I didn’t even know who Donald Sterling was until this whole Clippers/mistress/racism thing went down. In case you’re living under a rock (like I typically try to), Donald Sterling is an older-than-dirt, mega-rich, crusty, white dude who also happens to own a pro basketball team that nobody knew existed (except me of course, I still have my Terry Dehere jersey in the closet… seriously) until some guy named Blake Griffin jumped over a car.
At least that’s what Donald Sterling was. Now, he seems to be an exposed racist with a mistress less than half his age and a long history of discriminating against minorities. The general public is outraged at these “revelations.” We’re not going to let this man say these racist things, dammit! I mean, we didn’t have a problem with him doing racist things for the longest time… but now that he actually said it? Now there’s a problem.
To my bitter, sarcastic mind, there’s a problem with our collective thinking on Sterling.
While our dislike of him may be rooted in his racial views (and even actions), the flames of our hatred fan most intensely towards the man because we don’t want to be hypocrites. Sterling was exposed as a racist years ago. Even so, we didn’t know or care enough about the man to pay him any mind. Now, though, we care. We care because everybody knows. Even worse, everybody knows that we know.
When everybody knows that you know that Donald Sterling is racist, you’ve got to be outraged. After all, they know you know he’s racist, and if you’re not as mad as them (or even more mad), then you’re probably racist too, right?
Look, I’m not defending Donald Sterling. He’s clearly a jackass. Crude as that sounds, there’s not a better word for it. The outrage is seemingly overdone, though.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar hit the nail squarely on the head with his piece for Time Magazine. If you haven’t read it yet, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Kareem takes a spectacularly rational position, and is as much upset at the general public for blowing the story up as he is at Sterling: