Friday, May 2, 2014

STERLING vs. KERRY

Two similar, yet two different, incidents occurred this past weekend, both involving race.

The first involved LA Clippers owner who was secretly recorded making disparaging remarks about black people to his "girlfriend." For some reason, this "girlfriend" released the recording and now everybody is calling for the guy's head. I've heard a clip of the recording, and I think his attitude is uncalled for. He could apologize, but it's doubtful it would be considered sincere since he apparently was saying it like he really feels (and apparently been saying it for a long time). Notice, though, he was not recorded (at least on the clip I heard) using the "n" word. Keep that in mind. And the point of this post is not to debate whether or not the guy should have said what he said or the condition of race relations in America.

The second involves Secretary of State John Kerry who was secretly recorded using a disparaging word about Israel to the Trilateral Commission. While the Trilateral Commission did not record Kerry's remarks thus did not release them, someone did, but in this instance, only one person has called for Kerry's resignation -- Senator Ted Cruz. I've heard a clip of the recording, and I think Kerry's remark was uncalled for. Kerry has since apologized, but it's hard to believe he is sincere because he probably really said what he thinks, especially since he thought his remarks about Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu were off the record. Notice, though, that even though Kerry used the word "apartheid," and it is not exactly equivalent to the "n" word (which is considered even too taboo to write out, even in this context), the word "apartheid" still has strong connotations associated with it so that it has come to mean nothing short of a slur.  And that is the point of this post -- to primarily contrast the two incidents.

Here are a few things about these two incidents that I find interesting.

1st, BOTH secret recordings were revealed on Friday, April 25th. Sterling's remarks were alleged to have been recorded April 9, but released on the 25th. Kerry's remarks were made on Friday and revealed on Friday.

2nd, BOTH men made remarks that are considered unacceptable. Sterling's remarks disparaged black people BUT he did not use the specific "n" word. Kerry used a very specific word, "apartheid," which is strongly considered a slur.

3rd, BOTH men had very different public reactions. MANY have said Sterling should not even be allowed to own an NBA team and should resign; an apology would not be enough. ONLY one person called for Kerry's resignation, several called for him to apologize.

4th, President Obama took time out while visiting Malaysia to publicly condemn Sterling's attitude towards black people and called him "ignorant." However, President Obama said NOT ONE WORD about John Kerry's slur against Israel.

Let's go one step further: Sterling did NOT publicly justify his private remarks about black people to his "girlfriend" . . . not one word. BUT Jen Psaki, John Kerry's spokesperson at his State Department did make public remarks in which she intimated the use of the word "apartheid" (even though it is considered a slur) was not totally unacceptable because "others have used it."

Stop and think about that.

What would have happened IF Sterling had used the "n" word? Would ANYBODY have accepted his justification if he had claimed he used it because others, like Paula Deen . . . and, of course, rappers, have used it? Or that people used it 60 years ago? Of course not! But Obama's State Department claims that since Secretary Kerry's use of the word was not meant to mean the current situation but intimated that since other officials (Israeli, not American) have used the term, then it isn't really that shocking. I think that's what Psaki, who can get rather miffed when being questioned by those rascally reporters, was trying to say. With her, who knows? (Her vagueness is probably the point.)

5th: Sterling is being condemned for expressing, in what he thought was a one-on-one conversation, his FEELINGS, not for any particular ACT towards another person. There is a distinction, nonetheless, he is being forced to pay a heavy price for not thinking like other people. Kerry, on the other hand, made his comments to a group of people in what he believed was a confidential session BUT NOT an exclusively private conversation -- it was not one on one in a non-official setting. Indeed, even if Kerry was expressing what he believed an outcome might be, he was still speaking in an official capacity, therefore, he should have been mindful of the impact of that particular word.

Kerry has since apologized, sort of. He said he would have chosen a different word -- meaning, he would have chosen a different word had he known that his remark would have been made public. Here we see very clearly what we often suspect -- this administration throws different slop out for public consumption than what it delivers for more important counterparts.

Kerry's apology was also delivered with an additional (indignant?) statement that he would not allow anyone to "question his commitment to Israel."

Really? I question whether his commitment is to Israel or to establishing what he and President Obama thinks is best for Israel -- a 2-state solution. There is a difference.

Unlike Sterling, who is not being condemned for taking certain ACTS against black people, only voicing his FEELINGS about black people, Kerry has not limited his views about Israel's policies to stating FEELINGS; Kerry is believed to have undertaken certain ACTS against Israel, including encouraging, albeit behind the scenes and very low-key, boycotts against West Bank products from Israel.  I wrote about that in yesterday's post.

Not too long ago, Kerry was really offended by the FEELINGS of some in Israel that the U.S. was projecting weakness -- SO offended that he INSISTED upon an apology.

Officials in Israel have expressed shock that Kerry would use the word "apartheid" as the dire prediction for their future if they do not implement Obama's peace plan for them but I have not seen any DEMANDS for an apology at the same heated level as Kerry's demand of just a few weeks ago.

So look who's having to apologize now.

As the Obama administration continues to direct the NSA to collect records of both U.S. citizens here at home as well as world leaders abroad in what many consider an invasion of privacy, it's interesting to see a bit of that boomerang upon a top official so that what he thought was private is broadcast on the 6 o'clock news.

The contrast between these two incidents is stark. One man, an NBA owner, expressing private feelings in a private setting in a one-on-one conversation is being stripped of an asset he has owned since 1981. The other man, a cabinet-level Secretary to the President of the United States, expresses a belief in a non-public, but not exclusively private, setting with multiple high-level officials his belief that Israel will become apartheid (a harsh slur) if Israel doesn't embrace President Obama's framework for peace is stripped of NOTHING.

Is it because it is said against Israel? Is it because it is said against the Jews? Is it because the popular thinking is that Israel shouldn't be in Palestine in the first place -- that the Balfour Proclamation was a mistake, that 1948 was a mistake? Is it because the popular thinking is that the Israelis are "oppressors" therefore they deserve the slur? Can the word "apartheid" be used because deep down inside Secretary Kerry knows that any protest against the term will be isolated and probably not rigorous -- that there will be no strong reaction against it because "that's what we are all thinking anyway?"  Look at the news stories since last weekend -- EVERYBODY knows about Sterling because the controversy has been in the news EVERY day.  Good luck finding 25 people who know what Kerry said. Dave Hunt observed well when he wrote in 1995, "The American media's bias against Israel and for the Arabs is demonstrated almost daily." (1)

I've been stunned by the contrast in reaction to these two instances. The NBA would hound Sterling out of the country if they could, but they will have to be content with the efforts to strip Sterling of his team. Kerry -- nothing.

The NBA proudly notes that ALL the other team owners are on board with the punishment of what this man said in private. If Sterling had gone on a rant in a public venue -- I could entirely understand. But what is next? Pro-life views? Disagreement with using the IRS to target Obama's political opponents? Wanting an investigation of Benghazi? For not following President Obama's example of saying "InsyAllah"?  For being pro-Israel? Against dividing Israel much less Jerusalem? Believing radical Islam is responsible for 9/11? Going to the next Dinesh D'Souza movie? Supporting traditional marriage? Not contributing a significant portion of your income to LGBT causes? Eating at Chick-fil-A? Praying to JESUS in public? Tebowing? Believing the Bible is God's Holy Word?  Not convinced that global warming is man made?  What privately-held or privately-expressed view is next? The NBA put us all on a slippery slope. Make no mistake -- it is highly likely other views will now be ferreted out and met with the same severity.   What view is no longer acceptable?  Who decides?  Who determines the price?  And now that members of President Obama's political party want to "scour" the Internet looking for "hate speech," watch out if you own anything, right?

Meanwhile, while he was in the Philippines, President Obama, who publicly condemned the disparaging remarks by the LA Clippers owner towards black people but said not a word about his Secretary of State's offensive use of the word "apartheid" in connection with Israel, was burned in effigy by protestors.

Hmmm, let's think about that for a minute.

Who doesn't know that President Obama is a huge basketball fan? Much ado is made every year about his bracket. He is a Miami Heat fan, and it is clear from official White House photos that he seems a little in awe of NBA players when they are his guests. Loves to shoot the hoops with them, etc. etc. etc. What does it say about President Obama that he was quick to denounce the remarks made by a team owner in a sports genre that he is quite passionate about but not a word about the remarks by one of his top officials about a key Mid-East ally that President Obama frequently, publicly, claims to be a strong supporter of?

President Obama Condemns Clippers Owner's 'Ignorance' at Malaysian Press Conference

(I would link to any articles here where President Obama condemned Kerry's remarks, but there aren't any.)

Report: Kerry is responsible for European boycott threats

Filipino Protesters Burn Effigy of Barack Obama to Protest New Defense Deal

FLASHBACK: Previous incidents of Obama and fire.

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1. A Cup of Trembling, 1995, pg 212.