Ten congressmen, demanding the Washington Redskins name be changed, wrote, “. . . Native Americans . . . consider the `R-word' a racial, derogatory slur akin to the `N-word' among African-Americans.”
And that is precisely why we cannot move ahead with race relations, and why, whenever a controversy erupts, it isn’t handled appropriately, and often provokes a counter-productive backlash.
Enter the Riley Cooper saga.
In June, Cooper, who plays for the Philadelphia Eagles, made two mistakes. First, he attended a Kenny Chesney concert. That alone is cause for concern.
But the big one was using the N-word during an altercation with a concert security guard.
It’s not Riley Cooper the private citizen saying that slur, but Cooper the Eagle, the NFL player, and yes, the white guy in a league that is two-thirds black.
Can’t chalk that up to anything but what it is: a major mistake.
Here’s the bigger problem. There have been consequences: fines, public humiliation that will follow him the rest of his life, shame and even a bounty placed on his head. But that isn’t enough, as some want more.
But to what end? Should he really be suspended or kicked out of the league for saying a bad word, offensive as it may be?
Will his “sensitivity training” actually help? No, but it’s all part of the charade, the “feel good” measures we employ in the name of improving race relations, all while doing nothing of substance to identify, let alone solve, the real racial problems.
Worse are those who think his apology isn’t genuine. When did we become so damn judgmental and almighty?
Who are we to look into a man’s soul and self-righteously proclaim that his sincerity isn’t real? Who gave us the power — the “right” — to tear someone down without end, ruin a career, destroy a life, and turn a deaf ear to an apology, all because we don’t hear exactly what we want?
His apology was sincere enough for many of his black teammates, who, by the way, showed immense class and dignity in how they handled this affair, yet it’s not good enough for those in the cheap seats.
That arrogance is astounding, and ironically, vastly diminishes the really important point.
The amount of overkill on Cooper, who you would think ran a lynch mob, is backfiring. Many Americans have now become so turned off by the piling-on that they feel empathy for Cooper. Instead of his words being wrong, plain and simple, the collective mentality is becoming, “OK. No big deal. Enough already. Play ball.”
Is Riley Cooper a racist? No idea, though his teammates say he isn’t. Either way, his words are a big deal. But because we can’t see the forest through the trees, unable to focus on what is important, Cooper is increasingly viewed as a victim. A valuable lesson is lost, but personal agendas are being accomplished.
That type of arrogance is also showing its head with Anthony Weiner, as politicians and commentators demand he withdraw from the New York mayoral race.
We live in a democracy, and the only ones who get to decide who goes into public office are the people. Period.
Weiner leaving the race should be his — and only his — decision. But once again, we see the audacity of “leaders” who think they, and not the people, know what is best.
Instead of uselessly bloviating on the irrelevant aspects of Riley Cooper and Anthony Weiner, maybe we should expend a fraction of that time on actually solving our problems.
If we did, we’d be marching down the field instead of always penalizing ourselves and moving backwards.
An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.
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