Okay….Rush “Big, Not-So-Fat, Deaf, Idiot” Limbaugh has resigned from ESPN’s NFL Sunday Countdown. I will be the first in line to say I figured he would say something stupid and get booted… sooner than later.
However, what he said, the group of folks he said it to and the people it upsets may deserve a bit more of a “looksee.”
There are a few reasons as to why I bring this up… although as I read through this piece, I am not even sure how clearly I can state my thoughts. I’ll be the first to admit that I certainly could use much more enlightenment on this topic. Still, I am worried thinking about how we approach racism in this land of ours.
Sometimes I think people who rightly combat racism are taking the wrong direction or even the wrong path. Asking Rush to resign is fine, but is it the most effective way to promote the cause? Will Rush change his ways?
Will the millions of non-thinking Dittoheads suddenly have a revelation and see that “Rush is wrong?”
So in my mind we should let Rush be. Keep him on the show and let his ignorance stand out for those of us who know better. Oddly enough, no one on the Countdown panel called Rush to task for the remark. Why isn’t Chris Berman or Tom Jackson taking some heat? I really would have hoped for a counter-point from those folks.
With that said, why aren’t there more folks who are tossed off sports programs? If the mode is to bring down outspoken figures, why shouldn’t we be consistent in our pleas for fairness? Staying in the realm of entertainment, why don’t we boycott more sports radio stations as if the Dixie Chicks are being played on them every minute? As a listener I have become keenly aware of the “White Boy Golfing Buddies” mentality that prevails. Often I have heard comments that would make the most devout Conservative blush. John Dennis of WEEI in Boston just yesterday made a comparison of an escaped gorilla (actually sitting at a bus stop here in the city) to minority students. So now I have to wonder if we have we singled Rush out just because he is a prominent bigoted figure? (I hope it doesn’t sound like I am defending the weasel!)
I wonder if Rush had said “I want Donovan McNabb to succeed” or that “I am really rooting for a black quarterback to succeed” if the story would have been different than him saying “the media wants.” Grant it he would still have been shot down as there are a plethora of black quarterbacks succeeding in the NFL… well maybe not Kordell Stewart. I know obviously his penchant for attacks on “the media” (of which he is) and his past history puts more impetus on the content of the comment but, does the prominence of the person or the position make for a stronger racism argument? And is that always fair? What if Jimmy down at the local pub had said this? Does justly attacking a prominent public figure really change Jimmy? (Yes, I know we would all say “I hope so.” But I really am sad to think otherwise.)
The approach to racism in our fair country often is not one where those who truly make a difference are featured for their good work. It is one of the all too common “squeaky wheel gets the grease” mentalities that point out the foibles of the few and easy targets.
Looking at the NFL, race seems to be an issue in its policies. I entirely disagree that a team which is (with the exception of the Green Bay Packers) privately owned should be forced to interview a certain percentage of minority candidates. I believe they should have to interview quality candidates. The fact that the Detroit Lions were fined for just going right out and getting Steve Mariucci irks me. On the other hand, seeing that most NFL teams are owned by the wealthy White maybe this is truly needed. Confusing myself yet again, I also wonder if teams didn’t have to interview minorities, someone like Marvin Lewis wouldn’t have been used so much as a poster boy for the “cause” and could have interviewed where he was wanted and needed. I just don’t know…
As a side note to that, my team, the forever “runner up” Buffalo Bills went out and got Gregg Williams to coach after interviewing Lewis. The jury is still out for me on Williams. I would have loved to have Lewis coach them. I thought he was the best candidate… because he was an amazing Defensive Coordinator. Simply, put, defense wins championships. I want a championship for the Bills. (I equate this to trying to choose a police chief because he is Asian as opposed to the fact he is tough on crime.)
In most major sports the minority athlete is the highest paid. (Easy there. the highest paid hockey player is from the Czech Republic.) Athletes in general make much more than coaches. I just am not sure I can justify the cry for fairness in coaching when such a situation exists. Should the non-minority players scream that they are not being paid fairly due to their skin color? As on the field, the quality person should (and I emphasize “should”) get the rewards… fair and square… regardless of skin color or ethnicity.
Of course qualified candidates can only develop by given the opportunities in the first place… at the start… at the bottom.
So while it is easy to look at sports and poke holes in the model of equality that we try to pursue, the truth is that The Real World of the US is indeed a racist place and unfortunately race based quotas are needed to level the playing field for all. It would be great for anyone to have the same exact opportunities to succeed as anyone else. Unfortunately, we probably aren’t mature enough as a young society still trying to grow up from the horrible crimes of segregation and racism that have preceded us. I honestly would love to see more financial need based quotas, as that would more than likely encompass all minorities… including all poor of any group or race. I also think that would go much further to shutting down the right-wing screams against current quotas.
In closing, I should state that I am, as you may or may not have guessed, more liberal leaning than most folks.. but at the same time a realist. Secondly, I despise racism to the point that when the color of anyone’s skin for any reason is brought up it angers me. I believe in no advantages or disadvantages for anyone based alone on skin color or ethnic group.. albeit that would be in a perfect world. This most likely lends to my confusion of how to approach combating racism… through education and betterment or through crying foul at every turn.
*Brian Lewandowski pontificates daily at www.brianlewandowski.com.