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Rush to Judgment?

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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?

No.

Will the millions of non-thinking Dittoheads suddenly have a revelation and see that “Rush is wrong?”

Probably not.

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.

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  • http://www.well.com/~srhodes Steve Rhodes

    Sure, the Yankees aren’t paying Jason Giambi enough because he is white.

    I don’t think a lot of people really know Rush, his history, or his impact. I listened and watched his TV show for over a year doing research for a documentary about him.

    And that history and impact is a reason there was such a storm over his comments.

    Lots of people have criticized Rush’s fellow panelists for not speaking out.

    Here’s one example:

    Tampa Bay star defensive tackle Warren Sapp also sounded off on the Limbaugh situation on Sporting News Radio’s James Brown Show.

    “I think Rush Limbaugh has already laid his blueprint in front of America on what he thinks and how he views,” Sapp said. “It was just a shock to me that ESPN gave him an opportunity and an open mike in front of a nation to spew out what he wants to spew out, then it came to a head. The thing I want ESPN to do is, don’t take his resignation … fire the man, because he stepped across the line. Once you step across that line someone has to be an authority to say that’s wrong and I’m going to take a stance on it.”

    Sapp, echoing comments McNabb himself made earlier this week, also came out strongly against ESPN analysts Tom Jackson and Michael Irvin, who were part of the show when Limbaugh made his comments.

    “I’m shocked that Tom Jackson and Michael Irvin just sat there and let this roll across their faces and didn’t say anything. Do we not have anybody that understands that there’s way more scrubs in this game that are Anglos than there are black ones that are being pumped up? Trust me, it’s not even close. I don’t know what Rush Limbaugh was thinking, but Michael Irvin and Tom Jackson didn’t do us much justice, that’s the one thing I was more teed off about than anything.”

  • http://resonation.ca Jim Carruthers

    sports: booorrring
    dumb ‘murricans: more boooorrrring

    c’mon you big fat bastards, there’s only one thing ‘murricans are good at:

    ENTERTAIN US!!!!

  • http://www.well.com/~srhodes Steve Rhodes

    Rush can actually be entertaining on radio. He sucks on tv though.

    It seems like (as I suspected) Rush was pushed out and at least in part because some of the panelists didn’t want to work with him. From a Washington Post article:

    Today, there were indications Limbaugh’s resignation came after several of his colleagues made it known to ESPN executives they would have a problem continuing to work with him after his comments Sunday about Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.

    “Some of my cast members were beginning to be made to feel uncomfortable by the press and others who could not believe they wouldn’t respond to what I said,” Limbaugh told an audience of more than 800 in his keynote speech at the National Association of Broadcasters convention here this morning. “I simply did not want to cause any discomfort to people on that program.”

    …ESPN and other football and industry sources said today Tom Jackson, a former NFL linebacker and a longtime studio analyst on “Countdown,” had objected to Limbaugh’s continued presence, and there may have been others. Chris Berman is the longtime host, with Jackson, former San Francisco quarterback Steve Young and former Dallas wide receiver Michael Irvin also in the studio as analysts.

    Jackson had challenged Limbaugh’s remarks on the air Sunday, but none of the others engaged him in a discussion about the racial issue. Berman said Wednesday, “I probably should have looked to soften it.”

    An ESPN spokesman declined to comment when asked about Jackson’s role in Limbaugh’s resignation. He also said the former players have been asked not to comment and that the controversy will be addressed on Sunday’s pre-game show. The network has no plan to replace Limbaugh.

  • Voxxy

    Rush was trying to explain why a mediocre QB (77 career rating) like McNabb was so lionized by the media…and what other explanation is there? His stats as a quarterback are just fair, actually, they are comparable to those of Kordell Stewart, Tim Couch and other non-superstars…so why is he a star?

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    I understand Sapp and McNabb’s frustration that Tom Jackson and Michael Irvin didn’t take Rush to task. Jackson did counter Rush’s comments by talking about the type of plays he’s seen McNabb make, but he didn’t address the racial preference inference. Irvin apparently didn’t comment at all.

    But I don’t blame them because it’s totally out of the theme of the show. This is a sports preview show in which a handful of former football players and one sportscaster analyze that weekend’s matchups. They talk about this receiver against that defensive back, this running back against that set of linebackers, etc. Matchups, matchups, matchups. They don’t delve into politics, and despite what the ESPN exec said earlier in the week, half of Rush’s comment was politically motivated. The other half had to do with football [i.e., Philly’s defense].

    I’m sure they weren’t really sure how to handle it live, on the air. Who would be? There must have been some element of surprise, even though it came out of Rush’s mouth. These guys are there to talk about football in some detail, and ESPN brought Rush in for his “opinions,” a.k.a, to bring politics to the discussion. I can only think they said, “WTF?” when they learned a non-sports guy was going to be on their show this season. Even if he hadn’t made an offensive statement, I’m sure they wanted him gone just because he didn’t belong there.

    Who would you rather listen to talk about football, Tom Jackson or Rush? Steve Young or Rush? My grandma or Rush?