Sunday, August 22, 2010
I had gone back and forth with myself about whether or not I wanted to weigh in on the Dr. Laura issue. After engaging in what seems to be endless debate on the issue, and after reading numerous comments on both sides of this mess, I knew I would have to speak up because not doing so would simply be, in my estimation, cowardly. I know there are both conservatives and liberals who have looked at this through the wrong lenses. I'm used to being under fire from liberals, but my take may tick off some conservatives as well. So be it. My perspective may not be popular with them, but one thing is true of me: I am nothing, if not principled. And principles do not rely on popularity. Principles rely on a commitment to doing the right thing. I called out a superior at work at the end of the last school year because I didn't like the manner in which he repeatedly addressed my colleagues. I took a teacher to task early in the same school year because during Banned Books Week she promoted a lie in the name of her political agenda. I held my ground when dealing with her, the principal, and then the superintendent. I knew the situation was sticky for me, but I had to. Why? Because it was the right thing to do. This sometimes leaves people looking at me like, "Girl, are you crazy?! Are you asking for trouble?!" Believe me, I don't want any trouble, but I also want to be able to look myself in the mirror in the morning and sleep peacefully at night, and for me that's directly linked to standing up for what I believe in. This brings Shakespeare's wise words to mind:
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!
Hamlet Act 1, Scene 3
So what is my take on Dr. Laura? While I do not find her actions racist, they were unequivocally, undeniably wrong. They were racially insensitive and stupid. She was a complete jerk to the Black woman who called in to her radio show for advice about her husband's White friends being racist toward her. The doctor's initial use of the N-word was bad enough, but her continued use of the word, even when the woman called her on it, revealed an insensitivity that defies all common decency and sense. As for her being the target of a campaign to run her off the air, I say this: she got exactly what she deserved.
I understand Dr. Laura was making a point about the hypocrisy of Black people using the N-word. But her rant on the topic was ill-timed and had absolutely nothing to do with the reason the lady called in. Dr. Laura's handling of this was just plain wrong. She was complaining about people being hypersensitive about race, but she was the one being hypersensitive. She didn't even let the woman finish her point. She wanted to make a point of her own, and come hell or high water, she was going to make it--even injecting that Black people voted for Obama just because he was Black. Now, unless the woman is actually married to a 1/2 White man named Obama, or Obama was one of her husband's friends she was talking about, what does that have to do with anything?
I agree with Dr. Laura's point: I HATE when Blacks use the N-word. I'm constantly riding my students' tails about it. It's a slap in the face of those who fought and died to eradicate its use. I consider it the equivalent of saying, "F-You" to those who paid the ultimate price. It's just plain ignorant for Blacks to embrace it. But even that had nothing to do with the conversation. It's as if Dr. Laura was saying, "Hey, your people are using it, so why can't the White men in your livingroom?" And if she really doesn't know the answer to that question, she should've been calling in to somebody else's show for advice. Dr. Laura's desire to point out hypocrisy really only would have made sense if the woman, who is Black, had said she uses the word herself but doesn't want Whites to use it. That would be hypocrisy. The woman said no such thing. Dr. Laura had her own agenda and hung herself in the process. Then she made matters worse by basically saying if the woman had a problem with the N-word, she shouldn't have married a White man. Huh?! Are you stinkin' kiddin' me?!
Granted, she apologized, and I do believe in forgiveness. I make tons of mistakes, and I have learned to apologize quickly. However, her apology might have seemed more genuine if she didn't follow it up with playing the victim.
Dr. Laura talked about her First Amendment rights. While I respect the First Amendment, I have gone on record as saying there are some things people have the right to say or do but just shouldn't--out of common decency. I've been writing about the Ground Zero mosque. Americans know that Constitutionally Muslims have a right to build a mosque there. However, the argument has been that it's not the right thing to do given the circumstances. Does Dr. Laura have the Constitutional right to make a point, even one about how the N-word gets thrown around by Blacks? Sure--and I agree with her point. But the manner she used was simply not right. It was not decent. It was offensive. And it had nothing to do with the conversation. On another day, it would have been a great discussion to have, but not that day and not with that woman who was seeking advice about how to deal with being unfairly treated. Dr. Laura turned it on the lady without even paying attention to what was going on. With rights come responsiblilities, and common sense sometimes tells us not to exercise certain rights--or not to do so in certain ways--because compassion trumps doing so. It's that simple to me. Look, I'm not hypersensitive about race, and I'm not into political correctness, but I am into human decency and common sense--and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that Dr. Laura was wrong, and she has hell to pay because of it. Saying the word 11 times, even after the woman was clearly jarred by it? Unbelievable.
Now, how is this being handled on both sides of the political aisle? People on the Left want to paint Dr. Laura as racist because that's what they do with everyone on the Right. They hide in the shadows and wait for any opportunity to pounce, and if one doesn't surface, they invent it. So certainly no one can expect them to say what I said, that Dr. Laura was a jerk but not necessarily a racist. No one can expect them to try to take a look at the entirety of Dr. Laura's career, put her comments--as ridiculous as they were--in context, and be honest about them. The double standard on the Left is criminal. They have selective outrage about issues of race. Jesse Jackson uses the N-word, and they let it go. Harry Reid refers to President Obama's "negro dialect" and lumps all Hispanics together, and it's okay. But Dr. Laura? Oh no, she's on the Right. She's a racist. The Right has seen this double standard again and again, and they are tired of it. During this situation, they have been discussing it and the various and sundry examples of racebaiting so prevalent on the Left. It angers them and so they want to make that point in this situation. There's just one problem with that: this isn't about the Left this time. Dr. Laura's N-word tirade was not the Left's fault. Sorry, folks. She owns this one herself.
Just as I praise things that are respectable and honest, I want to be a person who calls out inexcusable behavior also--no matter what side of the aisle it's on. I won't sell out truth for partisanship. I have been frustrated with this whole thing. While I clearly see the Left's hypocrisy and glaring double standard, I can't use it as a reason not to speak out against what Dr. Laura did. This is what ticks me off so much about racebaiting games: when real issues of racial insensitivity surface, which this was, people feel compelled to defend because we are all so tired of the race games that others get away with. These games blur the lines and cause us to defend and excuse even when it's not deserved, to rush to the defense of people who should not be defended. We are so tired of the double standard and hypocrisy that it has blinded us to real issues that need to be condemned. This is one of the many dangers of playing games with race. I want no part of it.
Again, I don't deem Dr. Laura's comments racist, and she did not call anyone in particular the N-word. I agree that she had a valid point: nobody--Black, White, or otherwise--should be using it. However, she was a complete jerk to the woman, racially insensitive, and ignorant beyond words. And any argument from conservatives that the Left is also filled with insensitive, ignorant jerks is weak and really irrelevant in this case. We are all well-aware that many on the Left are clueless and morally corrupt. Those of us on the Right, on the other hand, are not them--and for good reasons. May we never allow the lines to be blurred to the point where we base our game plan on their example.