- Racial Equity
- Talk About Race
I think many of us were relieved to see Rick Sanchez fired so quickly after his blatantly anti-Semitic remarks. Frankly, he couldn’t have been let go any faster save his showing up on air with a Hitler mustache which, though inappropriate, would have been quite memorable. But where was the outrage when he called Barack Obama, our first African-American president, a “cotton-picking president?”
There are a few possible explanations for this apparent firing discrepancy. One is that blacks don’t have enough media clout. Another is that there was not enough media coverage of the presidential slave reference. Another still is that potential supporters [i.e. offended parties] neglected to join the fight. Though we could postulate the reasons for this injustice until the cows come home [and they never do], let’s examine the case and figure it out. Better yet, let’s go to the video – and root out this evil for ourselves!
Well…he did say “cotton-picking.” But given the context, maybe it’s not as bad as it first sounded. And in all fairness to our recently departed [from TV] one, he did come back on air and immediately apologize, saying that, “it’s a term that [he’s] used because he grew up in the South [is Miami really the South?]. It’s a point that’s often used to illustrate frustration.” He’s right. “Cotton-picking” has been used to express frustration in generations past but in fairness, who knows how old that dude is anyway. I do take issue with his labeling Miami as part of the South. My hometown, Nashville, is the real South and I must say that when I first went to Miami, I knew that I was at home no more. So, though I wanted to give Sanchez the ax, I have to [begrudgingly] agree that he deserved a pass on this one.
But since we’re stuck on antebellum idioms, let’s take a look at the same utterance from Newsweek editor Julia Reed. With her straight-off-the-plantation twang we can surely nail her on this one. To the video – and the chopping block!
Hmm…I can still say that I dislike her use of the phrase but again, given the full context of her commentary, I, unfortunately, do not see any cotton-picking fireable offense in this case either. Similarly, Julia Reed saw no since she apparently issued no apology, either by choice or by force.
So what we’ve learned here is that it is not the words but the intent behind the words that gets one fired, well, most of the time. And despite all of our, my, hyper-sensitivity and our collective political correctness, that is the way that is should be in a free society.
Isn’t that right Shirley Sherrod? She was the Department of Agriculture staffer who was due to an out-of-context statement. Worst of all, her statement was part of a larger arc that, instead of the prejudice assumed, spoke to the enlightening and healing to which we should all aspire. For fear of appearing like a Sanchez or a Reed, Sherrod’s boss, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack abruptly fired Sherrod before sheepishly apologizing and asking her to accept her job back [she politely declined].
Sherrod committed no ‘crime.’ Instead she was victimized by an ideologically set-upon federal government in a in a hyper partisan, overly-racially charged time. In a cowardly effort to appease all, the government effectively told us to not discuss race, except in the most generic and timid way. It is our responsibility to reject that charge and engage each other honestly and completely. Only then will we as a nation get past the urge to keep throwing each other under the bus.
Now if you will excuse me, I have a lunch meeting with Tom Vilsack. And, by using his same level of judgment, I’m sure that I’ll have something on him before the meal is over.
First off and last off, Sanchez’s comment was NOT anti-Semitic. And it certainly wasn’t blatantly anti-Semitic. You can’t get away with that laziness, not in the public domain and call yourself a serious writer.
October 18, 2010 at 12:36 pm
“he couldn’t have been let go any faster save his showing up on air with a Hitler mustache”
Are you serious? He stated that Jews controlled the major networks. What if would have stated that African-Americans controlled professional sports? What if he would have said Cuban-Americans controlled Miami Florida? It is what it is. You may not agree, but antisemitic? Really? That’s all it takes to be labeled that?
Plus, your writing style sucks. You are all over the place.
October 18, 2010 at 8:56 pm
Wow, just noticed you went to Yale. You can’t be serious dude. You can’t even write. Ask fr your money back.
October 18, 2010 at 8:59 pm
I do not think that I am alone in calling Sanchez’s comments blatantly anti-Semitic because if I were, he would still have his job.
October 20, 2010 at 2:52 am
Oh, so the issue is: you get fired for saying something that the powers that be characterize as anti-Semitic, even if it isn’t? Is that the standard?
Maybe that should have been the title of your piece.
October 21, 2010 at 9:41 am
And that’s the other problem and diasspointment. We come to Race-Talk, for the other point of view — i.e., the truth.
We don’t expect to get the same garbage we are getting everywhere else.
Just because everyone is saying it, doesn’t make it true. It just shows that the control is in the hands of a small and discrete number of folks, that all champion the same point of view.
And thus, essentially, proving Sanchez’s statement as true. I expect more from Race-Talk writers than that — bottom line.
Jordan, you could go anywhere and write that garbage you just wrote. But truth, on the other hand, is hard to find.
October 21, 2010 at 10:18 am
Vince didn’t even have enough respect for Race-Talk to write a decent, thought provoking piece.
October 21, 2010 at 10:21 am
Vince can do better than that, if he went to Yale. He just didn’t think he had to do better for Race-Talk.
October 21, 2010 at 10:35 am
Well Wells, I am surprised that you believe your opinion to necessarily qualify as fact. Jews, numerically speaking [in the US], are a minority. Even though they may dominate a particular area of business, Sanchez uses that dominance to form resentment against the group. That to me is anti-Semitic. And even if you don’t agree, which is your right, is it certainly possible that others might, which does not make them wrong.
October 21, 2010 at 4:23 pm
Oh, so you define resentment as anti-Semitism. And if so, how did you discern that Sanchez was resentful? And are jews Semitic? And didn’t you write your opinion, as fact?
October 21, 2010 at 7:24 pm
Ms. Wells, I cannot say that I understand your hostility but I thank you for sharing your opinion.
October 27, 2010 at 2:22 am