White Males, I’m Here To Help You

Mitt Romney is clearly a very nice white male.  But he made some big news this week.  During the second presidential debate on October 16, Mitt took some major criticism for his answer to a question about gender equality in the workplace.  In trying to extol his own record of enthusiastically hiring qualified female candidates during his tenure as governor of Massachusetts (and he did hire many), he blurted out his now infamous “binders full of women.”

Now, I will not get into why “binders full of women” is offensive.  It is.  What I’d like to talk about here is why Romney, the extremely nice white male that he is, let those words escape his lips.  And I’d like to help him, and other nice white males (of which there are many, by the way) avoid making that same mistake again.

We all have thoughts.  Then some of them make it to our lips.  In reality, very few of our thoughts make it to verbal discourse.  It is what I call the “Thought-to-Mouth Percentage,” or TMP.  Most people have a TMP of 15-20%.  Smart, discerning people have a TMP of 5-10%.  George W Bush’s is around 50%.  I do not make this claim about our former president without evidence:

“You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror.”
“It’s clearly a budget. It’s got a lot of numbers in it.”
“There ought to be limits to freedom.”

He even once said, “See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in.”  A smart liar with a low TMP wouldn’t have said that.

So how can white males achieve a lower TMP?  How can Mitt Romney never let anything like “binders full of women” leak from his mind again?  The formula is easy.

He and other nice white males like him must employ “the black rule.”  This nation went through a long struggle for black civil rights, and if white males know anything, they know what sounds offensive to black people.  So, if something sounds offensive when said about black people, it’s probably offensive when said about others.  I would suggest using “the black rule” and repeating it three times for it to truly sink in.  For example, Mitt could have easily undertaken the following short exercise:

Mitt (to himself): I’m thinking about saying “binders full of women.”  Good thing I read “The Civil Arab.”  OK, “binders full of black people”… “binders full of black people”… “binders full of black people.”  Better not.  I haven’t met Al Sharpton yet, and I’d like to keep it that way.
Mitt (at the debate): So we took a concerted effort to find women who have backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.  I went to a number of women’s groups and said, “Can you help us find folks?”  And they brought us a list of highly qualified candidates.

Embarrassment avoided.

See, the main problem here is that white males, of whom the overwhelming majority are very nice, law-abiding citizens, do not intrinsically understand what it means to be discriminated against.  All the rest of us do.  We’re sensitive to it.  For instance, sometimes when I tell nice white males that I’m Arab, they say, “Wow, you don’t look Arab.”  Then they flash a smile, the sort that follows a compliment.  By simply employing the “black rule,” they might realize that statement could be a bit offensive.

A white male can’t truly understand prejudice and bigotry.  He’s never been a victim.  How can you be when you’ve had 43 ½ presidents?

In the final presidential debate, Mitt will have a chance to redeem himself.  His third encounter with the president will focus on foreign policy.  Hopefully, he can take my advice.  I pray he isn’t tempted to say “binders full of Arabs.”  Incidentally, there are binders full of Arabs.  It’s a whole wing at the CIA.

About Amer Zahr 181 Articles
Amer Zahr is a Palestinian American comedian, writer, professor and speaker living in Dearborn, Michigan. He is also the editor of "The Civil Arab."


  1. Years ago I was helping my husband fill out a paper. And it had the section, about race, the usual, white, Hispanic, Indian, american or other, and oriental. Being he is Arab, I asked the lady behind the counter about what should I put. She wiped out a book and with her finger drew a line till she got to Arab classification. She turned to me and said White. I kinda smiled, and she said well that makes sense after all didn’t we all start with them and the Jews…LOL.

  2. Laughing my head off…I am looking forward to tonight’s debate…I cringe when I think what he might spew about us Arabs and how we, the Palestinians, are the obstacle to peace. Obama hasn’t gone so far, but he hasn’t done any better either.

  3. I don’t agree with the white comment…yes I am married to a white man. And because he is white and due to misconstrued affirmative action, he has been overlooked more than once for a job, a government job! The ones who tell not to discriminate are the biggest discriminators! He has also had to fight throughout his childhood and today due to discrimination. He has a brother with Down Syndrome. So remember all whites are not the same, just like all blacks, arabs, muslims, jews, etc….. are not the same. You have the good the bad. You have the prejudice and the not prejudice and you have the discriminated against and the ones who discriminate. My vote is for the President who will do this country justice and try to bring us back on our feet. My vote is for the President who believes in God and that he is led to do good because of God. My vote is for a good President. Too bad my choices are limited!

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