In 2000, Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker gave his opinion on New York City to Sports Illustrated: "It's the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the Seven Train to the ballpark, looking like you're riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing." Controversy ensued and demands were made that Rocker apologize, attend sensitivity training, and be fired. I defended him.
Charleston County School Board Vice Chairwoman Nancy Cook found herself in similar hot water last week when she made the following statement on WTMA's The Morning Buzz with Richard Todd: "We're not paying for another baby, maybe one baby, but after that, we're taking the baby. And maybe you get sterilized. I know that sounds kind of extreme and radical..."
Cook claims her statements were not racial in nature, yet the NAACP has seen fit to make them so, demanding that Cook apologize, attend sensitivity training, and be fired.
I defended Rocker and now defend Cook for the same reason I have defended Barack Obama's controversial pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. That a good ole' boy from Statesboro, Ga., like Rocker might have a visceral reaction to a place like the Big Apple shouldn't be the least bit shocking. That a middle-class woman and taxpayer like Cook might harbor certain frustrations concerning welfare and the illegitimacy rate isn't the least bit surprising. And that a black preacher might use fiery language in the pulpit to criticize white America isn't exactly earth shattering — at least not to black Americans.
Just ask the Rev. Joe Darby, vice president of the Charleston NAACP, who defended Rev. Wright in the March 28 edition of The State: "Dr. Wright's critics also need to learn more about the historically black church and its clergy ... All good black pastors sometimes say things that their members might hesitate to openly say in an America where race still matters and where those who tell the truth might not be physically lynched, but can still be economically or politically lynched if they question the powers that be or upset the status quo."
Touché, Rev. Darby. But why is the NAACP now trying to lynch Nancy Cook? In this case, the NAACP represents the politically correct "status quo" that has been upset by Cook, because she dared to say something people, particularly white folks, aren't supposed to.
I don't agree with Cook, because I don't believe human beings should belong to the government, and certainly not to the extent that they should be forcibly sterilized. But the government already does own people in the sense that taxpayers are forced to subsidize the poor and not-so-poor, who often abuse and misuse the welfare system with reckless abandon. The notion of forced sterilization is indeed reprehensible, but so is the notion of forced subsidization, and the former doesn't seem so radical once one accepts the premise of the latter — at least from the perspective of a middle-class, taxpaying — and yes — white American.
When it comes to "understanding," Cook's critics, the NAACP's Dot Scott and Rev. Darby, would do well to take a second listen to Barack Obama's now famous speech on race relations: "Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race ... As far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything; they've built it from scratch. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town, when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed, when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time."
Obama is basically talking about white Americans from the same background as Nancy Cook. Like John Rocker, Cook's sin isn't that she was "intolerant," but that she was intolerant toward the wrong people (the poor, single mothers, possibly minorities).
The NAACP says white America must understand Rev. Wright by understanding his background, yet it has no intention of extending the same courtesy to Nancy Cook. If the NAACP was honest, it might admit it is attacking Ms. Cook because she is a white woman who should know her place, and that they defend the equally controversial Rev. Wright simply because, well — he's a black man. Seeing things only through their race-colored glasses, they continue to miss the point of Obama's speech entirely and refuse to see their own hypocrisy.
Catch Southern Avenger commentaries every Tuesday and Friday at 7:50 a.m. on the "Morning Buzz with Richard Todd" on 1250 AM WTMA.