Cinnamon Stillwell

I’m the West Coast Representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum that focuses on Middle East studies. I was a political columnist for (San Francisco Chronicle online) from 2004-2008. I've written for the American Thinker, Frontpage Magazine, Family Security Matters, Accuracy In Media, Newsbusters, Israel National News, The Jewish Policy Center, J-The Jewish News Weekly of N. CA, Intellectual Conservative and many others. More info at

Monday, March 24, 2014

Law & Order SVU Whitewashes Honor Killings

[Spoiler Alert] Last week's episode of Law & Order Special Victims Unit, "Criminal Stories," dealt with a hate crime allegation from a Muslim woman against two anonymous "white men" who, she initially claimed, tore off her hijab, raped her, and used ethnic slurs, including calling her a "Muslim bitch." When the "hate crime" turned out to be a hoax--as so many of them, across all groups, in reality do--I was pleasantly surprised to see that fact acknowledged on network television. But the show's writers soon fell into the usual confusion and political-correctness related to issues involving Islam.

It turns out the woman was raped by two white men (in an extremely unlikely scenario) she was socializing with, but lied about it so as not to bring "shame" upon her family, not because, as would be the case in reality, she was afraid her family could murder her to purge themselves of that "shame." Despite repeated references to her threatened "honor" by an Al Sharpton-like activist/priest character (rather than an imam) speaking to the media, the threat of an honor killing at the hands of her own family never arose. And the fact that she lied about the hate crime, while brought up by the defendants' attorney, didn't much seem to bother the detectives investigating her case, despite the divisiveness and distrust that, in the real world, has resulted.

All that combined with Alec Baldwin playing a reporter for a New York Post-style publication prone to quasi-conservative obnoxious comments (calling the victim a "Tawanabee") who, nonetheless, eventually sees the light and does the right thing, combined to make for what I once dubbed "Mustn't See Liberal TV."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Was Arson Involved in San Francisco Fire?

Although the investigation is ongoing and this article indicates that the fire may have been caused by construction work, my first thought when I heard about it last night was "arson?" The building was to house multiple, high end condos that were likely intended for San Francisco's burgeoning tech-worker population---the very same population that has been meeting increasing hostility from the city's old guard, including, at least in the case of the woman who was attacked in a bar for wearing Google Glasses, violence.

Like many longtime urban inhabitants, these people think they own the place and that it should never change, even though cities, by their very nature, are fluid and policies they themselves supported (rent control, anyone?) helped lead to the current high cost of living. I remember back during the dot-com-turned-bomb boomtown days in SF, I had that attitude towards the new, wealthy population of tech-workers, although I think I was mostly just jealous. Check out the lone comment at the bottom of this article to get the idea.

Whatever the outcome of this investigation, I have a feeling we'll hear more about San Francisco's "civil war" in the years to come.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Thoughts on Shirley Temple Black and Bill Robinson

Rest in peace, Shirley Temple Black. She was such a talent (to this day, I've never seen such a young child tap dance as well she did), who brought joy to millions and lived a truly accomplished life. In the otherwise wonderful 1995 Broadway show "Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk," she was satirized for her dance numbers with the legendary Bill "Bojangles" Robinson in dated films such as "The Little Colonel," which I found unfair. Seeing the two of them dance together not only demonstrated racial harmony, but spoke to what was in real life a great friendship and mentorship. "The Little Princess" will live on in our hearts. 

Cross-posted from Facebook

Sunday, February 09, 2014

The Beatles' 1964 Press Conference at JFK

I never tire of watching this moment when the old guard--in the form of the press corps, who looked like something out of "Mad Men"--collided with The Beatles and, intent on taking down the youthful upstarts, instead fell in love with their charm and humor. Fifty years later, I know the feeling.

Happy Birthday, Carmen Miranda!

Happy birthday, Carmen Miranda! The delightful, funny, and sexy Portuguese-born Brazilian actress who was a star of American musicals in the 1940s and 50s would have turned 105 today. Although she was looked down upon at the time by many Brazilians for her caricaturish persona, she was a true talent and her Portuguese-language recordings (featured today on KCSM's Latin Jazz show) stand the test of time. As a child raised on old musicals, I fell in love with the "lady in the tutti fruiti hat," silliness and all. In fact, she reminded me a little of another favorite from a different culture: Fanny Bryce. 

This number opens up with a long classical piano intro and ends with a big Broadway dance number, but Carmen is definitely the star of the show. 

Cross-posted from Facebook.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

'The Assets' Gets the Axe

Well, this blows. I was really enjoying "The Assets" and apparently, I wasn't the only one and now it's gone after only two episodes. It wasn't as good as its Cold War television counterpart, the fantastic "The Americans," which returns for a second season in February, but it was well done in its own right. The fact that the show received little to no marketing may have had something to do with its dismal ratings, but one wonders if it was considered politically toxic (as in, communism/Soviet Union bad; capitalism/USA good) by the powers-that-be and axed at the nearest opportunity? I guess we'll never know. 

Cross-posted from Facebook

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

'America With Jorge Ramos' Crosses the Political Divide

Others may recall that Spanish-language TV station Univision co-hosts Maria Elena Salinas and Jorge Ramos provided one of the only challenging interviews with Obama on Fast & Furious and other controversial topics in the lead-up to the 2012 presidential election. Now Jorge Ramos has his own show, "America With Jorge Ramos," on the new Disney/Univision-owned TV channel Fusion, and hard-hitting interviews regardless of political party, coverage of Latin-American news you won't see elsewhere, and, most importantly, a cross-section of political opinion are its strengths.

The latter is on display in this interview with anti-illegal immigration activists Roy Beck, Mark Krikorian, and D.A King, none of whom I can recall seeing on Fox News Channel--forget MSNBC, CNN, and company--with any regularity.

Even though Fusion comes across as a channel for "hip young liberals" and Ramos's show leans in that direction, particularly on immigration issues (there's many a sob story about "undocumented immigrants" and he seems to be for amnesty), I have to give them points for providing a platform for political opponents instead of the usual demonization from afar.

Cross-posted from Facebook.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Remember When Ethnic Jokes Were Funny?

I must admit, I found myself watching one of those Time/Life DVD collection infomercials last night (and not for the first time; love the 70s soul one with all the great old clips of bands performing on Soul Train that you never see anywhere else) and roaring with laughter at all the hilarious clips of brilliant comics and actors of yesteryear taking part in Dean Martin's Celebrity Roasts

It brought me back to the days, both before and during my time, when ethnic jokes were a staple of humor and no one on the receiving end--none were spared, which was the beauty of it--got offended, traumatized, hysterical, or felt the need to sue anyone. It was a way of reveling in the little truths that underlie stereotypes about us all and blowing off steam about each other that is sadly missing in this day and age of hypersensitivity, speech codes, self-censorship, apology tours, and, in a sense, puritanism. 

Watch this clip (plenty more at YouTube, too) to get a taste of the good, bad old days.

Cross-posted from Facebook