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September 27, 2007

Rearing Its Ugly Head Again

Derek Shackelford

Here we go again with the issue of race surfacing over the last couple of weeks. It is not enough that much attention was given to shock jock Don Imus and his comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team. The outrage that those comments garnered caused Mr. Imus to lose his national morning radio program.

It was the attention that was placed on the Imus comments that caused many of the sponsors to pull their advertisements from the morning program. This led NBC to pull the plug and cancel "Imus in the Morning."

Well, if we fast forward to this very hour, Talk Show Host Bill O'Reilly has also come under scrutiny because of his comments concerning black people and their aptitude. Granted this was spoken on O'Reilly's radio program on September 19, but the "outrage" has just surfaced this week.

In case you have not heard the comments O'Reilly made, they included: "I think black Americans are starting to think more and more for themselves. They're getting away from the Sharptons and the Jacksons and the people trying to lead them into a race-based culture. They're just trying to figure it out: "Look, I can make it. If I work hard and get educated, I can make it."

Okay, I will address these comments later.

The more disturbing part of the discussion went something like this. "I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship. "There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, `M.F.-er, I want more iced tea. You know, I mean, everybody was - it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn't any kind of craziness at all."

First of all, Mr. O'Reilly, maybe if you traveled more you would be able to know that black people do exhibit class and dignity. Next, many in the black community are appalled by the language that is used inappropriately.

But to act as if black people are the only ones to use curse words is showing your ignorance. When Bobby Knight curses and uses profanity-laced tirades, no one says this is the way all white people talk. It is certainly true that offensive language is used by those in the rap industry; but this does not encompass all who grace the microphone and portray the art with dignity. Besides this it is a known fact that the number one consumers of rap music are whites from suburban communities.

So, as a social critic, I must be an equal opportunity corrector. Isaiah Thomas is currently on trial for sexual harassment against a former Madison Square Garden employee. The former employee has accused Mr. Thomas of making sexual advances and thus discrediting the employee because she rejected his advances.

The interesting thing about Thomas' testimony is his explanation of the B-word. He believes that it is okay for African Americans to use the B- and H-words to describe African American women, while it is demeaning for whites to use these words in describing African American women.

When I place Don Imus, Bill O'Reilly, Isaiah Thomas, and some rap artists in the same category, I can conclude that ignorance comes in all educational backgrounds, in all social classes, and - unfortunate as it maybe - all races. I would conclude by saying that WEB Dubois was so prophetic in his assessment that "the problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line." We can safely add it will likely represent Americans of the 21st Century, too.

Early in September Gen. David Petraeus testified before Congress on the progress of the Iraq War. Proponents believe that the surge of extra troops is working, while critics have surmised that it has been ineffective.

One of the more interesting parts of the debate has been that those who have been critical of this administration's policy have been labeled as "unpatriotic," "accused of wanting to cut-and-run," and also being unsupportive of the United States military.

Well, when we look at this war truthfully, we find that most American support the troops. It is the policy that is being criticized. Unfortunately wars for the most part are not fought from a military stand point; they are fought from a political point of view. Hence, the disagreements along party lines.

Most congressional leaders tow the party line when it comes to this war. They give their unwavering support based on party loyalty and not on common sense. President George W. Bush is convinced that the War in Iraq is central to the War on Terror.

So, I ask: Mr. President, why have the objectives changed. First, it was that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. No weapons of mass destruction have been found.

Second, it was that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator; but it was okay when Donald Rumsfeld was shaking hands with him years ago and he was brutal dictator then.

Next it was to provide democracy to the people of Iraq and yet the government that is in place cannot govern with any effectiveness.

Lastly, it is to provide security to the region. But security is difficult when people are willing to sacrifice themselves.

So, I ask Mr. President, what is the objective?

Furthermore, it has been 1,600 days since you pronounced "Mission Accomplished" on board the USS Abraham Lincoln.

So, I ask you Mr. President, why are we still there?

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