Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Return of the Hurting Hair

I was a junior at CU when on this very date in 1988, my brother Kelly telephoned me out in Boulder to tell me that his wife Linda had just delivered their third child. Katie is a St. Patrick's Day baby, which seems appropriate given that her family history on her father's side is Irish. What is remarkable to me is not that Katie was born on St. Patrick's Day but rather that the St. Patrick's Day on which she arrived was twenty-three years ago already. Boy has she gotten old; huh?

My favorite thing about righteous indignation is its selective application. Case in point? My two favorite civil rights charlatans Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. It was slightly less than four years ago when Don Imus uttered his infamous remarks about the members of the Rutgers University women's basketball team, which utterance cost him his job. At the forefront of the movement advocating for Imus's removal from his gig (at the time his morning radio show was aired on WFAN in New York and simulcast on MSNBC) were Messrs. Jackson and Sharpton. On April 12, 2007, their wish was granted. CBS President Les Moonves fired Imus.

On the day Imus was fired, Jackson expressed his satisfaction over Imus's termination by calling the firing, "a victory for public decency. No one should use the public airwaves to transmit racial or sexual degradation." Sharpton - again on the day that the axe fell - added that, "We cannot afford a precedent established that the airwaves can commercialize and mainstream sexism and racism." Imus's firing culminated a week-long firestorm, during which Jackson and Sharpton repeatedly called for him to be terminated and led protests calling for his ouster. Their position was seemingly clear: utter something racially offensive and irrespective of one's history (good, bad or indifferent) pay for it with one's job. It appeared at least as if these two dim wits had positioned themselves on a bright line.

If you still believe that to be true and if you still believe that there is not at least a double standard in this society when it comes to race-related comments, then do what I did. Run a Google search. Search for Messrs. Sharpton and Jackson and either's condemnation of Cappie Pondexter. It will not take you too very long at all. Of that you can be certain. You cannot find what does not exist.

Pondexter - who either ironically or coincidentally played her college hoops at Rutgers (she graduated in 2006) - earns her living playing professional basketball for the New York Liberty of the WNBA. While I am not a fan of professional hoops irrespective of the gender of the participants, Pondexter is apparently quite an excellent player. On Saturday, as the world was assessing just how screwed the Japanese are in view of all that had befallen them in the preceding twenty-four hours and sympathy for the fate of the Japanese people was pouring in from all over the world (including 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue), Pondexter used her Tweeter account to express her beliefs that.....well that perhaps the Japanese had gotten what they deserved and had deserved what they had gotten.

Pondexter initially used her Twitter account to share this gem, "What if God was tired of the way they treated their own people in there own country! Idk guys he makes no mistakes." Later, realizing that she had more to say on the subject, she posted this little nugget of racial and ethnic sensitivity, "u jst never knw! They did Pearl Harbor so u can't expect anything less."

As the reaction to her inane comments spread, Pondexter did what everyone (including Imus) does after they step in a big steaming pile of shit, she apologized. Her apology (also via Twitter) was interesting in that it was really a kinda/sorta apology. She apologized not for what she said but for not realizing that some people out "there" who do not know her might interpret them as being racially or ethnically insensitive or just incredibly stupid and inappropriate. In other words, she apologized for the ignorance of those who read her words and misunderstood them. She did not apologize for writing them.

But even had she simply stepped up and apologized, in the Gospel according to Rev. Al and Rev. Jesse, it would not have been enough. The public airwaves cannot after all be permitted to be used sexual or racial degradation. Right? Who knows. The Dumbnamic Duo has been conspicuously silent. Perhaps they are unaware of (a) the crisis in Japan; and (b) Pondexter's comments on it. Or perhaps they are simply revealing their own true colors.

A fraud is a fraud. Skin color does not have a damn thing to do with it. It has never been a viable means for measuring the content of one's character.

Righteous indignation. I so love it. Don't you?


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