Saturday, April 14, 2007

Words Worthy of Our Attention

Over the weekend, a dear friend of mine replied, via email, to my post regarding the media ouster of Don Imus. Now I had gotten a number of replies on the subject, and a few of them articulated much of the same point. However, this one was worthy of the attention of every person who reads this blog.

I had to persuade that friend to let me post his thoughts, and he agreed on the condition that I maintain his anonymity. And so, while I cannot disclose the name of the author, I can say that I am proud of the thoughfulness and the objectivity that he has given the subject. In fact, I am proud enough to take responsibility for his words here, no matter how philosophically challenging they can be for some.

When you read his words, make absolutely certain that you do so with an open mind. If the dialogue must begin somewhere, then it might as well begin here.

gh


Gary,
Given what a controversial subject this is, I've sat on it for
awhile, but I've got to tell you, every time I see Al Sharpton on the
TV, I nearly get physically sick. I saw a black man on TV the other
night say that he felt the same way. In his case, what bothered him
most was that a slip of a couple of offensive words by a white man
caused the black community to be stirred into such useless action while
they mainly go idly by as their own community looks the other way as
certain of their "artists" use those same words every day with much more
malicious intent and actions.


It bothers me as well that the black community continues to
promote such self-serving "leaders" as Al Sharpton. In the end, he's
the only one who really made out on this. And to top it off, the real
problems got glossed over, again. If anyone's conduct should be praised
through this, I would say that it was the women on the Rutgers
basketball team who deserve credit for keeping things in perspective.
They actually said that they didn't feel Imus deserved to lose his job
over this.

Back to Sharpton. He, in true form, called for the worst
possible punishment, and he was the most incendiary voice among everyone
calling for "justice". First off, before I get to the actions that led
to Imus's remark, let me say a bit about Sharpton's record. I did a bit
of looking on the Internet, and several stories kept popping up. The
article at http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=2411 seems to sum it up
nicely. After reading through the articles on his previous actions,
it's amazing he doesn't get some little appositive after his
introductions in the media like David Duke's "former grand wizard of the
KKK." In the Tawana Brawley hoax, this girl showed up in a garbage bag
supposedly raped with racial epithets written all over her, the whole
thing turned out to be fake, and it was proven in civil court that
Sharpton knew it was fake. He paid out over $300,000 as a settlement to
one of the white men he tried to frame. I think if the black community
wants real respect for their causes, they should pick leaders with
better records to give face time on the TV and support to. There is
also quite a bit of evidence that Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are
anti-Semites. People have died over it.

Now, to what really gets under my skin about this particular
issue. There is something worse than a double standard in action here,
and people are getting hate speech and bigotry confused with regular old
offensive speech. First, let me talk about hate speech and bigotry. At
the top of the list, we have the "n word". There's no confusion what
that word was originally meant for, and when it is used by bigoted
whites, it is generally meant to be offensive, and it evokes many
terrible memories of black history. Now, let's talk about the term
"cracker". If the blacks who started using it had their way, it would
be just as offensive to us as the "n word". But, there is a group of
black people who feel privileged to use the "n word" to refer to
themselves and their friends while whites can't use the term. What's
worse, calling white people crackers in movies and on TV is just
considered funny. Things would go much more smoothly if EVERYONE just
put that language behind us. We do, in fact, have a double-standard
that seems to say that blacks are immune from punishment for using hate
speech. Chris Rock is famous for his term "cracker ass cracker". I've
heard more racial slurs from blacks than whites in my life.

Finally, we get to the speech that actually happened on the Imus
show. It's just your average, garden variety offensive speech. The
terms Imus used originated within the black community. They don't have
the history of slavery attached to them. They are a problem, but not
the problem Sharpton would have anyone believe. The truth is, it's
pretty likely Imus originally heard the term from either a black
comedian or actor, his grandkids who listened to rap albums, or possibly
from the car of one of the idiots who thinks the world wants to listen
to the same rap CD he's listening to. I've heard all of the terms in
question from black lips more than white lips many times over. The hip
hop community came up with these demeaning terms, such as "nigga",
"nappy-headed", and "ho", used them on a regular basis, and eventually
got them introduced into mainstream albums that more white kids than
black kids listen to. They regularly promote demeaning women,
committing violent crime, and drug dealing as cool. If white parents
say anything about it, then it's turned into some race issue where white
people just hate black culture. Al Sharpton claims to be against these
sort of albums and even the continued racial slurs of black comedians,
but he's not calling for boycotts against the blacks promoting this crap
because it would be unpopular with his people. Yes, there are some
protests, but they don't compare to this Imus debacle. These terms are
new, and they aren't some continuation of white bigotry against blacks.
They don't have the old racism attached to them. There shouldn't be
some privilege for blacks to use the terms when whites can't. They're
just your plain garden variety offensive words.

I'm not condoning using the words, but I'm just trying to say
that they weren't born of the old bigotry and slavery. If we are to
start taking the jobs of everyone who uses offensive speech, a lot of
people need to start coming down. Snoop Dogg was quoted as saying when
he uses the term "ho", he's not referring to women in college like the
basketball players but to the women in the hood who sit around and don't
do shit. But, he obviously feels perfectly fine using the term in his
albums and even talking about it after this Imus thing happened. I
guess Chris Rock and the like will continue joking about those crackers,
and young kids will continue being drawn into thinking violence, guns,
hos, money, drugs, and just being plain offensive and demeaning are cool
because taking successful black men off the air and out of the recording
industry would be "The Man" coming down on the black man when he tries
to rise up. At least that old racist white man got taken off the air.
His audience wasn't a bunch of kids deciding whether to respect each
other and women. They already decided long ago. The devastating loss
is that the black community is scared to take down the few "leaders and
artists" who are using them while kids get indoctrinated to think
gangstas and criminals are cool.

Imus's words were offensive and disrespectful, but if justice
should be handed out, it should be handed out equally. The truth is
Imus is getting slammed because he's some old white guy who could likely
be a racist and a misogynist. If they were said by a known racist,
feminist black woman, they wouldn't even have been news. Hell, they get
glossed over constantly when they come from known racist, misogynist
black men. Nobody, including blacks, should be privileged to use the
old racist words recklessly, and these new words are the black
community's own creation. The black community should remove the cause
instead of just treating the convenient symptoms. A good start would be
raising up leaders who have some credibility when they speak of equality
and dumping the old self-serving radical "leaders" like Al Sharpton and
Jesse Jackson.

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