the civil war. The damage was already done. having a “change of heart” in the ninth inning is meaningless.

      Your point doesn’t stand, because the examples with David Duke and Jenna Jameson you gave are not analogous to Abraham Lincon’s change of heart regarding race and slavery.

      I’m a little baffled as to what “damage” he did, given that he did not invent slavery and was not responsible for its practice in the South. He was born in 1809; slavery already existed in the South at that time. You may want to check those history books you keep telling all of us to read.

      It’s also interested that, based on a standard reading of your post, no one can apparently ever have a change of heart and be redeemed. They are marked by their old positions forever. They can never be forgiven. No change of heart earns them any credit.

      Before condemning Bill Mitchell’s faults, you might want to first take a look at your own.

      dewfish: The fact is, it WAS free labor. You can’t pay a person any less than zero. Yes, there were still some costs, but it was a lot less than if they had to pay those millions of slaves actual wages. are you thinking at all?

      The owners had to pay for the slaves, and pay for their upkeep (food and clothing). Plus, they had to pay for the food, clothing and shelter of children and the elderly, who weren’t productive.

      You have no proof that it was more economical to own slaves than to hire labor, beyond your opinion. You need to separate your opinion from fact.

      Keep reading, and you’ll see how much wealthier the free-labor North became when compared to the slave-based South. The facts that I site effectively demolish your opinions.

      dewfish: Slavery did not hinder the south, its the only thing that kept the south economically competitive with the north.

      Here are some facts to help you become better informed.

      The South was hardly economically competitive with the North. That is a big reason why the North won the Civil War. The North’s industrial and agricultural output simply overwhelmed the South.

      In 1860, the North controlled three-fourths of both the nation’s wealth and the nation’s railways. Southern railroads were far fewer in track mileage, and were often of different gauges, which made transporting troops and goods quite difficult. 

      The reliance on a slave-based economy also hurt Southern agriculture. Most Southern farms grew cotton. Output was more diversified in the North – during the war, when the South could barely feed itself, the North was selling surplus crops to Europe.

      The Northern advantage in industrialization was substantial. Nearly all of the nation’s manufactured goods, including 94 percent of the nation’s cloth, and 91 percent of its footwear, were produced in the Northern states. This enabled the U.S. Army to feed, clothe and transport its troops much more efficiently than the Confederacy could.

      So how successful was the Confederacy again…?

      It’s apparent that the Confederacy was hardly economically competitive with the North – unless you have a very creative defintion of what constitutes being “economically competitive.”

      dewfish: Why do you think Lincoln abolished slavery? Its not because he gave a damn about black people.

      Slavery was formally abolished throughout the country by the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was ratified on December 6, 1865 – after Lincoln’s assassination. Lincoln did not formally abolish slavery, unless he somehow did it from the grave.  

      Without a successful prosecution of the Civil War, however, slavery would never have been abolished. Lincoln initially waged the war to save the union, but he later realized that the nation could never survive in the long run with slavery intact.

      Lincoln also proposed the vote for black men in his 1865 inaugural speech. This was one reason John Wilkes Booth wanted him dead. Hardly sounds like a racist to me.
       
      dewfish: its because the south wanted to secede from the union, and the money from slavery allowed them to be financially independent from the north. Go pick up a history book man.

      The South was never financially independent from the North – if we define financial independence as being able to finance a war and goverment operations. It had to issue paper money that quickly became worthless. It could not raise sufficient money to feed, clothe and arm its troops, let alone successfully administer its home territory.

      It wanted and actively sought financial support from Europe, which never came. This was another reason why it lost the war.

      dewfish: Hinton Helper could write all the “stinging critiques” he wants, slavery was making too much money to be ended easily. It was big business, and the south had to be forced out of slavery.

      Slavery hindered the economic and cultural development of the South, and nothing you have posted proves this incorrect. Whether it was “big money” is irrelevant. Slavery hurt the South and the nation as a whole. It did not “build” America, which was your original incorrect contention.

      Just because someone or a nation has to be forced to give up a habit or institution does not mean that it is good for them in the long run.

      Reading Helper’s work would give you some badly needed historical perspective.

      dewfish: Its funny how everyone in this comments section trying to pretend slavery was some little fringe business on the side that happened to be immoral. It was huge business that spanned several continents. You would have to be a moron to pretend that this was just some small scale thing that could be done away with easily.

      You need to respond to the posts on this site, not the ones in your imagination. No one is saying that slavery was a “little fringe business” on the side. We are saying that it hurt the South in the long run, and nothing you have posted proves this incorrect.

      Both sections of the fledgling United States started out rather evenly matched at the time of the Revolution. By the eve of the Civil War, the North had far outstripped the South in population, economic development and educational attainment. Reliance on a slave-based economy held back the South. The fact that some planters got rich growing and selling cotton does not change this crucial fact.

    • 0 avatar
      dewfish

      “Your point doesn’t stand, because the examples with David Duke and Jenna Jameson you gave are not analogous to Abraham Lincon’s change of heart regarding race and slavery.
      I’m a little baffled as to what “damage” he did, given that he did not invent slavery and was not responsible for its practice in the South. He was born in 1809; slavery already existed in the South at that time. You may want to check those history books you keep telling all of us to read.
      It’s also interested that, based on a standard reading of your post, no one can apparently ever have a change of heart and be redeemed. They are marked by their old positions forever. They can never be forgiven. No change of heart earns them any credit.
      Before condemning Bill Mitchell’s faults, you might want to first take a look at your own.”

       
      I didn’t say he invented slavery. I also never said people couldn’t be redeemed. I said that some actions and behavior will follow you for the rest of your days, regardless of how much you change. that is true. stop setting up straw men to knock down.
       
      “The owners had to pay for the slaves, and pay for their upkeep (food and clothing). Plus, they had to pay for the food, clothing and shelter of children and the elderly, who weren’t productive.
      You have no proof that it was more economical to own slaves than to hire labor, beyond your opinion. You need to separate opinion from fact.
      Keep reading, and you’ll see how much wealthier the free-labor North became when compared to the slave-based South. The facts that I site effectively demolish your opinions.”

      dude, pick up a history book. seriously. No one engages in a business on that large a scale and keeps it going for generations unless it is highly profitable.

      Here are some facts to help you become better informed.
      “The South was hardly economically competitive with the North. That is a big reason why the North won the Civil War. The North’s industrial and agricultural output simply overwhelmed the South.
      In 1860, the North controlled three-fourths of both the nation’s wealth and the nation’s railways. Southern railroads were far fewer in track mileage, and were often of different gauges, which made transporting troops and goods quite difficult.
      The reliance on a slave-based economy also hurt Southern agriculture. Most Southern farms grew cotton. Output was more diversified in the North – during the war, when the South could barely feed itself, the North was selling surplus crops to Europe.
      The Northern advantage in industrialization was substantial. Nearly all of the nation’s manufactured goods, including 94 percent of the nation’s cloth, and 91 percent of its footwear, were produced in the Northern states. This enabled the U.S. Army to feed, clothe and transport its troops much more efficiently than the Confederacy could.
      So how successful was the Confederacy again…?”
       
      The north may have had move diversity in their products, but that does not mean slavery was not profitable. And the fact is, slavery was the largest business in the south. Even if it wasn’t as profitable as the north, it was still the major source of income to the south.
       
       
      “Slavery was formally abolished throughout the country by the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was ratified on December 6, 1865 – after Lincoln’s assassination. Lincoln did not formally abolish slavery, unless he somehow did it from the grave.
      Without a successful prosecution of the Civil War, however, slavery would never have been abolished. Lincoln initially waged the war to save the union, but he later realized that the nation could never survive in the long run with slavery intact.
      Lincoln also proposed the vote for black men in his 1865 inaugural speech. This was one reason John Wilkes Booth wanted him dead. Hardly sounds like a racist to me.”

      once again, you can realize all you want after the fact, but the truth is, he waged the war to save the union. You can look back on it however you want, but that fact is true.
       
      “The South was never financially independent from the North – if we define financial independence as being able to finance a war and goverment operations. It had to issue paper money that quickly became worthless. It could not raise sufficient money to feed, clothe and arm its troops, let alone successfully administer its home territory.
      It wanted and actively sought financial support from Europe, which never came. This was another reason why it lost the war.”

      again, arguing semantics. the fact is that slavery was the major source of income for the south, and gave them enough funding to even attempt succession.

      “Slavery hindered the economic and cultural development of the South, and nothing you have posted proves this incorrect. Whether it was “big money” is irrelevant. Slavery hurt the South and the nation as a whole. It did not “build” America, which was your original incorrect contention.
      Just because someone or a nation has to be forced to give up a habit or institution does not mean that it is good for them in the long run.
      Reading Helper’s work would give you some badly needed historical perspective.”

      I am a black guy. of course I think the nation is better off without slavery. completely beside the point. but the money that slavery provided for this country in undeniable.

      “You need to respond to the posts on this site, not the ones in your imagination. No one is saying that slavery was a “little fringe business” on the side. We are saying that it hurt the South in the long run, and nothing you have posted proves this incorrect.
      Both sections of the fledgling United States started out rather evenly matched at the time of the Revolution. By the eve of the Civil War, the North had far outstripped the South in population, economic development and educational attainment. Reliance on a slave-based economy held back the South. The fact that some planters got rich growing and selling cotton does not change this crucial fact.”
       
      you say you are not calling it a fringe business, then state that only “some planters” got rich of slavery. the cognitive dissonance being used here is unbelievable.

      and you keep saying that slavery “held the south back.” what exactly did slavery hold the south from doing? maybe you need more sources of information than constantly name-dropping this one author. you are coming coming off woefully uninformed.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      dewfish: I didn’t say he invented slavery. I also never said people couldn’t be redeemed. I said that some actions and behavior will follow you for the rest of your days, regardless of how much you change. that is true. stop setting up straw men to knock down.

      Holding the opinion that blacks are inherently inferior to whites – which was the common view at that time – is hardly an action that will “follow him for the rest of his days.” That’s called having an opinion, and, even though it was erroneous, it’s not one that places the Mark of Cain on him.

      To his credit, Lincoln later changed his views after a meeting with Frederick Douglass. So I’m not seeing anything he did that was so terrible that it should mark him for life. 

      dewfish: dude, pick up a history book. seriously. No one engages in a business on that large a scale and keeps it going for generations unless it is highly profitable.

      Again, please carefully my posts before responding. I never said that the slavery wasn’t profitable for some people. I’ve said that it was an inefficient system that held the South back economically, socially and culturally. The fact that a select few benefited from it does not change this fact (indeed, it highlights a problem with slavery – only a select few really benefited from it.)

      The facts I cited show just how far the North had outstripped the South in key areas by the eve of the Civil War.

      Just because a system is profitable doesn’t mean it is the BEST system, or the most productive.

      dewfish: The north may have had move diversity in their products, but that does not mean slavery was not profitable. And the fact is, slavery was the largest business in the south. Even if it wasn’t as profitable as the north, it was still the major source of income to the south.

      All of which is irrelevant to the point I have proven – that a slave-based economy held down the South, and caused it to lag behind the North in several key areas, including economic growth. 

      A big reason that the Northern economy was more diversified was the use of free labor. This encouraged an entrepreneurial spirit, which, in turn, encouraged the development of manufacturing and a more diversified agricultural base. The North was also more welcoming to immigrants, who fueled population growth and brought more new ideas with them.  

      dewfish: dude, pick up a history book. seriously. No one engages in a business on that large a scale and keeps it going for generations unless it is highly profitable.

      No one has said that it wasn’t profitable, so you need to leave that strawman in the corn field where it belongs. 

      I am saying that it hurt the South economically, socially and culturally, causing it to lag behind the North in these key areas. The fact that it was profitable is irrelevant, and does not prove this incorrect. People keep doing less-than-optimum things all the time. Just because they enjoy it, or it is profitable, does not mean that there are not better alternatives out there.
       
      dewfish: once again, you can realize all you want after the fact, but the truth is, he waged the war to save the union. You can look back on it however you want, but that fact is true.

      He initially waged war to save the union. He then broadened the objectives to include the abolition of slavery. When he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, everyone who could read realized that, if the North won the war, that slavery would be doomed (when the Proclamation was issued, the price of slaves in the South immediately fell). 

      The Emancipation Proclamation also discouraged Great Britain and France from intervening on the side of the Confederacy. They didn’t want to be seen as helping to maintain slavery in North America. 

       dewfish: again, arguing semantics. the fact is that slavery was the major source of income for the south, and gave them enough funding to even attempt succession.

      No, I’m arguing facts. The fact that the Southern states seceded doesn’t prove that the South was financially independent because of slavery. You will note that the South eventually failed in that attempt – it lost the war - and a big reason was because it could never raise enough money to successfully feed, clothe and arm its troops. Why? Because it couldn’t generate enough funds to do so. It was not financially independent.

      dewfish: I am a black guy. of course I think the nation is better off without slavery. completely beside the point. but the money that slavery provided for this country in undeniable.

      Slavery didn’t build the country, even if it did provide a profit to some individuals and generate income for some states. Those are two entirely different contentions.

      And, amazingly enough, as a white guy, I know that the nation is better off without slavery, too. 
       
      dewfish: you say you are not calling it a fringe business, then state that only “some planters” got rich of slavery. the cognitive dissonance being used here is unbelievable.

      Understanding that a business or industrial sector can be large or widespread, but that only a few people really benefit from it, does not constitute “cognitive dissonance.” It’s called understanding the facts.

      The simple fact is that income distribution was much more skewed in the South than in the North. Slaverly only benefitted a few people economically, while harming both blacks and poor whites by stunting economic development. This was one of Hinton Helper’s main points.

      dewfish: and you keep saying that slavery “held the south back.” what exactly did slavery hold the south from doing? maybe you need more sources of information than constantly name-dropping this one author. you are coming coming off woefully uninformed.

      Go back and read my prior post where I show how much the North had outstripped the South in manufacturing output, agricultural output, and railroad mileage. Those figures aren’t from Helper, so I’m not just relying on him as a source. If can prove those facts incorrect, I’m all ears, but, at this point, all that you have given us is your opinion, along with the contention that slavery was profitable (which nobody is denying), which are simply not sufficient.

      Reliance on slave labor kept the South from growing as much as the North did in those areas. That is a big reason as to why it ultimately lost the war.

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    Well, let me be the first to say that I admire the fuck out of this guy.

    I have no trouble judging him by the standards of the time, because I sure don’t want to be judged by the standards of a future I won’t live to see and the demands of which I cannot possibly be clairvoyant enough to meet.

    For all we know, if the current trend towards creating feminized, PC, low-energy, low-achievement men continues at its current pace, every corporate meeting in the country fifty years from now will start off with the board members each performing a ritualized suck-off of a basketball player while tearing up a picture of Steve McQueen and urinating on a piece of the True Cross. And we will all be demonized in retrospect for not having had the sense to voluntarily do that in the year 2011.

    I hate to say it, since I’m not a WASP myself (duh), but this country worked a hell of a lot better and accomplished a hell of a lot more when racist, sexist, hateful white children of bigoted privilege ran the show.

    The America of 1941 regularly marginalized Jewish people while simultaenously stopping the Holocaust. The America of 2010 is careful not to do the former but would never have the guts to do the latter. I fucking guarantee you we will sit idly by when China permits their client state to ass-rape South Korea.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Jack…..well said!

    • 0 avatar
      sfdennis1

      “I hate to say it, since I’m not a WASP myself (duh), but this country worked a hell of a lot better and accomplished a hell of a lot more when racist, sexist, hateful white children of bigoted privilege ran the show.”

      No, no, you really don’t ‘hate’ to say it…you love to say it…in fact, you (and many others) are most likely seethingly green-eyed with jealousy of Mitchell, and his ability to do whatever the f*ck he wanted, to whomever he wanted, and not have to pay a multimillion-dollar lawsuit to your victims. Well, tough sh*t, compadre, there’s a new sheriff in town…

      and (he/she/they) are sick and tired of putting up with the crap and abuse that Mitchell and his ‘would be’ followers dish out of their as*holish, ignorant and discriminatory ways. Better trade your Porsches, your Townie, and the Neon in on a time machine…because the country that “worked so well” way back when ONLY worked so well for a small, privlieged portion of the population…for millions and millions of others, it pretty much sucked.

      May you be reincarnated as an (ugly) black muslim handicapped lesbian who has to work for a boss like Mitchell…it’d only serve you right…maybe ‘learn you’ something about what discrimintaion feels like from the other side.

      That said, you still turn out a decently entertaining column from time to time.

    • 0 avatar
      protomech

      We didn’t go into world war 2 with the intent to stop the Holocaust. We entered into the war as an active participant as a result of being attacked (after being a passive participant to that point).

      And we were content to sit idly by with the supposed safety of the oceans insulating us from war.

      If NK attacked us directly? We’d stomp their civilization into the ground (just as we would have before), but then we’d spend the next ten years cleaning it up. You know, like we did in Iraq post 2003. Or like we did in Japan, post 1945. Wait..

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      “I hate to say it, since I’m not a WASP myself (duh), but this country worked a hell of a lot better and accomplished a hell of a lot more when racist, sexist, hateful white children of bigoted privilege ran the show. ”

      They built the ‘show.’ No other culture cared about individual freedoms or created the prosperity we take for granted today. There were no coincidences involved.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      For the record, sfdennis1, I’m in the car-writing business and not the academic business because a committee of women and ethnic minorities told me back in 1992 that my doctoral proposal was “irrelevant to the times” and “does not deserve funding since it has no connection to the challenges faced today by the disenfrancised” or something like that.

      So yeah, for the crime of wanting to be a semi-white non-Protestant writing about the 18th Century, I was denied access to further education. I have an outstanding idea what you’re talking about when you bring up the politics of race and identity. :)

      Life in the United States is a hundred-yard dash. Some of us start in the blocks. Some of us start at the fifty-yard line. Still others start at the last yard and are then carried across by our parents or a system set up to privilege our particular race or class at the expense of others. It’s not fair, but there is no fairness in life, right?

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Wow, Jack – you look pretty white to me! What are you, then? Just curious, as that has nothing to do with much of anything. I did enjoy your last comment, though.

    • 0 avatar
      sfdennis1

      @ Baruth

      Sorry that you weren’t able to get into the post baccalaureate advanced degree program of your choice…that is clearly as traumatic as anything any minority has faced in the past. I retract my previous claim that you are inexperienced in matters of grave discrimination and oppression. 

      (Seriously Baruth, that sh*t sucks and was an unfair break, but if that’s the best you got for how hard it is to be a straight man from an upper-middle class background, you’re gonna have to try harder, a lot harder. Still say you deserve a life as a black, muslim handicapped lesbian to “grow you up” some.)

      I stand by my claim that Bill Mitchell was a racist, misogynist, homophobic as*hole, and while we can and should admire his designs, the man has earned more than a little scorn as well…and that our country, while founded on amazing principles of (attempted) fairness and equality, has a long way to go, and has severly missed the mark on myriad occassions in the past.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      “… ‘[jealous of] his ability to do whatever the f*ck he wanted, to whomever he wanted, and not have to pay a multimillion-dollar lawsuit to your victims. Well, tough sh*t, compadre, there’s a new sheriff in town…”
       
      I’m not the boss now.  I don’t harbor any ridiculous notion or fantasy that I’d be the cursing, womanizing boss in 1950 either.
       
      There’s dignity working for alpha man.  Not much of it.  But as much as you’re going to get when you have to work for someone.  A thousand generations have worked that way.  Genetic memory makes it work.
       
      There’s no dignity at all working for – or with, or even near – men who act like passive-aggressive women.
       
      It’s not jealousy.  It’s that if you have to be an underling it’s less objectionable to be treated as a subordinate than as a child.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      dewfish

      I agree with sfdennis1. And to be honest, I lost a ton of respect for Baruth in the process. Some people should stick to writing about what they know, cars and skirt chasing. This topic is considered “heavy lifting” for people who can’t think beyond that. Wow, racist, misogynist morons supposed “built” this country and “ran the show” properly. The utter lack of truth in those statements is astounding.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      dewfish - if you disagree, I’d like to hear your argument rather than a freebie ad-hom.
      The men (and they were largely men, whether we like it or not) who killed the Native Americans, built the industries, fought the wars, and set the policies which resulted in America’s position of global pre-eminence circa 1960 — who were those people? Just look at any modern elementary-school textbook: half of the pages are devoted to either apologizing for or demonizing those evil white people.
       
      sfdennis1 , I won’t bother to equate my “suffering” with anybody else’s suffering. But it’s a plain fact that my (perceived)race and personal/religious traditions kept me from obtaining my doctorate. If that was a trivial event in your opinion, then I suppose that all time times African-Americans were prevented from obtaining their desired education is trivial as well. Or is the scale unevenly weighted by race?
       
      For the record, I’m just trying to stir up commentary, not annoy you guys :) If I want to annoy you, I’ll talk about screwing the wife of a fellow journo in a press car. No, wait, maybe that would only annoy that particular journo.

    • 0 avatar
      dewfish

      I said up front, I agree with sfdennis1. That is exact same argument I would make, just saved me time typing it.

      “The men (and they were largely men, whether we like it or not)”

      once again, here is the straw man argument of equating one a-hole racist misogynist to all of mankind. I am a man, i don’t spend my time putting down “men in general”.

      “who killed the Native Americans, built the industries, fought the wars, and set the policies which resulted in America’s position of global pre-eminence circa 1960 — who were those people?”

      Yes, because white men built this country all by themselves. If you look at just slavery by itself, it practically funded America in those initial struggling years. All of that “free labor” by millions of non-white men is what really built this country. They contributed a hell of a lot more than the guys at the top who reaped the benefits, that’s for sure. That is just one example. It is amazing how this country can make so much progress off the backs of (and at the expense of) other people, then when it comes time to take the credit, the white man did it “all by himself”.

      “Just look at any modern elementary-school textbook: half of the pages are devoted to either apologizing for or demonizing those evil white people.”

      When someone accomplishes something great, I give them full credit. That does not mean I have to pretend they are the prefect person, and that they didn’t have their flaws. Nor does it mean that I am not allowed to “call them out” on their BS. Yes, Lincoln freed the slaves, but he never cared about freeing slaves or about seeing black people as equals. I don’t have to accept one side of the story and pretend the other doesn’t exist. Both are true. Not “demonizing”, but simply the truth.

    • 0 avatar

      If I want to annoy you, I’ll talk about screwing the wife of a fellow journo in a press car. No, wait, maybe that would only annoy that particular journo.
       
      Or, on the odd chance that you were off your game, his wife.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      “All of that “free labor” by millions of non-white men is what really built this country. They contributed a hell of a lot more than the guys at the top who reaped the benefits”
       
      If those wig wearing honkies in the history books didn’t contribute much and agrarian slaves are the real reason this country has been a spectacular success, why wasn’t that success remotely duplicated anywhere else?  Haiti and Sudan ought to be world powers.
       

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Jack,
      Look…we love you, man!

      However,”The times” is never reason for justifying actions.

      You don’t point out to your children THIS is how you should grow up. These are NOT the characteristics you want them to develop.

      Throughout history, there have been pigs and those that die fighting them or end up with lives destroyed because of them.

      The library is chuck full of these heroes and their stories.
      And yes, the real live ones today, including the bureaucratic bastards that denied you your dreams, need to be condemned.

      We all feel your pain and  deserved hatred for them.
      Never let that feeling fade. And denounce them at every chance.

      But this is still another pig.
      I was watching the Ken Burns WW2 video coming from Chicago. There are so many examples of the macho, idiot general that beyond any reasoning, regardless of any warning, sends hundreds, after hundreds of men to their deaths.
      With THIS EXACT autocratic, czarist, tyrannical pig attitude.

      WE MUST be better people.
      Individually, we need to call out wrong and celebrate right.

    • 0 avatar
      cmdjing

      I take it you are a Jew Baruth. Im what bizarro parallel reality do you live in where your “(perceived) race and personal/religious traditions” precluded you from obtaining a liberal arts doctorate? Let me guess, your auto writing career was a third choice after your attempt to penetrate Hollywood was thwarted by those self-same dastardly anti-semites

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The America of 1941 regularly marginalized Jewish people while simultaenously stopping the Holocaust. The America of 2010 is careful not to do the former but would never have the guts to do the latter.
       
      The America of 1941 was pretty awesome after their naval fleet was attacked.

      However, the America of September 1939 was severely lacking in the guts department and seemed plenty content to sit idly while several nations got “ass-raped”.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      cmdjing

      I don’t know how to take your response, other than badly.

      Jack will not have been the first, or the last, to suffer from this PC crap.
      Jewish, or not, that kind of madness makes me want to strike something.

    • 0 avatar
      Boff

      Jack was bounced from a Ph.D. program? Now this is a topic I can really sink my teeth into! The question foremost in my mind is: what the heck were you studying to avoid having a white male on your committee???

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      “Jack was bounced from a Ph.D. program?”
       
      And not only that, but apparently prohibited from entering any other University to continue his studies there.

    • 0 avatar
      Boff

      Well, we all know what Ph.D. stands for: “Piled higher and Deeper”!

    • 0 avatar
      dewfish

      @aspade

      “If those wig wearing honkies in the history books didn’t contribute much and agrarian slaves are the real reason this country has been a spectacular success,”

      try reading comprehension.
      Honestly, there is no one group, racial or otherwise, that can claim to be the sole “builders of America.” all races and genders from all parts of world have contributed to this country to make it what it is today. Too many people of all backgrounds have sacrificed their blood, sweat , and tears towards making this a better country, and many even sacrificed their lives.
      Yet, I constantly hear this notion that white men “did it all by themselves”, and that everyone else was just “along for the ride”. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

      “why wasn’t that success remotely duplicated anywhere else?  Haiti and Sudan ought to be world powers.”
      yeah, that makes sense. compare America to a country with a completely different history and circumstances and wonder why they aren’t the same. This is actually too simple-minded to even respond to, but since this is level of logic you’re at, why isn’t Ireland a world power? What about Switzerland? Croatia? None of these are world powers, yet they are just as “white” as any white american. Yes, I know the answer was stupid and simplistic, but so was the question.

      Once again, none of this is about “demonizing” white men. Its about giving credit where credit is due, to everyone who helped make this country great.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Jack, I am happy to say that even in the liberal field of Education that the alpha males continue to rise to the top.  They have become more careful about their behavior and don’t “whore it up” on their lunch hours, or come to work drunk, but…  The head of my department (who happens to be an assistant superintendent) has had so many affairs with so many subordinate females over the years (including ones he was supposed to be mentoring) that his genitalia must be due for a retread.  Yet he is (as near as one can be in my profession) a “heartbeat away” from the superintendency.  His ability to get things accomplished and his absolute dedication to student achievement have kept him gainfully employed and promoted.  Is he a white male?  No he’s a Latino male.  Alpha males continue to dominate, the competition has simply lessened.  BTW since he had ultimate say in my hiring I’m sure having taken a masters course with him and being immediately recognized as a junior member of the “good ole boy’s club” by him had nothing to do with my hiring (sarcasm.)  Am I proud of that helping me get the job? No.  Did it get me what I wanted, yes.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    If you haven’t done so yet, read the link to the Harley Earl website mentioned in the early part of this article…

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Should we discuss Henry Ford?

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    Our society suffers from historical bigotry. We think that since we are alive and most everyone before us is dead, then we can berate them except for those we choose to idolize. We are also a culture that assumes progress and thinks we’re just flat-out better than who came before us.

    Berating historical figures also makes us feel better. They are dead and they can’t defend themselves, right. And we all know that if they were alive, they would hunt you down and make you eat every word they disapproved of. So, we get to look good by insulting important dead people and not feel so inferior to them at the same time. Win/win!

    This gentleman wasn’t a gentleman. The fact that he is white is irrelevant because his behavior crosses race. When this guy was berating those around him, men of other races were doing the same thing, so it isn’t a race issue. In GM’s little world, he could get away with being a lunatic because he was successful. His success covered up all his rotten behavior. If he was at Packard, he would have been fired. If he was designing Stanley Steamers, he would have been gone. However, he delivered the profits necessary to cover up his despicable behavior. The only reason we are even discussing this dead guy is because he was successful at an important historical auto manufacturing institution, not because he was a religious leader.

    Fact is, you and I are not special. Few living are. Our historical figures exist only to demonstrate some kind of truth we find important. If this guy was something other than an ugly WASP, we would still be discussing him because of what he created while he was being an ugly WASP. Art and success are not limited to saints, sinner can apply just as easily. We don’t strip someone of their historical accomplishments because we discover that they told ugly jokes. We don’t demand monogamy in order to pay your bills or meet your boss’ deadlines. We don’t quiz you on where you slept last night when you show up at work. Instead we focus on the objective accomplishments which resulted in the historical achievement.

    So, keep your Puritanical, Garden-Of-Eden, PC pontificating to yourself. If you find this gentleman disgusting, join the crowd. But don’t go all missionary on everyone and denounce him because you discovered he farted more than the average guy and despoiled our environment. Don’t start bible-thumping over the fact that you discovered he was a hypocrite regarding our sacred beliefs on equality.

    He called it for what he though it was, and when he was wrong he paid the price, and when he was right, he got the rewards. Sorry, that today we cannot do the same.

    We are the pitiful ones.

    • 0 avatar
      dewfish

      “He called it for what he though it was, and when he was wrong he paid the price”
      Actually, the exact opposite of this is true. His power, privilege, and yes, his skin color, allowed him to be a complete prick and suffer no consequences. Tired of people apologizing for and justifying a-holes. I’m not “judging history because it can’t fight back”, I’m calling a racist misogynist a racist misogynist. The same would be just as true then as it is now. The reality is, the people on the receiving end of his crap didn’t have a voice, so the so-called “acceptance” of his behavior as “the way it was back then” was really just a one-sided story.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      sorry…

      but knowing and judging histroy is  a duty.
      calling out the past for wrong is the responsibility of all as well as calling out wrong today.

      it’s very difficult knowing the past, but that’s why we have brains.
      Study.
      Learn.
      Think.
      Understand.

      But after all is said and done, judgement must be made.
      And then take that historical knowledge and use it today, everyday.

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      Folks who worry over how their farts stink are thinking subjectively. Folks who count the number of farts they have are thinking objective. Subjectively this guy’s behavior is crappy. Objectively, we are shown no proof that this guy would have been an even greater auto executive if he did not display this kind of behavior. PC people are puritanical subjective thinkers using their subjectivity to avoid their lack of objectivity. The people attacking this dead man are doing so because if he was alive, he would probably gut them alive with the facts they are incapable of discussing. Like a mother who thinks her son is a great auto mechanic because he wears a bow tie, PC folks are constantly arguing over their subjective interpretations against the grain of those of us who recognize the difference between objectivity and subjectivity. 

      The story here is this man’s behavior and how he still delivered. Few of us could do that. We have seen actors like Lindsey Lohan be awesome on the screen, and get locked up in jail. With every Robert Downey Jr, there are probably a thousand similar actors who never pull this kind of behavior off, and succeed. Bill Mitchell is one of them.

      I often marvel at how easily those who are denouncing Bill Mitchell are so understanding of the wayward celebrity. They stumble over his sins, yet have no problems accepting the difference between Michael Vick’s football performance with his Holocaust-style dog farm.

      If Mr. Mitchell’s antics ended with him getting fired or dying in a DUI, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. He pulled it all off and did it really ugly. Objectively, we can admire his accomplishments. Subjectively, we can debate what a scumbucket he was, but that would be a waste of time. He is dead and cannot explain why he did as he did.

      So putting words into his mouth is insulting. Did he do it because he was a fat sloppy WASP? We don’t know. Did he do it because he was abused by a fat sloppy WASP? We don’t know. Did he hate Jews? We don’t know. Was he racist? He probably never considered the question. Did he treat his dogs as we would expect them to be treated today? That will be the next tempest in a tea cup for some of our more sensitive bloviating bloggers. Did he wear fur?

      As long as we continue to allow ignorant subjective boobs to define how we rate objective accomplishments in history, we will be letting stupid people define our goals. And as subjective people, they haven’t a clue, but just make sure you play nice and smile as you screw up, in order to impress them.

    • 0 avatar
      dewfish

      @VanillaDude
      How moronic. way to compartmentalize by the way. I never once said that the guy wasn’t good at design. I said he was a sexist bigot. Both statements are true. FACT. People bending over backwards to make excuses for this guy when all you have to do is just accept the truth. Good designer. Bigot. Sexist. Same person is all three. why is this fact so hard to accept?

  • avatar

    a perverted creep who had a modicum of talent for style.

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    Well said, Jack. I would take a society that is a little rough around the edges that can actually accomplish things than the feminized one we have today.
     
    @sfdennis1…
     
    Hierarchy is the natural state of mankind (or should I say “humankind,” because, YOU KNOW… the male character hasn’t AT ALL been the driving force behind civilization…). Some groups boss others around. Equality is a pipe dream. Be glad you are closer to the top than you are to the bottom and stop bitching.

    • 0 avatar
      dewfish

      way to miss the point. No one criticized “men as a whole”, we criticized a racist misogynist for being a racist misogynist. And I have no idea what “Hierarchy is the natural state of mankind” has to do with some a-hole with a cushy job.
       

  • avatar
    bodegabob

    Bill Mitchell sounds like a human being who was rewarded for working hard, being talented and taking chances. Under his influence GM thrived and dominated. GM’s shareholders and employees did well, and the cars produced rank as some of the most attractive and significant of their era.
    He was replaced by a nice guy (Irv Rybyki) under whose influence (or lack thereof) GM produced steaming heaps of undifferentiated shit that helped to eventually bankrupt the company.
    And by this measure I judge both. I have no idea of what was in the hearts of each. When it came to results Bill ruled. Irv sucked.
    I’m reminded of something Faulkner said: “I never claimed to be a good man, just a good writer”.
     

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      “I have no idea of what was in the hearts of each.”
      His actions make clear what was in his heart… according to this biography, Mitchell was a prick.  You’re entitled to ignore this, but you’re not being honest by pretending you don’t know.

       

    • 0 avatar
      bodegabob

      I’m sorry, wish I could be as judgmental as you. I’ll bet you’ve done things that you hope don’t form the basis of stranger’s judgment of all that you are, though perhaps you have that base covered as well in your omniscience.

  • avatar
    LALoser

    I know someone born and raised in AZ because the grandparents were burned out of their Georgia farm by the KKK, or something like them. Seems the grandfather, a Portuguese Marano and his wife, from Singapore stood-up for the Black community, several times. The grandfather went on to serve with honor in WWII and Korea, surviving several surface battles, landings and attacks. Two of his brothers were never recovered, one’s name is engraved in the American Cemetery, Manila. he taught his grandson never to be a victim, but keep on as strong as you can. The grandson went on to serve in the USA with honors, travel far and wide for work, teach and volunteer for refugees; have a family, earn high ranks in BJJ, Krav Maga and JKD. And this year he travels to Israel for training. You are a victim if you think, and allow yourself to feel like one. oh yeah! The car angle: The grandfather took delivery of a new Ford at the train station, they unloaded it, put water and fuel in it, and away he went.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    A synopsis of all the above posts.
     
    Race is a myth.
    Everyone gets screwed at some point.
    Harley Earl did a lot of screwing.
    The end.
     
     

  • avatar
    taxman100

    Sounds like a lot more fun working in Corporate America back then, than today.

    Today Corporate America is a mixture, of insecurity, drudgery, and suffocating sameness and political correctness.  It is all quite emasculating, and quite boring.

    No wonder we are getting our ass kicked by everyone else.

    • 0 avatar
      LALoser

      Yes, everyone is looking to be a victim, it is the new American validation.

    • 0 avatar
      dewfish

      yeah, real fun if you’re white, rich, and privileged. For everyone else, not so fun.

    • 0 avatar

      dewfish,
      I tried very hard to be fair to Mitchell. I wish that you would be as fair to American culture.
      You believe Zinn’s fairy tales because it makes you feel morally superior to people now long dead.
      Did you bother reading the article? Hirschberg says that Mitchell’s comments hurt him personally but did not hurt his career. Art Ross and Stan Wilen were brand design directors, the penultimate position before overall GM Styling head. Sue Vanderbilt got promoted to Senior Designer. None of them were rich and privileged. The fact remains that despite Mitchell’s own prejudices and whatever institutional bigotry existed at GM at the time, minorities and women were hired and indeed advanced in their careers there.

      Just wondering, though, about how many black friends of yours that you’ve had over to your home this week? Got any friends who are orthodox Jews? Bible believing Christians? Just trying to measure the lay of the land and determine just who is more accepting of diversity.

      My experience is that the “liberals” and “progressives” who are quickest to play the race card, chanting “racist, racist, racist) often lead monochromatically lilly white lives.
      What’s your zip code? It’s a safe bet that I live in a more ethnically diverse neighborhood than you do.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      “Did you bother reading the article?”
       
      Right back atcha:
      Bill Mitchell said, “No women are going to stand next to any senior designers of mine on any exterior styling of Cadillac or GM’s other major brands,” and proceeded to demote all the females on the design staff.

    • 0 avatar
      dewfish

      “I tried very hard to be fair to Mitchell. I wish that you would be as fair to American culture.”
       
      I have been fair to Mitchell as well. And I am fairly certain that he was a sexist bigot. I was born in America and lived here my entire life. I am very familiar with America’s “culture of fairness”.
       
      “You believe Zinn’s fairy tales because it makes you feel morally superior to people now long dead.”

      I don’t “feel morally superior” to anyone. Once again people, this is not about your “feelings”. The guy was a bigot and sexist. fact. Feel however you want, its still true.

      “Did you bother reading the article? Hirschberg says that Mitchell’s comments hurt him personally but did not hurt his career. Art Ross and Stan Wilen were brand design directors, the penultimate position before overall GM Styling head. Sue Vanderbilt got promoted to Senior Designer. None of them were rich and privileged. The fact remains that despite Mitchell’s own prejudices and whatever institutional bigotry existed at GM at the time, minorities and women were hired and indeed advanced in their careers there.”
       
      That is nice for that handfull of people, but the vast majority of people who never even got their foot in the door because they were the “wrong color” would beg to disagree.

      “Just wondering, though, about how many black friends of yours that you’ve had over to your home this week? Got any friends who are orthodox Jews? Bible believing Christians? Just trying to measure the lay of the land and determine just who is more accepting of diversity.
      My experience is that the “liberals” and “progressives” who are quickest to play the race card, chanting “racist, racist, racist) often lead monochromatically lilly white lives.
      What’s your zip code? It’s a safe bet that I live in a more ethnically diverse neighborhood than you do.”

      By the way, I am black, and I have a fair number of black friends, some latino, some white, whomever is cool. If you want to play the “who’s got the most diverse neighborhood” game, I’ll take that pepsi challenge any day of the week.

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    The reality is, a whole lot of the really high achievers in any field seem to be flawed in some way.  There is probably a reason for that.  Sometimes the flaws are victimless or even fun (case in point, Arthur Ross, as recently discussed here).  Sometimes they are not.  I would not want Bill Mitchell to date my daughter.  However, it doesn’t change the magnitude of his achievements.  He was made chief designer for Cadillac at approximately age 24.  His first achievement was the incomparable 1938 Sixty Special.  The difference between Mitchell and many of the others often mentioned in the same breath — especially Harley Earl and Virgil Exner — is that Earl’s and Exner’s masterpieces are tied to a particular era, and both of them were pushed aside when they couldn’t move past that artistically, whereas Mitchell’s gems are known for their timelessness.

    • 0 avatar
      dewfish

      “However, it doesn’t change the magnitude of his achievements.”

      The opposite of that is true as well. He may have accomplished a lot, but that does not excuse the type of person he was. And the fact is, he was a sexist bigot.

  • avatar
    cmdjing

    I find it amusing that those who howl the loudest about political correctness are invariably those suffering under the weight of different if equally infantile delusions. Like dancers in the darkness circling their mud eidolons; praising and elevating Marduk while scorning and diminishing Ashur.
     
    Let us not judge Mitchell by our own emasculated and debased contemporary standards but rather those of our near mythical antediluvian forefathers. By that measure, he was an adulterer, a whoremonger, reviled by his own children, and as disrespected by his peers and coworkers as he was of them. Surely a great man.
     
    Many a sin can be forgiven for feats of uncommon valor and enduring legacies. What? You say the man sold cars for a living? A certainly respectable yet pedestrian and bourgeois profession. Does his feats warrant his place besides noble Achilles. I think not.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      He didn’t sell cars for a living, he designed them, and, judging by the sales figures and the respect accorded those cars, he did an excellent job. Understanding that crucial difference gives a post more credibility than a quick reference to Greek mythology.  

    • 0 avatar
      cmdjing

      The difference between “designing” cars and selling them is the difference between an executive senior assistant to the district associate manager and and a sack of meat. That is to say mere semantics.
       
      What part of the cars did he design? The transmissions? The engines? His role was to wrap sheet metal around automobile components in an aesthetic pleasing to his consumer demographic. An important job no less, but the ultimate objective is of course to sell cars.
       
      Just as a soldier is a killer of men for money and very occasionally ideology. He may also be a father, a son, a brother, a husband, a patriot, but fundamentally if you strip away all the layers of sophistry cleverly designed to hide the true nature of things, his job is to kill strangers for no other reason than because someone else told him to.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      cmdjing: The difference between “designing” cars and selling them is the difference between an executive senior assistant to the district associate manager and and a sack of meat. That is to say mere semantics.

      Wrong. It takes a completely different set of skills to successfully design a car than it does to sell it to a potential customer. Mitchell used completely different skills than a sales representative at a car dealership. He had to cope with a different set of overseers (GM top management) and successfully supervise designers in different studios, then work with production people to bring the design to life. I would like to know which sales representatives worked with those groups and utilized those talents and skills during that time.
       
      cmdjing: What part of the cars did he design? The transmissions? The engines? His role was to wrap sheet metal around automobile components in an aesthetic pleasing to his consumer demographic. An important job no less, but the ultimate objective is of course to sell cars.

      You are confusing the objective of GM as a whole – selling cars – with the skill set needed to complete Mr. Mitchell’s task. The skills necessary for success in his job were completely different from those needed to sell cars.
       
      cmdjing: Just as a soldier is a killer of men for money and very occasionally ideology. He may also be a father, a son, a brother, a husband, a patriot, but fundamentally if you strip away all the layers of sophistry cleverly designed to hide the true nature of things, his job is to kill strangers for no other reason than because someone else told him to.

      That’s nice, but, like your use of Greek mythology in the earlier post, really irrelevant to the discussion at hand, and does nothing to prove that Mitchell or any other designer is primarily a car salesman.

    • 0 avatar

      cmdjing,
      Have you ever designed a product? Didn’t think so.
      I know some inventors. To a person they all regard success in the market as just another validation of their original idea. Not one, though, would say that design is the same as sales. A chef and a sommelier may work for the same restaurant and they may both be in the general business of selling food and drink, but try telling a chef that she’s really no different than the bus boy.
      A good idea will sell. That doesn’t mean that every salesman can create a marketable product.
      Frankly I find it a hoot that you fault Mitchell for falling short of the standards of Greek gods, considering the myths hardly make those gods moral exemplars.
      Also, nothing’s wrong with commerce. Sales is the oldest profession (hookers have to sell too).

    • 0 avatar
      Nicodemus

      Ah, but Achilles wasn’t a god, at most he was half nymph. He was however one of the mightiest heros.

  • avatar
    zbnutcase

    Answering the question the title asks, HELL NO! He was a MAN, unlike the sniveling pussys of the corporate world today….this PC crap HAS to stop. STICKS AND STONES MAY BREAK MY BONES, BUT WORDS WILL NEVER HURT ME….Man up you weenies…

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    “Today Corporate America is a mixture, of insecurity, drudgery, and suffocating sameness and political correctness.  It is all quite emasculating, and quite boring. No wonder we are getting our ass kicked by everyone else.”

    America would regain its greatness if we just allowed bigotry and abusiveness back into corporate daily operations?  What a bunch of crap.  Creative types don’t work best in an oppressive environment.

    • 0 avatar
      dewfish

      Exactly. But this isn’t really about “work productivity.” Its about re-living the “good ole days” when white guys could treat anyone else like crap and there were no consequences. Since they know the vast majority of people never want to see those days again, they constantly whine and bitch about “political correctness.”

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      Those who continually whine about the world not being perfect enough for them easily overlook those capable of accomplishing goals within this imperfect world. Instead of acknowledging success, these whiners accuse these people of having some kind of unfair advantage in order to succeed in this imperfect world. Since they believe the world isn’t perfect, and we all know it isn’t, they demand perfection and until it is delivered to their satisfaction, take no satisfaction in the success of others, especially if those successful people display imperfections themselves.

      They are today’s Puritans and are as narrow minded as some of the old religious sects that demanded purity in their daily lives. They demand that we return to the Garden of Eden. They believe that Man destroys all he touches. They see evil in the world around them. They believe their demands for purity, equality, and a green environment are more noble than other’s demands. They rank their priorities higher and denounce those who disagree with them. They claim to be progressive but the only progress they wish to see is their own. And they wanted it delivered yesterday. Hence their constant whining.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly. But this isn’t really about “work productivity.” Its about re-living the “good ole days” when white guys could treat anyone else like crap and there were no consequences. Since they know the vast majority of people never want to see those days again, they constantly whine and bitch about “political correctness.”

      Thank you so, so much for calling me a racist because I believe in equality, not identity politics. Somehow I think that if you and Bill Mitchell were evaluating designers, you’d be more concerned with the color of the designers and he more with the color of the designs. He had an eye for style, you have tunnel vision. He was an honest bigot, you’re a dishonest one.
      Sure I want to return to the good old days when my uncle realized that he’d have an easier time having a career as a Jewish dentist than trying to advance as a Jewish engineer. Right.
      Have you ever been discriminated against in an employment situation? I have. Baruth had an academic career derailed by political correctness, yet you and your fellow travelers complain that he could have applied at a different school. I can accurately imagine your manufactured outrage if someone said the same to a black person who’d been denied admission.
      When you read Animal Farm, you root for the swine.
       

    • 0 avatar
      dewfish

      “Thank you so, so much for calling me a racist because I believe in equality, not identity politics. Somehow I think that if you and Bill Mitchell were evaluating designers, you’d be more concerned with the color of the designers and he more with the color of the designs. He had an eye for style, you have tunnel vision. He was an honest bigot, you’re a dishonest one.
      Sure I want to return to the good old days when my uncle realized that he’d have an easier time having a career as a Jewish dentist than trying to advance as a Jewish engineer. Right.
      Have you ever been discriminated against in an employment situation? I have. Baruth had an academic career derailed by political correctness, yet you and your fellow travelers complain that he could have applied at a different school. I can accurately imagine your manufactured outrage if someone said the same to a black person who’d been denied admission.
      When you read Animal Farm, you root for the swine.”
       
      wow. so much conclusion-jumping here, its shocking. I’m not into playing the game of “who has suffered more”, but as a black guy, lets just say the subject of discrimination isn’t foreign to me. I’m not going to waste time arguing “who had it worse.”

  • avatar

    This reminds me of when I had an ad agency in NYC. We had the Swissair account.  The job was to come up with an ad inviting Amex cardholders to to go on a Christmas shopping trip to Zurich and charge it.
    I wrote “Merry Swissmas” on the top of a page. My art director put a picture underneath. The head of Swissair U.S. slapped his knees and thought it was hilarious. The ad went into production.
    Then, I received a phone call by a lady who identified herself as the Communications Director of American Express.
    “Did you write that Swissmas ad?”
    “Sure did.”
    “You can’t do that.”
    “Why not?”
    “Don’t you know? It is insensitive. You can’t say Christmas.”
    “Who’s talking about Christmas? It’s Swissmas.”
    “You know exactly what it means! We are paying half of this ad, and we won’t be paying for Swissmas!!!”
    “So what do you want me to do? Change it to Happy Swolidays?”
    Click.
    I grabbed the ad and walked down the few blocks to see the Swissair head. I told him about the call.
    “You are kidding me.”
    “I kid you not.”
    He picked up the phone and called the lady. “You won’t be paying your half? Guess what, we won’t be paying our half either. The deal is off.”
     
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      Wow…I was going to guess someone got upset because you “took the Christ out of Christmas” but it was even worse than that. Ouch.
       
      Nice headline, btw.
       
      You want insensitive, we can go with a “Happy Hanukkah Gold Rush” for a Switzerland trip. That’s sure to piss everyone off.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      “Happy Hanukkah Gold Rush”- very funny.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I wasn’t going to comment on this one because I didn’t think I could do any better than anyone else, but I would like to draw an interesting point: that the issue (and the split in commentary) isn’t so much about political correctness (which is silly) or period-appropos behaviour and a sense of nostalgia (which is also silly, and for remarkably similar reasons) and which is “better”, or at least “excusable”
     
    What’s interesting is that which side of the issue you end up on depends on how much you value individual achievement.  Mitchell is very much a John Galt-type figure, a “superman” among men, and that personality has a lot of appeal to some people, and absolutely none to others.  What I always find fascinating is that, for people who value individualism, people who fall into the Galt camp, are a collective unto themselves, slaving themselves to the achievements and ego of another.  It’s bizarro-collectivism.
     
    Either you accept it because you value and admire the characteristic to the point where it excuses faults, or you don’t.  Acculturation has a role in this, but I don’t think Mitchell would be let off the hook (or discussed at all) by his admirers were he, quite frankly, not successful, or at least not headstrong.
     

    • 0 avatar
      dewfish

      Once again, reading way too much into it. He was a good designer who happened to be a bigot and a sexist. Doesn’t matter how you feel about it and has nothing to do with John Galt. Doesn’t matter if you are “for” or “against” anything. Its simply a fact.

    • 0 avatar

      And psar chimes in with the lefty meme-o’-the-day, that libertarians are the real collectivists.
      BTW, Mitchell was a company man from the get go, hardly Galtian.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Libertarians are the true collectivists? I don’t think so…

      Bill Mitchell was very much a company man. If he were a true libertarian, he would have started his own design firm or car company the first time he crossed swords with a GM executive or division manager.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Once again, reading way too much into it
       
      I wasn’t making so much a comment on him, but on the people defending or damning him.
       
      But it is true: if Mitchell was anonymous and either mediocre or quietly competent we wouldn’t be having this debate even if he was (or was not) bigoted.  He’s one in a long line of egomaniacs that inspire both scorn from their detractors and admiration from people who amount to Mini-me versions of the same personality and aspire to the same “place”.
       

      that libertarians are the real collectivists.

      They are, they just don’t realize it because it’s so anathema to their self-image; they are just ascribing to membership in a different collective.  Worship of Galtian ubermensch just as hypocritical (though in a different direction) as buying a Che Guevara T-shirt at the mall.

       
      Mitchell was a company man from the get go, hardly Galtian

      You’re  ignoring the spirit of the argument:  Mitchell is a classic practitioner of rational selfishness, and his defenders (in this post) are of a similar vein.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      We need to keep one thing clear – there is a difference between being cantankerous and fighting for what you want, and being sexist or belittling subordinates based on their religion or race.

      Given his position, Mitchell HAD to be a fighter. Otherwise, he would have been steamrolled by the finance and manufacturing people, and GM would have been producing the equivalent of the 1980s Chevrolet Celebrity in the 1960s.

      But that doesn’t give him a free pass to belittle people or have three-ways over the lunch hour with prostitutes. I’m not seeing how engaging in these activities will encourage management to approve curved side glass for the 1964 intermediates or the complicated bladed rear fenders and taillight assemblies for the 1967 Eldorado.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      We need to keep one thing clear – there is a difference between being cantankerous and fighting for what you want, and being sexist or belittling subordinates based on their religion or race

      I agree with you, and the problem is that we have people excusing his behaviour because he was headstrong and confident; exhibiting the kind of characteristics they admire.

      That said, it’s easier to be morally suspect when you are egotistical: it gives you the ability to excuse, disregard or ignore your own behaviour’s effect on others.  It’s also a trait that’s generally incompatible with empathy and very compatible with misanthropy and sociopathy.

  • avatar
    Jedchev

    I am a reader and lover of this blog and I have to write you on this topic.
    Bill Mitchell was the great design leader of his time. He took a top-down system from Harley Earl and decentralized it, giving his young studio “chiefs” the autonomy to pursue their own creativity. He was a representative for his designers, fighting against committees and financial people in the company. He wielded a great deal of power, as a friend of Ed Cole and Pete Estes. Mitchell could overrule any division manager and get his cars produced. Bill Mitchell produced a staggering array of exciting concept cars that kept GM at the forefront of styling throughout his years. He felt that it was a sin to produce an ugly car. In the auto business, many designers sin in his manner all the time.
    Mitchell may have been crude and his personal mores would not fit in with today’s work environments, but what he did well, he did better than anyone the industry has ever seen. I think that you can take potshots at Mitchell from today’s politically correct perspective, but you have to ask yourself if his hubris was the reason why he and the GM Design Staff prospered. Who knows what Mitchell was up to in London when he spotted that Rolls-Royce on that foggy night? It was the inspiration for the Riviera, and that’s what matters. Was Mitchell trading ethnic jokes or drinking when he went on that trip to Florida  and caught the famous mako shark? I’m sure that lots of Corvette enthusiasts wouldn’t care. After his retirement, the party was over. The VP of Design was shrunken to a much less powerful position, the cars became boring and the industry has never recovered. Irv Rybicki may have been the nicest guy in the world, self-deprecating to a fault, kind to minorities, women and small animals, but he sunk the ship and that trumps any indiscretion from Bill Mitchell.
    Bill Mitchell’s biggest failure was his inability to pick his successor. If Chuck Jordan had been given the role in 1977, it may have gone better for GM.

    • 0 avatar

      Jedchev,
       
      Rybicki wasn’t dealt a particularly good hand. If you look at car design across the industry, the 1980s was not a particularly successful period. Lots of ugly cars. Didn’t Irv’s stint as head of styling coincide with the Roger Smith era? As you pointed out, by then the head of design had much less power. Ed Welburn probably has more power today than Irv Rybicki did then.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      That’s not really an excuse, Ronnie. Compare a 1986 Thunderbird to a 1986 Eldorado. It’s no contest. The Ford is still an attractive car, a quarter of a century later. The Eldorado looks like an overgrown Cutlass Calais, which itself was hardly a prize.

      I remember when the 1983 Thunderbird debuted. My first thought was, “That car is beautiful.” The second one was, “The fun is back.”

      When I first saw that Eldorado (and Riviera, Toronado and Seville), I knew that GM was in big trouble.

  • avatar
    Jedchev

    I’m not quite sure if Irv came into a position that had less power or if he was stripped of that power because he couldn’t stand up to the brass. I do know that Mitchell always had a lot of specials built for his personal use. When approached about this behavior by a higher-up, Mitchell basically told the man he didn’t know anything and that he, Bill Mitchell, should always be building and driving specials and concepts because it’s his business. Rybicki had the option, but only had one special, a Riviera with pinstriping, built or his personal use. I’m not panning Rybicki as a designer, as he did oversee development of the 65 Impala, but I think he was a lackluster manager. Read Dave Crippen’s interview of him and you will see what I mean. “Q: What’s you’re favorite car designed under your tenure? A: I don’t have one.” I’m paraphrasing here, but it was the most pathetic answer I have ever seen. Also, the 85 C bodies and 86 E-bodies were crimes against humanity. And what was with farming out a plum project like the Allante to Pininfarina, only to get a boring design from them. It was an example in both cases of Styling kneeling down to division managers. Something Mitchell never would have done.
    I sure hope that Mr. Wellburn has more power than Rybicki had. He is in the most important job at GM.

  • avatar
    LALoser

    Off Topic…But…
    Does it seem that TTAC is slowly changing directions?

  • avatar
    skor

    It wasn’t just Mitchell who had issues with bigotry, institutional bigotry was the norm for the American auto industry for decades, but it was a lot more complex than most know.  Take Henry Ford for example.  On the one hand, he hired large numbers of black workers, and paid them the same wage as his white workers.  On the other hand, black workers were channeled into “black jobs”…. mostly paint and founder positions.  Ford was a believer in the “international Zionist conspiracy”.  He acquired his own newspaper, The Dearborn Independent, and wrote editorials accusing Zionists of sucking the USA into WWI.  When he had enough editorials in the can, he had them bound into a book titled “The International Jew”.  At the same time he was writing anti-Semitic screeds, he employed larger numbers of Jews in his company.  According to Crazy Henry, there were two kinds of Jews: Good Jews that wanted to be Americans first.  Bad Jews who supported Zionism and Internationalism.  In 1938, Ford was awarded the Grand Cross of The German Eagle, by Adolf Hitler, a really spiffy medal with swastikas and everything.  Henry gladly accepted.

    Not to be outdone by Ford, the folks running GM were probably even more bigoted, although a bit more subtle in their execution.  Prior to the Great Depression, Cadillac refused to allow Jews, Italians or Blacks into their showrooms.  They were concerned about what Cadillac’s “quality” customers might think if they saw such riffraff driving Cadillacs.  GM also got its Nazi medal on when James D. Mooney, vice-president of overseas operations for GM, received a similar medal, the Merit Cross of the German Eagle, First Class.
     
    This is not the kind of history you get in school, kids, but it’s history nonetheless.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    Here’s what’s simple — Bill Mitchell was a very talented asshole. How do I know this? Because Pete “The Autoextremist” DeLorenzo still worships at Mitchell’s altar every AM facing east for inspiration. SInce Pete’s an asshole, his guru must have been a world-class one.
     
    Here’s what’s complicated — the insecurities, angers, fears and hostility that lead all of us to bigotry and prejudice. What propelled Masters of the Universe 50 years ago? Who knows. We still don’t really understand our own. I’d prefer to keep admiring Mitchell’s legacy in his cars. There’s nothing that can be done to change the human being he was. Same goes for Henry Ford and many others in arts, sports, science, politics, business, etc.
     

  • avatar

    Ronnie Schreiber’s informative piece on Bill Mitchell is accurate and paints a picture of a powerful GM exec who played an enormous role in starting GM, and Detroit, down a road which has led to a long decline. Robert Fargo and I used to talk about this years ago after he founded thetruthaboutcars.com and it’s nice to read someone else finally boiling down on some of the facts that my family (Earl Family) completely concur with regarding Mitchell’s character.
    Coming from the Official Harley Earl Website, the following scholarly-based material gives an inside look at Bill Mitchell and what he started insofar as a “Serious Downturn” is concerned within the American auto industry:
    http://www.carofthecentury.com/bill_mitchell,_gm's_second_vice_president_of_design,_set_the_stage_for_the_demise_of_the_american_auto_industry.htm
    Thanks,
    Richard Earl / editor@carofthecentury.com

  • avatar
    Steve65

    Hmmmm. Something very weird going on here. When I view this page in IE, the latest comment is from “bomberpete” at 5:40PM. When I view it using FireFox, the most recent comment is from  “richarde” (who identifies himself as Richard Earl) at 6:43 pm, and it also appeared in my e-mail inbox.  But the formatting is broken, and there’s no “reply” button.

    Edit: 4 minutes later and it now shows up on IE. (and yes, I did multiple hard refreshes in both browsers before posting) Formatting and reply button still borked however, in both browsers.

  • avatar

    Type in the exact phrase below and/or cut and paste it into google, yahoo, etc… to boil down on exact information at Harley Earl Website on what Bill Mitchell started in auto world:
    bill mitchell gm’s second vice president of design set the stage for demise
     

    • 0 avatar
      John Franklin Mason

      richarde, Bill Mitchell did indeed set the stage for General Motors demise. My design themes were a hard act to follow and General Motors was unable to design cars with the broad curb appeal of my designs which enabled General Motors to capture 50% of the domestic car market.

  • avatar
    John Franklin Mason

    Another question to add to the list: Was Bill Mitchell a thief?

    General Motors, developed during Mitchell’s time as design chief, used images conceived and drawn by yours truely as the designs on an estimated ten million Cadillac’s, Oldsmobile’s, Buick’s and Chevrolet’s produced and sold during the 1977-1990 model years.

    Thing is those designs were taken without permission from an art portifolio I submitted to Dr. David H. Harry at General Motors Institute and copies of my originals made in person by Dr. George Bush of Northwood University between 1972 and 1975.

  • avatar
    dboerst

    Same as it ever was. If people spent more time creating and quit bickering about how I have been oppressed the USA might become a strong country again today. This I am African American, Mexican American, insert __________American BS needs to stop. How many blacks have even been to Africa? Mitchell was what he was but still created some beautiful designs. As to the last reply about being a thief, I don’t know if I would be so proud of the 70s-90s designs as that is when GM built the worst cars ever, of course my opinion. I think others thought so as GM went bankrupt.

    • 0 avatar
      John Franklin Mason

      Gee dboerst, and to think how the Founding Fathers went to war over being oppressed by being taxed on the wealth they made on the backs of Slaves. Not to mention how General Motors recently prosecuted a Chinese couple for stealing intellectual properties, aided in busting a counterfiet parts operation in Saudia Arabia and sued a Chinese company for stealing it’s designs.

      Tell that noise to all the conservatives who champion the cause of property rights and say “I build this” and how they earned their wealth with hard work.

      With my designs General Motors reached the epitome of their market penteration; some 50% of the domestic market share. Consumers at large did not buy into your opinion.

      After my designs ran their course at General Motors Cadillac lost it’s groove as the “Standard of the World,” Oldsmobile fell off it’s Rocket, Consumers decided they Rather not have a Buick and the Chinese ate Chevrolet’s Apple Pie.

      Hey, I designed those cars while incarcerated in Prison. I did what I did and Bill Mitchell did what he did. I went to Prison, Mitchell beat the system.

      Bill Mitchell left a legacy of great car designs, no queston about it, but he also left a legacy of plagiarism among his other indiscrections.


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