I wanted to drop a few words about Dr. Laura Schlessinger, and I figured that I could also drop a few words about Rick Sanchez, Juan Williams, and the Chinese Professor Ad at the same time since they’re all somewhat related to race and media.
1, I’ve already covered Rick Sanchez. He said nothing anti-Semitic, and it’s sad that the media slammed a man over nothing. It’s sad that the media fired the only major Hispanic newsman. I’ve fielded e-mails from people calling him a talentless hack (I’ve never seen his show myself), but that’s different from being anti-Semitic. Rick made a living from sharing opinions, and the firing was unjustified.
2. Juan Williams was a news analyst/political commentator from NPR and a political commentator for Fox. He got in trouble for saying that he got nervous when being on a plane around people in “Muslim garb.” I don’t think this statement is racist, but I see how it could fan the flames of xenophobia. Nonsensical maybe, since the 9/11 perpetrators didn’t wear Muslim garb, but not racist or bigoted. He basically said the same thing that Jesse Jackson once said about black youth. Still, he probably deserved to be fired from NPR. His job at NPR was to be relatively unbiased–NPR isn’t Fox news or the Tom Hartmann show–so he should have reined in any comments that affect NPR’s reputation as an unbiased news source. He’s got a $2 million contract with Fox News now, so don’t feel too bad for him. It might be a better fit anyway, if he’s looking to mostly share his opinions.
3. The Chinese Professor Ad has been shooting around the blogosphere recently, and I blogged about it. Since then, two of the Asian American student extras have stepped out on AngryAsianMan (see here and here) to say that they had incomplete information when they agreed to do it. They both admit that they knew it was going to be a political ad. I don’t think this ad is racist, but I see how it could possibly fan the flames of xenophobia.
I don’t know how I feel about the extras stepping forward to disown it either. I found it interesting to hear their views, but from their descriptions, it sounded like the producers were being totally honest with them, even if they didn’t reveal everything. I think this is typical in acting gigs. I never thought I’d say this, but if they didn’t take it, someone else would have.
4. Dr. Laura got in trouble for saying the N-word on the air when a black woman called in to talk about her white husband’s racist friends. You can hear the whole thing here. It’s pretty funny when you hear it straight out like this. “N-r, N-r, N-r,” and Jon Stewart had an even funnier (if not someone mean) take here.
Still, I don’t think Dr. Laura was being racist. Within the context of her use of the word, she was just making a point that was entirely logical, even if you don’t agree–”if black people can use it, why can’t I?” I thought it was rather insensitive, and I disagree with her over the humor thing, but I don’t think it was something worth getting fired or pushed out over.
Think about it this way: if a member of the Asian Female Celebrity Club complained about her White husband’s friends’ racist behavior, would most Asian Americans be open and willing to listen? They probably should be…but would they? People in the AA blogosphere have often talked about how Asian American activist groups are run by the AFCC. I know it’s not a clear and even comparison given the overwhelming numbers of AF/WM and relatively few numbers of BF/WM, but I think it demonstrates that there probably is some sort of rationale behind what Dr. Laura may have been thinking–don’t people discuss these things before they get married? I disagree with her and am more inclined to agree with Jon Stewart’s implication that people don’t know the future when they marry, but I also don’t think that she should have been forced to quit over it either.
I think we as a country are getting oversensitive about race. I know, I know…it’s a strange statement coming from a person who blogs mostly about race. But I think we’ve come to the point where it’s become so easy to slam and shame someone for even addressing the issue. I will make a disclosure: I usually drive out for lunch, and I often hear Dr. Laura on the radio around lunch time. I think she helps a lot of people, even though I often disagree with her conservative, Bible-based advice. I think it’s sad that she will be going off the air because of something that appeared racist but wasn’t.