It's time for a quick quiz. Who are the heroes, villains and victims in the following scenarios?
Scenario 1: A radio talk-show host, Don Imus, calls the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos." Eight of the 10 women are black.
Scenario 2: Three white lacrosse players from Duke are falsely charged with raping a black stripper. After they are wrongly prosecuted, the prosecutor is brought before the state bar association on ethics charges.
These are not trick questions. The villain in scenario one is clearly Imus; the Rutgers women were victims. The villains in scenario two are the prosecutor and the stripper; the Duke players were victims.
Wrong. The press has treated the Rutgers women as heroes and the Duke players as lepers.
There is no such thing as a simple victim with regard to interracial conduct as far as the press is concerned. Blacks victimized by whites aren't just victims -- they're heroes. Whites victimized by blacks aren't just victims -- they're quasi-villains.
The Rutgers women are terrific basketball players with bright futures who were insulted by a moronic shock jock. But just what have they done to earn the laurels placed upon them?
Members of the team have played their victimization to the hilt. One stated that she had been "scarred for life" by Imus' comments. Heather Zurich, a white sophomore forward, stated that "all of our accomplishments were lost ... we were stripped of this moment by the degrading comments made by Mr. Imus." The Philadelphia Inquirer calls them "wounded heroes."
Really, now. If these women are heroes, so is every 5th-grader who has ever been called a racial slur on the playground. These women have gotten positive national attention -- attention they otherwise would not have received -- because an idiot called them a nasty name.
Before we label the Rutgers players heroes, let's take a look at Jackie Robinson. Robinson, whose first Major League Baseball appearance occurred 50 years ago this week, faced down name-calling, an attempted boycott by certain teammates, purposeful spikings and an unending stream of death threats. He exhibited the uttermost class and dignity. In going about his job with such quiet courage, he helped shatter the institutional racism that pervaded American society.
Robinson was a victim of the deepest sort of racism -- and a hero in how he dealt with it. The Rutgers players were victims of an idiotic comment -- their victimhood alone does not make them heroes.
It is a stretch to call the Rutgers players heroes; it is an insult to call the Duke players quasi-villains. And yet, that is what the press continues to do, despite the players' complete exoneration. "As students of Duke University or other elite institutions, these young men will get on with their privileged lives," explains Terry Moran of ABC. "There is a very large cushion under them -- the one that softens the blows of life for most of those who go to Duke or similar places, and have connections through family, friends and school to all kinds of prospects for success. They are very differently situated in life from, say, the young women of the Rutgers University women's basketball team." The Baltimore Sun called the false accusation a "bittersweet life lesson for these young men of privilege."
They're upper class and white, so being falsely accused of rape before a national audience won't hurt them too much. They don't deserve sympathy. The Rutgers players were mainly lower class and black, so a single insult should entitle them to the royal treatment.
The press' racial bias becomes crystal clear when we look to the common factor in the Duke and Rutgers cases: Al Sharpton.
Sharpton was responsible for a false race-based rape accusation of his own -- he spread the absolutely spurious, vicious lie that white New York prosecutor Steven Pagones had raped a 15-year-old black girl, Tawana Brawley. Yet there was Sharpton, front and center, accusing the Duke players.
When it comes to race-baiting, Sharpton makes Don Imus look like Rosa Parks. Yet there was Sharpton, the man who incited a murderous anti-Jewish riot in Crown heights, demanding an apology from Imus.
And there was the press, treating the villainous Sharpton as a racial hero.
The press needs its black heroes and its white villains. But sometimes, victims are just victims. Sometimes villains are just villains. Sometimes there are no heroes.