Cartoon by Mike Luckovich
Today the NBA banned disgraced racist Clippers owner, Donald Sterling, from basketball and any association with it whatsoever for life. Sterling is a world class bigot and most everyone familiar with the man knew that long ago. But the chickens finally came home to roost and now he is a famously reviled racist instead of a tolerated one. Perhaps, these actions will enlighten us all to more fools who deserve to be exposed rapidly.
We’ve had quite an informative last week what with this bigotry bomb being dropped within days of disgruntled cattle rancher Cliven Bundy’s little personal Philosophy of Bigotry lesson. Hoof-In-Mouth disease must be rampant among wealthy senior white guys. That and dementia. It was hard to imagine anything as regressive as what Bundy believes until Sterling was exposed by his girlfriend. Prejudice is definitely one of the sordid landmarks of our country and many parts of the world where it leads to murder, rape and ugliness on a daily basis.
Every minority member can share horror stories. I’ve got them and so do most of my friends. Why it’s character building the way that being bullied builds character, right? That would be what the likes of Bundy and Sterling and reams of racist right wingers would have you believe. It’s to our personal advantage to experience being disadvantaged at the hands of these wealthy parasites. Just shut up and tolerate your superiors.
Here are two remarkably different responses to Sterling’s racism. One, that came out as soon as the story hit the wires, is how Snoop Dogg unleashed a torrent of coarse language against the villain:
“Fuck you! You racist piece of shit, fuck you!”
Why those were my words exactly when I read about Sterling. Only I would have never had the balls to say it on a video for the whole world to hear. No need to mince words, right Snoop?
The other response came from basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in this more nuanced but equally pissed-off opinion piece for Time Magazine.
Mr. Abdul-Jabbar brings up two very salient points about the timing of this event: One, why now when all of Sterling’s associates knew very well the man’s reputation for unbridled racism long ago? Two, after we got our collective knickers twisted about the NSA’s spying, how can we gloat about anyone being recorded unknowingly and someone taking advantage of a personal relationship to seek revenge and personal gain in such an underhanded manner? Even someone as foul as Sterling deserves privacy and the ability to say whatever they damned well please in the privacy of their own home. We all have things we don’t want voiced in a public forum. Freedom of speech might make it possible to say incredibly stupid things in public like Cliven Bundy does, but even he might have a filter that keeps him from disclosing uglier sentiments. Would it be okay to record those sentiments and disclose them as a matter of public discourse unbeknownst to the man? I think not. I really don’t want to know the darkest thoughts of Fred Phelps or Donald Trump or even Regis Philbin for that matter. (If I were Sterling I’d be suing that woman fast.)
Racism is so thoroughly entrenched in this culture that it will be a long time before it disappears from view. It will never go away completely anymore than anti-gay or sexist behavior will. But getting it to go underground in “polite” society would be a major step forward. The responses to these current voicings of bigotry have brought the matter up front once again. How many more times will we experience this before the culture grows up? Still, this punishment against Sterling by the NBA is a step forward in a game that once only allowed players of color to exist in their own segregated league.
And as Snoop Dogg said, “Fuck you, you racist piece of shit!” is the battle cry against every bigot everywhere. Fuck You!! and here’s to the entire civilized world joining in ASAP.
Cartoon by Adam Zygus