Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way: Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, is an old fool – a bigoted old fool to be precise. But despite what you may hear, he isn’t proof that racism is alive and well in America. If he’s proof of anything, it’s just the opposite.
Everybody has come out against Sterling. Has any one publicly stated that despite his comments, he should not be suspended? Has anyone argued that he should be allowed to continue owning the Clippers?
No one has said anything like that. And that so many Americans – of all races — have turned against him and his bigotry is a good thing. That’s what’s missing from coverage of the Donald Sterling story.
And if you want to know how seriously we take Sterling’s racist remarks, consider this: CNN has finally ended its non-stop coverage of the missing Malaysian jetliner and now is going all out on Sterling.
In a country of more than 300 million people there are always going to be some bigots. But they’ve become outliers in our culture – outcasts, actually.
Yes, I’m sure there are some Sterling supporters lurking in the shadows. But that’s good news too. They’re in the shadows! That’s not always how it was in America. Once upon a time in this country, bigots didn’t hide. And they didn’t apologize if they hurt anybody’s feelings, either.
If an athlete gets drunk, gets in his car, and kills somebody – this has actually happened in case you’re wondering – he may be suspended, but eventually he gets his job back. If someone in the world of sports beats up his girlfriend or his wife, no one puts a scarlet letter on their forehead. Racism is different. It creates a furor that drunk driving and domestic abuse don’t. That wouldn’t happen if we really were a racist country, as some would like us to believe.
Sterling, like Cliven Bundy, the Nevada cattle rancher who wondered if “Negroes” would be better off as slaves than on welfare, are yesterday’s people. America has moved on. We need to pay more attention to that.