|Rushing through your homework|
By Jason Whitlock
Page 2 columnist
So Rush Limbaugh is a martyr now, and the soldiers of political correctness have lynched yet another white broadcaster/public figure willing to speak his mind on a racial topic. And the assault on our inalienable rights continues, and reverse-racism thrives unabated.
And is there anyone out there willing to risk everything and fight these evil forces conspiring to stamp out truth, justice and the American way?
Limbaugh is a genius, not a victim. In the wake of his ESPN controversy, his unwitting sympathizers and dittoheads predictably concluded that Rush, being a white-wing rabble-rouser, has suffered some sort of cataclysmic injustice for simply uttering an opinion. He paid a price that a black-wing rabble-rouser would avoid.
"Rush can't get away with it like a black guy could," a caller to my radio show told me. "A white man can't talk about race. Look at Rush, Jimmy the Greek and Campanis."
Get away with it? Are you kidding me?
For more than a decade, Rush Limbaugh has been earning millions of dollars talking racial smack. Oh, he's good at it. Better than Chris Rock. As good as Jesse Jackson. Rush's tongue runs circles around Al Sharpton.
Rush Limbaugh is arguably one of the greatest radio broadcasters in American history, largely because of his ability to play the dozens along racial lines. He's heard across the globe. He's tight with some of the most powerful white-wing politicians in the world.
If you're good at it, there's no American penalty for white-wing, politically-incorrect, racial smack. There are riches, fame and a tee time at America's plushest golf courses. Just ask Rush and Howard Stern.
The notion of Rush being a persecuted freedom fighter is laughable. They don't make bobblehead dolls for freedom fighters. They make caskets and jail cells. Ask King and Kennedy and Mandela.
No freedoms have been trampled here. Rush, annoyed with being in Bill O'Reilly's shadow, used ESPN and Donovan McNabb to negotiate his next radio contract, hype his next book. That's it. Free speech and healthy, sports-related racial discussions have not been impeded. Qualified debaters are welcome.
That's the lesson here. Qualified.
Rush failed because he wasn't qualified. It's the same reason Campanis and the Greek bombed when they discussed sports-related racial matters. ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown" show is the most prestigious and informed pregame show on television. It's the "Meet The Press" of football. You don't invite a fan to sit down with Tim Russert, David Broder and William Safire during the "Insights and Analysis" segment.
The people talking football on TV have spent years studying the game, building sources and relationships with coaches, players, executives and other media. It saddens me that a seasoned broadcaster, out of fear of embarrassing himself, wouldn't go on air and comment about the Rams-Vikings playoff game without having done hours of research, but some people think it's okay for Limbaugh to fire off a racial missive without having done any homework.
Years of watching football doesn't qualify you to sit at the table and pontificate with real experts. Years of yukking it up with your white-wing or black-wing political friends doesn't qualify you to pontificate on racial matters with legit experts.
Race is a tad more delicate and complex than football. It requires five or six times more research to debate a racial issue intelligently than it does to discuss whether Emmitt Smith was stupid for taking Arizona's money.
That would be my advice to any broadcaster or executive looking to spout his racial views on a respected, nationally-televised show. Do some homework. Prepare. At least apply the same standards you would to commenting on the game. It's one thing to open your mouth and predict the wrong winner. The stakes are -- and should be -- higher when it comes to debating race in a country with our history.
Jason Whitlock is a columnist for the Kansas City Star (kcstar.com) and a regular contributor on ESPN The Magazine's Sunday morning edition of "The Sports Reporters." He also hosts an afternoon radio show, "The Doghouse," on Kansas City's 61 Sports KCSP. He can be reached at email@example.com.