Thursday, April 12, 2007

One Lynching Isn't Enough

I’m not a white supremacist. Nor am I the sort of guy who makes it a point of saying “Hey, I used to have a good black friend,” or “I knew a Muslim guy back in the day. He was pretty cool,” or “I just loved ‘Will & Grace,’” to make myself sound tolerant when others are in earshot.

If people treat me with respect, I do my best to reciprocate. If people treat me the way they wish to be treated, I’ll generally treat them the same way…whatever their sex, skin color, religion, national origin, political opinion or sexual orientation. If I dislike someone, it’s likely because of the kind of person they are, or for that matter what they’ve done, etc. – not “what” they are.

Can Rutgers University’s women’s basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer assure the American people that none of her players listen to hip-hop songs in which can be found the very same sort of near-“racist” derogatory language that, when casually spoken, has resulted in a crucifixion of Don Imus? She probably can't do so credibly, since even a skinny white guy like me - slim, I'm slim - sometimes listens to such songs. I've even danced to 'em. Not well, but I have.

What should be said about hip-hop radio station DJs in, say, New Jersey (because that’s where Rutgers is located) on stations like Hot97 and 105.1, who are known for making comments about whites that are, reportedly according to listeners, just as deplorable as the comments Don Imus made about blacks? Because they aren’t as famous as Imus, because they’re black, or because a majority of whites would likely not hear their comments except by accident or by hearsay, does that mean that such DJs should be able to get away with it?

Most of the people upset over what Imus said likely never heard his comments on the air. I haven’t personally heard what the aforementioned stations’ DJs have said about whites. But if others feel they have a right to be angry about what Don Imus said about a basketball team made up mostly of black athletes without hearing it themselves, then I have just as much a right to be angry about what black DJs say about whites even though the sound of their voices has never met my ears. If you tell me any different, then you’re a hypocrite.


Even Al Sharpton has been on the stations I mentioned above, and to his credit has denounced certain types of lyrics heard in hip-hop songs – but have we heard a peep from him about holding blacks just as accountable as whites? Nope.

Here’s a man who trumpeted the unfounded rape charges of Tawana Brawley almost twenty years ago – in a case eerily reminiscent of what happened to the Duke lacrosse players more recently – and has refused to apologize to those he wrongly accused. Fast forward to 2007, and Rev. Sharpton was among the loudest to demand an apology from Don Imus, and from CBS and MSNBC Imus’s ouster.

Sometimes, it might be acceptable – even necessary, for the greater good – to be hypocritical. This is not one of those cases. When one man of a certain skin color sees his career being reduced to ruins for making an absurdly stupid comment while another man who has a different skin color sees his career enhanced or, maybe, I daresay even sustained by making comments similarly racist in tone, it’s not simply unfair. It’s unjust. Either everyone can use the words, or no one can. Exceptions to the rule in this case are discriminatory.

If in three weeks this whole thing has blown over and Don Imus is the only media personality – of any skin color – to have lost his job for making racially-offensive comments…how, exactly, will these United States of America be better off? What will have been treated was not a cause but instead a symptom of an ill which has long-afflicted American society. And to say that only those of one skin color are responsible for perpetuating this ill would be a gross misrepresentation of the facts.

After all, during the 1984 presidential election season, Jesse Jackson referred to Jews as “Hymies” and referred to New York City as “Hymie Town”. That’s the sort of statement which gave your electoral chances a boost if you were running to be chancellor of Germany in the early 1930s, and today might win you votes in Ramallah.


Wait a minute, now. Come to think of it, Al Sharpton was a presidential candidate himself, too. Just a few years ago…

Could there possibly be any way that “Rev. Al” is using this controversy to selfishly position himself for a future run for some sort of political office? Nah. That’s about as likely as the Rutgers team using press conferences and appearances on “Oprah” to quietly use the controversy as a recruitment drive gifted straight from God, when their women’s basketball program’s performance should’ve been enough to do the trick. Oh well.

In closing, I’ll leave you with the wisdom of Kanye West:

“Now I ain't saying she a gold digger/But she ain't messin with no broke niggas/”

That’s from the song “Gold Digger”, featuring Jamie Foxx. It’s got a good rhythm to it; the first time I heard it in on the radio in Israel, explicit lyrics and all, it made me shake my booty.

Even the watered-down-by-FCC-regulations version of it is good:

Yo, you tell ‘em, Kanye.

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