We of course gave extensive coverage to the major news story of last week: the shameful racist atrocity perpetrated on Oprah Winfrey by a store assistant in Zürich, Switzerland.
Fortifying the impression that Oprah was making an alp out of a molehill there is the fact that Oprah is promoting a movie she has a part in, a piece of black grievance porn about a White House butler. One thing about Oprah that no-one could deny is that the lady has a talent for publicizing herself—“By any means necessary,” as the slogan on ghetto T-shirts goes.
If, as I think more likely than not, Oprah lied about this incident, or perhaps just embroidered the truth some for purposes of self-promotion, then she did a wicked thing.
For a powerful, wealthy, invulnerable person like Oprah to tell lies about a humble working shop girl, would be beyond shameful. Back in aristocratic times there was the concept of noblesse oblige, which told the rich and powerful that they owed some deference to the poor and powerless people whose labors supported them.
It may be that Oprah, being black, and obviously caught up in the romance of American blackness, still thinks of herself as one of the poor and powerless, and of low-wage shop assistants, if they are white, as belonging to the rich and powerful.
That would relieve her of any need to practice noblesse oblige. That's psychologically possible . . . but I am merely speculating.
As a footnote here: I couldn't help but smile at the naïvety of the store assistant, in her interview with the Swiss newspaper, betraying the fact that she has not undergone the years of rigorous training in racial hypersensitivity that Americans get in their school and college years.
Quote from her: “I didn't hurt anyone. I don't know why someone as great as her must cannibalize me on TV.”
Given that Oprah Winfrey is black, and the size of a small chalet, “cannibalize” was not the happiest choice of word there, Signorina.