Just about a year ago, in June of 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States reversed a number of portions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act—a landmark aspect of the Civil Rights Movement—with Chief Justice Roberts noting of racism, "That problem is solved."
This is an odd, and unnecessarily optimistic ruling in the face of states working hard to restrict voting, and where our minority president has been challenged and questioned like no other leader in the history of our country.
Think back to congressman Joe Wilson yelling out “you lie,” during the 2009 State of the Union, or Arizona Governor Jan Brewer sticking her finger in Barack Obama’s face, or simply dissing the Prez by saying how much he hates America.
Think about Richie Incognito, former defensive lineman of the Miami Dolphins and a man with as ironic a name as there might have ever been, whom some think has become a “scapegoat for racism in the NFL” thanks to his racially charged needling of teammate Jonathan Martin. Part of the point being if Incognito is a scapegoat, then maybe the problem is deeper than Justice Roberts thinks?
How about Texas Governor and 2012 Presidential Candidate Rick Perry, whose family Hunting Lodge had the dubious name of “n*****head” until the mid-80’s. Apparently it was more a source of amusement than outrage up until that point.
What about in 1998, when three Ku Klux Klan members—which like the Mafia doesn’t really exist—kidnapped African American James Byrd, Jr, tied him to the back of their car, and dragged him until he died?
OK, let’s get more recent: a month ago, hypocrite Cliven Bundy, the Nevada farmer who does not recognize the US Government (but somehow seems to have the Stars and Stripes flying wherever he goes), complaining about “Negroes” who get welfare and government subsidies. Of course, all Bundy’s problems are surrounding his refusal to pay a cattle grazing fee, for which he gets roughly a $15 subsidy per head to the same government he does not recognize. Yet he still does not want to pay the discount fee.
So, I guess there is not much point in mentioning Clippers owner Donald Sterling, and his insightful comments on god, life, race and stuff last week, and maybe we should consider that perhaps Chief Justice Roberts has no idea what he is talking about when it comes to race in this country.
Not that I want to hammer it in, especially since you probably logged in here on a Saturday morning, hoping to read about how Allen Craig is breaking out of his slump, or explaining how I think Chris Archer can overcome the stigma of pitching outside his home park.
I would like to, but it is hard when Paul Ryan, a leader in congress, makes racist tinged comments, sourcing Charles Murray, whose studies in IQ and race are reminiscent of Neanderthal Tom Buchanan of “The Great Gatsby.”
Ryan always amuses me because he used the student loan program to get an education, and whose only jobs since finishing school have been government ones. Yet he decries government programs and says the same government should not provide a living: that Americans need to be self-actualized is an equally Neanderthal Ayn Rand way.
How about just yesterday when Chris "Mad Dog" Russo stated that there were no black radio hosts worthy of doing his job? Although I have to admit Russo--to whom I wouldn't have listened prior to Friday's gem of stupidity--is right. I don't think I have ever heard any of the African American commentators on ESPN or FOX say anything as assholey as Russo.
I understand that Russo later backtracked. Good for him. Tell it to Sterling. Or perhaps Mel Gibson.
What is sad, or odd, or crazy, is that despite Roberts' declaration of our nation moving beyond race, neither Russo nor Perry nor Wilson nor Ryan nor Incognito nor Bundy think they--or their remarks--are racist.
To be fair, I think we are all racists of one kind or another, at times. Or at least we are capable of less than stellar thoughts about human beings who are different than we are. I think this goes back to old tribal times, and being wary of anyone even remotely stranger than what one is used to.
So, it is old shit.
But, pretending the obvious doesn’t exist and trying to make incidents like those I noted as the exception, and not the rule, is painfully naive.
As a first generation American, whose parents fled the holocaust with pretty much their lives at hand, and their fortunes left behind, I would like to think I at least understand what being on the receiving end of “dirty Jew” comments is like.
I write this knowing that one-third of my family was exterminated as part of that same holocaust.
And, I also write this grateful that my family had the opportunity to come to America, and build a life as refugees, in a country where ostensibly “All men are created equal” and where we all are supposed to have a say in how our government works.
But, if you will pardon one more analogy, the State of Georgia recently allowed for the purchase of special license plates with the Confederate Flag on it, and I have to wonder what are these people thinking?
For, if the Southern tradition of grace is represented in the words of Donald Sterling, how can people refuse to see or acknowledge the problem?
That is because though six million Jews were murdered during the holocaust, some 13 million blacks were interred as part of a plantation system that was no more benevolent than the death camps that claimed my relatives.
So, while I hate the overuse of comparing groups we don’t like to the Nazis, putting that flag on a license plate is pretty much akin to sticking a swastika on a Mercedes in Saxony.
So, if you think the former is OK, but the latter repugnant, maybe you need to rethink your analytic skills.
I do have hope for our species, despite ourselves. And, I think that, to tie this back into sports, one of the great things about athletics is they do afford an opportunity to break barriers in every social and national and ethnic way.
Similarly, I think we have to wake up and be honest, just with ourselves. And, acknowledge some responsibility for how we fuel our anger, our inability to accept, and equally important, to forgive (including acknowledging our own mistakes, and forgiving ourselves).
If you think about how quickly our culture has shifted on gay/bi-sexual/transgender relationships, overcoming our racial issues is something we can do.
However, as Mahatma Gandhi said, so wisely, "you cannot change men's minds: you have to change their hearts."
Bapu was correct, so, to bring the Supreme Court back into it, when Proposition 208, the California Gay Marriage law, went before the high court, Justice Antonin Scalia asked, "when did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage?"
The answer, my dear justice, is that excluding rights, or freedoms, or opportunities to any sentient being was never ok. Ever.
It means the things said by Donald Sterling or Rick Perry's family were never ok. That means slavery and segregation were never ok. Ever.
Because, all men are created equal. And we all believe in liberty and justice for all.