Thursday, September 17, 2009

Discriminating Tastes in America

When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.
--Martin Luther King Jr

Dr. King's comments make up an interesting, chiasmic thought, which should not be mis-interpreted to mean that the radicals are always right…nor that conservatives are constantly wrong. And that’s the rub—the ability to know where things stand is the challenge of life.

I received a phone call yesterday from Jon Friedman at CBS MarketWatch who is working on a story that will be published tomorrow about “How the Media should be covering the “Race Question” in light of recent episodes…like the Joe Wilson outburst during the President’s recent address to Congress…the Serena Williams meltdown last weekend, etc. Then you’ve got the remarks by former President Jimmy Carter, suggesting that Wilson’s outburst was an indication of racism against President Obama.

I agree with Mr. Carter that comments about “burying Obama with Kennedy,” and shouting “you lie” during a congressional address should have no place in public discourse. Disrespecting the President of the United States in this way is a waste of time and energy, and demeans the American people on the public stage.

And on this thought, consider—where was the outrage, where was the indignance when former President George Bush was being pilloried in public by cartoonists and people with rough manners?

Is there a level of racism behind the vitriol being hurled at President Obama?
Certainly there is.
Was Racism the motivation behind Joe Wilson’s bad behavior?
Ask the Representative; I don’t think that it was.
Was Serena Williams being racist in verbally abusing an Asian line judge?
Hardly. She was just being a bully, and bullies come in all sizes and colors.

Here’s a question I’ve heard no one else raise: Was Kanye West’s regrettable interruption of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the MTV Video awards racially-motivated? Their skin colors are not the same. So why didn’t we hear howls of “racism” screamed from the rooftops after that fiasco?

Reverse discrimination comes to mind, until you consider what an assinine, oxymoronic word pairing that is: Reverse discrimination is still discrimination. It’s like differentiating between murder and a “hate crime:” the victim is still dead. Does that kind of killing make the victim more-dead because it was a hate crime?
Doesn’t the commission of murder pre-suppose hatred?

Here is what I told Jon Friedman: The Racism component of these stories is a smoke screen; the race angle is a cop-out for lazy reporters and copy writers seeking to fill space and increase consumption of their content, whether in the papers, on TV, or on line. It’s sensationalism with the worst timing, because it refracts our focus on the real issues: Healthcare insurance reform, economic recovery, domestic and foreign policy review.

Is there racial discrimination in the way healthcare is being distributed in America?

Do some Americans still harbor racist proclivities that color their judgement (pardon the pun)? I believe there are some who still do…and it’s wrong headed, counter-productive, and continues to sow seeds of hatred for which we the people have no time or energy.

Joe Wilson’s rudeness was bad behavior regardless of skin color. Serena Williams’ brutish behavior was unsportsmanlike for anyone from any corner of the planet. Kanye West’ interruption was boorish to the nth-degree.

Skin color had nothing to do with the primary problem in any of these examples, and trying to inject the Racism element into the controversy only clouds the issue.

America has a sad history of allowing such prejudices to distract us from the most-pressing issues at hand, and only by opening our eyes, and our hearts, and recognizing this flaw in our character can we confront racism.

Only when we purge the element of racism from the process will we be able to effectively consider the problems that are affecting all of us--regardless of the color of our skin, or the direction of our leaning.

No comments: