Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Until Rob Parker, ESPN's resident bigot, accused Robert Griffin III, Washington's sensational
rookie quarterback, of being a "cornball brother" (i.e., someone who "acts
white"), I had not even heard of the man. I'm no fan of the practice of holding
athletes out as examples to children of how to lead life, but RGIII, as he is
known, sounds like a decent person by all accounts. As USA Today's Deborah Barrington
put it, "Griffin III is exactly who my ancestors would want a young black man
to be: successful, talented, respectful and rich. Who wouldn't want to hang out
I have been happy to see that lots of commentators, like Barrington, have spoken up to condemn Parker's bigotry. I was about to say "defend Griffin", but it is clear that he is independent enough that he probably doesn't need it. (Still, I see that he has been man enough to acknowledge and thank his supporters.) What is also clear is that the real target of remarks such as Parker's and the kind of "thinking" they exemplify isn't a man who can clearly take care of himself, but black children all across our country who can't yet do the same. It is the real purpose of cowardly remarks like this, of which Parker's are only the most recent example, to make sure they never can.
If you don't believe me, read the long litany of black-on-black psychological abuse described by Lee Habeeb of National Review. Such is the corrupt, life-hating state of the main part of the black intelligentsia that anyone who dares to be different (like RGIII) or who raises concerns about it (like Bill Cosby, as Habeeb notes at some length) becomes a target. Oh, and of course, anyone who self-identifies as black (or is generally regarded as black) can come under fire for merely having some white ancestry, as Shaun Powell points out. (It speaks ill of the President that he goes along with this, as exemplified by the example Powell gives of him pandering to a roomful of reporters by deliberately showing up late.)
I am happy to see from Barrington's piece that Griffin did not dignify Parker with a direct answer: Parker doesn't deserve one. [Update: Actually, I realized later that it was Griffin's father who ignored Parker's bile. I do not know what reply to it, if any, RGIII himself has made.] Nevertheless, the kind of thinking that led to those remarks bears closer examination. Ayn Rand, whose "prophecies" aren't limited to our current slide into an economic depression, nailed Parker's mentality to the wall decades ago:
Like every other form of collectivism, racism is a quest for the unearned. It is a quest for automatic knowledge--for an automatic evaluation of men's characters that bypasses the responsibility of exercising rational or moral judgment--and, above all, a quest for an automatic self-esteem (or pseudo-self-esteem).Parker has nothing of value behind his black skin, so he has to ascribe all kinds of magical qualities to it. Parker sees someone who rejects his magical thinking and so he feels threatened, but he never really bothers to ask why. Parker resents Robert Griffin because Robert Griffin is a man, and Parker is afraid that his example might lead to too many kids growing up to become men. Parker sees himself for what he is for a moment and faces a choice: change himself or destroy someone else. We see what Parker tried to do, and it is little different than what any cowardly white supremacist might have wanted. Showing himself to be the kind of animal that sees safety in numbers, Parker tried to get RGIII kicked out of the pack. Further showing himself to be not even sub-human, Parker also tried to snuff out the spirit of any young black man who might see that quarterback as a hero.
The real Uncle Tom here is Rob Parker -- and that term, even as it is commonly used, is really too good for him. Parker is trying to do what no Klansman could ever hope to do, which is to get black people to marginalize themselves. I hope the folks at ESPN have the sense, decency, and courage to fire him.
Today: Added an update to correct a factual error.