Far too much was said at the time about that stupid donnybrook over Donald Sterling’s audiorecorded geezer racism. Far too little, however, was said about this moral panic that was not obnoxiously moralistic, excruciatingly self-serious, and also tacitly super racist. For just as Ruby was cherished above Oswald, Silver was cherished above Sterling, and everyone involved was beneath contempt. Holler atcha cracka, for the hour has come yet again to #RaceTogether:
1) Sterling. Silver. Dem names. One always expects a fellow named Silver to be a brother, and not a sleazy city slicker on his way from the New York State Assembly to a twelve-year bid at Otisville. Surely it isn’t possible that the Community was being (((concern-trolled))).
To be fair, these fellows did not hide their high Judaism behind a bushel. My (((cradle Lutheran))) grandfather would probably have thought them ridiculous, possibly even shandatastic, but he was a mere dentist on Staten Island. Even so, there was no concerted effort on their part or anyone else’s to hide their cultural background and affiliation. No one was found to have dolezally registered, say, http://www.adamsilver.black, or for that matter http://www.dsterling-shabbosgoy.net. We all knew what we were being served and who was so generously serving man, if we cared to examine it, or even give it a moment’s thought. The woke bae Kabuki show by this cat Silver was as reflective of his social climber’s sense of political expediency as his skin was reflective of the hazy Los Angeles sun. (I’m allowed to say this because I’m white, and also because this is the internet.)
How offensive should this concern-trolling be to black people? Hell if I know. I would, however, be hesitant to regard it as sincere concern, just as the residual Jew in me is skeptical of goyish philosemitism coming from the sorts of Protestants that are itching to assemble the 144,000 Elect on the outskirts of Armageddon. It just doesn’t look right. Alternately, we can think of it this way: If I learned that the Johnson Brothers–Ron, Kevin, and Dorian–had convened a weeklong symposium to call out some doddering old black geezer living in a gentrifying neighborhood for mentioning that he’s getting sick of all these uppity honkies, I wouldn’t be offended, but I also wouldn’t think it makes any damn sense. (My distant relatives in the Kansas Department of Corrections inmate database do make sense: they’re heartland white trash, for the most part. I’m sure at least some of them are my people, blessedly Left Behind (TM)).
Or, a bit more darkly, so to speak, we could be dealing with the White Power Central Committee equivalent of the Millington-Josey Institute for Tolerance and Self-Control at Arms, featuring Resident Scholar Anthony “I’ll show YOU some Northern Exposure” Rollins. There may be some fairly self-serving and unctuous ulterior motives at play here. My own ulterior motives are merely literary. For, as the lieutenant himself said, “Why would I need a gun when I can throw you down with these right here?”
Of course he didn’t. Instead he publicly proclaimed himself a man of God. The most tasteless of these comments one can make up, but not the worst of them.
2) Even if Donald Sterling was a racist piece of shit for expressing his discomfort to his mistress over her cheating on him with black men specifically (because it really was so tawdry), it’s counterproductive to publicly shame him for expressing such feelings. There is an unfortunate but very real psychosexual resentment and jealousy on the part of many white men who have been sexually shut out by white women towards the black men they believe or know to have seduced white women they themselves desire. These ugly feelings are racially charged expressions of upset over women’s antisocial pursuit of what’s come to be known in MRA/PUA circles as alpha fucks and beta bucks. It’s starker when it involves white women sexually shunning prosocial white men in favor of antisocial black men. Some of these white boys may conceive of themselves as more prosocial than they actually are, but the blowback against the disingenuous, capricious female behavior that upsets these men is no less real if it’s based on florid feels than if it’s based on cold objective reality. And let’s be blunt: the white girls in question here are not straying from the dirtbag domineering of Vanilla Ice and Eminem into the gentlemanly embrace of Michael Nutter.
This ill will exists. The media cannot eradicate it by shaming it. This is one dark art that the Cathedral does not know how to competently use. We don’t all crowd into the national low rider of pluralistic goodwill just because overbearing mandarin scolds who live in secured, socioeconomically (and very often racially) segregated communities demand that we do so. Might some good come of white dorks being less hesitant to pair up with the sisters? Yeah, probably a lot of good. But trying to socially engineer anything of the sort, including prohibitions on its inverse, is madness verging on Maoism in its megalomaniacal, totalitarian zeal.
2a) The same social engineers who scolded Sterling for (again, it’s unbelievable to be writing this as nonfiction) not wanting his mistress flirting with black guys are at the very least complicit with, if not actively supportive of, draconian social and legal controls on prostitution that have as one of their major effects the deterrence of natural, emergent, voluntary pair bonding between white men and black women, a form of social intercourse (giggity) that perhaps more importantly transcends class barriers as well. This is a verbose way of describing all the “I Heart White Boys” clip art decals on Backpage. If these people are fucking and spooning each other, they probably leave these trysts at least a little less racist than when they came (again, giggity). Or, more specifically, even if they’re still kinda racist, they aren’t burning with “throw the Jew down the well”-level bigotry, because they’re dealing one-on-one with other individuals, not with communal masses as viewed through the filter of communal prejudices.
As always, the social engineers poking their noses into the tent insist that the rest of us achieve racial equity on their terms, not our own. Then they get confused and upset when their grandiose schemes fail and circumstances on the ground start looking awfully springtime for Karadzic. When will they ever learn? When will they ever stop playing annoying social-justice folk music?
It’s been said that conservatives hate the race but love the individual. In that case, get me a subscription to National Review. Actually, on second thought, don’t. Kevin Williamson has been publishing some real bourgeois supremacist dogshit lately, and it’s tiresome.
3) Sterling’s crude comments were about race until they weren’t really about race. This mistress of his was doing what ever she was doing, or imagined to be doing, with men roughly her own age and hence roughly half her sugar daddy’s age. Larry King got himself into an awfully similar spot with his trophy wife. You know, why, when I’m this alte kaker with internationally renowned suspenders, has my much younger wife been putting out for our son’s also much younger Latin baseball coach? Sometimes, a fellow’s question contains his answer. Charles Barkley is hotter than Donald Sterling in a way not all that different from how Chase Utley is hotter than Morgan Freeman (now, there’s a dirty old geezer). We’re talking about these dudes who are hella old, so even when they’re able to pull some hot ass from time to time because they have mad money and maybe some fame, too, their women have a way of stepping out with younger men. Or, worse, they get sued to hell and back by the gold diggers they had the bad judgment to marry. I once figured that Kirk Kerkorian’s third wife, the one demanding shit like enough wine and horse-wankery money a year to put a merely upper-middle-class youngster through college at her reach school, reached menarche at about the same time that her future husband started collecting Social Security. Performing Google-fu on these sleazeballs, I discover that Lisa Kerkorian conceived “their” child with a younger man, provoking yet another rich people’s lawsuit, and that Kirk was mixed up with noted celebrity wiretapping dipshit Anthony Pellicano.
For a society so afflicted with Eagles discography, we certainly act surprised by these developments. Of course she’s fucking other dudes; she’s half your age. Be grateful if she’s giving your wrinkly ass some action now and then, too. Or get a hooker. Sometimes I think that Maggie McNeill and company are a bit self-interested and hyperbolic to assert that free pussy is the most expensive kind, but then I stumble into the celebrity cesspit and realize that it would be more edifying to close that shit and return to some Backpage tab.
4) Sterling’s estranged squeeze has the improbable name, for someone not a middle- to highbrow Indian, of V. Stiviano. Google-fu informs me that this young woman was originally named Maria Vanessa Perez, and subsequently also Monica Gallegos and Maria Valdez. Any relation to Juan, chica? Yes, that’s a wrongful insinuation to make about a man who has committed his professional life to agriculture, even as an hidalgo, and even as a fictional dude on a coffee can, but he unfortunately had it coming. It’s kind of like asking Monty Robinson if his parents named him after Uncle Ben. Don’t worry; you’re sure to come across even worse in these pages.
Sterling took up with this woman even though she went about in public under such a ridiculous stage name. This isn’t like learning that an escort who markets herself as Madison Spanx is actually named Wendy Smith. Nobody had heard of V. Stiviano before this incident. She was some sort of G-list hanger-on on the Hollywood status-whoring scene (one wonders how normal Angelenos can stand the embarrassment of being associated with garbage like that). Oh, you’re fucking the owner of some sports team? Congratulations. Now run along, and do tell Mr. Wonka about how you’re the only one. The woman was probably running some kind of con, or at least trying. Maybe she had difficulty spelling stevia.
The other thing that struck me about that name is that, in a not too different world, “vstiviano” could easily be a Russian adverb. Probably one describing the manner of a coquettishly whorish golddigging dingbat of not particularly impressive intelligence and absolutely no discernible intellectual interests. “Ona vstiviano mne skazala, chto ona ne khotela prochitat’ etu knigu, potomu chto chitat’, eto vsyo govno.” Reading is not, after all, esteemed in the Crystal Harris Treasury of Fun Stuff.
5) When news broke of the Sterling racism scandal, all these mostly white A-listers were said to be circling the Clippers franchise like vultures, knowing that, with the right combination of disingenuous tact and sheer crassness, this renowned sports team might at long last be theirs. One of these, supposedly, was Oprah Winfrey. Much tut-tutting was done in certain circles about how her buying the team would be the righteous revenge of diversity against the bigoted old guard. To paraphrase O. J. Simpson, though, she’s not black; she’s Oprah. To again paraphrase O. J., because that’s exactly how much taste I maintain about these matters, Sterling’s racism meant that he had to give the rest of them back his fucking stuff. The ultimate disposition of the case was to put the baller into Ballmer. Go richies!
5a) By being forced to sell the Clippers, Sterling was cashed the fuck out. Basically, what the NBA did to him was to tell him, “You’re an evil racist, but your team is hella lucrative, so here’s a gigantic shitload of money, as punishment.”
5b) Commentators made much light of what they referred to as Sterling’s “lifetime ban from basketball,” just as they occasionally gloat about Pete Rose’s “lifetime ban from baseball.” To listen to this sort of language, you might think that Sterling has been forbidden to play pickup ball with Mark Fuhrman (who, as he had Vincent Bugliosi make clear in the forward to his memoir, regularly played the beautiful game with black colleagues, some of his best friends being, you know).
This is sloppy language. The NBA is basketball, and basketball is the NBA, just as the police is the public and the public is the police, only more so. In point of fact, these guys got banned from membership in quasi-private sports leagues with inflated, self-important senses of internal ethics. Neither of these leagues actually controls an entire fucking sport. We shouldn’t act like they do. MLB hasn’t stopped O. J. Simpson from coaching baseball, one of the main things keeping him from going absolutely crazy from his current Nevada lifestyle. He’ll murder the commissioner if it ever tries, because that’s how the Juice rolls and, let’s face it, that’s why the Juice is doing such hard time. The armed robbery was merely the proximal excuse.
Repeat after me: basketball is a game; the NBA is a cartel. What’s next? Chapo Guzman as cocaine, all of it? This is how brainwashed we are. A society that won’t think for itself will have someone else think for it, and someone else’s interests will certainly be something else.
6) The threatened players’ walkout in response to the Sterling fiasco was outwardly an expression of racial politics, but fundamentally it was an industrial action by organized labor. The grievance at issue (that the company owner was an offensive old geezer) would be an unusual one in most unions, but for entertainers as well paid as professional basketball players, disrespect from management can easily become a serious grievance. As these guys see it, they didn’t work so damn hard and come so far only to be treated like sexually threatening subhumans by some supercilious white guy with the money to buy a pro sports team as a way to throw his weight around. Knowing that he employed mostly black players, Sterling would have been wise not to complain to his girlfriend about her being seen in public with some of the most famous black men in the world, specifically basketball players. That’s a great way to piss off the staff.
There are reactionaries who get butthurt at the prospect of the help asserting labor arbitrage upward in circumstances like these. Only a shithead would feel that way. The players didn’t care for Sterling, but he obviously did much to make himself unlikable. The players in any NBA team bring an unfathomable amount of revenue to their team and to the league; insinuating that Charles Barkley is an affair-wrecking second-class citizen is not the way to win hearts and influence people in that business. The owner’s end of the bargain is to do what he can to avoid antagonizing the players. Sterling decided instead to be an asshole using an open racial gloss on his mistress’ possible side pieces. If Jeff Smisek had been caught on tape describing the pilots as just a bunch of glorified, overpaid bus drivers who were really in the business in the hope of screwing his mistress, United would have had another strike.
Airline strikes are usually about pay, but with an obnoxious enough CEO they don’t have to be. Sports strikes are often about pay, too, although in this case the threatened walkout was about respect and dignity, i.e., that old white guy had better suffer consequences for acting like Rhett Butler. A unified front of players holds the trump card when it threatens to go out on strike. The league’s hand was forced by the players threatening to walk out over Sterling’s comments. It wasn’t really about a highminded woke sense of racial justice. It was about the league standing to lose millions of dollars per canceled game. Threatening to walk out was their equivalent of the overhaul shop steward getting ready to call Doug Parker with the news that the planes had suddenly all come down with the flu. It’s funny how commercial aircraft sometimes start having mechanical trouble at the same time as the pilots’ or mechanics’ union starts complaining that management is treating its members like Victorian coal miners.
7) There’s something badly wrong with a country in which it’s hard to find union members who are not employees of major league sports teams or government agencies. We’re that country. We’re that society of timid Timmies who resent unions and their members because they’re too chickenshit or craven to organize unions of their own. We’re that society of crabs-in-the-barrel Uncle Toms who insist on leveling the privileged down instead of leveling the marginalized up.
8) Every boy growing up in the ghetto hopes to be a baller someday. It ain’t happening, kid. This is a conversation that we need to have. There are a few thousand professional athletic positions in the United States, plus some positions abroad in clubs that occasionally recruit Americans, and probably five or ten million boys and young men angling for them. The math doesn’t work out. It just doesn’t. Hoping to make the NBA, or to win the lottery, is no solution to the destruction of the industrial economies of entire cities. It’s reasonable enough to admire these guys as great showmen, but it’s completely unreasonable to expect to copy their financial success (which is often much worse than it’s made out to be, on account of the sleazy financial advisors who swarm new money from poor backgrounds). Expecting a major-league breakout to be the meal ticket for oneself and one’s family and friends is extremely foolish. Even for sports prodigies it’s a long shot. There’s just too much competition.
We need to tell kids who think without basis that they’ll be the next Lebron James, and even those who think so with some actual basis, that it just won’t happen and that they need some sort of backup plan. We need to tell them that, no, you can’t be a professional basketball player, just as an old children’s book admonished little Parker and Taylor that, no, You Can’t Be An Astronaut; It’s Just Not Practical.
You can, however, be a racist.