Column for 15 April, 2007
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Don Imus is an empty-headed moron. By the time you read this, he may also be an unemployed empty-headed moron. At around the same time Imus was making his idiotic comments about the national champion Rutgers ladies’ basketball team, Houston Mayor Pro-Tem Michael Berry, another talk-radio blowhard, was opining that “we” shouldn’t be “apologizing” or “giving welfare” and “casinos” to Native Americans because, after all, “200 years ago they were whipped in a war.” At around the same time, I was listening to a fairly prominent local talk-radio station as they discussed the Shaquanda Cotton story, the young black girl who spent a year locked up by the Texas Youth Commission for allegedly pushing a teacher’s aide while a young white girl in the same court received probation for committing arson. White caller after white caller flooded the airwaves to complain that blacks received “special treatment,” to insist that even though Shaquanda was an excellent student with no prior offenses, she must have done “something.” One caller even insisted that Paris, Texas, was run by black activists and “street gangs.” What does all this tell us? Well, first, and obviously, despite insincere, self-serving pseudo-apologetic spin by Imus and Mayor Berry, their comments are protected by the First Amendment, just like the First Amendment protects my right to say that Imus is the last one to be talking about hair, given that his usually makes him look like a prematurely discharged mental patient living under a bridge, when he isn’t playing dress-up with a cowboy hat. Likewise, the First Amendment protects my right to observe that Mayor Berry’s shellacked Mr. Spock ‘do makes him look almost exactly like a Ken doll, only with less intelligence in the eyes. Second, it should be painfully obvious that Imus and Berry, as well as other blow-holes like Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin, are doing precisely what they are overpaid to do: generate controversy. They say outrageous, offensive, stupid things because that gets their demographic (white men between the ages of 25 and 35) to buy the books they continually excrete and tune into shows they appear on and buy the products that are advertised on those shows. Calm, reasoned discussions about the relative merits of competing health-care proposals don’t excite this demographic; demanding the execution of liberals or calling college athletes prostitues does. So what does this say about that demographic? Mostly it says they are so desperately, pathologically insecure they need constant reassurance that white people are still number one and that minorities don’t deserve and haven’t earned anything they get. The comments about Shaquanda Cotton and Imus’ smearing of the beautiful and gracious young ladies of Rutgers (with their average GPA of 3.0, science prodigy, valedictorian and musician) remind me of a wry observation by Malcom X: “What do you call a black man with a Phd? N****r.” In other words, no matter what people of color might achieve, to racists they will always be less than human. It is to this lowest common denominator, the dregs of society, the perpetually emotionally-stunted knuckle-draggers who giggle at racist jokes, that professional hate-talk panders. So incensed are they at any threat, real or perceived, to white privilege, they flock to anyone who will tell them that blacks are crooks and welfare queens, Mexicans are simultaneously lazy and here to steal “our” jobs, and Indians are all drunks waiting for government hand-outs. The bile spewed by Imus, Limbaugh and the others reinforces the comforting coccoon of ignorance and racist self-pity that this group lives in. However, unlike prior generations of bigots, the “angry white men” of today lack even the courage of their twisted convictions. Many, if not most, will vehemently deny having a racist bone in their bodies. And they would never consider actually expressing what they really think about people of color, unless its from the cowardly duck blind of the internet, talk radio call-ins, or driving by and screaming “N****r!” out the window of a fast-moving vehicle. Can anything be done to redeem this “generation of vipers”? Maybe. Much as I hate to agree with a huckster and con-man like Al Sharpton, he is correct that boycotting companies who subsidize hate-talk may eventually, though the miracle of the free market, drive these well-paid human megaphones off the air, thus depriving Generation Duh of some of their ammunition. Unfortunately, it is likely that some of these clods will have children, who will likely be contaminated by their parents’ massive racial inferiority complex. The solution to that is not speech codes or similar idiocy, but simply exposure. Children are not inherently racist; they will play together nicely with anyone until told they should hate their neighbor. If we can prevent the wholesale dimemberment of the public school system, then kids will spend enough time together to discover that their similarities are greater than their differences. It’s already happening; the current crop of teenagers strikes me as more open-minded and less bigoted than my own, just as my generation seemed to my parents. Mixed-race dating is a common practice these days, and it was unheard of when I was in school. Of course, I have never been discriminated against because of my race, at least as far as I know, because I “look white.” No one would even know my ancestry without asking. No one has wondered if I got into college, grad school or law school because of a quota system, or assumed that I can only afford my truck and my house due to casino money. Even though I am not white, I am thus the unwitting and unwilling beneficiary of white privilege. Unlike one of my best friends from high school (an Army veteran, Phd and college professor), I will never have to explain to my children that certain people will always judge them based solely on the color of their skin. Maybe someday, if we stop tolerating the use of racist pandering to sell ad space, no parent will have to have that talk with their kids.