CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:
I'm Celeste Headlee and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away today. And it's time, yet again, for our weekly visit to the barbershop. The guys are going to talk about what's in the news, what's on their minds.
Sitting in the chairs for a shape-up this week - writer and culture critic Jimi Izrael, contributing editor for The Root, Corey Dade. Arsalan Iftikhar - he's senior editor of the Islamic Monthly and founder of TheMuslimGuy.com. They're all here in D.C. with me. How're you guys doing?
JIMI IZRAEL: What's cracking?
ARSALAN IFTIKHAR: We're good.
HEADLEE: Arsalan, am I crazy or did your title get longer?
IZRAEL: Hey now.
IFTIKHAR: I'm glad something did.
HEADLEE: And then joining us from Austin, Mario Loyola. He is with National Review Magazine and the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Okay, Jimi.
IZRAEL: All right, on that note. Welcome to the barbershop. How're we doing fellas?
IFTIKHAR: Hey, hey, hey.
COREY DADE: What's good?
IZRAEL: C-Dade, across from me, where you suppose to be. What's up dude? It's good to see you.
DADE: I'm good, man.
IZRAEL: Mario - Super Mario, my dude, what's good?
MARIO LOYOLA: Apuntelo (ph).
IZRAEL: All righty then. All right, so Corey Dade, right from the start you said that the Heat would take it in Game 7, man - mad, mad props.
DADE: That's right, I'm not a Heat fan but that was my - you know, that was my prediction.
HEADLEE: Okay, since we're talking about predictions - let me jump in really quick. Because we have - I want to be very clear that we have a preponderance of LeBron detractors on the barbershop today. And I want to go with Jimi Izrael. He went on record - Jimmy Izrael's pick - and he said this about LeBron James last week.
(SOUNDBITE OF JIMI IZRAEL)
IZRAEL: He's best known as a choker, you know, maybe an all-night toker - but, yo, this brother, you know, he's just not particularly good at the point.
HEADLEE: Okay, so James just won the finals MVP last night. He dominated Game 6 and Game 7. You want to eat some humble pie today?
IZRAEL: Not at all, not at all. I also said that, you know, he was going to need his, you know, Neo was just Mr. Anderson before he believed. You know, and I said that he was going to have to come to a place in his life, in his head, where he was going to look in the mirror and know that he was Neo. He was going to have to know that he was the one. So he knows he's the one. And now we are all witnesses, Celeste. So take that.
HEADLEE: Well, let me take it to Arsalan then.
HEADLEE: You went on record and said you only liked the Spurs because you were anti-LeBron.
IFTIKHAR: Yeah, no I'm a straight up Miami Heat hater. As a die hard Boston...
HEADLEE: Hate? No change?
IFTIKHAR: Listen, as a diehard Boston Celtics fan, if the Miami Heat were playing Dick Cheney in the NBA finals, I'd really have to think about who to root for.
IFTIKHAR: You know, here you, you know, here you have a group of aging mercenaries, you know, who got together to create this super-team, you know. The San Antonio Spurs, they are what - for most NBA purists out there - you know, are the consummate team.
You know, you don't really have - you have semi-superstars but no one, you know, cult of personality. And, you know, again they were one free throw away by Manu Ginobili, one free throw away by Kawhi Leonard, one rebound away by Timmy Duncan, in Game 6, from taking it. I mean, it was one of the best NBA finals series that we've seen in recent history. But yeah, the Miami haterism still stands strong over here.
IZRAEL: All right, Super Mario, let's get you right in here right quick man. You're down south - are the Texans - they hanging their head low today - heads?
LOYOLA: Yeah, I don't know. I'm in Austin and Austin is separated from San Antonio by an impenetrable barrier of strip malls.
LOYOLA: But yeah, it's a sad day for Texas, obviously. I'm happy for all of my Cubanitos in Miami though, who were saying apuntelo (ph) yesterday, every time there was another three-point shot. Although I have to say, with Arsalan, you know, Miami fans really are among the world's most fair-weather fans.
IZRAEL: They're terrible, terrible.
LOYOLA: Yeah, they're deserters - but, I mean, LeBron James did become sort of Neo last night. I was even thinking, he did something even greater than that. He became like that dude, when, you know, when you were in your fourth-grade PE class, there was like that one guy, that was like an eighth grader, and if you had him on your team you were guaranteed to win. He became that dude.
IZRAEL: Really? Okay.
HEADLEE: Well, let's really quickly hear from Corey. 'Cause Corey, you don't have anything against LeBron, am I correct in that?
DADE: I don't have anything against LeBron. I did predict they'd win. He was clutch when it counted. So it's time to stop hating on him. He's taken that team to three straight trips to the finals. Two straight championships. You're going to - if you're going to hate him or hate them, do it because they are now sort of the potential dynasty.
Like the Patriots were some years ago - like the Yankees have been, and move on. What's interesting though is that Game 6, we don't have the TV ratings for Game 7, but Game 6 was one of the highest-rated games in years for the NBA finals, and ever for Game 6's, in the NBA history. But what's interesting though, they are still on a three-year decline in TV ratings.
And, I got to say, this year, I got to blame the Spurs. As great as they are, they are the most boring team in the NBA. There's no off-the-court drama, there are no compelling personalities on that team, and so as a result, all they can do is win and that may not be enough.
IZRAEL: Okay, all right. Well, we definitely need to move on. Six women - all but one of them white, have been selected as jurors in George Zimmerman's trial. Now, if you don't recall, he's the guy who shot and killed young Trayvon Martin - the African-American Florida teen. Corey Dade, you've been covering the trial. What's your take on this lineup?
DADE: Well, I think depending upon your perspective, you know, a jury of one's peers for a man who's Latino and white mixed, a male, you know, to have no man on the jury, and to have only one juror who shares his Latino ethnicity, is interesting.
I think that actually, the gender - the lack of a gender diversity is actually potentially more significant than the lack of racial diversity. Plenty of legal experts I've talked to have raised the point, and I just wrote about this for The Root, that women in particular, in their minds, women in particular are typically more gentler than men, but also they actually - their first instinct often is to go away from a conflict, to avoid a conflict.
So they are going to have a problem being able to see this situation through the eyes of Zimmerman, when Zimmerman got out of his car. The other thing is that, with Zimmerman, you know, he needs to get the sympathy of those jurors for being in fear. And five out of these six women are mothers. They may side with Trayvon Martin's parents on that.
IZRAEL: Well, you know, you and I differ on this. Because I see this as a problem, because, you know, if you want to find some people that are afraid of young black men - you find white women. And white women are afraid of young black men.
HEADLEE: If you're speaking very generally.
IZRAEL: Obviously, obviously very generally. So this is going to be a really interesting trial. A-Train, Arsalan, you're the JD in the house man, weigh in on this.
IFTIKHAR: Well, you know what's interesting is that a lot of people, you know, were wondering about, you know, why are there six people on a jury and not twelve people? And you hear the famous movie, "12 Angry Men" and things like that.
Apparently, in Florida, many times they routinely give six person juries, unless it's a first-degree murder charge, at which there would be 12 jurors. And what a lot of people are saying is - a lot of law professors and legal analysts are saying that this actually leads to a higher rate of potential wrongful convictions, because in this case you only need six guilty verdicts as opposed to an unanimous 12. So double the amount.
IFTIKHAR: I agree with Corey, what's interesting is the homogeneity of the jury, not only in terms of race but also in terms of gender. And a lot of people say that, you know, especially with the whole self-defense aspect of it, you know, it might actually work against Zimmerman to have all females.
IZRAEL: Mario, check in, man.
LOYOLA: Yeah, I'm with you Jimi on this. I mean, first of all, I think this discussion that we're having is, like, social stereotyping of the most speculative kind.
HEADLEE: I agree.
LOYOLA: You know, but I'm with Jimi on this. And I think that if, you know, if the defense lawyers are able to play to that stereotype that Jimi was talking about - and really make this about, you know, how can you not be afraid of a black dude in a hood, you know, walking around - is clearly up to no good or whatever. Then I think that that's, you know, that's what Zimmerman's lawyers are likely to play to. I mean, that's their hope at this point so.
HEADLEE: So before we speculate any further in social stereotyping. I'm going to jump in here and move us on. You're listing to our weekly barbershop roundtable. We're joined by culture critic Jimi Izrael, commentator Arsalan Iftikhar, columnist Mario Loyola, and journalist Corey Dade. And back to you.
IZRAEL: Thanks, everybody mark this day on your calendar. Me and Super Mario agree.
IZRAEL: So moving on. You know, I've told you guys I've been, you know, trying to stay fit. You know, watch my weight a little bit and it's - I mean, obviously, it's doing okay for me over here.
HEADLEE: Looking good.
IZRAEL: You know, but it turns out I was on the right track, because obesity is a disease, like disco fever.
IZRAEL: Or voting Republican. I mean, holy mackerel.
HEADLEE: Oh, oh, okay. Yeah, the American Medical Association voted Tuesday to classify obesity as a disease. That does not mean that you can quit working out and just take a pill, Jimi. This is a contentious decision though. The AMA rejected cautionary advice from its own experts about what that classification might mean. So Jimi, what do you think?
IZRAEL: I'm, you know what, I think it's overstepping a little bit. I think everybody should be a boss of themselves. And - but by the same token, if you can't boss yourself, maybe the government has to, you know, kind of push the plate away from you, for you.
I mean, if you just, you know, you just down with your Big Gulp like that - maybe we need - maybe somebody needs to take the Big Gulp for you. Mario Loyola, is obesity a disease? Or is it a lifestyle choice?
LOYOLA: Yeah, I don't want to seem like - I don't want to seem like I'm applying for a job as your press secretary, but I got to agree with you on this one.
IZRAEL: Wow, in a row.
LOYOLA: It's not a disease. This is like another step in enfeebling, infantalization of America, where nobody's responsible for anything that they did. So now if you're fat, you didn't do that.
Well, look, I'm sorry, 16 ounce soda cans are disgusting and they're bad for you, fast food is disgusting and it's bad for you - stop eating it, stop feeding it to your children, and this problem will go away.
HEADLEE: Wait, so Mario Loyola, also, let's note, is also agreeing with Mike Bloomberg, mayor of New York here. That's got to be a first.
LOYOLA: God, no, no, no, no. I didn't say that the government should force people to stop doing it, right. And that's actually the danger here.
Which is, that once you classify it as a disease, you're opening the door for the government to come in and regulate another aspect of our lives.
IZRAEL: To bust down that door and - put down that Big Mac.
HEADLEE: Arsalan, you're shaking your head.
IFTIKHAR: Well, yeah let me, you know, take my fingers out of the Nutella jar that I'm scooping into my mouth.
IFTIKHAR: You know, I actually tend to take a more of a different approach to it. I actually think that it's not about government overreach. I think by classifying obesity as a disease, you know, we are considering genetic factors that do play a role in terms of diabetes and other issues.
And for me, I actually see it as a positive - in terms of more government resources that can be used to treat obesity. I mean, right now, you know, it's such an epidemic that, you know, by classifying it as a disease, I can see the Centers for Disease Control and other, you know, government agencies, you know, allocating more resources to it. And I think it, you know, could be a positive.
IZRAEL: Corey Dade.
DADE: You know, is it a disease? First of all, you know, there's no universally accepted medical definition of disease.
DADE: That's true. Second, who cares?
DADE: You know, if this means - if this means doctors will now begin to seriously treat obesity and insurers will be able to cover that treatment - let's call it a disease. The issue is about getting people to a point where they can better manage their weight, where they can be more educated about their choices. And, quite frankly, just because you now potentially may be able to get medical treatment for your obesity, doesn't somehow mean that it's not your personal responsibility to be fit.
The two don't go together. That's like saying because I have heart disease and I take an aspirin everyday, somehow I shouldn't be able to get that kind of treatment because I made choices that led to heart disease. I mean, that's ridiculous.
IZRAEL: All right, Corey Dade, the voice of compassion.
HEADLEE: And I should mention before we move on, that we talked about this in detail on the show earlier. So people can listen back to that segment as well with Dr. David Kessler to get exact - some more information from a physician.
IZRAEL: That's right. So have any of you guys ever tried hamburgers made with doughnuts?
IZRAEL: Check this out.
(SOUNDBITE OF PAULA DEEN)
PAULA DEEN: We should go supreme with the donuts, okay?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I'm game, if you are.
DEEN: All right so we got our burger. We got our egg. We got a couple pieces of bacon. We're going to have our sweet and our savory. The girls are probably going to see this and say y'all are out of your crazy minds.
HEADLEE: All right...
HEADLEE: So if you don't recognize that voice - that is Food Network star Paula Deen. Donut hamburgers are not the only crazy idea she's had. She is famous for the use of butter. Of the southern style wedding though is one of the things that got her in trouble. The idea for using waiters as slaves may have been - we want to catch you up here quickly.
Deen and her brother are being sued by a former employee of the restaurant. And according to the lawsuit, for her brother's wedding in 2007, Deen wanted a quote, true southern plantation style wedding, and that included middle-aged black men serving as waiters. The former employee alleges Deen also used the N-word to describe the waiters. Deen denies that, but admits that, yes, as a woman born in the South, 60 years ago, she has used it at some point in her life. Jimi, your thoughts here. I mean, is she racist?
IZRAEL: No. She's old and white. I mean, color me surprised, you know, that a 60-odd year old white woman runs around using the N-word. I mean, my grandfather, rest his soul, my grandfather was not particularly reconstructed. And the only white people that ever came into his house were the white women that I brought in to his house. And he wasn't crazy about that.
So does that make him a racist? He was a man of his time, you know. So, and having said all this, you know, when you work in the media, like Paula Deen, you know, you owe it to yourself to evolve little bit. You know, it's not Mayberry. And so the fact that she hasn't evolved - just an iota, is quite disconcerting. But yeah, I'm not surprised - also not offended. I wasn't offended, when you know, when Michael Richards clocked out all those years ago - not offended here.
HEADLEE: Michael Richards was the guy who played Kramer.
IZRAEL: K. K. Kramer.
HEADLEE: Said something offensive during his standup routine. But Arsalan, again, you're shaking your head.
IFTIKHAR: Yeah, I mean, I like the fact that she said that her excuse was that she's old, you know, for using the N-word. I mean, that's a pretty lame excuse. Although, I do give her props for actually admitting that she's used the word before.
You know, some people would have just said no, I haven't used it. You know, I agree with Jimi, I think that it's a non-issue, ultimately, and that, you know, it'll pass.
DADE: You know, my concern - you know, I'm tired of having the discussions about someone using the N-word in public and whether or not that means they're racist. I mean, the more, to me, salient point is that, you know, in a court of law, when it comes to managing employees, she and other people can come to understand that the southern white instinct to sort of continue to hold onto their heritage - their sort of Confederate, antebellum heritage, is by definition, offensive.
IZRAEL: Yeah, the South lost.
HEADLEE: And on that note, let's move on to a lightning round. We have rumors that Kanye West and Kim Kardashian have actually named their baby North. So that her name would be North West. Lightning round, one after the other, we're going to actually get your suggested names for what they could have named their baby. Arsalan?
IFTIKHAR: Well, they named it North West - I think they should have named it JetBlue or Lufthansa.
HEADLEE: Corey Dade?
DADE: You know, I'm going to cop out. I cannot think of anything pithy to say. All I can say is, you know...
HEADLEE: They can name her Pithy.
DADE: I hope for his sake and hers, Jesus still walks.
LOYOLA: Yeah well, Middle East would be better than North right?
HEADLEE: Oh, okay.
LOYOLA: The Poor Baby, might be best of all though.
IZRAEL: Maybe, Crunchy - or Camilla like my cousin, I don't know.
HEADLEE: Camilla West.
IZRAEL: Yeah I like that, has a ring to it.
LOYOLA: I like Lufthansa.
HEADLEE: Jimi Izrael, writer, culture critic, also adjunct professor of film and social media at Cuyahoga Community College. Corey Dade, contributing editor for The Root. Arsalan Iftikhar, senioreditor of the Islamic monthly and founder of TheMuslimGuy.com. All in our D.C. Studios. And Mario Loyola was from the NPR member station KUT in Austin. Mario is with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, columnist for the National Review. Thank you all so much.
IZRAEL: Chop chop.
IFTIKHAR: Take care.
IZRAEL: Yep Yep.
HEADLEE: That's our program for today. I'm Celeste Headlee and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. You can tune in for more talk on Monday.