Entrapping the Bigot
I was groggy from a head cold this weekend, but some TV news show reported that 49% of people supported banning Donald Sterling from the NBA while 40% did not. And some 90% of African-Americans supported the ban. TV news gave no stats for how many were concerned whether the evidence against Sterling was the result of an illegal recording by V Stiviano – who reminds me of a Bratz doll. Some were quick to cite and accept Stiviano’s lawyers’ assertion that Sterling knew he was being recorded – which given the content seems as remotely possible as their assertion that Stiviano and Sterling were not sexually involved.
Everyone is for privacy — but when intrusion supports their cause, a lot of folk are willing to quickly move on. NPR mentioned the privacy issue, and referenced an OpEd for Time by basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who has also played a comic copilot and fearsome martial artist in movies, and is known as a jazz connoisseur. Abdul-Jabbar appeared on ABC’s This Week last weekend, but the transcript won’t load:
And now the poor guy’s girlfriend (undoubtedly ex-girlfriend now) is on tape cajoling him into revealing his racism. Man, what a winding road she led him down to get all of that out. She was like a sexy nanny playing “pin the fried chicken on the Sambo.” She blindfolded him and spun him around until he was just blathering all sorts of incoherent racist sound bites that had the news media peeing themselves with glee. …
Shouldn’t we be equally angered by the fact that his private, intimate conversation was taped and then leaked to the media? Didn’t we just call to task the NSA for intruding into American citizen’s privacy in such an un-American way? …
I hope whoever made this illegal tape is sent to prison.
In a later OpEd for Time, Abdul-Jabbar notes that more white people believe in ghosts than in racism, and talks about situational racism:
Racism today isn’t like the racism pre-Martin Luther King, Jr. Today we are faced with “situational racism.” This is similar to situational ethics, a philosophical and theological movement that argues that rather than having fixed, one-size-fits-all ethical rules of behavior, the context of each situation must be considered before determining the correct moral choice. Situational racism applies this flexible principle by declaring we must act according to a realistic analysis of race as it is in our society right now, not as we wish it were. …
The truth is, everyone has racism in his or her heart. We feel more comfortable around people of similar appearance, backgrounds, and experiences. But, as intelligent, educated and civilized humans, we fight our knee-jerk reactions because we recognize that those reactions are often wrong and ultimately harmful.
We definitely see a situational reaction to news. We are against stealing, unless Cliven Bundy frames it as an anti-government stance. We value our own privacy, but hang on every detail about Kate Middleton. We would howl if the media was taping our own conversations, or those of our heroes. A few years ago, Democracy Now! interviewed Tim Weiner, author of Enemies: A History of the FBI, about the FBI’s surveillance of Dr Martin Luther King:
With the approval, in writing, of the attorney general of the United States, Robert F. Kennedy, Hoover began bugging, wiretapping and surveying Dr. King, putting bugs in his hotel rooms, his private home, the Southern Christian Leadership Council offices, and very quickly came up with sex tapes of Dr. King having intercourse with women who were not his wife. He spread this dirt around as furiously as he could in the weeks leading up to Dr. King’s acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize. No newspaper would touch it. It was too filthy.
Today, almost nothing is too filthy.