PALU, Saco-Indonesia.com — Seorang pelaku bom bunuh diri meledakkan diri di halaman Mapolres Poso, Sulawesi Tengah, Senin (3/6/2013), sekitar pukul 08.25 Wita. Hal itu dikatakan Kepala Bidang Humas Polda Sulawesi Tengah AKBP Soemarno, Senin pagi ini.
Berdasarkan informasi yang dihimpun Kompas.com, satu orang tewas dalam kejadian ini. Korban adalah pengendara sepeda motor yang diduga membawa bom dan melakukan aksi bunuh diri. Bom meledak di depan mushala Mapolres.
Menurut keterangan saksi, motor bergerak pelan menuju mushala sebelum ledakan terjadi. Hingga saat ini, polisi masih menyelidiki kejadian ini, termasuk mengusut pelaku dan motif kejadian.
POSO,Saco-Indonesia.com — Menyusul aksi serangan bom bunuh diri di Mapolres Poso sekitar pukul 08.00 Wita, Senin (3/6/2013) pagi ini, aparat kepolisian menutup akses lokasi peledakan hingga radius 200 meter.
Kendati demikian, layanan publik di Mapolres Poso tetap dibuka untuk umum. Seperti yang telah diberitakan sebelumnya, satu orang tewas dalam kejadian ini. Korban adalah pengendara motor yang diduga membawa bom dan melakukan aksi bom bunuh diri.
Berdasarkan informasi yang diperoleh Kompas.com di lokasi, pelaku sempat dihadang untuk tidak masuk ke area mapolres, sebelum akhirnya menerobos dan meledakkan bom.
Kejadian berlangsung sesudah apel pagi di Mapolres Poso. Bom meledak di depan mushala mapolres.
Saksi mengatakan, motor bergerak pelan menuju mushala sebelum ledakan terjadi. Polisi masih menyelidiki kejadian ini termasuk mengusut pelaku dan motif kejadian. Saat ini polisi tengah menggelar olah tempat kejadian perkara.
dan semua berakhir
aku pun terus hidup
melayang aku di hujung benak ku
perih yang aku cari
yang ku akhiri
yang membuatku hidup
sudah berlalu biarkanlah berlalu
maafkan aku tak kembali padamu
*) cinta tak akan pernah sama
tak akan pernah bisa
jangan pernah berfikir
masih banyak cinta di dunia
dan semua berakhir
aku pun terus hidup
melayang aku di hujung benak ku
perih yang aku cari
yang ku akhiri
yang membuatku hidup
sudah berlalu biarkanlah berlalu
maafkan aku tak kembali padamu
back to *)
lihat diriku hancur karena mu
lihat diriku berlutut di hadapmu
lihat diriku hancur karena mu
hempaskan aku karena dirimu
back to *)
Editor : Dian Sukmawati
NIDJI CINTA TAK PERNAH SAMA
saco-indonesia.com, Puluhan ribu buruh yang berada di Jakarta dan sekitarnya akan kembali melakukan demonstrasi ke Istana Merdeka. Dalam aksinya buruh telah meminta kenaikan upah sebesar untuk tahun 2015 mendatang sebesar 30 persen.
Presiden Konfederasi Serikat Pekerja Indonesia (KSPI), Said Iqbal telah mengatakan, buruh juga akan berkumpul di Bunderan Hotel Indonesia dan akan melakukan aksi long march menuju Istana Merdeka, Mahkamah Konstitusi dan Kementerian Kesehatan.
"Buruh juga akan bergerak sekira pukul 10.00 pagi WIB dari Bunderan HI menuju Istana," ujar Said, Rabu (12/2/2014).
Said juga menambahkan tuntutan yang akan dibawa buruh dalam aksi nanti antara lain, rakyat telah memiliki hak untuk berobat ke rumah sakit atau puskesmas dan tidak boleh ada penolakan. Oleh sebab itu, Permenkes no 69/2013 harus dicabut. Selain itu, buruh juga telah meminta kenaikan upah minimum tahun 2015 sebesar 30 persen dengan KHL sebanyak 84 item.
"Ini aksi serempak yang akan diikuti oleh puluhan ribu buruh lainnya di 12 provinsi seperti Jawa Tengah, Jawa Timur, Jawa Barat, Sumatera dan lainnya."ungkapnya kembali.
Selain melakukan aksi demonstrasi, buruh juga akan mendeklarasikan rumah rakyat di sport Mal Kelapa Gading pada pukul 14.00 WIB.
BURUH DEMO SBY TUNTUT KENAIKAN UPAH TAHUN 2015 MENDATANG
Editor : Dian Sukmawati
Ibadah haji merupakan salah satu rukun Islam yang lima dan diwajibkan bagi orang yang mampu. Ibadah ini dikaitkan dengan kemampuan karena haji merupakan sebuah perjalanan ibadah yang butuh pengorbanan besar berupa kemampuan materi dan kekuatan fisik. Bila sebuah ibadah dikaitkan langsung dengan kemampuan, berarti menunjukkan kesempurnaan hikmah Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala dalam meletakkan ibadah tersebut. Orang yang beriman akan menerima ketentuan ibadah tersebut tanpa berat hati. Karena mereka mengetahui bahwa tidak ada satupun bentuk syariat yang diletakkan oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala melainkan maslahatnya kembali bagi hamba. Tidak terkait sedikitpun dengan kebutuhan Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala terhadap mereka. Di sisi lain, dikaitkannya ibadah haji ini dengan kemampuan hamba menunjukkan kasih sayang Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala yang tinggi terhadap mereka. Semuanya ini telah Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala tegaskan di dalam firman-Nya:
لاَ يُكَلِّفُ اللهُ نَفْسًا إِلاَّ وُسْعَهَا
“Allah tidak membebani seseorang melainkan menurut kesanggupannya.” (Al-Baqarah: 286)
مَا يُرِيْدُ اللهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِنْ حَرَجٍ
“Allah tidak menginginkan bagi kalian sesuatu yang memberatkan kalian.” (Al-Ma`idah: 6)
يُرِيْدُ اللهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلاَ يُرِيْدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ
“Allah menginginkan kemudahan buat kalian dan tidak menginginkan kesulitan.” (Al-Baqarah: 185)
وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّيْنِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ
“Dan Allah tidak menjadikan atas kalian dalam agama ini kesukaran.” (Al-Hajj: 78)
Diriwayatkan dari Abu Hurairah radhiyallahu 'anhu, dia berkata:
خَطَبَنَا رَسُوْلُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَ: أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ قَدْ فَرَضَ اللهُ عَلَيْكُمُ الْحَجَّ فَحُجُّوا. فَقَالَ رَجُلٌ: أَكُلَّ عَامٍ يَا رَسُوْلَ اللهِ؟ فَسَكَتَ حَتَّى قَالَهَا ثَلاَثًا، فَقَالَ رَسُوْلُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: لَوْ قُلْتُ نَعَمْ لَوَجَبَتْ، وَلَمَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ. ثُمَّ قَالَ: ذَرُوْنِي مَا تَرَكْتُكُمْ فَإِنَّمَا هَلَكَ مَنْ كَانَ قَبْلَكُمْ بِكَثْرَةِ سُؤَالِهِمْ وَاخْتِلاَفِهِمْ عَلَى أَنْبِيَائِهِمْ فَإِذَا أَمَرْتُكُمْ بِشَيْءٍ فَأْتُوا مِنْهُ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ وَإِذَا نَهَيْتُكُمْ عَنْ شَيْءٍ فَدَعُوْهُ
Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam berkhutbah di hadapan kami, beliau berkata: “Wahai sekalian manusia, sungguh Allah telah mewajibkan bagi kalian haji maka berhajilah kalian!” Seseorang berkata: “Apakah setiap tahun, ya Rasulullah?” Beliau terdiam sehingga orang tersebut mengulangi ucapannya tiga kali. Lalu Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam bersabda: “Kalau aku katakan ya, niscaya akan wajib bagi kalian dan kalian tidak akan sanggup.” Kemudian beliau berkata: “Biarkanlah apa yang aku tinggalkan kepada kalian. Sesungguhnya orang sebelum kalian telah binasa karena mereka banyak bertanya yang tidak diperlukan dan menyelisihi nabi-nabi mereka. Jika aku memerintahkan sesuatu kepada kalian maka lakukanlah sesuai dengan kesanggupan kalian. Dan bila aku melarang kalian dari sesuatu maka tinggalkanlah.”1)
Diriwayatkan pula dari Abu Hurairah radhiyallahu 'anhu bahwa Nabi Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam bersabda:
إِنَّ الدِّيْنَ يُسْرٌ وَلَنْ يُشَادَّ الدِّيْنَ أَحَدٌ إِلاَّ غَلَبَهُ فَسَدِّدُوا وَقَارِبُوا وَأَبْشِرُوا وَاسْتَعِيْنُوا بِالْغَدْوَةِ وَالرَّوْحَةِ وَشَيْءٍ مِنَ الدُّلْجَةِ
“Sesungguhnya agama ini mudah dan tidak ada seorangpun yang memberatkan diri padanya melainkan dia tidak akan sanggup. Berusahalah untuk tepat, mendekatlah, dan bergembiralah. Dan gunakanwaktu pagi dan petang serta sebagian dari waktu malam.”2)
Ibnul Munayyir berkata: “Di dalam hadits ini terdapat salah satu tanda kenabian. Dan kita telah menyaksikan, juga telah disaksikan pula oleh orang-orang sebelum kita, bahwa setiap orang yang berdalam-dalam menyelami agama akan tidak sanggup. Dan bukan berarti tidak boleh mencari yang lebih sempurna dalam ibadah, karena ini termasuk perkara yang terpuji. Yang dilarang adalah berlebih-lebihan yang akan menyebabkan kebosanan, atau berlebih-lebihan dalam menjalankan amalan sunnah sehingga meninggalkan yang lebih utama, atau mengeluarkan kewajiban dari waktunya, seperti seseorang yang semalam suntuk untuk qiyamul lail sehingga dia terlalaikan dari Shalat Subuh secara berjamaah atau sampai keluar dari waktu yang dipilih atau sampai terbit matahari yang akhirnya keluar dari waktu yang diwajibkan.” (Lihat Fathul Bari, 1/118)
Sikap Terpuji Orang yang Beriman
Orang berimanlah yang paling bergembira dengan semua bentuk ibadah yang diwajibkan oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala. Merekalah yang memiliki kesiapan untuk menjalankannya. Mereka juga memiliki keberanian untuk menghadapi segala kemungkinan yang akan terjadi dalam ketaatan kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala. Mereka tetap tegar dan bersemangat, sekalipun anjuran Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala dan Rasul-Nya itu dianggap kecil dan sepele oleh kebanyakan orang. Sikap inilah yang telah digambarkan oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala di dalam firman-Nya:
إِنَّمَا كَانَ قَوْلَ الْمُؤْمِنِيْنَ إِذَا دُعُوا إِلَى اللهِ وَرَسُوْلِهِ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَهُمْ أَنْ يَقُوْلُوا سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا
“Sesungguhnya ucapan orang-orang yang beriman bila mereka diseru kepada Allah dan Rasul-Nya untuk menghukumi di antara mereka, mereka mengatakan: ‘Kami mendengar dan kami taat’.” (An-Nur: 51)
وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ وَلاَ مُؤْمِنَةٍ إِذَا قَضَى اللهُ وَرَسُوْلُهُ أَمْرًا أَنْ يَكُوْنَ لَهُمُ الْخِيَرَةُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِمْ
“Dan tidaklah patut bagi laki-laki yang mukmin dan tidak (pula) bagi perempuan yang mukmin, apabila Allah dan Rasul-Nya telah menetapkan suatu ketetapan, akan ada bagi mereka pilihan (yang lain) tentang urusan mereka.” (Al-Ahzab: 36)
فَلاَ وَرَبِّكَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُوْنَ حَتَّى يُحَكِّمُوْكَ فِيْمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لاَ يَجِدُوا فِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ حَرَجًا مِمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَيُسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيْمًا
“Maka demi Rabbmu, mereka tidak akan beriman sehingga mereka menjadikanmu sebagai hakim dalam apa yang mereka perselisihkan, kemudian mereka tidak mendapatkan rasa berat pada diri-diri mereka (untuk menerima) apa yang kamu putuskan dan mereka menerima dengan sebenar-benarnya.” (An-Nisa`: 65)
Bingkisan Berharga bagi para Hujjaj (Jamaah Haji)
Salah satu perintah syariat adalah menunaikan ibadah haji. Pelaksanaan ibadah ini memiliki amalan-amalan yang berbeda dengan ibadah-ibadah lainnya. Amalan yang sangat membutuhkan keikhlasan niat yang tinggi, kejujuran iman, ketabahan jiwa dan ketundukan kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala yang sempurna, kekuatan material dan spiritual. Hal ini terbukti dari awal perintah memakai pakaian ihram sampai akhir pelaksanaan ibadah tersebut.
Ada beberapa bingkisan berharga untuk saudaraku yang hendak menunaikan ibadah haji.
Pertama, Memperbaiki niat dan menjaga keikhlasan dalam pelaksanaan ibadah haji.
Keikhlasan adalah sebuah amalan hati yang sangat erat hubungannya dengan kemurniaan aqidah dan tauhid seseorang. Ketauhidan yang benar akan membuahkan keikhlasan yang murni dan hakiki. Keikhlasan yang murni merupakan perwujudan ketulusan persaksian hamba terhadap kalimat Laa ilaha illallah, tidak ada sesembahan yang benar melainkan Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.
Seseorang harus membangun semua ibadahnya di atas aqidah yang benar. Karena aqidah yang benar merupakan penentu diterimanya amalan seseorang. Berdasarkan hal inilah, Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala menjadikan aqidah dan tauhid sebagai rukun Islam pertama melalui lisan Rasul-Nya. Dalam hadits Ibnu ‘Umar radhiyallahu 'anhuma, Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam bersabda:
بُنِيَ اْلإِسْلاَمُ عَلَى خَمْسٍ شَهَادَةِ أَنْ لاَ إِلهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُوْلُ اللهِ وَإِقَامِ الصَّلاَةِ وَإِيْتَاءِ الزَّكَاةِ وَالْحَجِّ وَصَوْمِ رَمَضَانَ
“Islam itu dibangun di atas lima dasar yaitu mempersaksikan bahwa tidak ada sesembahan yang benar melainkan Allah dan Muhammad adalah utusan-Nya, mendirikan shalat, menunaikan zakat, haji dan puasa pada bulan Ramadhan.”3
Jibril berkata dalam hadits ‘Umar radhiyallahu 'anhu:
يَا مُحَمَّدُ، أَخْبِرْنِي عَنِ اْلإِسْلاَمِ. فَقَالَ رَسُوْلُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: اْلإِسْلاَمُ أَنْ تَشْهَدَ أَنْ لاَ إِلهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُوْلُ اللهِ -صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ- وَتُقِيْمَ الصَّلاَةَ وَتُؤْتِيَ الزَّكَاةَ وَتَصُوْمَ رَمَضَانَ وَتَحُجَّ الْبَيْتَ إِنِ اسْتَطَعْتَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيْلاً
“Wahai Muhammad, beritahukan kepadaku tentang Islam!” Beliau menjawab: “Engkau mempersaksikan bahwa tidak ada sesembahan yang benar melainkan Allah dan bahwa Muhammad adalah utusan Allah, mendirikan shalat, menunaikan zakat, puasa dan haji ke Baitullah bila engkau mampu menempuh perjalanan ke sana.”4
Bila aqidah seseorang menyelisihi aqidah yang diajarkan oleh Al-Qur`an dan As-Sunnah, tentu akan merusak niatnya. Atau niatnya akan tercampuri dengan niatan yang lain. Bahkan tidak menutup kemungkinan, dia berangkat menunaikan ibadah haji dibarengi dengan niat-niat yang mengandung kesyirikan kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala, seperti niat meminta kepada Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam di makam beliau, atau di sisi kuburan-kuburan yang menurut penilaian banyak pihak bahwa tempat tersebut berbarakah dan keramat. Atau berniat meminta keberkahan hidup, kekayaan, naik pangkat, laris dalam berniaga, lulus dalam ujian, meminta harta benda, dan segala yang berbau keuntungan duniawi, kepada selain Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.
Membangun ibadah haji di atas kemurnian aqidah akan berbuah nilai positif di dunia setelah melakukan ibadah tersebut, dan di akhirat karena mendapatkan haji mabrur yang diterima. Berbeda dengan orang yang membangun ibadah hajinya di atas kerusakan aqidah, seperti:
a. Aqidah Sufiyyah yang pada ujungnya adalah kufur kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala, sebagaimana ucapan seorang pentolan Sufiyyah, Ibnu ‘Arabi:
Ar-Rabb adalah hamba dan hamba adalah Rabb
Aduhai kalau demikian siapa yang akan melaksanakan beban (syariat)
Dalam kesempatan lain dia mengucapkan:
Tiadalah anjing dan babi melainkan tuhan kita
b. Aqidah Syi’ah dengan berbagai sempalannya yang mengaku memuliakan ahlu bait Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam, padahal mereka jauh dari hal itu dan justru mencaci maki para shahabat beliau.
c. Aqidah Jahmiyyah yang mengingkari nama dan sifat-sifat Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.
d. Aqidah Mu’tazilah yang menuhankan akal dan mengingkari sifat Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.
e. Aqidah Asy’ariyyah yang menafikan sebahagian sifat-sifat Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.
dan berbagai bentuk aqidah rusak lainnya.
Niat merupakan asas pertama dan utama diterimanya amal. Sehingga bila niat telah rusak maka akan merusak yang lain. Yang paling berbahaya sebagai perusak niat adalah riya` dan sum’ah, yaitu memperdengarkan amalan-amalan atau perjalanan yang penuh kenangan dan peristiwa aneh dengan tujuan mendapatkan pujian. Betapa banyak orang yang tidak mendapatkan haji yang mabrur karena memiliki niat yang rusak. Misalnya ingin menjadi orang terhormat karena bergelar haji di depan namanya, disanjung, dipuji, disebut pak haji, dan sebagainya.
Kewajiban mengikhlaskan niat ini telah dijelaskan oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala dan Rasul-Nya:
وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلاَّ لِيَعْبُدُوا اللهَ مُخْلِصِيْنَ لَهُ الدِّيْنَ
“Dan tidaklah mereka diperintahkan melainkan agar mereka beribadah kepada Allah dengan mengikhlaskan baginya agama.” (Al-Bayyinah: 5)
إِنَّمَا اْلأَعْمَالُ بِالنِّيَّةِ وَإِنَّمَا لاِمْرِئٍ مَا نَوَى فَمَنْ كَانَتْ هِجْرَتُهُ إِلَى اللهِ وَرَسُوْلِهِ فَهِجْرَتُهُ إِلَى اللهِ وَرَسُوْلِهِ وَمَنْ كَانَتْ هِجْرَتُهُ لِدُنْيَا يُصِيْبُهَا أَوِ امْرَأَةٍ يَتَزَوَّجُهَا فَهِجْرَتُهُ إِلَى مَا هَاجَرَ إِلَيْهِ
“Sesungguhnya amalan itu sah dengan niat. Dan setiap orang akan mendapatkan apa yang dia niatkan. Maka barangsiapa yang hijrahnya kepada Allah dan Rasul-Nya, maka dia telah hijrah kepada Allah dan Rasul-Nya. Dan barangsiapa yang hijrah untuk dunia yang ingin diperoleh atau wanita yang ingin dinikahinya maka dia telah berhijrah kepada apa yang dia telah niatkan.”5
Setiap amalan tergantung niatnya. Dan niat tersebut kembali kepada keikhlasan, yaitu niat yang satu untuk Dzat yang satu, yaitu Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala. (Fathul Bari, 1/14)
Hadits di atas menjelaskan tentang kedudukan niat sebagai landasan diterimanya amal seseorang. Oleh karena itu, banyak komentar para ulama tentang kedudukan hadits niat ini. Contohnya Al-Imam Asy-Syafi’i mengatakan: “Hadits ini masuk dalam 70 bab dalam bidang ilmu.”
Abu Abdillah (Al-Imam Ahmad) mengatakan: “Tidak ada hadits Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam yang lebih padat, lebih kaya, dan lebih banyak faedahnya daripada hadits ini (yakni hadits tentang niat).”
Ibnu Mahdi mengatakan: “Hadits ini masuk pada 30 bab dalam bidang ilmu.”
Beliau rahimahullah juga mengatakan: “Sepantasnya hadits ini diletakkan dalam setiap bab ilmu.” (Fathul Bari, 1/13)
شَرَعَ لَكُمْ مِنَ الدِّيْنِ مَا وَصَّى بِهِ نُوْحًا
“Allah telah mensyariatkan bagi kalian agama yang telah Dia wasiatkan kepada Nuh.” (Asy-Syura: 13)
Abul ‘Aliyah rahimahullah berkata: “Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala mewasiatkan kepada mereka agar ikhlas dalam beribadah kepada-Nya.” (Fathul Bari, 1/13)
Ibnu Rajab menjelaskan: “Setiap amalan yang tidak diniatkan untuk Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala maka amalan tersebut adalah batil, tidak memiliki buah di dunia dan di akhirat.” (Jami’ Al-’Ulum Wal Hikam hal. 11)
Kedua, Mencontoh Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam dalam setiap pelaksanaan ibadah haji
Mencontoh Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam dalam pelaksanaan ibadah haji merupakan syarat kedua diterimanya amalan haji seseorang setelah syarat ikhlas. Mulai awal pelaksanaan haji sampai akhirnya, tidak diperbolehkan mengada-adakan sesuatu sedikitpun. Bila ada amalan yang tidak sesuai dengan tuntunan Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam, niscaya tidak akan diterima oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala. Hal ini berdasarkan hadits Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam:
مَنْ أَحْدَثَ فِي أَمْرِنَا هَذَا مَا لَيْسَ مِنْهُ فَهُوَ رَدٌّ -وَفِي رِوَايَةٍ لِمُسْلِمٍ- مَنْ عَمِلَ عَمَلاً لَيْسَ عَلَيْهِ أَمْرُنَا فَهُوَ رَدٌّ
“Barangsiapa yang mengada-ada dalam urusan kami yang tidak ada ajarannya dari kami maka amalan tersebut tertolak.”
Dalam riwayat Muslim disebutkan: “Barangsiapa yang melakukan amalan yang tidak ada tuntunannya dari kami maka amalan tersebut tertolak.”6
Sekecil dan seringan apapun, amalan ibadah haji tersebut harus sesuai dengan tuntunan Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam. Dalam hal ini, segenap kaum muslimin tidak boleh berpedoman dengan pengajaran dan bimbingan orang tua dahulu, atau guru-guru kita, namun harus berpedoman dengan dalil-dalil.
Ibnu Rajab rahimahullah menjelaskan: “Semua amalan yang dilakukan harus di bawah ketentuan hukum-hukum syariat. Hukum syariat menjadi hakim terhadap semua amalan, baik dalam hal perintah maupun larangan. Sehingga barangsiapa yang amalannya berjalan di bawah ketentuan syariat dan sesuai dengannya maka diterima. Dan bila keluar dari hukum syariat maka amalan tersebut tertolak.” (Jami’ Al-’Ulum Wal Hikam hal. 83)
Haji Mabrur Diraih dengan Kedua Syarat di Atas
Dengan kedua syarat di atas, seseorang akan bisa meraih keutamaan haji mabrur yaitu haji yang diterima di sisi Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala, menurut salah satu pendapat ulama. Tanda diterimanya ibadah haji adalah dia pulang dalam keadaan lebih baik dari sebelumnya dan tidak kembali kepada perbuatan maksiat. Ada yang berpendapat bahwa yang dimaksud adalah haji yang tidak dijangkiti penyakit riya`. Dan ada pula yang berpendapat maksudnya yaitu haji yang tidak diiringi kemaksiatan setelahnya.
Imam An-Nawawi rahimahullah menguatkan pendapat ini. Dan yang paling masyhur adalah pendapat bahwa haji mabrur adalah haji yang tidak dicampuri dengan kemaksiatan. (Syarh Muslim, 5/119)
Para hujjaj sangat mengidamkan keutamaan ini. Namun di antara mereka ada yang tidak memerhatikan kiat yang akan mengantarkan dirinya untuk mendapatkannya. Bila seseorang tidak membangun ibadah hajinya di atas kedua landasan di atas, maka dia tidak akan mendapatkannya. Hal itu merupakan sesuatu yang pasti berdasarkan dalil-dalil di atas. Tentang haji mabrur, telah disebutkan oleh Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam dalam banyak sabdanya. Di antaranya:
Diriwayatkan dari Abu Hurairah radhiyallahu 'anhu, dia berkata:
أَنَّ رَسُوْلَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ سُئِلَ: أَيُّ الْعَمَلِ أَفْضَلُ؟ فَقَالَ: إِيْمَانٌ بِاللهِ وَرَسُوْلِهِ. قِيْلَ: ثُمَّ مَاذَا؟ قَالَ: الْجِهَادُ فِي سَبِيْلِ اللهِ. قِيْلَ: ثُمَّ مَاذَا؟ قَالَ: حَجٌّ مَبْرُوْرٌ
Bahwasanya Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam ditanya tentang amalan yang paling utama lalu beliau menjawab: “Iman kepada Allah dan Rasul-Nya.” Ditanyakan kepada beliau: “Kemudian apa?” Beliau berkata: “Berjihad di jalan Allah.” Ditanyakan lagi kepada beliau: “Kemudian apa?” Beliau berkata: “Haji yang mabrur.”7
Diriwayatkan dari ‘Aisyah Ummul Mukminin radhiyallahu 'anha, ia berkata:
يَا رَسُوْلَ اللهِ، نَرَى الْجِهَادَ أَفْضَلَ الْعَمَلِ، أَفَلاَ نُجَاهِدُ؟ قَالَ: لاَ، لَكِنَّ أَفْضَلَ الْجِهَادِ حَجٌّ مَبْرُوْرٌ
“Ya Rasulullah, kami berpendapat bahwa jihad adalah amalan yang paling utama. Tidakkah kami ikut berjihad?” Beliau berkata: “Tidak. Akan tetapi jihad yang paling utama (bagi wanita) adalah haji mabrur.”
Dalam riwayat Al-Imam An-Nasa`i disebutkan dengan lafadz:
قُلْتُ يَا رَسُوْلَ اللهِ، أَلاَ نَخْرُجُ فَنُجَاهِدَ مَعَكَ فَإِنِّي لاَ أَرَى عَمَلاً فِي الْقُرْآنِ أَفْضَلَ مِنَ الْجِهَادِ. قَالَ: لاَ، وَلَكِنَّ أَحْسَنَ الْجِهَادِ وَأَجْمَلَهُ حَجُّ الْبَيْتِ حَجٌّ مَبْرُوْرٌ
Aku berkata: “Ya Rasulullah, tidakkah kami keluar ikut berjihad bersamamu karena aku tidak melihat di dalam Al-Qur`an ada amalan yang paling utama daripada jihad?” Beliau bersabda: “Tidak. Akan tetapi sebaik-baik jihad dan yang paling indah adalah haji ke Baitullah, yaitu haji yang mabrur.” (Dishahihkan Al-Albani dalam Shahih An-Nasa`i no. 2628)
Diriwayatkan dari Abu Hurairah radhiyallahu 'anhu, bahwa Rasululah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam bersabda:
الْعُمْرَةُ إِلَى الْعُمْرَةِ كَفَّارَةٌ لِمَا بَيْنَهُمَا وَالْحَجُّ الْمَبْرُورُ لَيْسَ لَهُ جَزَاءٌ إِلاَّ الْجَنَّةُ
“Umrah yang satu ke umrah berikutnya merupakan penghapus dosa di antara keduanya, dan haji yang mabrur tidak ada balasannya melainkan surga.”8
Demikianlah beberapa dalil yang menunjukkan keutamaan haji yang mabrur dan tidak ada balasan bagi haji yang mabrur melainkan surga. Al-Imam An-Nawawi menjelaskan: “Pelaku haji tersebut tidak hanya terhapus dosa-dosanya, bahkan dia mesti masuk ke dalam surga.” (Syarh Muslim, 5/119)
Demikianlah kedudukan dua syarat diterimanya setiap amalan hamba, yaitu ikhlas dan mencontoh Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam. Sehingga yang dituntut dari seorang hamba dalam ibadahnya adalah bagaimana dia memperbaiki ibadahnya, bukan hanya bagaimana memperbanyaknya. Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala berfirman:
الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلاً
“Allah yang telah menciptakan mati dan hidup untuk menguji kalian siapa yang paling baik amalannya.” (Al-Mulk: 2)
Ibnu Katsir menjelaskan: “Makna ayat ini adalah Dialah yang telah menjadikan makhluk dari tidak ada menjadi ada, untuk menguji mereka siapa yang paling baik amalnya.” Muhammad bin ‘Ajlan berkata: “Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala tidak mengatakan yang paling banyak amalannya.” (Tafsir Ibnu Katsir, 4/414)
Ketiga, Iman yang benar kepada Allah
Beriman kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala merupakan salah satu rukun iman yang enam dan merupakan intisari keimanan terhadap rukun iman yang lain. Bila keimanan seseorang kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala tidak benar, maka akan menjadi barometer kepincangan imannya terhadap rukun iman yang lain.
Keimanan kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala mencakup banyak perkara, di antaranya:
1. Meyakini bahwa Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala adalah Dzat yang berhak untuk disembah, dan segala bentuk penyembahan serta pengagungan terhadap selain-Nya adalah batil.
ذلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللهَ هُوَ الْحَقُّ وَأَنَّ مَا يَدْعُوْنَ مِنْ دُوْنِهِ هُوَ الْبَاطِلُ وَأَنَّ اللهَ هُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْكَبِيْرُ
“Demikianlah bahwa Allah adalah Al-Haq (untuk disembah) dan apa yang mereka sembah selainnya adalah batil dan Allah Maha Kaya dan Maha Besar.” (Al-Hajj: 62)
Pengagungan terhadap selain Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala banyak bentuknya. Di antaranya mengagungkan kuburan-kuburan tertentu, orang-orang tertentu, tempat-tempat yang dikeramatkan, pohon-pohon, batu-batu, jimat-jimat, jin-jin, dan sebagainya. Semuanya akan merusak keimanan seseorang kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala dan akan mengarah kepada tercabutnya keimanan dari diri mereka.
2. Mengimani segala apa yang diwajibkan oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala kepada hamba-hamba-Nya berupa pelaksanaan rukun Islam yang lima secara lahiriah dan kewajiban lainnya yang telah dibebankan Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala kepada setiap hamba. Di antara lima rukun Islam, yang paling besar dan paling utama adalah persaksian terhadap dua kalimat syahadat. Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala berfirman:
فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّهُ لاَ إِلهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ
“Maka ketahuilah bahwa tidak ada sesembahan yang benar melainkan Allah.” (Muhammad: 19)
Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala berfirman pula:
شَهِدَ اللهُ أَنَّهُ لاَ إِلهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ وَالْمَلاَئِكَةُ وَأُولُو الْعِلْمِ قَائِمًا بِالْقِسْطِ لاَ إِلهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ الْعَزِيْزُ الْحَكِيْمُ
“Dan Allah telah bersaksi bahwa tidak ada sesembahan yang benar melainkan Dia dan para malaikat serta orang-orang yang berilmu ikut mempersaksikan dengan penuh keadilan bahwa tidak ada sesembahan yang benar melainkan Allah dan Dia Maha Mulia dan Maha Bijaksana.” (Ali ‘Imran: 18)
3. Mengimani bahwa Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala yang menciptakan dan mengatur segala urusan alam ini dan memantau mereka dengan ilmu serta kebijaksanaan. Dia yang memiliki dunia dan akhirat. Tidak ada pencipta selain-Nya dan tidak ada yang sanggup mengatur urusan makhluk ini kecuali Dia. Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala telah mengutus para nabi dan menurunkan kitab-kitab untuk kemaslahatan hamba dan untuk menyeru mereka kepada jalan menuju keberhasilan dan keselamatan hidup di dunia dan akhirat.
Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala berfirman:
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ اللَّيْلُ وَالنَّهَارُ وَالشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ لاَ تَسْجُدُوا لِلشَّمْسِ وَلاَ لِلْقَمَرِ وَاسْجُدُوا لِلّهِ الَّذِي خَلَقَهُنَّ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُوْنَ
“Dan termasuk tanda-tanda kebesaran Allah adalah adanya malam dan siang, matahari dan bulan. (Oleh karena itu) janganlah kalian sujud kepada matahari dan bulan, namun sujudlah kalian kepada Allah yang telah menciptakannya jika kalian hanya beribadah kepada-Nya.” (Fushshilat: 37)
Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala berfirman:
إِنَّ رَبَّكُمُ اللهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَاْلأَرْضَ فِي سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ ثُمَّ اسْتَوَى عَلَى الْعَرْشِ يُغْشِي اللَّيْلَ النَّهَارَ يَطْلُبُهُ حَثِيْثًا وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ وَالنُّجُوْمَ مُسَخَّرَاتٍ بِأَمْرِهِ أَلاَ لَهُ الْخَلْقُ وَاْلأَمْرُ تَبَارَكَ اللهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِيْنَ
“Sesungguhnya Allah telah menciptakan langit-langit dan bumi dalam enam hari kemudian Dia beristiwa` di atas ‘Arsy. Allah menutup siang dengan malam yang terjadi dengan cepat (dan Dialah yang telah menciptakan) matahari, bulan, dan bintang-bintang yang semuanya tunduk di bawah perintah-Nya, ketahuilah hak Allah untuk mencipta dan memerintah, dan Maha suci Allah Rabb semesta alam.” (Al-A’raf: 54)
4. Mengimani nama-nama dan sifat-sifat Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala yang baik dan tinggi, yang dijelaskan dalam Al-Kitab dan As-Sunnah, tanpa memalingkan dan menyelewengkan maknanya sedikitpun dari apa yang dimaukan oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala dan Rasul-Nya, serta tanpa menyerupakan-Nya dengan sifat-sifat makhluk.
وَلِلّهِ اْلأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَى فَادْعُوْهُ بِهَا وَذَرُوا الَّذِيْنَ يُلْحِدُوْنَ فِي أَسْمَائِهِ سَيُجْزَوْنَ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُوْنَ
“Dan Allah memiliki nama-nama yang baik maka berdoalah kalian dengannya dan biarkanlah orang-orang yang menyeleweng dari nama-nama Allah dan mereka pasti akan dibalas atas apa yang telah mereka perbuat.” (Al-A’raf: 180)
وَلَهُ الْمَثَلُ اْلأَعْلَى فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَاْلأَرْضِ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيْزُ الْحَكِيْمُ
“Dan bagi Allah perumpamaan yang tinggi di langit-langit dan di bumi, dan Dia Maha Mulia dan Maha Bijaksana.” (Ar-Rum: 27)
لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ وَهُوَ السَّمِيْعُ الْبَصِيْرُ
“Dan tidak ada sesuatupun yang serupa dengan Allah dan Dia Maha Mendengar lagi Maha Melihat.” (Asy-Syura: 11)
Larangan berbicara tentang Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala tanpa ilmu telah diperingatkan oleh-Nya di dalam firman-Nya:
وَلاَ تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولَئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْئُوْلاً
“Dan janganlah kamu mengatakan apa yang kamu tidak memiliki ilmu padanya. Sesungguhnya pendengaran, penglihatan, dan hati, semuanya akan dimintai pertanggungjawaban.” (Al-Isra`: 36)
قُلْ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّيَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَاْلإِثْمَ وَالْبَغْيَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ وَأَنْ تُشْرِكُوا بِاللهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا وَأَنْ تَقُوْلُوا عَلَى اللهِ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُوْنَ
“Katakan: ‘Sesungguhnya Rabbku telah mengharamkan kekejian yang nampak maupun yang tidak nampak, mengharamkan dosa, perbuatan dzalim tanpa alasan yang benar dan mengharamkan kalian menyekutu-kan Allah dengan sesuatu yang tidak pernah Allah turunkan keterangan tentangnya, dan mengharamkan berkata tentang Allah tanpa dasar ilmu.” (Al-A’raf: 33)
Demikianlah beberapa kiat untuk memperbaiki keimanan kita kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala, agar semua amal yang kita kerjakan dibangun di atas keimanan kepada-Nya. Bila ibadah haji seseorang dibangun di atas keimanan kepada-Nya tentu semua niatan akan diarahkan kepada-Nya. Dia tentunya tidak akan keluar dari tuntunan Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala dan Rasul-Nya dalam pelaksanaan haji tersebut, sehingga bisa mendapatkan haji mabrur di sisi Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala. Demikianlah buah keimanan kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.
1 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Al-Bukhari no. 6744 dan Al-Imam Muslim no. 2380
2 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Al-Bukhari no. 38
3 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Al-Bukhari no. 7 dan Al-Imam Muslim no. 19, 20, 21, 22.
4 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Muslim no. 9
5 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Al-Bukhari no. 1 dan Al-Imam Muslim no. 3530
6 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Al-Bukhari no. 2499 dan Al-Muslim no. 3242
7 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Al-Bukhari no. 25
8 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Al-Buhari no. 1650 dan Al-Imam Muslim no. 2403
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WASHINGTON — During a training course on defending against knife attacks, a young Salt Lake City police officer asked a question: “How close can somebody get to me before I’m justified in using deadly force?”
Dennis Tueller, the instructor in that class more than three decades ago, decided to find out. In the fall of 1982, he performed a rudimentary series of tests and concluded that an armed attacker who bolted toward an officer could clear 21 feet in the time it took most officers to draw, aim and fire their weapon.
The next spring, Mr. Tueller published his findings in SWAT magazine and transformed police training in the United States. The “21-foot rule” became dogma. It has been taught in police academies around the country, accepted by courts and cited by officers to justify countless shootings, including recent episodes involving a homeless woodcarver in Seattle and a schizophrenic woman in San Francisco.
Now, amid the largest national debate over policing since the 1991 beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles, a small but vocal set of law enforcement officials are calling for a rethinking of the 21-foot rule and other axioms that have emphasized how to use force, not how to avoid it. Several big-city police departments are already re-examining when officers should chase people or draw their guns and when they should back away, wait or try to defuse the situationPolice Rethink Long Tradition on Using Force
From sea to shining sea, or at least from one side of the Hudson to the other, politicians you have barely heard of are being accused of wrongdoing. There were so many court proceedings involving public officials on Monday that it was hard to keep up.
In Newark, two underlings of Gov. Chris Christie were arraigned on charges that they were in on the truly deranged plot to block traffic leading onto the George Washington Bridge.
Ten miles away, in Lower Manhattan, Dean G. Skelos, the leader of the New York State Senate, and his son, Adam B. Skelos, were arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on accusations of far more conventional political larceny, involving a job with a sewer company for the son and commissions on title insurance and bond work.
The younger man managed to receive a 150 percent pay increase from the sewer company even though, as he said on tape, he “literally knew nothing about water or, you know, any of that stuff,” according to a criminal complaint the United States attorney’s office filed.
The success of Adam Skelos, 32, was attributed by prosecutors to his father’s influence as the leader of the Senate and as a potentate among state Republicans. The indictment can also be read as one of those unfailingly sad tales of a father who cannot stop indulging a grown son. The senator himself is not alleged to have profited from the schemes, except by being relieved of the burden of underwriting Adam.
The bridge traffic caper is its own species of crazy; what distinguishes the charges against the two Skeloses is the apparent absence of a survival instinct. It is one thing not to know anything about water or that stuff. More remarkable, if true, is the fact that the sewer machinations continued even after the former New York Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, was charged in January with taking bribes disguised as fees.
It was by then common gossip in political and news media circles that Senator Skelos, a Republican, the counterpart in the Senate to Mr. Silver, a Democrat, in the Assembly, could be next in line for the criminal dock. “Stay tuned,” the United States attorney, Preet Bharara said, leaving not much to the imagination.
Even though the cat had been unmistakably belled, Skelos father and son continued to talk about how to advance the interests of the sewer company, though the son did begin to use a burner cellphone, the kind people pay for in cash, with no traceable contracts.
That was indeed prudent, as prosecutors had been wiretapping the cellphones of both men. But it would seem that the burner was of limited value, because by then the prosecutors had managed to secure the help of a business executive who agreed to record calls with the Skeloses. It would further seem that the business executive was more attentive to the perils of pending investigations than the politician.
Through the end of the New York State budget negotiations in March, the hopes of the younger Skelos rested on his father’s ability to devise legislation that would benefit the sewer company. That did not pan out. But Senator Skelos did boast that he had haggled with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, in a successful effort to raise a $150 million allocation for Long Island to $550 million, for what the budget called “transformative economic development projects.” It included money for the kind of work done by the sewer company.
The lawyer for Adam Skelos said he was not guilty and would win in court. Senator Skelos issued a ringing declaration that he was unequivocally innocent.
THIS was also the approach taken in New Jersey by Bill Baroni, a man of great presence and eloquence who stopped outside the federal courthouse to note that he had taken risks as a Republican by bucking his party to support paid family leave, medical marijuana and marriage equality. “I would never risk my career, my job, my reputation for something like this,” Mr. Baroni said. “I am an innocent man.”
The lawyer for his co-defendant, Bridget Anne Kelly, the former deputy chief of staff to Mr. Christie, a Republican, said that she would strongly rebut the charges.
Perhaps they had nothing to do with the lane closings. But neither Mr. Baroni nor Ms. Kelly addressed the question of why they did not return repeated calls from the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., begging them to stop the traffic tie-ups, over three days.
That silence was a low moment. But perhaps New York hit bottom faster. Senator Skelos, the prosecutors charged, arranged to meet Long Island politicians at the wake of Wenjian Liu, a New York City police officer shot dead in December, to press for payments to the company employing his son.
Sometimes it seems as though for some people, the only thing to be ashamed of is shame itself.Finding Scandal in New York and New Jersey, but No Shame
Imagine an elite professional services firm with a high-performing, workaholic culture. Everyone is expected to turn on a dime to serve a client, travel at a moment’s notice, and be available pretty much every evening and weekend. It can make for a grueling work life, but at the highest levels of accounting, law, investment banking and consulting firms, it is just the way things are.
Except for one dirty little secret: Some of the people ostensibly turning in those 80- or 90-hour workweeks, particularly men, may just be faking it.
Many of them were, at least, at one elite consulting firm studied by Erin Reid, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. It’s impossible to know if what she learned at that unidentified consulting firm applies across the world of work more broadly. But her research, published in the academic journal Organization Science, offers a way to understand how the professional world differs between men and women, and some of the ways a hard-charging culture that emphasizes long hours above all can make some companies worse off.
Ms. Reid interviewed more than 100 people in the American offices of a global consulting firm and had access to performance reviews and internal human resources documents. At the firm there was a strong culture around long hours and responding to clients promptly.
“When the client needs me to be somewhere, I just have to be there,” said one of the consultants Ms. Reid interviewed. “And if you can’t be there, it’s probably because you’ve got another client meeting at the same time. You know it’s tough to say I can’t be there because my son had a Cub Scout meeting.”
Some people fully embraced this culture and put in the long hours, and they tended to be top performers. Others openly pushed back against it, insisting upon lighter and more flexible work hours, or less travel; they were punished in their performance reviews.
The third group is most interesting. Some 31 percent of the men and 11 percent of the women whose records Ms. Reid examined managed to achieve the benefits of a more moderate work schedule without explicitly asking for it.
They made an effort to line up clients who were local, reducing the need for travel. When they skipped work to spend time with their children or spouse, they didn’t call attention to it. One team on which several members had small children agreed among themselves to cover for one another so that everyone could have more flexible hours.
A male junior manager described working to have repeat consulting engagements with a company near enough to his home that he could take care of it with day trips. “I try to head out by 5, get home at 5:30, have dinner, play with my daughter,” he said, adding that he generally kept weekend work down to two hours of catching up on email.
Despite the limited hours, he said: “I know what clients are expecting. So I deliver above that.” He received a high performance review and a promotion.
What is fascinating about the firm Ms. Reid studied is that these people, who in her terminology were “passing” as workaholics, received performance reviews that were as strong as their hyper-ambitious colleagues. For people who were good at faking it, there was no real damage done by their lighter workloads.
It calls to mind the episode of “Seinfeld” in which George Costanza leaves his car in the parking lot at Yankee Stadium, where he works, and gets a promotion because his boss sees the car and thinks he is getting to work earlier and staying later than anyone else. (The strategy goes awry for him, and is not recommended for any aspiring partners in a consulting firm.)
A second finding is that women, particularly those with young children, were much more likely to request greater flexibility through more formal means, such as returning from maternity leave with an explicitly reduced schedule. Men who requested a paternity leave seemed to be punished come review time, and so may have felt more need to take time to spend with their families through those unofficial methods.
The result of this is easy to see: Those specifically requesting a lighter workload, who were disproportionately women, suffered in their performance reviews; those who took a lighter workload more discreetly didn’t suffer. The maxim of “ask forgiveness, not permission” seemed to apply.
It would be dangerous to extrapolate too much from a study at one firm, but Ms. Reid said in an interview that since publishing a summary of her research in Harvard Business Review she has heard from people in a variety of industries describing the same dynamic.
High-octane professional service firms are that way for a reason, and no one would doubt that insane hours and lots of travel can be necessary if you’re a lawyer on the verge of a big trial, an accountant right before tax day or an investment banker advising on a huge merger.
But the fact that the consultants who quietly lightened their workload did just as well in their performance reviews as those who were truly working 80 or more hours a week suggests that in normal times, heavy workloads may be more about signaling devotion to a firm than really being more productive. The person working 80 hours isn’t necessarily serving clients any better than the person working 50.
In other words, maybe the real problem isn’t men faking greater devotion to their jobs. Maybe it’s that too many companies reward the wrong things, favoring the illusion of extraordinary effort over actual productivity.
ate in February, Dr. Ben Carson, the celebrated pediatric neurosurgeon turned political insurrectionist, was trying to check off another box on his presidential-campaign to-do list: hiring a press secretary. The lead prospect, a public-relations specialist named Deana Bass, had come to meet him at the dimly lit Capitol Hill office of Carson’s confidant and business manager, Armstrong Williams. Carson sat back and scrutinized her from behind a small granite table, as life-size cardboard cutouts of more conventional politicians — President Obama, with a tight smile, and Senator John McCain, glowering — loomed behind each of his shoulders. (The mock $3 bill someone had left on a table in Williams’s waiting room undercut any notion that this was a bipartisan zone; it featured Obama wearing a turban.)
Bass seemed momentarily speechless, and not just because no one had warned her that a New York Times reporter would be sitting in on her job interview. Though she knew Williams — a jack-of-all-trades entrepreneur who owns several television stations and a public-affairs business and who hosts a daily talk-radio show — through Washington’s small circle of black conservatives, the two hadn’t spoken in years until he called her two days earlier. He had been struggling to come up with the perfect national spokesperson, he told her. Then, at the gym, her name popped into his head; Williams was fairly certain she was the one. Sitting across from a likely candidate for president, Bass was adjusting to the idea that her life might be about to take a sudden chaotic turn.
“It’s like getting the most random call on a Monday that you simply do not see coming,” she said. “Oftentimes, that is how the Lord works.”
Carson concurred: “It’s always how he works in my life.” Carson is soft-spoken and often talks with his eyes half closed, frequently punctuating his sentences with a small laugh, even if the humor of his statement is not readily apparent. Bass told Carson that she had been a Republican staff member on Capitol Hill then worked for the Republican National Committee. In 2007 she started a Christian public-relations firm with her sister. She enjoyed working on the Hill, she said, but the pay wasn’t as high as the hours were long. “We figured that we worked like slaves for other people, and we wanted to work for ourselves.”
Carson stopped her. “You know you can’t mention that word, right?” Carson waited a beat, then laughed, and Williams and Bass joined in. He was getting to the point; he needed a professional who could help him check his penchant for creating uncontrolled controversy just by talking.
The Ben Carson movement began in 2013, when Carson, a neurosurgeon, whose operating-room prowess and up-from-poverty back story had made him the subject of a television movie and a regular on the inspirational-speaking circuit, was invited to address the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. With Barack Obama sitting just two seats away, Carson warned that “moral decay” and “fiscal irresponsibility” could destroy America just as it did ancient Rome. He proposed a substitute for Obamacare — Health Savings Accounts, which, he said, would end any talk of “death panels” — and a flat-tax based on the concept of tithing. His address, combined with the president’s stony reaction, was a smash with Republican activists. Speaking and interview requests flooded in. Carson, then 61, announced his planned retirement a few weeks later, freeing his calendar to accept just about all of them. In the months that followed, his rhetoric became increasingly strident. The claim that drew the most attention, perhaps, was that Obamacare was “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.”
Bass’s own use of the word prompted Carson to ask her what she thought about that incident. She considered for a moment.
“If you want to reach people and have them even understand what you’re saying, there is a way to do it, without that hyperbole, that might be. . . . ” She paused. “I just think it’s important not to shut people off before they —”
Carson jumped in. “That doesn’t allow them to hear what you’re saying?”
Likening Obamacare to slavery — and slavery was incomparably worse, Carson said — had its political advantages for a candidacy like his. It was the kind of statement that stoked the angriest of the Republican voters: conservative stalwarts who can’t hear enough bad things about Obama. This, in turn, led to more talk-radio and Fox News appearances, more book sales, more donations to the super PAC started in his name, more support in the polls. (The day before the meeting, one poll of Republican voters showed Carson statistically tied for first place with Jeb Bush and Scott Walker.)
Rhetorical excess was good for business, but Carson now wants to be seen as more than a novelty candidate. He has come to learn that such extreme analogies, while true to his views, aren’t especially presidential. They alienate more moderate voters and, perhaps even more damaging, reinforce the impression that he is not “serious” — that he is another Herman Cain, the black former Godfather’s Pizza chief executive who rose to the top of the early presidential polls in 2011 but then bowed out before the Iowa caucuses, largely because of leaked allegations of sexual misconduct, which he denied but from which he never recovered. Cain lingers as a cautionary tale for the party as much as for a right-leaning candidate like Carson. The fact that Cain, with his folksy sayings (“shucky ducky”) and misnomers (“Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan”), reached the top of the national polls — much less that he was eventually followed there by the likes of Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, who all topped one or another poll in the 2012 primary season — wound up being a considerable embarrassment for the eventual nominee, Mitt Romney, and for the longtime party regulars who were trying to fast-track his way to the nomination.
Carson liked Bass and, without directly saying so, made it clear the job was hers for the taking. Carson’s campaign chairman, Terry Giles — a white lawyer whose clients have included the comedian Richard Pryor and the stepson of the model Anna Nicole Smith and who helped reconcile the business interests of the descendants of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — had assembled a mostly white campaign team, including many from the 2012 Gingrich effort, and Carson wanted a person of color to speak for him. Bass said she would have to mull it over, pray about it. Carson nodded approvingly. “Pray about it,” he said. “See what you think.”
Williams knew the party was intent on protecting the eventual 2016 nominee from the same embarrassment Romney suffered. Already, suspiciously tough articles about Carson were showing up in conservative magazines and on right-wing websites. “They’re protecting these establishment candidates,” Williams said. “This is coming from within the house. This is family.” At the very least, he wanted to make sure that Carson didn’t do their work for them. (Carson would commit another unforced error a week later, when he told CNN that homosexuality was clearly a choice, because a lot of people go in prison straight and “when they come out, they’re gay”; he later apologized.)
“We need somebody to protect him, sometimes, from himself,” he told Bass — laughing, but only half kidding.
A candidacy like Carson’s presents a new kind of problem to the establishment wing of the G.O.P., which, at least since 1980, has selected its presidential nominees with a routine efficiency that Democrats could only envy. The establishment candidate has usually been a current or former governor or senator, blandly Protestant, hailing from the moderate, big-business wing of the party (or at least friendly with it) and almost always a second-, third- or fourth-time national contender — someone who had waited “his turn.” These candidates would tack predictably to the right during the primaries to satisfy the evangelicals, deficit hawks, libertarian leaners and other inconvenient but vital constituents who made up the “base” of the party. In return, the base would, after a brief flirtation with some fantasy candidate like Steve Forbes or Pat Buchanan, “hold their noses” and deliver their votes come November. This bargain was always tenuous, of course, and when some of the furthest-right activists turned against George W. Bush, citing (among other apostasies) his expansion of Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, it began to fall apart. After Barack Obama defeated McCain in 2008, the party’s once dependable base started to reconsider the wisdom of holding their noses at all.
This insurgent attitude was helped along by changes in the nomination rules. In 2010, the Republican National Committee, hoping to capture the excitement of the coast-to-coast Democratic primary competition between Obama and Hillary Clinton, introduced new voting rules that required many of the early voting states to award some delegates to losing candidates, based on their shares of the vote. The proportional voting rules would encourage struggling candidates to stay in the primaries even after successive losses, as Clinton did, because they might be able to pull together enough delegates to take the nomination in a convention-floor fight or at least use them to bargain for a prime speaking slot or cabinet post.
This shift in incentives did not go unnoticed by potential 2012 candidates, nor did changes in election law that allowed billionaire donors to form super PACs in support of pet candidacies. At the same time, increasingly widespread broadband Internet access allowed candidates to reach supporters directly with video and email appeals and supporters to send money with the tap of a smartphone, making it easier than ever for individual candidates to ignore the wishes of the party.
Into this newly chaotic Republican landscape strode Mitt Romney. There could be no doubt that it was his turn, and yet his journey to the nomination was interrupted by one against-the-odds challenger after another — Cain, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul; always Ron Paul. It was easy to dismiss the 2012 primaries as a meaningless circus, but the onslaught did much more than tarnish the overall Republican brand. It also forced Romney to spend money he could have used against Obama and defend his right flank with embarrassing pandering that shadowed him through the general election. It was while trying to block a surge from Gingrich, for instance, that Romney told a debate audience that he was for the “self-deportation” of undocumented immigrants.
At the 2012 convention in Tampa, a group of longtime party hands, including Romney’s lawyer, Ben Ginsberg, gathered to discuss how to prevent a repeat of what had become known inside and outside the party as the “clown show.” Their aim was not just to protect the party but also to protect a potential President Romney from a primary challenge in 2016. They forced through new rules that would give future presumptive nominees more control over delegates in the event of a convention fight. They did away with the mandatory proportional delegate awards that encouraged long-shot candidacies. And, in a noticeably targeted effort, they raised the threshold that candidates needed to meet to enter their names into nomination, just as Ron Paul’s supporters were working to reach it. When John A. Boehner gaveled the rules in on a voice vote — a vote that many listeners heard as a tie, if not an outright loss — the hall erupted and a line of Ron Paul supporters walked off the floor in protest, along with many Tea Party members.
At a party meeting last winter, Reince Priebus, who as party chairman is charged with maintaining the support of all his constituencies, did restore some proportional primary and caucus voting, but only in states that held voting within a shortened two-week window. And he also condensed the nominating schedule to four and a half months from six months, and, for the first time required candidates to participate in a shortened debate schedule, determined by the party, not by the whims of the networks. (The panel that recommended those changes included names closely identified with the establishment — the former Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, the Mississippi committeeman Haley Barbour and, notably, Jeb Bush’s closest adviser, Sally Bradshaw.)
Grass-roots activists have complained that the condensed schedule robs nonestablishment candidates — “movement candidates” like Carson — of the extra time they need to build momentum, money and organizations. But Priebus, who says the nomination could be close to settled by April, said it helped all the party’s constituencies when the nominee was decided quickly. “We don’t need a six-month slice-and-dice festival,” Priebus said when we spoke in mid-March. “While I can’t always control everyone’s mouth, I can control how long we can kill each other.”
All the rules changes were built to sidestep the problems of 2012. But the 2016 field is shaping up to be vastly different and far larger. A new Republican hints that he or she is considering a run seemingly every week. There are moderates like Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and former Gov. George Pataki of New York; no-compromise conservatives like Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania; business-wingers like the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina; one-of-a-kinds like Donald Trump — some 20 in all, a dozen or so who seem fairly serious about it. That opens the possibility of multiple candidates vying for all the major Republican constituencies, some of them possibly goaded along by super-PAC-funding billionaires, all of them trading wins and collecting delegates well into spring.
Giles says his candidate can capitalize on all that chaos. Rivals may laugh, but Giles argues that if Carson can make a respectable showing in Iowa, then win in South Carolina — or at least come in second should a home-state senator, Lindsey Graham, run — and come in second behind Bush or Senator Marco Rubio in their home state of Florida, he could be positioned to make a real run. But that would depend on avoiding pitfalls like Carson’s ill-considered comments on homosexuality. Rather than capitalizing on the chaos, Carson may only contribute to it.
Ben Carson is, in many ways, the ideal Republican presidential candidate. With a not-too-selective reading of his life story, conservative voters can — and do — see in him an inspiring, up-from-nowhere African-American who shares their beliefs, a right-wing answer to Barack Obama. Before he was born, his parents moved to Detroit from rural Tennessee as part of the second great migration. His father, Robert Solomon Carson, worked at a Cadillac factory. His mother, Sonya — who herself had grown up as one of 24 children and left school at third grade — cleaned houses. When Carson was 8, Sonya discovered that Robert was keeping a second family. She moved, with her two sons, into a rundown group house. It was in a part of town that Carson described to me as crawling with “big rats and roaches and all kinds of horrible things.” Sonya worked several jobs at a time and made up the shortfall with food stamps. (Carson has called for paring back the social safety net but not doing away with it.)
Carson recounts this story in his best-selling 1990 memoir, “Gifted Hands,” which also became the basis for a 2009 movie on TNT, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. as Carson. Raised as a Seventh Day Adventist, Carson realized that he wanted to become a physician during a church sermon about a missionary doctor who, while serving overseas, was almost attacked by thieves but found safety by putting his faith in God. When Carson, then 8, told his mother his new dream, “She said, ‘Absolutely, you could do it, you could do anything,’ ” he told me. Forced by his mother to read two extra books a week, he made it to Yale, then to medical school at the University of Michigan, where he decided to specialize in neurosurgery. He was selected for residency at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, where he was named director of pediatric neurosurgery at 33, becoming the youngest person, and the first black person, to hold the title. He drew national attention by conducting a succession of operations that had never been performed successfully, most famously planning and managing the first separation of conjoined twins connected through major blood vessels in the brain.
Carson, a two-time Jimmy Carter voter, traces his conservative political awakening to a patient he met during the Reagan years. During a routine obstetrics rotation, he found himself treating an unwed pregnant teenager who had run away from her well-to-do parents. When Carson asked her how she was getting by, she informed him she was on public assistance; this led him to ponder the fact that the government was paying for the result of what he did not view as a “wise decision.” The incident, he says, fed his growing sense that the welfare system too often saps motivation and rewards irresponsible behavior. (When we spoke, he suggested that the government should cut off assistance to would-be unwed mothers, but only after warning them that it would do so within a certain amount of time, say five years. “I bet you’d see a dramatic decrease in unwed motherhood.”)
Carson’s friends at Hopkins say they do not remember him being particularly outspoken about his conservatism. He devoted most of his public engagement to urging poor kids in bad neighborhoods to use “these fancy brains God gave us,” through weekly school visits, student hospital tours and, ultimately, a multimillion-dollar scholarship program. “His issues were always medical care for the poor, education for the poor, equal opportunity — helping the less fortunate and really inspiring them as an example,” a mentor who named him to the chief pediatrics-neurosurgery post at Hopkins, Dr. Donlin Long, told me.
Even when Carson got the chance, in 1997, to speak in front of President Bill Clinton, at the national prayer breakfast, he mostly discussed the lack of role models for black children who were not sports stars or rappers. (There was possibly an oblique reference to Clinton’s sex scandals, when he told the audience that, if they are always honest, they won’t have to worry later about “skeletons in the closet.”)
In 2011, Carson’s politics took a strident turn, mirroring that of many in his party during the Obama years. “America the Beautiful,” his sixth book, which he wrote with Candy Carson, his wife of 39 years, included a get-tough-on-illegal-immigration message and offered anti-establishment praise for the Tea Party. It suggested that blacks who voted for Obama only because he was black were themselves practicing a form of racism. (Earlier this year he admitted to Buzzfeed that portions of the book were lifted directly from several sources without proper attribution.) His prayer-breakfast performance in 2013, and the extremity of his remarks in the months afterward (Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery; the United States is “very much like Nazi Germany”; allowing same-sex marriage could lead to allowing bestiality), left some of his old friends bewildered. Students at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine protested his planned convocation address there in 2013, and he eventually backed out. When I asked Carson about the view at Hopkins that he had changed, he said his themes are still the same: “hard work, self-reliance, helping other people.” If he had become more overtly political, he said, it was only because the Obama years had led him to believe that “we’re really moving in a direction that is very, very destructive.”
None of this went unnoticed by campaign professionals. In August 2013, John Philip Sousa IV and Vernon Robinson, each of whom professes to be a virtual stranger to Carson, and who had previously been active in the anti-illegal-immigration movement, started the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee. Sousa was just coming off a campaign to defend the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, Joe Arpaio, from a recall effort, and he told me that he found Carson’s lack of political experience refreshing. “We have 500 guys and gals with probably a collective 5,000 years experience, and look at the mess we’re in,” he said.
Many others in the party feel the same way. Carson’s PAC finished 2014 with more than $13 million in donations, more than Ready for Hillary. Much of its money has gone toward further fund-raising, but Sousa — the great-grandson of the famous composer — points out that their effort has already built far more than just a war chest, organizing leaders in all 99 of Iowa’s counties. Regardless, Carson credits the fund-raising success of Sousa and Robinson with persuading him to enter the race.
Very early the morning after the job interview, Carson was in a black S.U.V., heading from Washington to the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Md., where he was to give the opening candidate speech of the Conservative Political Action Conference. The event, which functions as an early tryout for Republican presidential contenders, tends to skew rightward in its audience, drawing many of the same sorts of people who shouted at Boehner in Tampa. As such, it tends to favor anti-establishment candidates, but the news leading up to this year’s event was that Jeb Bush hoped to make inroads there.
It was still dark when we set out, and I joked with Carson about the hour, telling him he’d better get used to it. He retorted that his career in pediatric brain surgery made him no stranger to early mornings. This is a big theme of Carson’s presidential pitch: that neither the rigors of the campaign nor those of the White House can faze a man who held children’s lives in his hands. His life in brain surgery has prepared him for the presidency, he maintains, better than lives in politics have for his rivals. At the very least, he says, it conditioned him against getting too worked up about any problem that isn’t life threatening. “I mean, it’s grueling, but interestingly enough, I don’t feel the pressure,” he said.
At the convention hall, we were quickly surrounded by admirers. Two women were already waiting to meet him — white, middle-aged volunteers for Carson’s super PAC, who had traveled from South Carolina. One of them, Chris Horne, was holding a dog-eared and taped Bible. A founding member of the Charleston Tea Party who went on to work for Gingrich’s successful South Carolina primary campaign in 2012, Horne lamented over the attacks that Carson was sure to face. “You served us, you served the Lord, just don’t let them steal that from you,” she said. Her friend told him, “You’ve got God behind you!” Such religious evocations trailed Carson constantly while I walked the CPAC floor with him. Evangelicals are impressed not only with his devotion to their politics but also with his career path; as one of them told me, what’s more pro-life than saving babies?
During our ride to the conference, Carson told me his speech was not looking to “feed the beast.” When his appointed time came, he kept his remarks as tame as promised. “Real compassion” meant “using our intellect” to help people “climb out of dependency and realize the American dream,” he said. The national debt is going to “destroy us,” Obamacare was about “redistribution and control,” but Republicans better come forward with their own alternative before they repeal it, he said.
Because his speech was first, and it started several minutes early, the auditorium was slow to fill. Still, the first day saw a crush of people seeking autographs and pictures as he roamed the hall. The Draft Carson committee’s 150 volunteers swarmed the auditorium, collecting emails and handing out “Run Ben Run” stickers. After a quick interview with Sean Hannity, the conservative-radio and Fox News host — his second in two days — Carson was off to Tampa.
In the hours that followed his talk, the hall offered a view in miniature of what the next 12 to 14 months might hold for the party. Chris Christie, sitting across from the tough-minded talk-radio host Laura Ingraham, boasted about his multiple vetoes of Planned Parenthood funding, his refusal to raise income taxes and his belief that “sometimes people need to be told to sit down and shut up.” Cruz, an audience favorite, warning his fellow Republicans against falling for a “squishy moderate,” declared, “Take all 125,000 I.R.S. agents and put ’em on our Southern border!” Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, surging in polls, boasted that if he could face down the 100,000 union supporters who protested his legislation limiting collective bargaining for public employees, he could certainly handle ISIS. The next day, the traditional CPAC favorite Rand Paul spoke, packing the hall with his supporters who chanted “President Paul.” He warned, counter to the overall hawkish tenor of the event, that “we should not succumb to the notion that a government inept at home will somehow become successful abroad.” But he also vowed to end foreign aid to countries whose citizens are seen burning American flags. “Not one penny more to these haters of America.”
Perhaps the defining moment came near the end of the conference, when Jeb Bush spoke. In a neat trick of political gamesmanship — and a show of establishment muscle — his team had bused in an ample cheering section for the dozens of cameras on hand for his appearance. But a small contingent of Tea Party activists and Rand Paul supporters staged a walk out. When Bush began a question-and-answer session, they turned and left the auditorium to chant “U.S.A., U.S.A.” in the hallway, led by a man in colonial garb waving a huge “Don’t Tread on Me” banner. Plenty of other detractors stayed in the hall and peppered Bush’s remarks with booing as he stood by positions unpopular with the conservative grass roots: support for the Common Core standards and an immigration overhaul that provides a “path to legal status” for undocumented immigrants. Bush took it all in good humor, but finally seemed to give up.
“For those who made an ‘oo’ sound — is that what it was? — I’m marking you down as neutral,” he said. “And I want to be your second choice.”
Bush strategists told me they would not repeat Romney’s mistakes. Of course they would love to glide to an early nomination, they said, but they are prepared for a long contest and won’t be wasting any energy bending under pressure from a Paul or a Cruz or a Carson.
No one doubts that the pressure will increase, though. Despite the best wishes of the party’s leaders, GOP primary voters have given little indication that they will narrow the field quickly.
Before I left, I spotted Newt Gingrich, himself a fleeting presidential front-runner during those strange primary days of 2012. I asked him whether he thought all the party maneuvering — all the attempts to change the rules and fast-track the process — would preclude someone from presenting the sort of outside primary challenge he had carried out in the last election.
“No,” he told me, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “Look at where Ben Carson is right now.”
“It was really nice to play with other women and not have this underlying tone of being at each other’s throats.”ay 4, 2015 â€˜Game of Thronesâ€™ Q&A: Keisha Castle-Hughes on the Tao of the Sand Snakes
THE WRITERS ASHLEY AND JAQUAVIS COLEMAN know the value of a good curtain-raiser. The couple have co-authored dozens of novels, and they like to start them with a bang: a headlong action sequence, a blast of violence or sex that rocks readers back on their heels. But the Colemans concede they would be hard-pressed to dream up anything more gripping than their own real-life opening scene.
In the summer of 2001, JaQuavis Coleman was a 16-year-old foster child in Flint, Mich., the former auto-manufacturing mecca that had devolved, in the wake of General Motors’ plant closures, into one of the country’s most dangerous cities, with a decimated economy and a violent crime rate more than three times the national average. When JaQuavis was 8, social services had removed him from his mother’s home. He spent years bouncing between foster families. At 16, JaQuavis was also a businessman: a crack dealer with a network of street-corner peddlers in his employ.
One day that summer, JaQuavis met a fellow dealer in a parking lot on Flint’s west side. He was there to make a bulk sale of a quarter-brick, or “nine-piece” — a nine-ounce parcel of cocaine, with a street value of about $11,000. In the middle of the transaction, JaQuavis heard the telltale chirp of a walkie-talkie. His customer, he now realized, was an undercover policeman. JaQuavis jumped into his car and spun out onto the road, with two unmarked police cars in pursuit. He didn’t want to get into a high-speed chase, so he whipped his car into a church parking lot and made a run for it, darting into an alleyway behind a row of small houses, where he tossed the quarter-brick into some bushes. When JaQuavis reached the small residential street on the other side of the houses, he was greeted by the police, who handcuffed him and went to search behind the houses where, they told him, they were certain he had ditched the drugs. JaQuavis had been dealing since he was 12, had amassed more than $100,000 and had never been arrested. Now, he thought: It’s over.
But when the police looked in the bushes, they couldn’t find any cocaine. They interrogated JaQuavis, who denied having ever possessed or sold drugs. They combed the backyard alley some more. After an hour of fruitless efforts, the police were forced to unlock the handcuffs and release their suspect.
JaQuavis was baffled by the turn of events until the next day, when he received a phone call. The previous afternoon, a 15-year-old girl had been sitting in her home on the west side of Flint when she heard sirens. She looked out of the window of her bedroom, and watched a young man throw a package in the bushes behind her house. She recognized him. He was a high school classmate — a handsome, charismatic boy whom she had admired from afar. The girl crept outside and grabbed the bundle, which she hid in her basement. “I have something that belongs to you,” Ashley Snell told JaQuavis Coleman when she reached him by phone. “You wanna come over here and pick it up?”
In the Colemans’ first novel, “Dirty Money” (2005), they told a version of this story. The outline was the same: the drug deal gone bad, the dope chucked in the bushes, the fateful phone call. To the extent that the authors took poetic license, it was to tone down the meet-cute improbability of the true-life events. In “Dirty Money,” the girl, Anari, and the crack dealer, Maurice, circle each other warily for a year or so before coupling up. But the facts of Ashley and JaQuavis’s romance outstripped pulp fiction. They fell in love more or less at first sight, moved into their own apartment while still in high school and were married in 2008. “We were together from the day we met,” Ashley says. “I don’t think we’ve spent more than a week apart in total over the past 14 years.”
That partnership turned out to be creative and entrepreneurial as well as romantic. Over the past decade, the Colemans have published nearly 50 books, sometimes as solo writers, sometimes under pseudonyms, but usually as collaborators with a byline that has become a trusted brand: “Ashley & JaQuavis.” They are marquee stars of urban fiction, or street lit, a genre whose inner-city settings and lurid mix of crime, sex and sensationalism have earned it comparisons to gangsta rap. The emergence of street lit is one of the big stories in recent American publishing, a juggernaut that has generated huge sales by catering to a readership — young, black and, for the most part, female — that historically has been ill-served by the book business. But the genre is also widely maligned. Street lit is subject to a kind of triple snobbery: scorned by literati who look down on genre fiction generally, ignored by a white publishing establishment that remains largely indifferent to black books and disparaged by African-American intellectuals for poor writing, coarse values and trafficking in racial stereotypes.
But if a certain kind of cultural prestige is shut off to the Colemans, they have reaped other rewards. They’ve built a large and loyal fan base, which gobbles up the new Ashley & JaQuavis titles that arrive every few months. Many of those books are sold at street-corner stands and other off-the-grid venues in African-American neighborhoods, a literary gray market that doesn’t register a blip on best-seller tallies. Yet the Colemans’ most popular series now regularly crack the trade fiction best-seller lists of The New York Times and Publishers Weekly. For years, the pair had no literary agent; they sold hundreds of thousands of books without banking a penny in royalties. Still, they have earned millions of dollars, almost exclusively from cash-for-manuscript deals negotiated directly with independent publishing houses. In short, though little known outside of the world of urban fiction, the Colemans are one of America’s most successful literary couples, a distinction they’ve achieved, they insist, because of their work’s gritty authenticity and their devotion to a primal literary virtue: the power of the ripping yarn.
“When you read our books, you’re gonna realize: ‘Ashley & JaQuavis are storytellers,’ ” says Ashley. “Our tales will get your heart pounding.”
THE COLEMANS’ HOME BASE — the cottage from which they operate their cottage industry — is a spacious four-bedroom house in a genteel suburb about 35 miles north of downtown Detroit. The house is plush, but when I visited this past winter, it was sparsely appointed. The couple had just recently moved in, and had only had time to fully furnish the bedroom of their 4-year-old son, Quaye.
In conversation, Ashley and JaQuavis exude both modesty and bravado: gratitude for their good fortune and bootstrappers’ pride in having made their own luck. They talk a lot about their time in the trenches, the years they spent as a drug dealer and “ride-or-die girl” tandem. In Flint they learned to “grind hard.” Writing, they say, is merely a more elevated kind of grind.
“Instead of hitting the block like we used to, we hit the laptops,” says Ashley. “I know what every word is worth. So while I’m writing, I’m like: ‘Okay, there’s a hundred dollars. There’s a thousand dollars. There’s five thousand dollars.’ ”
They maintain a rigorous regimen. They each try to write 5,000 words per day, five days a week. The writers stagger their shifts: JaQuavis goes to bed at 7 p.m. and wakes up early, around 3 or 4 in the morning, to work while his wife and child sleep. Ashley writes during the day, often in libraries or at Starbucks.
They divide the labor in other ways. Chapters are divvied up more or less equally, with tasks assigned according to individual strengths. (JaQuavis typically handles character development. Ashley loves writing murder scenes.) The results are stitched together, with no editorial interference from one author in the other’s text. The real work, they contend, is the brainstorming. The Colemans spend weeks mapping out their plot-driven books — long conversations that turn into elaborate diagrams on dry-erase boards. “JaQuavis and I are so close, it makes the process real easy,” says Ashley. “Sometimes when I’m thinking of something, a plot point, he’ll say it out loud, and I’m like: ‘Wait — did I say that?’ ”
Their collaboration developed by accident, and on the fly. Both were bookish teenagers. Ashley read lots of Judy Blume and John Grisham; JaQuavis liked Shakespeare, Richard Wright and “Atlas Shrugged.” (Their first official date was at a Borders bookstore, where Ashley bought “The Coldest Winter Ever,” the Sister Souljah novel often credited with kick-starting the contemporary street-lit movement.) In 2003, Ashley, then 17, was forced to terminate an ectopic pregnancy. She was bedridden for three weeks, and to provide distraction and boost her spirits, JaQuavis challenged his girlfriend to a writing contest. “She just wasn’t talking. She was laying in bed. I said, ‘You know what? I bet you I could write a better book than you.’ My wife is real competitive. So I said, ‘Yo, all right, $500 bet.’ And I saw her eyes spark, like, ‘What?! You can’t write no better book than me!’ So I wrote about three chapters. She wrote about three chapters. Two days later, we switched.”
The result, hammered out in a few days, would become “Dirty Money.” Two years later, when Ashley and JaQuavis were students at Ferris State University in Western Michigan, they sold the manuscript to Urban Books, a street-lit imprint founded by the best-selling author Carl Weber. At the time, JaQuavis was still making his living selling drugs. When Ashley got the phone call informing her that their book had been bought, she assumed they’d hit it big, and flushed more than $10,000 worth of cocaine down the toilet. Their advance was a mere $4,000.
Those advances would soon increase, eventually reaching five and six figures. The Colemans built their career, JaQuavis says, in a manner that made sense to him as a veteran dope peddler: by flooding the street with product. From the start, they were prolific, churning out books at a rate of four or five a year. Their novels made their way into stores; the now-defunct chain Waldenbooks, which had stores in urban areas typically bypassed by booksellers, was a major engine of the street-lit market. But Ashley and JaQuavis took advantage of distribution channels established by pioneering urban fiction authors such as Teri Woods and Vickie Stringer, and a network of street-corner tables, magazine stands, corner shops and bodegas. Like rappers who establish their bona fides with gray-market mixtapes, street-lit authors use this system to circumnavigate industry gatekeepers, bringing their work straight to the genre’s core readership. But urban fiction has other aficionados, in less likely places. “Our books are so popular in the prison system,” JaQuavis says. “We’re banned in certain penitentiaries. Inmates fight over the books — there are incidents, you know? I have loved ones in jail, and they’re like: ‘Yo, your books can’t come in here. It’s against the rules.’ ”
The appeal of the Colemans’ work is not hard to fathom. The books are formulaic and taut; they deliver the expected goods efficiently and exuberantly. The titles telegraph the contents: “Diary of a Street Diva,” “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang,” “Murderville.” The novels serve up a stream of explicit sex and violence in a slangy, tangy, profane voice. In Ashley & JaQuavis’s books people don’t get killed: they get “popped,” “laid out,” get their “cap twisted back.” The smut is constant, with emphasis on the earthy, sticky, olfactory particulars. Romance novel clichés — shuddering orgasms, heroic carnal feats, superlative sexual skill sets — are rendered in the Colemans’ punchy patois.
Subtlety, in other words, isn’t Ashley & JaQuavis’s forte. But their books do have a grainy specificity. In “The Cartel” (2008), the first novel in the Colemans’ best-selling saga of a Miami drug syndicate, they catch the sights and smells of a crack workshop in a housing project: the nostril-stinging scent of cocaine and baking soda bubbling on stovetops; the teams of women, stripped naked except for hospital masks so they can’t pilfer the merchandise, “cutting up the cooked coke on the round wood table.” The subject matter is dark, but the Colemans’ tone is not quite noir. Even in the grimmest scenes, the mood is high-spirited, with the writers palpably relishing the lewd and gory details: the bodies writhing in boudoirs and crumpling under volleys of bullets, the geysers of blood and other bodily fluids.
The luridness of street lit has made it a flashpoint, inciting controversy reminiscent of the hip-hop culture wars of the 1980s and ’90s. But the street-lit debate touches deeper historical roots, reviving decades-old arguments in black literary circles about the mandate to uplift the race and present wholesome images of African-Americans. In 1928, W. E. B. Du Bois slammed the “licentiousness” of “Home to Harlem,” Claude McKay’s rollicking novel of Harlem nightlife. McKay’s book, Du Bois wrote, “for the most part nauseates me, and after the dirtier parts of its filth I feel distinctly like taking a bath.” Similar sentiments have greeted 21st-century street lit. In a 2006 New York Times Op-Ed essay, the journalist and author Nick Chiles decried “the sexualization and degradation of black fiction.” African-American bookstores, Chiles complained, are “overrun with novels that . . . appeal exclusively to our most prurient natures — as if these nasty books were pairing off back in the stockrooms like little paperback rabbits and churning out even more graphic offspring that make Ralph Ellison books cringe into a dusty corner.”
Copulating paperbacks aside, it’s clear that the street-lit debate is about more than literature, touching on questions of paternalism versus populism, and on middle-class anxieties about the black underclass. “It’s part and parcel of black elites’ efforts to define not only a literary tradition, but a racial politics,” said Kinohi Nishikawa, an assistant professor of English and African-American Studies at Princeton University. “There has always been a sense that because African-Americans’ opportunities to represent themselves are so limited in the first place, any hint of criminality or salaciousness would necessarily be a knock on the entire racial politics. One of the pressing debates about African-American literature today is: If we can’t include writers like Ashley & JaQuavis, to what extent is the foundation of our thinking about black literature faulty? Is it just a literature for elites? Or can it be inclusive, bringing urban fiction under the purview of our umbrella term ‘African-American literature’?”
Defenders of street lit note that the genre has a pedigree: a tradition of black pulp fiction that stretches from Chester Himes, the midcentury author of hardboiled Harlem detective stories, to the 1960s and ’70s “ghetto fiction” of Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines, to the current wave of urban fiction authors. Others argue for street lit as a social good, noting that it attracts a large audience that might otherwise never read at all. Scholars like Nishikawa link street lit to recent studies showing increased reading among African-Americans. A 2014 Pew Research Center report found that a greater percentage of black Americans are book readers than whites or Latinos.
For their part, the Colemans place their work in the broader black literary tradition. “You have Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, James Baldwin — all of these traditional black writers, who wrote about the struggles of racism, injustice, inequality,” says Ashley. “We’re writing about the struggle as it happens now. It’s just a different struggle. I’m telling my story. I’m telling the struggle of a black girl from Flint, Michigan, who grew up on welfare.”
Perhaps there is a high-minded case to be made for street lit. But the virtues of Ashley & JaQuavis’s work are more basic. Their novels do lack literary polish. The writing is not graceful; there are passages of clunky exposition and sex scenes that induce guffaws and eye rolls. But the pleasure quotient is high. The books flaunt a garish brand of feminism, with women characters cast not just as vixens, but also as gangsters — cold-blooded killers, “murder mamas.” The stories are exceptionally well-plotted. “The Cartel” opens by introducing its hero, the crime boss Carter Diamond; on page 9, a gunshot spatters Diamond’s brain across the interior of a police cruiser. The book then flashes back seven years and begins to hurtle forward again — a bullet train, whizzing readers through shifting alliances, romantic entanglements and betrayals, kidnappings, shootouts with Haitian and Dominican gangsters, and a cliffhanger closing scene that leaves the novel’s heroine tied to a chair in a basement, gruesomely tortured to the edge of death. Ashley & JaQuavis’s books are not Ralph Ellison, certainly, but they build up quite a head of steam. They move.
The Colemans are moving themselves these days. They recently signed a deal with St. Martin’s Press, which will bring out the next installment in the “Cartel” series as well as new solo series by both writers. The St. Martin’s deal is both lucrative and legitimizing — a validation of Ashley and JaQuavis’s work by one of publishing’s most venerable houses. The Colemans’ ambitions have grown, as well. A recent trilogy, “Murderville,” tackles human trafficking and the blood-diamond industry in West Africa, with storylines that sweep from Sierra Leone to Mexico to Los Angeles. Increasingly, Ashley & JaQuavis are leaning on research — traveling to far-flung settings and hitting the books in the libraries — and spending less time mining their own rough-and-tumble past.
But Flint remains a source of inspiration. One evening not long ago, JaQuavis led me on a tour of his hometown: a popular roadside bar; the parking lot where he met the undercover cop for the ill-fated drug deal; Ashley’s old house, the site of his almost-arrest. He took me to a ramshackle vehicle repair shop on Flint’s west side, where he worked as a kid, washing cars. He showed me a bathroom at the rear of the garage, where, at age 12, he sneaked away to inspect the first “boulder” of crack that he ever sold. A spray-painted sign on the garage wall, which JaQuavis remembered from his time at the car wash, offered words of warning:
WHAT EVERY YOUNG MAN SHOULD KNOW
ABOUT USING A GUN:
MURDER . . . 30 Years
ARMED ROBBERY . . . 15 Years
ASSAULT . . . 15 Years
RAPE . . . 20 Years
POSSESSION . . . 5 Years
JACKING . . . 20 YEARS
“We still love Flint, Michigan,” JaQuavis says. “It’s so seedy, so treacherous. But there’s some heart in this city. This is where it all started, selling books out the box. In the days when we would get those little $40,000 advances, they’d send us a couple boxes of books for free. We would hit the streets to sell our books, right out of the car trunk. It was a hustle. It still is.”
One old neighborhood asset that the Colemans have not shaken off is swagger. “My wife is the best female writer in the game,” JaQuavis told me. “I believe I’m the best male writer in the game. I’m sleeping next to the best writer in the world. And she’s doing the same.”From T Magazine: Street Litâ€™s Power Couple
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Mr. Haroche was a founder of Liberty Travel, which grew from a two-man operation to the largest leisure travel operation in the United States.Gilbert Haroche, Builder of an Economy Travel Empire, Dies at 87
The live music at the Vice Media party on Friday shook the room. Shane Smith, Vice’s chief executive, was standing near the stage — with a drink in his hand, pants sagging, tattoos showing — watching the rapper-cum-chef Action Bronson make pizzas.
The event was an after-party, a happy-hour bacchanal for the hundreds of guests who had come for Vice’s annual presentation to advertisers and agencies that afternoon, part of the annual frenzy for ad dollars called the Digital Content NewFronts. Mr. Smith had spoken there for all of five minutes before running a slam-bang highlight reel of the company’s shows that had titles like “Weediquette” and “Gaycation.”
In the last year, Vice has secured $500 million in financing and signed deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars with established media companies like HBO that are eager to engage the young viewers Vice attracts. Vice said it was now worth at least $4 billion, with nearly $1 billion in projected revenue for 2015. It is a long way from Vice’s humble start as a free magazine in 1994.
But even as cash flows freely in Vice’s direction, the company is trying to keep its brash, insurgent image. At the party on Friday, it plied guests with beers and cocktails. Its apparently unrehearsed presentation to advertisers was peppered with expletives. At one point, the director Spike Jonze, a longtime Vice collaborator, asked on stage if Mr. Smith had been drinking.
“My assistant tried to cut me off,” Mr. Smith replied. “I’m on buzz control.”
Now, Vice is on the verge of getting its own cable channel, which would give the company a traditional outlet for its slate of non-news programming. If all goes as planned, A&E Networks, the television group owned by Hearst and Disney, will turn over its History Channel spinoff, H2, to Vice.
The deal’s announcement was expected last week, but not all of A&E’s distribution partners — the cable and satellite TV companies that carry the network’s channels — have signed off on the change, according to a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the talks were private.
A cable channel would be a further step in a transformation for Vice, from bad-boy digital upstart to mainstream media company.
Keen for the core audience of young men who come to Vice, media giants like 21st Century Fox, Time Warner and Disney all showed interest in the company last year. Vice ultimately secured $500 million in financing from A&E Networks and Technology Crossover Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that has invested in Facebook and Netflix.
Those investments valued Vice at more than $2.5 billion. (In 2013, Fox bought a 5 percent stake for $70 million.)
Then in March, HBO announced that it had signed a multiyear deal to broadcast a daily half-hour Vice newscast. Vice already produces a weekly newsmagazine show, called “Vice,” for the network. That show will extend its run through 2018, with an increase to 35 episodes a year, from 14.
Michael Lombardo, HBO’s president for programming, said when the deal was announced that it was “certainly one of our biggest investments with hours on the air.”
Vice, based in Brooklyn, also recently signed a multiyear $100 million deal with Rogers Communications, a Canadian media conglomerate, to produce original content for TV, smartphone and desktop viewers.
Vice’s finances are private, but according to an internal document reviewed by The New York Times and verified by a person familiar with the company’s financials, the company is on track to make about $915 million in revenue this year.
It brought in $545 million in a strong first quarter, which included portions of the new HBO deal and the Rogers deal, according to the document. More of its revenue now comes from these types of content partnerships, compared with the branded content deals that made up much of its revenue a year ago, the company said.
Mr. Smith said the company was worth at least $4 billion. If the valuation gets much higher, he said he would consider taking the company public.
“I don’t care about money; we have plenty of money,” Mr. Smith, who is Vice’s biggest shareholder, said in an interview after the presentation on Friday. “I care about strategic deals.”
In the United States, Vice Media had 35.2 million unique visitors across its sites in March, according to comScore.
The third season of Vice’s weekly HBO show has averaged 1.8 million viewers per episode, including reruns, through April 12, according to Brad Adgate, the director of research at Horizon Media. (Vice said the show attracted three million weekly viewers when repeat broadcasts, online and on-demand viewings were included.)
For years, Mr. Smith has criticized traditional TV, calling it slow and unable to draw younger viewers. But if all the deals Vice has struck are to work out, Mr. Smith may have to play more by the rules of traditional media. James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch’s son and a member of Vice’s board, was at the company’s presentation on Friday, as were other top media executives.
“They know they need people like me to help them, but they can’t get out of their own way,” Mr. Smith said in the interview Friday. “My only real frustration is we’re used to being incredibly dynamic, and they’re not incredibly dynamic.”
With its own television channel in the United States, Vice would have something it has long coveted even as traditional media companies are looking beyond TV. Last year, Vice’s deal with Time Warner failed in part because the two companies could not agree on how much control Vice would have over a 24-hour television network.
Vice said it intended to fill its new channel with non-news programming. The company plans to have sports shows, fashion shows, food shows and the “Gaycation” travel show with the actress Ellen Page. It is also in talks with Kanye West about a show.
It remains to be seen whether Vice’s audience will watch a traditional cable channel. Still, Vice has effectively presold all of the ad spots to two of the biggest advertising agencies for the first three years, Mr. Smith said.
In the meantime, Mr. Smith is enjoying Vice’s newfound role as a potential savior of traditional media companies.
“I’m a C.E.O. of a content company,” Mr. Smith said before he caught a flight to Las Vegas for the boxing match on Saturday between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. “If it stops being fun, then why are you doing it?”As Vice Moves More to TV, It Tries to Keep Brash Voice
Judge Patterson helped to protect the rights of Attica inmates after the prison riot in 1971 and later served on the Federal District Court in Manhattan.Robert Patterson Jr., Lawyer and Judge Who Fought for the Accused, Dies at 91
Late in April, after Native American actors walked off in disgust from the set of Adam Sandler’s latest film, a western sendup that its distributor, Netflix, has defended as being equally offensive to all, a glow of pride spread through several Native American communities.
Tantoo Cardinal, a Canadian indigenous actress who played Black Shawl in “Dances With Wolves,” recalled thinking to herself, “It’s come.” Larry Sellers, who starred as Cloud Dancing in the 1990s television show “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” thought, “It’s about time.” Jesse Wente, who is Ojibwe and directs film programming at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, found himself encouraged and surprised. There are so few film roles for indigenous actors, he said, that walking off the set of a major production showed real mettle.
But what didn’t surprise Mr. Wente was the content of the script. According to the actors who walked off the set, the film, titled “The Ridiculous Six,” included a Native American woman who passes out and is revived after white men douse her with alcohol, and another woman squatting to urinate while lighting a peace pipe. “There’s enough history at this point to have set some expectations around these sort of Hollywood depictions,” Mr. Wente said.
The walkout prompted a rhetorical “What do you expect from an Adam Sandler film?,” and a Netflix spokesman said that in the movie, blacks, Mexicans and whites were lampooned as well. But Native American actors and critics said a broader issue was at stake. While mainstream portrayals of native peoples have, Mr. Wente said, become “incrementally better” over the decades, he and others say, they remain far from accurate and reflect a lack of opportunities for Native American performers. What’s more, as Native Americans hunger for representation on screen, critics say the absence of three-dimensional portrayals has very real off-screen consequences.
“Our people are still healing from historical trauma,” said Loren Anthony, one of the actors who walked out. “Our youth are still trying to figure out who they are, where they fit in this society. Kids are killing themselves. They’re not proud of who they are.” They also don’t, he added, see themselves on prime time television or the big screen. Netflix noted while about five people walked off the “The Ridiculous Six” set, 100 or so Native American actors and extras stayed.
But in interviews, nearly a dozen Native American actors and film industry experts said that Mr. Sandler’s humor perpetuated decades-old negative stereotypes. Mr. Anthony said such depictions helped feed the despondency many Native Americans feel, with deadly results: Native Americans have the highest suicide rate out of all the country’s ethnicities.
The on-screen problem is twofold, Mr. Anthony and others said: There’s a paucity of roles for Native Americans — according to the Screen Actors Guild in 2008 they accounted for 0.3 percent of all on-screen parts (those figures have yet to be updated), compared to about 2 percent of the general population — and Native American actors are often perceived in a narrow way.
In his Peabody Award-winning documentary “Reel Injun,” the Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond explored Hollywood depictions of Native Americans over the years, and found they fell into a few stereotypical categories: the Noble Savage, the Drunk Indian, the Mystic, the Indian Princess, the backward tribal people futilely fighting John Wayne and manifest destiny. While the 1990 film “Dances With Wolves” won praise for depicting Native Americans as fully fleshed out human beings, not all indigenous people embraced it. It was still told, critics said, from the colonialists’ point of view. In an interview, John Trudell, a Santee Sioux writer, actor (“Thunderheart”) and the former chairman of the American Indian Movement, described the film as “a story of two white people.”
“God bless ‘Dances with Wolves,’ ” Michael Horse, who played Deputy Hawk in “Twin Peaks,” said sarcastically. “Even ‘Avatar.’ Someone’s got to come save the tribal people.”
Dan Spilo, a partner at Industry Entertainment who represents Adam Beach, one of today’s most prominent Native American actors, said while typecasting dogs many minorities, it is especially intractable when it comes to Native Americans. Casting directors, he said, rarely cast them as police officers, doctors or lawyers. “There’s the belief that the Native American character should be on reservations or riding a horse,” he said.
“We don’t see ourselves,” Mr. Horse said. “We’re still an antiquated culture to them, and to the rest of the world.”
Ms. Cardinal said she was once turned down for the role of the wife of a child-abusing cop because the filmmakers felt that casting her would somehow be “too political.”
Another sore point is the long run of white actors playing American Indians, among them Burt Lancaster, Rock Hudson, Audrey Hepburn and, more recently, Johnny Depp, whose depiction of Tonto in the 2013 film “Lone Ranger,” was viewed as racist by detractors. There are, of course, exceptions. The former A&E series “Longmire,” which, as it happens, will now be on Netflix, was roundly praised for its depiction of life on a Northern Cheyenne reservation, with Lou Diamond Phillips, who is of Cherokee descent, playing a Northern Cheyenne man.
Others also point to the success of Mr. Beach, who played a Mohawk detective in “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and landed a starring role in the forthcoming D C Comics picture “Suicide Squad.” Mr. Beach said he had come across insulting scripts backed by people who don’t see anything wrong with them.
“I’d rather starve than do something that is offensive to my ancestral roots,” Mr. Beach said. “But I think there will always be attempts to drawn on the weakness of native people’s struggles. The savage Indian will always be the savage Indian. The white man will always be smarter and more cunning. The cavalry will always win.”
The solution, Mr. Wente, Mr. Trudell and others said, lies in getting more stories written by and starring Native Americans. But Mr. Wente noted that while independent indigenous film has blossomed in the last two decades, mainstream depictions have yet to catch up. “You have to stop expecting for Hollywood to correct it, because there seems to be no ability or desire to correct it,” Mr. Wente said.
There have been calls to boycott Netflix but, writing for Indian Country Today Media Network, which first broke news of the walk off, the filmmaker Brian Young noted that the distributor also offered a number of films by or about Native Americans.
The furor around “The Ridiculous Six” may drive more people to see it. Then one of the questions that Mr. Trudell, echoing others, had about the film will be answered: “Who the hell laughs at this stuff?”Native American Actors Work to Overcome a Long-Documented Bias
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