Jewish World Review Oct. 5, 2003/ 9 Tishrei, 5764

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Rush Limbaugh: Part I | I hate sports. I even wait outside when my children go to Sports Authority. But PC gibberish keeps creeping into sports, thus demanding my attention. As they say in sportscasting, let me recap on social commentary rearing its ugly head in sports.

I've written about Jimmy the Greek, Fuzzy the Zoeller, and Howard the Cosell, who had comments about monkeys, chickens, and breeding. Oh, my! I addressed John Rocker's comments on subway occupants. He induced snits by commentators for his description of the "D" train in NYC. He was accurate; they preferred the rose-colored glasses description.

Now Rush Limbaugh has theorized on ESPN that the media held back on their critiques of black quarterback, Donovan McNabb, who, Mr. Limbaugh feels, is not all that good.

Them's fightin' words. Is Mr. Limbaugh is on drugs? Oops! That's next week's topic, after the mainstream media confirm the National Enquirer reports.

Reaction was swift, histrionic and gleeful. Crooked fingers jabbed at the most popular radio show host in America. The media, Kweisi Mfume of the NAACP, two presidential candidates, and sports writers in a collective moralistic tizzy all clucked, "Off with his head!" For a bunch of moral relativists, liberals are Puritanical.

Race obsession paralyzes society. Make race a factor in college and graduate school admissions, government hiring, government contractor retention (including mandatory affirmative action programs), and election contests, and you get a one-track racial society.

In a racial society, lines are drawn, literally and figuratively, along black and white. When the law mandates race-based decisions, people think and speak in racial terms.

Mr. Limbaugh is right in his assessment of the racially restrained media.

The NFL has been consumed with fear since September 30, 2002 when Cyrus Mehri and Johnnie Cochran released their report, "Black Coaches in the National Football League: Superior Performance, Inferior Opportunities," and threatened class action discrimination lawsuits. Mr. Cochran can, of course, get a murderer acquitted using race. Mr. Mehri has shaken down corporate America's finest for racial discrimination, including Coke ($192.5 mil) and Texaco ($176 mil).

If you want to view obsequious sports writers, check out the editorials in reaction to the Mehri/Cochran report in the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times,and San Francisco Chronicle. Nothing but outrage over the NFL's failure to hire black executives when 2/3 of NFL players are black. One writer demands that the NCAA be the next target.

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So, the NFL formed a special committee that imposed the Rooney Rule, one that requires NFL teams to interview a least one minority candidate for head coach positions. Detroit Lions' president Matt Millen was fined $200,000 in July for his failure to bring in a minority candidate before hiring white guy, Steve Mariucci.

Pointing out the folly of this quota program, black Cornell MBA John Hackney, a Holy Cross math major and football player, has offered to come and interview with any NFL team for $100,000. He doesn't want to be a head coach, but he pockets $100,000, and the NFL team has net savings of $100,000 by complying with the Rooney Rule thereby avoiding the Tagliabue fine.

With this backdrop, Mr. Limbaugh's comment on the attack of media race consciousness rings true. In fact, Alex Barra, sports writer for Slate, hardly a bastion of conservative thought, offered the following, "Rush Limbaugh Was Right: Donovan McNabb isn't a great quarterback, and the media do overrate him because he is black." Mr. Limbaugh is many things, but he not a racist. His right hand on his radio program, Mr. Snerdley, is black, as is the editor of his newsletter. His ESPN commentary is what a racial society breeds.

In a racial society, everyone is accountable along racial lines, but cannot discuss racial impact.

Race has been made part of every equation, not a variable, but a given. Race is the basis for critical decisions in human capital advancement. In a racial society, race controls advancement in jobs and education. And in the NFL. But, we dare not say so.

Race even controls reaction to racial comments. Dusty Baker, the Chicago Cubs manager, commented this summer on the superior genetic ability of minority players to take the heat. Mr. Baker had a few bad days in the media, but he's also black and still employed.

Cruz Bustamante, lieutenant governor of California, touts his membership in MEChA (Movimienti Estudiantil de Aztlan). Motto: "For the race, everything. For those outside the race, nothing." Mr. Bustamante also used the "n" word in a speech in February 2001. He got a free pass from the same groups who tossed Mark Fuhrman from LA. Mr. Fuhrman was the detective who testified in the O.J. Simpson trial. He failed to disclose using the "n" word 11 years prior.

Mr. Limbaugh suggested the media were reluctant in their candor on McNabb because of his race. When push comes to shove, on the NFL field or in any other line of work, race matters. It defines us, it determines our fate, and, on occasion, deprives us. Mr. Limbaugh's observations are not the problem. His thoughts are what a racial society hath wrought.

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JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.

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© 2003, Marianne M. Jennings