Editor’s Note: For an alternative view, please see: Point: What’s Really Destroying America
On a sweltering day in August 2003, NBA Hall of Famer and social commentator Charles Barkley adamantly delivered a hot-button comment that didn’t result with a hot-button reaction.
Barkley, speaking as a member of an eclectic panel discussing the NBA and society, unabashedly uttered: “We as black folks have to do a better job. We need to treat each other better. Someone working at Wal-Mart with seven kids, you are hurting us. We have to start holding each other to a higher standard. We have to stop black-on-black crime and teenage pregnancy. We have to hold each other to a higher standard.”
That day, the NBA-star-turned-television-broadcaster spoke to approximately 500 onlookers in a Dallas hotel ballroom at the annual National Association of Black Journalists Convention. Barkley’s words didn’t evoke a controversy; no one stormed the dais; nobody got all bent out of shape; no discord.
Suppose Barkley’s exact words were enunciated in August 2004 at the Republican National Convention in New York. By then-President George W. Bush. Seeking re-election.
Most assuredly, there would have been a national outcry of historic proportions from some corners. Some observers easily would have determined that Barkley spoke the truth; some observers easily would have accused President Bush of hate speech, even if he repeated Barkley verbatim.
Translation No. 1: Barkley operated under an expectation of impunity in public expression; Bush, conversely, would have to operate under an expectation of political correctness.
Translation No. 2: President Bush may have thought like Barkley, but he damn well better not express himself like Barkley.
And expect to get re-elected? No way. The Politically Correct Police (aka the PCP) would have destroyed President Bush. Despite the fact that many of Bush’s critics would have logically and viscerally agreed with Barkley’s assessment.
How ridiculous is that.
All Barkley did on that steamy Texas day was implore black folk to use social and personal responsibility as a mechanism to improve their status in U.S. society. It sounded like good, sound advice for implementation.
That’s all. Simple. Nothing outlandish. In today’s climate, only a certain few are allowed to petition certain groups to exercise self-help and DIY (Do It Yourself).
However, President Bush couldn’t go there — sound advice or not — simply because he had an “R” behind his name.
But Joe Biden could. Also known as the Washington Human Gaffe Machine, Biden apparently can speak absence of thought, without recrimination. Before he became vice president, Biden, in 2007, categorized then-presidential candidate Barack Obama as, “I mean, you’ve got the first sort of mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”
Biden later apologized for his personal presumptions about Obama. Biden’s career wasn’t derailed because of his stereotyping; he was granted the benefit of the doubt. In fact, he, ultimately, became vice president of the United States.
That “D” grade helped him, for sure. “D” as in Democrat.
A “D” grade also can be applied to much of the national media in its coverage of black mob violence. This disturbing spate of attacks recently has been documented in Cincinnati, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Charlotte, Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit.
A classic example occurred at a Kroger grocery store in Memphis, Tenn., in September 2014. A 25-year-old white male walking in the store’s parking lot was savagely beaten by dozens of black teenagers.
Even acclaimed Hollywood actor James Woods, a frequent critic of the Obama administration, weighed in on Twitter, pleading for then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to launch a civil rights investigation into the case. Woods tweeted: “Mr. Holder, this is your opportunity to step across the ugly racial divide in America. Go to Memphis, Sir, for ALL of us. #holderchallenge”
Many of these ugly incidents — including Memphis — have been captured on video. Despite the brutal nature of the crime and Woods’ incessant efforts to shine a spotlight on the case, national media attention was scant at best. Why, many ask.
Because the national media are most reluctant to spotlight racial cases that don’t fit a certain narrative of political correctness. That narrative: Focus on white-on-black incidents of horrific nature.
That philosophical paradigm is akin to inducing an intentional chemical imbalance.
Sometimes that imbalance potentially can be disastrous. See something, say something; that’s the mantra we have been taught since Sept. 11, 2001.
Teachers performed their due diligence in Irving, Texas, when they became suspicious of a clock that 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed brought to school in September. The clock, ultimately, turned out to be harmless.
When teachers saw something and said something, they called police, who questioned and handcuffed Mohamed. The teachers did their jobs and yet were the focus of unwarranted vilification as Mohamed zoomed from suspended student to celebrity curiosity at mach speed, garnering recognition as a “Boy Wonder” from Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook to Microsoft to the White House.
Suppose that clock produced by the “Wiz Kid” really had been a bomb, and those teachers had seen something but said nothing. Suppose students and faculty had been injured in the process. Then what would those same critics say about what one teacher categorized as a “weird little kid”? Now, any would-be terrorist has attained a free rein to bring a clock to school with impunity, knowing authorities would be extremely reluctant to create another “Genius Teen” controversy.
With that, forget the twilight, political correctness has entered the hazardous zone.