By Chuck Pinkey
The Daily Star
---- — As I’m writing this article and surfing the major news websites, I come to the conclusion that Putin and the Ukraine are no longer a problem, the bloody Syrian civil war must be over, and the tornadoes that killed 13-16 Americans this week must have been a figment of someone’s imagination.
What happened? All the major networks are fixated on racist statements made by the 80-year-old billionaire owner of the Los Angeles Clippers to his 31-year-old supermodel girlfriend. By the way, have you seen this babe? The old coot is lucky he hasn’t died of a heart attack! Betcha by the time the media are done with him, he’d wished he had. At least then, he’d have died smiling.
Apparently, in a taped private conversation, the old guy told her not to associate with, invite to his games, or have her picture taken with “black men.” Seems like an odd statement for an owner of a National Basketball Association (NBA) team to make, especially when his girlfriend is half-black, to boot.
The NBA fined him $2.5 million and banned him for life from all contact with his team and the NBA. Chances are, he will be forced to sell his $500-million team at fire-sale prices. Seems like a stiff punishment for a private conversation, but the NBA is free to set its own rules. Anyway, by the time you read this column, it will be old news.
Of all subjects to discuss, race is the most difficult and the most inflammatory. One should know better than to even talk about it, but I do take issue with the selective outrage, race-baiting, and the direct or indirect condemnation of America as a racist country.
The owner of the LA Clippers is a public figure, and he was held accountable by the media and the NBA. Yet, the racial slurs, outright lies and deliberate actions taken against other races by the Reverends Sharpton, Jackson, Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakhan are ignored. Why are they not condemned by the media and censored by their churches? Aren’t they racists too?
Which received more media attention, “polar bear hunting” where largely black urban youths violently sucker-punch unsuspecting white people, or the words of this 80-year-old goat spoken in private? Why is that? Want more selective outrage? Need we mention Trayvon Martin?
Hollywood, while it is free to do so, continues to race-bait and creates turmoil with recent films like “Django Unchained” and “12 Years a Slave.” How often on TV is racism and prejudice mentioned? Do these efforts serve a purpose, or do they instill anger and hatred?
Slavery ended 150 years ago, but it was followed by the KKK, Jim Crow and segregation. These are now things of the past. Here is where I should add the usual disclaimers like, “No, we are not perfect” and “Yes, there are idiots among us, but America has an African-American president, attorney general, Supreme Court justice, and so on …”
That’s true, but let me take a different course. One thing I’ve always admired about the American spirit has been our attitude that we really don’t give a fat frog’s rear end what you think of us. We’re confident in what we are, we know the struggles we’ve overcome, and if your opinion of us is bigoted, then you can kiss the aforementioned fat frog’s rear end! We need to stop wringing our hands and crying about the occasional bigot, and get that swagger back.
American is the most prejudice-free society on Earth. If you doubt that, you haven’t traveled much. Where else have so many people of different origins prospered to the extent they have in America?
If you think race (white, black or Asian) is not a huge factor in India, Brazil, Korea, Russia, Argentina, Western Europe, Africa, Central America, the Middle East, Japan, etc… you are naive. It matters less in America than anywhere else, and for that we should be proud.
So, why do so many still claim America is a racist country? Why is any hint of racism front and center in the media ad nauseam for days? Because there is money to be made, and power to be gained. Because there are voters to be pandered to, and elections to be won. Because there is a victimology and guilt trip, and it’s about time we got over it. Anyway, I’d bet we’d be better off if the whole race issue were given less attention.
CHUCK PINKEY is a retired area businessman. He can be reached at email@example.com. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Star and its editorial board, but the author thinks they ought to.