What's Race Got to Do with It?: Why It's Time to Stop the Stupidest Argument in Americaby Larry Elder
Larry Elder ands his straight talk are "controversial"*, "provocative"**, "iconoclastic"***, "refreshing". ****
IS LIFE UNFAIR FOR BLACK AMERICANS?
In What's Race Got to Do with It?, bestselling author Larry Elder takes on the touchiest topic in American life: Race. Some Americans think race is the biggest issue this country faces today. Elder/i>/p>/p>
Larry Elder ands his straight talk are "controversial"*, "provocative"**, "iconoclastic"***, "refreshing". ****
IS LIFE UNFAIR FOR BLACK AMERICANS?
In What's Race Got to Do with It?, bestselling author Larry Elder takes on the touchiest topic in American life: Race. Some Americans think race is the biggest issue this country faces today. Elder says: What?!? What about the economy, what about war, what about the security of our borders and our citizens?
IS A HUGE GROUP OF CITIZENS BEING KEPT DOWN BY "THE MAN"?
Elder calls for an end to bitching, moaning and whining and the belief that somebody owes you a job, that self-esteem is given out for passing "go", that a black person in a position of authority is always a good thing, whether or not they have credentials and experience. He skewers the loudmouths—and the "mainscream" media—who point to racism as the root of all problems. Elder explains why Hillary Clinton doesn't get it, but Barack Obama does—at least most of the time.
But What's Race Got to Do with It? has a positive message, too: there are leaders and role models today who want to urge everyone to share in the hard work, smart thinking and optimism that make America great and strong.
*Publishers Weekly **Kirkus Reviews ***Los Angeles Times ****Publishers Weekly
- St. Martin's Press
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- NOOK Book
- Sales rank:
- File size:
- 377 KB
Read an Excerpt
It's the media, stupid
Media malpractice: the shameful willingness to provide a megaphone for baseless, outlandish charges of racism; the failure to highlight the tremendous progress of minorities over the past forty years; and the unwillingness to seek out minority voices to counter the histrionics of the Jesse Jacksons, the Al Sharptons, and their willing liberal conspirators in the media and the Democratic Party.
Consider the stupid, silly, or just plain ignorant statements made by angry blacks—statements that go unchallenged by the mainscream media.
"Race stories" Fill our newspapers. "Hate crimes." Unjustified accusations of "police brutality." "Cultural bias" in standardized testing. "Discriminatory" college and university admissions when some groups are admitted at higher rates than others. The alleged Hollywood "blackout" that argues show business—despite being chock-full of liberals—discriminates against minorities.
If a black person says this, he is an Uncle Tom.
America is more inclusive and just than at any point in her history. When one considers the staggering diversity and continued prosperity of the American people, racism approaches near insignificance. If a white person says that, he stands accused of blindness, if not outright bigotry. If a black person says this, he is an Uncle Tom. Yet those who consistently—and often without evidence—cry "racism," attract attention, sympathy, and votes.
Blacks overwhelmingly vote for the Democratic Party, the party that counts on receiving more than 90 percent of the black vote.2 Democrats need and rely on the black vote the way humans need oxygen. Thus we hear absurd, hysterical statements that racism remains the principal problem facing "black America." The Democratic Party then mounts the white horse and charges into this battle against racism. And, since racism remains enemy number one against blacks, voting for Democrats becomes not only a matter of self-interest, but a moral necessity!
But where's the proof that social programs and redistribute-the-wealth schemes work? Who cares? Social programs show that Democrats "do something." Whether by offering ineffective "jobs programs," or providing welfare without work, these programs say that Democrats are clearly here to help.
Gutless Republicans—in fear of the racist label—often keep silent rather than speak out against verbal outrages. So when black New York City Councilman Charles Barron says, "I want to go up to the closest white person and say, 'You can't understand this, it's a black thing,' and then slap him, just for my mental health,"3 many blacks applaud.
Did Barron apologize afterward? When WABC radio's Steve Malzberg asked him for clarification, Barron said, "I think everybody knew that was what we call . . . oratorial improvision [sic] and black hyperbole. And y'all wouldn't understand that 'cause you're uptight and you're gonna take it where it was not intended."4 Oh.
The actions of the race baiters go beyond irresponsible. They border on evil. And a compliant media goes willfully along. Imagine, for example, what the media coverage would be like if a white public figure said he or she wanted to slap the nearest black person. For many days, it would be front-page news, the lead story on television news, and editorials everywhere calling for the politician's resignation.
Cosby urged blacks to embrace education, speak standard English, and obey the law. How dare he?
Bill Cosby, the legendary actor/entertainer/philanthropist, gets it. He said, "[I]n our cities and public schools we have fifty percent drop-out. . . . No longer is a person embarrassed because they're pregnant without a husband. No longer is a boy considered an embarrassment if he tries to run away from being the father of the unmarried child."5 Cosby urged blacks to embrace education, speak standard English, and obey the law. How dare he?
But in a book called Is Bill Cosby Right? author Michael Eric Dyson accused Cosby of unfairly attacking blacks, blaming "the victim." This professor from the University of Pennsylvania downplays or dismisses the tragedy of babies having babies, the 50 percent inner-city dropout rate, and the disproportionately high percentage of black youth involved in crime. Obviously, the white man made them do it.
Many in the media go jelly-legged if someone like Cosby calls on blacks to take responsibility. The Today show invited Dyson to discuss his book and his attack on Bill Cosby. But who conducted the interview? Cohost Matt Lauer? No. Then cohost Katie Couric? No. Al Roker, the black weatherman. Nice guy, Roker, but by using him the Today show protected Lauer and/or Couric from injecting themselves into a race debate. The "white man done me wrong" theme remains a staple of mainscream media malpractice, and clearly the Today show producers felt so uncomfortable about having one of its stars involved in this the argument that they devalued this serious issue by letting the weather guy handle the task. It went like this:
"Do you think there's any validity in some of the things he said?" asked Roker.6
"Oh sure . . . there's validity always," said Dyson. "Tim[othy] McVeigh had a point. The state is overreaching. But the way you do it, dropping bombs and castigating of human beings, that's terrible. . . . Let's hold the larger society accountable for creating the conditions that lead to some of the downfalls of the poor people."7
What? Roker said nothing.
Roker then read three quotes from Cosby: "Those people are not Africans; they don't know a damn thing about Africa. With names like Shaniqua, Shaliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail." Next, "All this child knows is 'gimme, gimme, gimme.' These people want to buy the friendship of a child . . . and the child couldn't care less. . . . These people are not parenting. They're buying things for the kid. $500 sneakers, for what? They won't . . . spend $250 on Hooked on Phonics." And finally, "You can't land a plane with 'why you ain't'. . . . You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth."8
Dyson responded, "Black people have always been creative in naming their children. Africans name their kids after the days of the week, after conditions of their birth. Black people in 1930s gave their kids names after consumer products, Cremola, Listerine, Hershey Bar. So black naming has always been creative. I'm not worried about Shaniqua and Taliqua, I'm worried about Clarence and Condoleezza, who can hurt us in high places of power in America."9
What? Roker said nothing.
Because Cosby served as a "pitchman" for Jell-O Puddin' Pops he, according to Dyson, "created artificial desire in people to spend beyond their means."10
What??!! Roker said nothing.
"So I'm speaking forth," Dyson continued, "on behalf of those people who are poor, because, after all, I was a teen father, lived on welfare until I was twenty-one, then went to get a Ph.D. at Princeton. Now I'm gonna have Afro-nesia [sic] and forget the people from which I've emerged? No, bro, I ain't the one." To which Roker ".red back" with this show stopper: "You know, you gotta come out of your shell."11
Would Dyson have called Couric or Lauer "bro"?
RIP (Rest In Peace) to radio host Don Imus's CBS radio show and its simulcast. The .ring of the longtime host represents another example of hypocrisy, selective outrage, and our society's obsession with the "pervasiveness" of anti-black racism. The ensuing feeding frenzy over Imus's remarks occupied the mainscream media for almost two weeks, until a horrific campus shooting pushed Imus from the front pages and lead stories.
Imus, on April 4, 2007, referred to the predominately black Rutgers female basketball team as "nappy-headed hos," after Imus's morning show executive producer, Bernard McGuirk, called the women "hard-core hos." Furthermore, McGuirk described the women's NCAA championship match between Rutgers and Tennessee as the "jigaboos versus the wannabes"—a reference to Spike Lee's movie School Daze about the tension between dark-skinned blacks and light-skinned blacks.12
After first dismissing the remark as a joke, Imus apologized several times. No doubt fearing the career-ending label of "racist," Imus agreed to go on Al Sharpton's radio show for a beat-down.
Sharpton: What is any possible reason you could feel that this kind of statement could be just forgiven and overlooked?
Imus: I don't think it should be. . . . I think it can be forgiven, but I don't think it can be overlooked. . . . I apologized. And I didn't say what everybody says, "If I offended somebody, I'm sorry," 'cause I knew I offended somebody. . . .
Sharpton: Mr. Imus, do you think it's funny to call people "nappy-headed hos"?
Imus: No, I don't. . . .
Sharpton: "Nappy" is racial.
Imus: Yes, sir, I understand that.
Sharpton: Saying "wannabees" and "jiggaboos" is racial.
Imus: I did not say that. And that was said in the context—
Sharpton: You didn't argue with it, either, and it was the same conversation—
Imus: No, sir, but that was presented in the context of the Spike Lee .lm.
Sharpton:. . . So you made all of these analogies—let me get this right. You call these people "nappy-headed hos," but you wasn't talkin' racial when you said "nappy." "Jiggaboos" and "wannabees," but you didn't understand what you was sayin'. What are you sayin', you blacked out?
Imus: No, don't tell me—no, I didn't say I didn't understand what we were saying. I said, I wasn't thinking that. Now when someone says "jiggaboos" and "wannabees," then my frame of reference is the Spike Lee film.
Sharpton: Right, which was about light-skinned, blackskinned—
Imus: I understand that. But I'm not thinking that it is a racial insult that's being uttered at somebody at the time. . . . There's no excuse for it. I'm not pretending that there is. I wish I hadn't said it. I'm sorry I said it.
Sharpton:. . . If you realize that something must be done, why would you then feel that we are out of order to ask that you step aside?
Imus: I didn't say that.
Sharpton: Oh, you don't think we're out of order?
Imus: No, sir.
Sharpton: So you come to sign your resignation then?
Imus: No, I'm not signing anything.
Sharpton: So what are you saying? You want to determine what ought to happen, even though you were the one that did the wrong?
Imus: I didn't say that, either. . . . You have the right to say and do whatever you want to do.
Sharton: The issue is, whether . . . somebody can say something that you admittedly say yourself is wrong, and I say is racist and sexist, and it just be glossed over. . . . Because then, if you walk away from this unscathed, the next guy can say whatever he wants, and just say, "I'm sorry."
Imus: Unscathed? Are you crazy? How am I unscathed by this? Don't you think I'm humiliated? Don't you think I'm embarrassed? Don't you think—
Sharpton: You're not as humiliated as young black women are.
Imus: I didn't say I was. . . . It's not a contest as to who's the most humiliated.13
Yet Sharpton later said, "We had never asked him to never work again."14 But when rumors floated about a possible Imus return to the airwaves, Sharpton promised to boycott his sponsors, "This is not a one-incident offender. This person has made a career out of this. And for him to go back to the air, we will be all over him every day and into advertisers the first time he steps over the line."15 Imus's repeated apologies are wasted on a man who makes a living from accusing others of racism.
Now follow the bouncing hypocrisy.
Sharpton has never apologized for falsely accusing a white former assistant district attorney in 1987 of sexually assaulting black teenager Tawana Brawley, even though he's had twenty years—and many opportunities—to apologize. Sharpton's bellicose and fraudulent accusations thrust him into the national spotlight. A New York grand jury determined the whole Tawana Brawley affair a hoax, and the assistant DA successfully sued Sharpton and two other defendants for defamation. A unanimous, multiracial jury awarded the assistant DA $65,000 from Sharpton. No apology.16
In 1989, after the "Central Park Jogger" was viciously attacked and left for dead, Sharpton called the Jogger a "whore,"17 and falsely accused her boyfriend of committing the crime.18 No apology. And few now bring this up.
Jesse Jackson also criticized Imus. But in 1984, when the Washington Post's Milton Coleman reported Jesse Jackson called Jews, "Hymie," and New York, "Hymie Town," the reverend initially denied the statement. Days later, Jackson apologized for his anti-Semitic remark, thus taking longer to apologize than did Imus for his racist, sexist remark. Again, few now bring this up.Jackson's friend and con.dante, the Nation of Islam's Minister Louis Farrakhan, publicly threatened black reporter Coleman on radio and warned the Jews, "If you harm this brother [Jackson], I warn you in the name of Allah this will be the last one you harm." Jackson refused to condemn Farrakhan's remarks.19
Jackson, then a presidential candidate, refused to condemn Farrakhan's remarks or distance himself from his relationship with the minister.20 Moral arbiter Jackson also "mentored" then President Bill Clinton during his Monica Lewinsky troubles. Never mind that Jackson, at this time, had an affair with a staff member from his Rainbow/PUSH organization. Incredibly, Jackson, standing next to his visibly pregnant mistress, took a picture with Clinton in the Oval Office.
And "racially insensitive" whites like Imus are compelled to apologize to these reverends.
Director Spike Lee also called for Imus's head. Lee, in a 1992 interview with Esquire, stated that he disliked interracial couples, "I give interracial couples a look. Daggers. They get uncomfortable when they see me on the street."21 This puts him on the same side of the line as, say, David Duke.
Republican Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) complimented Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC) on his hundredth birthday by saying, "I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."22
Lott apologized and explained that he intended to flatter an old man on his hundredth birthday. He appeared on BET for an hour-long beat-down. And Spike Lee, on national television, without any evidence, called Lott a "card-carrying member of the Klan."23
Did Lee ever apologize for his anti-interracial remark or for the false accusation against Senator Lott? Please.
The hypocrisy does not end with this trio.
Presidential contender Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), became the only candidate to publicly call for Imus's .ring, "He didn't just cross the line. He fed into some of the worst stereotypes that my two young daughters are having to deal with today in America. The notions that as young African-American women—who I hope will be athletes—that that somehow makes them less beautiful or less important. It was a degrading comment. It's one that I'm not interested in supporting."24 Apparently the senator ignored his daughters' sensibilities when he allowed record mogul David Geffen to hold a fund-raiser for him. Geffen's former company produces rappers like Snoop Dogg, who liberally uses the words "bitches" and "hos" in referring to women, brags about getting high, and produced X-rated videos. And a September 15, 2006, Associated Press dispatch noted that a hip-hop group called Nappy Roots warmed up the crowd before an Obama speech in Louisville, Kentucky. 25> Another AP dispatch on November 30, 2006, wrote that Obama met with rapper Ludacris—whose lyrics often call women "hos"—where, according to the artist, "We talked about empowering the youth."26
Wu Tang Clan's RZA—whose lyrics contain racial, gender, and sexual epithets too vile to repeat here—attended an exclusive Hollywood presidential campaign fund-raiser. Present at the fund-raiser—candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY).27 In addition, Ms. Clinton held another fund-raiser hosted by rapper/producer Timbaland. In his own music, Timbaland calls women "bitches" and "hos," as do other artists he produces. Clinton denounced Imus's words as "small-minded bigotry and coarse sexism." And in a speech delivered at Rutgers, she expanded, "Will you be willing to speak up and say, 'Enough is enough,' when women or minorities or the powerless are marginalized or degraded?"28 Ms. Clinton, once again, committed the sin of selectivity—apparently it all depends on whether the person doing the degrading contributes to her campaign.
As for CBS, the radio network that canned Imus, they, too, showed a selective outrage. One of the network's popular syndicated radio hosts—who provides men with advice on how to handle women—routinely refers to women as "skanks" and "bitches."
A poll showed reaction to Imus's .ring split down black-white racial lines, with most blacks agreeing with the firing, and most whites disagreeing. Call this another example of hypersensitivity/payback on the part of blacks, for the Rutgers basketball team represents a group of accomplished women, including a high school valedictorian, a prelaw student, and a classical music prodigy. How many of them even heard of Don Imus before his offensive remarks? Do any of these ladies have hip-hop/rap music with misogynist lyrics on their iPods? Here's a suggestion—ignore the remark. Ignore Sharpton and his ilk. After all, in the great department store of life, Imus operates in the toy section.
Another "Big Bombshell" occurred in November 2006. Michael Richards, aka Kramer of Seinfeld, launched into a racist tirade against two black hecklers during a stand-up comedy show in Los Angeles. Richards, apparently irritated because the targets of his rage, among a larger group of friends that arrived late, disrupted his act.29 Richards called the two "n——gers" numerous times, and many in the audience, appalled, began leaving. Someone called Richards a "f——ing white boy" and a "cracker-ass motherf——er."30
How many of them even heard of Don Imus before his offensive remarks? Do any of these ladies have hip-hop/rap music with misogynist lyrics on their iPods?
The exchange, captured on video by a comedy club patron, quickly appeared on the Internet and immediately became a "National Incident." Richards promptly appeared on Letterman and apologized profusely. He then continued the beat-down by appearing on Jesse Jackson's radio show, again apologizing. For good measure, he phoned Reverend Al Sharpton and apologized yet again.
Jamie Masada, the owner of the Laugh Factory, the comedy club where the tirade took place, refunded the distraught patrons' money and banned Richards from the club until he personally apologized to the offended patrons. Masada also called on Richards to donate millions to black charities.31
Hold the phone. Now, did Richards direct his unwarranted attack against two blacks in particular, or against the entire black race? When someone in the audience called Richards a "cracker," did that person direct that attack to the entire "white race," or to Richards in particular?
While he was under .re from the likes of Reverend Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and other so-called black leaders to "do something," I interviewed club owner Masada. Why, I asked him, do so many people transform an outburst from a has-been comic into the moral equivalent of let's-put-blacks-at-the-back-of-the-bus?
Elder: I wonder why this has become this big, huge incident. I got a lot of letters from people who had seen Michael Richards perform, and several said that he teed off on a lot of people, got mad . . . he went off on Bush, went off on the troops, went off on Catholics, went off on Christians. . . . He appears to be somebody who's got a really short fuse. And I agree with you, he was just trying to hurt these two people. That's why I don't get it when he goes on Jesse Jackson's radio show and Jackson just beats him up and then starts talking about Hurricane Katrina and why there aren't more blacks on television, and why Congressman Harold Ford had a negative campaign ad that Jesse Jackson didn't like. For crying out loud! It was a guy who exploded, lost his temper, said some racist things, has apologized all over the place. You refunded everybody's money. It seems to me that should be the end of it, Jamie!
Masada: I think you got a good point, but unfortunately, Larry, no matter what you do, there are some opportunists, there are some groups that are out there . . . they keep saying they are gonna riot, they are gonna burn up the club and they all keep calling and saying stuff. And it's unfortunate, because of some opportunists, they want to get something out of that incident and they're making it bigger than what it is."32
While fear of being tarnished with the same "racist" label probably kept Masada from calling the opportunists' bluff, at least he admitted that, yes, some people take advantage and exaggerate a "racial" situation for their own gain. For many nonblacks wanted to believe that the Richards incident produced positive proof of the remaining virulence of racism in America—as opposed to a dried-up comedian and an apparently unfunny standup who lost his temper and expressed it in a vulgar way. One of the hecklers accused him of failing at everything post-Seinfeld, a dispiriting—even if accurate—hurtful shot that contributed to Richards's outburst.
However, when a black guy uses the "n-word" against another black guy—even in anger—different rules apply. In January 2005, black NBA Portland Trail Blazers player Darius Miles defiantly shouted at his black coach, Maurice Cheeks, reportedly calling him "n——ger" during a team .lm session. Miles's punishment? A two-day suspension.33
Miles later released a statement: "Things were said in frustration and I am sorry for that. It is very important to me that our fans understand that I am committed to winning and that the losses we have had this season have been difficult for all of us. My entire focus when I return to the team will be on winning and helping us make a run for the playoffs."34 Notice anything missing? An apology to the "victim," his coach, Maurice Cheeks.
However, when a black guy uses the "n-word" against another black guy—even in anger—different rules apply.
The Kramer flap continues a tradition of "beat whitey" when whites make a racially insensitive comment. For their "racially insensitive" remarks, golfer Fuzzy Zoeller, former CBS sports analyst Jimmy "the Greek" Snyder, former Los Angeles Dodger general manager Al Campanis, and former baseball pitcher John Rocker all lost sponsors or found themselves out of work—repeated apologies not accepted.
How bad did it get for Michael Richards? Richards left the country on a spiritual journey to Cambodia. He claimed the sojourn had nothing to do with his meltdown at the Laugh Factory, yet somehow his trip, undoubtedly via his press agent, made it into the Los Angeles Times. So now in addition to undergoing counseling and therapy to exorcise inner racist demons, you've got to do penance by leaving the country to contemplate life on mountaintop temples.
After the Michael Richards incident, Jackson, Sharpton, and others put out a covenant urging rappers, comics, and other performers to cease the use of the n-word.
I once attended a comedy club performance by Paul Mooney, a talented comedian who once wrote for the late Richard Pryor. He liberally used the n-word throughout his act. A white guy in the audience heckled him. Mooney went absolutely ballistic, launching into a racist tirade. He called the heckler "white boy," and called himself "one n——ger you can't push around." Guess who, after Richards' outburst, appeared in print and on television to say that Richards convinced him to stop using the n-word? Mr. Mooney.
This raises an interesting issue. If so-called black leaders and other influence-makers can simply halt the widespread use of the n-word by rappers and others, why not use this power to deal with urban crime? Or to halt the unacceptably high 50 percent inner-city high school dropout rate? Or to lower the 70 percent of today's out-of-wedlock black births?35 Or do something about the estimated 25 to 30 percent of young black men who possess criminal records?36
And how about this proposal to the mainscream media: Please discontinue the use of the phrase "black leader"—a phrase used ad nauseam by the sympathetic media in reporting the reaction to Richards's outburst. The term "black leader," at some point, simply becomes a catchall statement—no credentials required. Why doesn't the media use the term "white leader"? The media's condescending, paternalistic attitude toward blacks considers them gullible or rudderless, so that, unlike other groups, blacks need a leader. Never mind that when asked, blacks reject the very "black leaders" that the media calls "black leaders."
The term "black leader," at some point, simply becomes a catchall statement—no credentials required.
An Associated Press-AOL Black Voices survey shows that when asked to name the "most important black leader," the highest percentage of blacks—about one-third—named . . . nobody. Jackson was named by 15 percent of respondents, 11 percent chose Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, 8 percent named former Secretary of State Colin Powell, 6 percent chose Senator Barack Obama, 4 percent named Louis Farrakhan, 3 percent selected Oprah Winfrey, another 3 percent picked the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Reverend Al Sharpton received 2 percent, and 14 percent picked someone other than the above. This means that nearly 50 percent of blacks named no one or someone other than these usual suspects.37
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), ever eager to show its continued significance, put out a post-Kramer outburst statement, saying the incident reflects deep-seated, pervasive racist feelings in America.38 The NAACP could have titled the memo, "Hot Damn! We're Still Relevant!"
But the evidence refutes the NAACP's assertion about America's continued racism. Black home ownership—all-time high. The employment rate for a married black man versus the employment rate for a married white man—almost identical. The black middle class continues to thrive, with blacks serving as CEOs of Time Warner, American Express, and more. Indeed, the fact that Richards rushed out and hired a publicist to do damage control shows the opposite of what the racism-is-under-everyrock crowd claims. Golfer Fuzzy Zoeller, following Tiger Woods's first Masters win, told reporters, "Tell him [Woods] not to serve fried chicken next year . . . or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve,"39 a reference the winner's traditional selection of the clubhouse food for next year's event. Zoeller's $2 million loss in endorsements40 after this rather innocuous "racially insensitive" comment demonstrates the truth of John O'Sullivan's statement. The social power against white racism is simply overwhelming.
When black PBS commentator Tavis Smiley hosted a Democratic presidential debate in front of a mostly black audience, C-Span host Brian Lamb asked Smiley why he failed to request and enforce a no-applause rule, as is customary. Tavis replied, "Because black people are an emotional people. I know it would not have worked."41 [Emphasis added.] Imagine if CNN's Wolf Blitzer, who also moderated a debate, failed to give the customary admonition before a predominately black audience, explaining that black audiences can't control themselves, or be expected to follow rules. How dare Lamb expect blacks to follow the same rules as everybody else. Doesn't Smiley owe blacks an apology?
And so, in the spirit of apologies, how about some other long-overdue gestures of contrition:
Dear Anti-Defamation League,
Once again, please accept my apology for calling Jews
"Hymies" and referring to New York City as "Hymie Town." As I said at the time, "Charge it to my head . . . not to my heart."42
Reverend Jesse Jackson
Dear NAACP, Urban League, and Congress of Racial Equality, Please accept my apology for—during concerts in which I sang my song, "Gold Digger"—giving whites permission to sing along and use the "n-word." Obviously, Michael Richards misused the license that I temporarily granted whites. Please accept my apology.
Kanye West, hip-hop/rapper
Dear Jewish Defense League, Korean-American Grocer Association, and Council on American-Islamic Relations,
Please accept my apology for, while serving as a spokesperson for Wal-Mart, condemning Jewish, Korean, and Arab inner-city merchants for "overcharging" blacks. I also inexcusably said that these merchants sell "stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables."43 Charge that to my head, not my heart.
Andrew Young, former U.N. ambassador for the United
States, former mayor of Atlanta, and former colleague of Martin Luther King Jr.
Dear Republican National Committee,
I note that in last year's election cycle, the Republican Party ran a number of blacks—among them Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele for Senate, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell for governor, and Lynn Swann for governor in Pennsylvania. So please accept my apology for saying Republicans have a "white-boy attitude," which means, "I must exclude, denigrate, and leave behind."44
Donna Brazile, former Al Gore 2000 campaign manager
Dear White Community,
Please accept my apology for my statement during the 2002 Millions for Reparations rally, in which I said, "I want to go up to the closest white person and say, 'You can't understand this, it's a black thing,' and then slap him, just for my mental health."45
There goes my head!
Charles Barron, New York City councilman
Dear Anti-Defamation League,
Please accept my apology. I lost my temper during my husband's unsuccessful 1974 campaign for Congress. Bill's campaign advisor, Paul Fray, and his wife publicly claim that I referred to Fray as a "f——ing Jew bastard."46
I don't recall this, but assuming I did, what was I thinking? It wasn't my heart.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
Dear Jesse Jackson and local Little Rock, Arkansas, black activist Robert "Say" McIntosh,
Former Arkansas state trooper Larry Patterson publicly claims I referred to the two of you as "n-words."47
Ditto what Hillary just said.
Former president of the United States Bill Clinton
Dear NAACP, Congress of Racial Equality, Urban League, and Reverends Jackson and Sharpton,
Please accept my apology for the allegations made by Jay Homnick in an American Spectator article dated January 12, 2006. Homnick says that when I ran for State Assembly in 1974, residents in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn held a meeting. The mostly Italian, Jewish, and Slavic immigrant white residents wanted to get rid of the apartment buildings on Avenue K populated almost completely by blacks. According to Homnick, who, as a teenager, attended the meeting, I promised, if elected, to proclaim those building "dilapidated," move the blacks out, and then—nudge, nudge, wink, wink—expensively refurbish their apartment buildings and price the blacks out of the buildings. After renovations the blacks, whom we would have "temporarily" relocated, would have been unable to afford to move back into the more expensive and valuable apartments.48 Voilà, no more blacks! I don't recall engaging in such a racist scheme, but if I did, it was a mistake of the mind, not of the heart.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Dear Ward Connerly and anyone engaged in an interracial relationship,
When you led the successful campaign in California to get rid of race-based preferences, I criticized you, a black man, saying, "He's married a white woman. He wants to be white. He wants a colorless society. He has no ethnic pride. He doesn't want to be black."49 Furthermore, please accept my apology, for, when offered an
opportunity to explain or apologize, I said, "That's right. I said it."
Congresswoman Diane Watson (D-CA)
Dear Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and other minority members of the Bush administration,
Please accept my apology for, while cohosting the Allred & Taylor radio show in 2001, calling Bush's minority appointees, "Uncle Tom types."50 Since I represent the two young men whom Michael Richards called n-words, I know my having called some blacks "Uncle Tom types" might seem hypocritical. But I made a mistake of the head, not of the heart.
Gloria Allred, attorney-at-law
Dear Republican National Committee,
Please accept my apology for saying, after the Republicans took over Congress in 1994, "It's not 'spic' or 'nigger' anymore. They say 'let's cut taxes.' "51 Also, please accept my apology for, following Katrina, publicly saying, "George Bush is our Bull Connor"52—referring to the former Birmingham, Alabama, police commissioner, who turned water hoses and dogs on civil rights workers.
Representative Charlie Rangel (D-NY), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee
Dear Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and any other blacks who served in the Bush administration,
Please accept my apology for calling you a house "slave" serving the "master."53
Harry Belafonte, singer/activist
Dear Anti-Defamation League and white community,
Please accept my apologies for calling whites "interlopers," and referring to Jews as "diamond merchants,"54 and, during a conflict between Jews and blacks, saying, "If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house."55
Reverend Al Sharpton, civil rights activist and former host of Saturday Night Live
Dear Anti-Defamation League and Jewish Community,
Please accept my apology for the title of my new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. On reflection, likening the condition in the Palestinian territories to South Africa's apartheid was a bit much. In 1947, the U.N. divided the area between a Palestinian state and a Jewish state, after which several Arab countries attacked the new state of Israel. Furthermore, as Alan Dershowitz recently pointed out, following the U.N. mandate, Arabs met in Khartoum and agreed "no peace, no recognition, no negotiation."56 I made mistakes of the head, not the heart.
Former President Jimmy Carter
What about those apologies?
Why tell your viewers about an increasing problem with gang violence, when you've got two and a half minutes of grainy video taken on a cell phone, showing Richards during his meltdown?
Don't hold your breath, for debacles like the Kramer matter trigger wall-to-wall, headline, stop-the-presses coverage that seems to last for weeks, including never-ending apologies. Real news of the day got shoved aside for the "racist Kramer" coverage. Why tell your viewers about an increasing problem with gang violence when you've got two and a half minutes of grainy video taken on a cell phone, showing Richards during his meltdown?
Media make this sort of decision every day. With only so many minutes of airtime, or so many column inches of print available, the decision of what to report and what to ignore exposes media's perception of race and racism. Decision after decision show that many in the liberal media—despite evidence to the contrary—believe racism against blacks remains a big deal in today's America.
If the media truly care, they ought to reconsider the damage done by perpetuating the I-am-a-victim attitude. According to a long-term study recently published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community, a victicrat mentality can give you a heart attack. People who reported high levels of unfair treatment in their lives were 55 percent more likely to suffer a coronary event than the ones who did not complain of unfairness. Even people who reported low levels of unfair treatment experienced a 28 percent greater rate of cardiac problems than the ones who reported no unfairness.57
The study was based on the participants'—all British civil servants—perceived and self-reported feelings of being unfairly treated. Yet, in reporting the study findings, the Los Angeles Times swiftly made it an issue of racism. "Nancy Krieger," reported the Times, "a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, said the study added to a growing field of research linking poor cardiovascular and mental health to racial and gender discrimination—two significant sources of unfair treatment. People who think they are victims of discrimination often respond by drinking, smoking, or overeating. 'They do things that take the edge off,' Krieger said. 'If you do those things, those will have health consequences.' "58
Angry black economist and frequent television pundit Julianne Malveaux often writes for USA Today and other prestigious magazines and newspapers. She deserves a special place in the Victicrat Hall of Fame for her book, Sex, Lies and Stereotypes: Perspectives of a Mad Economist.
I once got into it with Malveaux on the Charles Grodin Show on CNBC:
Julianne Malveux: Race is a factor and you could watch all the conservative sort-of rap that you want to put out there about unwed mothers and about prisons and you're failing to look at some of the institutional issues that are extremely important.
Larry Elder: Let me respond and let me make it very simple. Today in America if you have an education, if you're willing to work hard, if you have drive, if you have energy, you can make it, whether you're black, whether you're white, whether you're Asian, whether you're male, whether you're female. The Wall Street Journal had a poll. They asked blacks and Hispanics and Asians and whites whether they felt confident about their prospects for promotion in their corporations. Asians and blacks and Latinos were more confident about their prospects for promotion than were whites. I think you and people like you do a great deal of damage by constantly looking for the Great White Bigot instead of telling people, "Work hard!" "Get an education!" "Learn how to speak standard English!"
Malveaux: You don't know what I say to people. I talk about working hard and about education and there's no Great White Bigot, there's just about two hundred million Little White Bigots out there.
Elder: Two hundred million Little White Bigots? Do you realize how appalling that statement is?"59
Conservative commentator Sean Hannity interviewed Malveaux a few years later. Malveaux said, "Terrorism in the United States is as old as we are. You want me to give you a litany of terrorism? You want me to start with what's happened to the Indian population? You want to go on to what happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921? . . . We are terrorists." Hannity asked her if the United States was a "terrorist nation," and she answered, "Oh, absolutely . . . the chickens have come back to roost," obviously referring to 9/11. Hannity then asked if America was "a good country." Her response? "We're a country." And when asked why she omitted the word "good," she said, "I can't answer that. I think we have some good and I think we have some evil."60
Finally, toward the end of the interview, the ever angry Malveaux, referring to "the weapons of mass distraction," said, "You know they weren't there. I know they weren't there. George Bush is evil. He is a terrorist. He is evil. He is arrogant. And he is out of control."61 Oh.
Excerpted from WHAT'S RACE GOT TO DO WITH IT? by LARRY ELDERCopyright © 2008, 2009 by Larry ElderPublished in April 2009 by St. Martin's Press
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.
Meet the Author
Larry Elder, host of "The Larry Elder Show" on KABC-AM in Los Angeles, was voted one of "The Top 25 Most Influential Talk-Radio Hosts" by NewsMax magazine in 2008. Elder also writes a column for Investor's Business Daily and a syndicated column that appears in a variety of newspapers across the country.
Larry Elder, host of “The Larry Elder Show” on KABC-AM in Los Angeles, was voted one of “The Top 25 Most Influential Talk-Radio Hosts” by NewsMax magazine in 2008. Elder also writes a column for Investor’s Business Daily and a syndicated column that appears in a variety of newspapers across the country. His books include Stupid Black Men and What's Race Got to Do with It?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews