Post C11 Dealer Cuts May Fall Afoul of Political Correctness

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
post c11 dealer cuts may fall afoul of political correctness

One of our Best and Brightest offered the following observation:

Isn’t there another problem lurking for Presidential Motors?

Is my grasp of history wrong (or did I just live for a while in the wrong part of the country) but is not there a perception or urban legend or canard, how to put this gracefully, that Fords were for rednecks, and that Ford dealers were rednecks, and that GM, especially Pontiac and Cadillac, was much more open to the idea of having minority-owned dealerships, and that that went back to the early days of both Ford and GM?

When I lived in the South, I was told “Pontiac” meant “Poor Old N[egro] Thinks It’s a Cadillac.”

What if “too many” of the dealers whose contracts are about to be impaired outside the bankruptcy process and in clear violation of the clear text of the Constitution, turn out to be minorities?

And what about the blowback if all the euchered dealers turn out to be Pallidly Empenised Patriarchal Oppressors? (“PEPO”s)

It would seem to me that the Way Forward for both GM and Ford would be to look at the county-by-county map of red/blue election results, and be where Honda and Toyota are not, that is, stay out of the argula/Starbucks/ballet-theater zip codes, and have dealers in Foster, Gloucester, and “Chariho.” Problem with that is, you nuke all your inner-city dealers and keep all your whitebread dealers.

All of this is a long way, thinking out loud way, of asking: Isn’t it possible that the dealer-weeding process will result in some not-laughable claims that any given dealer was axed not for underperforming, but for positive or negative racial discrimination, to keep the balance as it was, or favor urban dealers, or favor rural dealers?

And my guess is that such claims would not be reached by any ad-hoc dealer-stripping legislation.

Fun times!

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2 of 34 comments
  • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Apr 20, 2009
    For what it’s worth, “idiot” and “moron” were once official terms used to describe an individual’s mental capacity. As I understand it, moron was introduced as a kinder, gentler term for use in diagnosis in the early part of the 20th century, and subsequently discarded in favour of "retarded" when it picked up stigma. It's a interesting thing, the language of victimization. Groups all over the world have will abandon terms in favour of new ones in a search to escape victimhood, only the resent the new label as it picks up the same negative connotations. It's a testament to a group's ability to rise above victimhood when they can get past this. We're seeing the homosexual community do just that, while african- and native-americans have struggled somewhat more. I know if the mentally handicapped will ever really be able to do so.

  • Marquis Dee Marquis Dee on Apr 20, 2009

    Well, as a Detroit expatriate and a (NOT) 3rd-gen autoworker, nothing would surprise me in terms of racism. (Statistically and experientially the most segregated region in the US since...well... 1900 or so). Henry Ford did, indeed, hire black workers with some wage parity, but ask the old-timers that are still get that wage, you had to work in The Foundry and other very dangerous jobs. My uncles, almost all Ford guys, (racists and anti-Semites as well), knew that much. Besides, the only thing Ford hated - REALLY hated - was the unions. Hiring blacks - of whom the unions were not especially fond, either - was one of the many ways he tried to thwart unionization. Plus, Dearborn was as WHITE as the Coppertone Girl's bottom throughout my Detroit youth; Ford's black workers couldn't live in DEARBORN! They got to live in their own little town to the west: INKSTER! Get it? INK-ster? (As in black?) Boy, that must have been a real knee-slapper back in the day. And when Dearborn refused to annex Dearborn Township in the 1950's? It was in 2 parts, North and South, so they had to cede a 1-mile wide by 3-mile long swath to connect the two to comply with MI law to create Dearborn "Heights" - much of which is actually lower - and that strip divides Dearborn from Inkster. Growing up in Detroit, we all knew EXACTLY where the color line was. (Blockbusting was written into the Detroit Board of Realtors Code of Ethics in 1920. It was "unethical" to "bust" a block (sell to a non-white) without first informing your fellow realtors, so everyone could get a piece of the sales generated by the 10-year turnover from all-white to all-black - the period of time that we refrred to as "integration"). And the '67 riots only accelerated the process of "white flight" that was already well underway by 1960. (Interestingly, Dearborn/SW Detroit/Dearborn Heights is now home to the largest Middle Eastern Community in the USA). Now the city that was nearly 2 million in 1955 is less than 900,000. The City of Detroit has lost more people than have ever lived in most cities. I knew I had to get out since I was about 12; most of us did, except those who still believed in the myth of our "birthright" of a Job For Life. It was just a Company Town (yeah, there were 3 of 'em, but take your pick, it didn't matter) on steroids. And we told the same acronym-jokes about every brand and model; (mostly not racist, though - I never heard the Pontiac one before). By the mid-1970's EVERYONE knew we were not making the best cars that we could. My Dad had an auto parts business - domestic only; I worked there in my youth and we knew which years and models were time went on, the Lemon List just grew! But Management and Labor were too busy either colluding or blaming each other to ask why this was so. We did, however, know that GM was the worst of the bunch, and Ford the best of a bad lot, and Chrysler? Well, without the Army Tank contract, the Original Bailout, and the mini-van, it just would have gone the way of Packard. Just an aside - I'll never forget - I was a caddy at Dearborn Country Club (the Ford Middle-Management Club) around 1973, and the Caddy Master, Brad, a college student, bought one of the first Honda Civics. It was s**t brown, and we gave him constant grief whenever he pulled up. He just smiled and said, prophetically, "This is the future, you stupid little f**kers, get used to it!". By 1975, he had proven himself correct. I often thought of him when I drove an '89 Civic that was still the best car I've ever owned; I would still have it if not for the accident that I should not, by rights, have survived, but miraculously did, thank God and Honda. And it had almost 200K on it then; my friend Bob still has a '92 Civic with 500K+ on it. Anyways, don't know the facts and figures on dealerships and race; but I do know, having lived a lot of other places since, that issues of race are everywhere, but particularly close to the surface in Detroit. Can nefarious, intentional causality be proven? I doubt it. Race-consciousness was just the air we breathed in the Motor City; you just don't realize how unhealthy it is until you leave, and are reminded whenever you come back to visit. Perhaps this is not unique to Detroit, but considering that Detroit is a necessary precondition for the unsustainable mess that has become of our country through heavily subsidized excessive auto-worship - even Henry himself thought commuting by car absurd - my hometown can certainly claim some credit. Best wishes to all on this great site! Marquis Dee

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