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Los Angeles, March 2022: Tents of homeless people outside City Hall. (Photo: Elliott Cowand Jr., Shutterstock)

Nury Martinez is Imperfect. Who isn’t?

If every person making a fuss about Nury Martinez were held to the standards they’re holding her to, there would be nobody left

By Edward Ring, October 14, 2022 2:45 am

Those of us who are perfect, which apparently includes just about everyone living in California today, have of course never had a mean thought, much less said something mean spirited. Not once in our lives have any of us committed such an unforgiveable transgression. And from this pristine perspective, for any of us to have ever thought or said something that was not only mean, but racist, is completely beyond any realm of possibility.

Therefore it is appropriate that the collective weight of 40 million virtuous Californians should descend without mercy on Los Angeles Councilmember Nury Martinez, whose recent conduct has deviated from the standard of perfection that the rest of us so effortlessly adhere to.

Martinez is not alone in her misbehavior. Also guilty, because they did not immediately silence her, and evidently had also “kept the conversation going with derogatory comments of their own,” are councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León.

Now that Martinez has already resigned, and Cedillo and de León fight for their political futures, maybe it would be useful to put this incident into a more realistic context.

In the imperfect world in which we live, everyone says mean things. And given the microscopically demanding behavioral standards of 21st century America, everyone in some way is now a racist as well. Nobody is perfect, which means everybody is guilty. To paraphrase Lavrently Beria, Stalin’s ruthless police chief, “show me the person, and I’ll show you the racist.”

So what was said in this private meeting, where these Los Angeles city councilmembers spoke candidly, unaware their words were being recorded for public consumption?

The title of this article in the Los Angeles Times, describes part of what was said: “Nury Martinez also makes crude comments about Jews and Armenians in leaked audio.” That sounds bad. Was it?

In the course of discussions over the redrawing of council district boundaries, Martinez said “the judios [jews] cut their deal with South L.A.” As the Times explains, “Martinez was responding to former Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, who had concluded, ‘I’m sure Katz and his crew have an agenda,’ referring to former state Assemblymember Richard Katz.”

Later in the conversation, allegedly anti-Armenian comments surfaced. Here again from the Times is the apparent extent of those remarks:

“Martinez also spoke about Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, who is of Armenian descent, and Councilmember Paul Krekorian, the first Armenian American to be elected to public office in Los Angeles. ‘He also wants his guy elected,’ said Martinez, referring to Krekorian. ‘So he needs a district that Adrin Nazarian could win it. That’s what they want. They want to assure, they want to be reassured that they have, not an Armenian district in the Valley, because that doesn’t exist, but they want as many Armenians in that district as possible to be able to play.’ Martinez added that she didn’t know whether Nazarian could get elected in a ‘pretty white’ district. ‘Now, I don’t think Adrin … gets elected. If a white, a reputable white businesswoman was in that district … [it] is still pretty white. But that’s on them,’ she said. ‘I’m not — I’m not cutting that deal with anybody because I don’t know. I don’t know that he can win.’ Later in the conversation, Martinez was attempting to identify Areen Ibranossian, a former chief of staff for Krekorian who is now a senior advisor to Rick Caruso’s campaign for mayor. Someone in the room asks, ‘What’s his name? What’s he look like?’ She said he’s ‘the guy with the one eyebrow.’ ‘I like him,’ Martinez said, adding that he is married to a friend of hers. When Martinez couldn’t recall his last name and asked what it was, Cedillo responded, ‘It ends in i-a-n, I bet you.’

Wading through this excerpt from the LA Times report doesn’t show anything that justifies the title. Crude? Where? The reference to Ibranossian’s unibrow? The fact that ethnic groups in a big city constitute factions attempting to influence urban policy? The fact that these insiders have a savvy grasp of these power relationships and need to talk about the political implications and how they shall respond?

Unless you subscribe to woke standards of conduct that are unreasonable and unattainable, nothing happened there. The defendants are innocent.

Which brings us to the fatal transgression, which were Nury’s comments about Councilmember Bonin and his adopted son. Yes, these remarks were mean, even racist (gasp!). But there is something at work here that needs to be identified, because it explains a lot of behavior that is inordinately attributed to racism, when in fact all that is actually animating much of it is normal resentment or animosity.

When we don’t like someone, it is not unnatural to privately or even publicly insult them, and it is also not unnatural when voicing an insult to grasp onto the target person’s ethnicity or sexuality. We are taught this is unthinkable, but in real life, it’s a common inclination. Perhaps it’s an inclination we might resist, and should resist, but it happens all the time with many people.

When someone yields to this inclination, it doesn’t prove they are racist, it only proves they’re angry with or dislike whoever it is they insulted. This is easily illustrated by considering political or ideological confrontations. A liberal might insult a black conservative, calling them an Uncle Tom, or worse. A conservative might similarly insult a black liberal. But in both cases, these people aren’t necessarily racist against blacks, because if they were, they wouldn’t turn around and feel personal warmth and admiration towards those other black individuals whose politics agree with theirs.

It is hard to know to what extent personal animosity, resentment, or merely bitter political rivalry animated Nury’s remarks towards Los Angeles Councilmember Mike Bonin. But I know this: Mike Bonin has destroyed large segments of Los Angeles, because he is a front man for a corrupt coalition of bureaucrats, powerful nonprofits, and politically connected developers who have fleeced the City of Los Angeles for billions in order to make the homeless problem worse, not better. Slavishly adhering to the failed “housing first” doctrine, which requires any homeless person to be offered free housing – with no conditions on their behavior – before you can get them off the street, much less treat their afflictions.

Policies Bonin fights for have turned Los Angeles into a magnet for every drug addict, criminal predator, and vagrant in America. For example, policies Mike Bonin supports have all but destroyed Venice Beach, and yet Bonin sanctimoniously scolds the outraged residents for lacking compassion. As if it is compassionate to let thousands of people kill themselves with drugs and alcohol, steal to support their habit, and ruin the lives of working families whose neighborhoods have been inundated.

I don’t like Mike Bonin. I don’t like his politics or his attitude. And it wouldn’t surprise me if other people who know him better than I do, dislike him even more than I do. So if they have yielded to the temptation to inappropriately chastise him for his vanity and preening self-righteousness and demonstrative virtue signaling, that’s not because they’re racist or homophobic, it’s because they’re human.

Without being able to locate a transcript of whatever it is exactly that Nury Martinez had to say about Oaxacans, other than that the word “tan feo” figured into her remarks, I can’t say much. Tan feo in English is literally translated as “so ugly” and was erroneously translated by the outraged media as “they’re ugly.” But what she said may not have been about anyone’s appearance but rather about the situation in that neighborhood.

To speculate further, what Martinez may also have been feeling is the justifiable resentment that many well established Mexican American’s now feel towards the completely unregulated flood of immigrants pouring into California from Southern Mexico and Central America. If Martinez, de León, and Cedillo are not perceiving that sentiment from their Mexican American constituents, they’d better try harder to read the room. Otherwise they may witness a political realignment that will end every one of their careers, no matter how perfect they are.

Ultimately what Nury Martinez did, in a conversation she thought was private, merits an apology. Nothing more. The outrage machine is an orchestrated show, with actors who never learned what an earlier generation of parents taught their children: sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

If every person making such a fuss about Nury Martinez were held to the standards they’re holding her to, there would be no fuss, because there would be nobody left.

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19 thoughts on “Nury Martinez is Imperfect. Who isn’t?

    1. Since you appear to be an expert on this, Rudy. Why don’t you explain the difference to us in detail. If you can.

    2. Do not be ignorant. How can you talk about kids or anybody about the color of the skin..Racist people are the reason we getting hate. Then she talks about her own people

  1. No, she deserves exactly what she is now receiving. She expressed exactly how she feels. Her beliefs influence her Policies and the types of Legislation she would propose or sponsor that others who support her views, would propose. So, she is getting exactly what she deserves. As the saying goes, “When a person shows you who they are, believe them.” I believe her.

  2. Democrats have controlled LA for years and they’ve completely destroyed a once great city with their leftist policies. How about all the Democrats on the LA City Council resign in shame?

    1. Oh please, oh please, oh please… make it so… and then expand it to San Francisco and ALL of California….

  3. Live by the false narrative, …
    Alternatively, “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake”. Go ahead, woke Dems, eat each other alive.

  4. Do not be ignorant. How can you talk about kids or anybody about the color of the skin..Racist people are the reason we getting hate. Then she talks about her own people

    1. If you weren’t being so ignorant yourself, you would figure out that anti racism is one of the ways our freedom is being stripped away. So go ahead, pile on like a pile of hyenas every time you catch someone saying something mean. Destroy them. And someday it’s going to come back at you. Racist comments are wrong. But overreacting is a cure that’s worse than the disease. We are going to learn that too late.

    1. My criticism of the howling outrage that destroys livelihoods and careers for much less than anything these three LA politicians did is NOT an endorsement of them or their policies. The fact that I find their politics repellent is one of the reasons I chose this incident to speak out against toxic anti-racism. I explained my reasoning in the article, and I’m comfortable with it. While Martinez, Cedillo and De Leon said some ugly things, I doubt it exceeds what plenty of other politicians and people of all backgrounds have said, and still say. We would do better to criticize people for what they do, and not for what they speak spontaneously in private. By obsessing over words and feelings, and destroying people for feeling or saying things we find unacceptable, we are usually being hypocritical, and worse, we are wasting time that should instead focus on deeds and actions.

  5. You can’t stop people from saying mean things, I grew up hearing declaratory things about me, like: go back to Mexico, but I’m not Mexican, you wetback and so on.
    They were said by other kids. They learned it from grown up around them. But even then, these politicians are representing and diverse community, many of my Oxacan freinds felt insulted. How can you to trust someone who says those things about you, your children and your ethnicity?
    The point is that we have seen that Republicans don’t give a damn about how they insult others. Their base feels the same way. On the other hand, that’s not happening with these democrats. People won’t stand by and let this happened.
    They got caught, so others beware.

  6. I think their hateful words are a reflection of the lack of moral character of these so-called leaders who supported the most draconian lockdown pro-pharma anti-freedom failed policies in our state and the country. Our people and children have suffered and died because of their never-ending ’emergency’. So yeah maybe the words don’t matter alone so much, but these people have all caused so much damage every incumbent on the council should be removed from office. If this starts the ball rolling, good. We can do better.

  7. No. She isn’t just imperfect. She is racist. She condones child abuse. Also, her discussions about her plans for redistricting were unethical, at best. As a lawyer and politician, she knew that and just did not care because she wanted power.

    I have never said anything racist as she said.
    I have never even thought that a certain group of people looks like monkeys just because of their race. To me, George Bush looked more like a monkey than a whole race of people. There is a difference between saying someone is acting like a monkey (I think MOST little kids act like monkeys, and it was my nickname for my little brother and now my dogs) and saying someone looks like one because of their skin color.

    Then she went on a rant about Oxacans, a group that is also considered Latino, a group she claims to represent. She went so far as to call them ugly. It’s not their fault they are shorter and darker than she is. That does not make them ugly, and she is not exactly a beauty queen herself. No, I have never called a whole group of people ugly. Maybe I have called one person ugly, but that is also due to how they are on the inside, how they act, like Martinez! As for that little comment about not knowing what “village” they came from – she knows very well they didn’t come from just one village, but a whole area of Mexico. Besides many have been living and working in the United States for years. Many are now citizens.
    She also condones child abuse. As an educator, I find that abhorrent. To say he needs a “beat down” just because he is acting like a little boy? No. That is called child abuse. It is not even funny to joke about. Furthermore, study after study has shown that children (and pets) learn better from positive reinforcement. She is disgusting.

    I agree with you about one thing – that cancel culture, or whatever it is called, sometimes goes too far. If it was just that she said what she said about Jewish and Armenian people, I would even say let it slide. She should issue an apology for sure, donate some money to Armenian causes, meet with some Armenian leaders to see how she could make things better, etc. But I wouldn’t say she had to leave the city council.

    But that wasn’t all she said. She said much worse things. As a politician (even just a city council member), she should be better than most of us. She is someone that others look up to, so she needs to behave accordingly.

    Also, it is her own dumb fault. As a politician AND lawyer, she should have known someone is always listening, and in this day and age, recording.

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