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Race and Rush
by Doug Hagin
08 October 2003

Someone needs to tell the sports media that skin color does not matter to players or fans anymore.

Now that Rush Limbaugh has resigned from his job at ESPN we should take a long hard look at just where America is in regards to issues of race and free speech. Certainly, from a common sense viewpoint we are far from where we ought to be and sadly moving rapidly in the wrong direction.

The fact is we are moving towards a time where certain opinions are not only unwelcome but also downright dangerous to those who dare to express them. Instead of moving toward a truly color-blind society we are approaching a time and place where color is infused into everything.

Take a look at what Rush said and compare it to the firestorm it created. Rush simply made a statement about the sports media and their obsession with race where quarterbacks and coaches are concerned in the National Football League.
He never even came close to saying the color of a player or coach had anything to do with race. He simply opined that the media is desirous of more Black coaches and quarterbacks. And given the amount of time the media has spent focusing on the number of black quarterbacks and coaches in the NFL over the past few years Rush clearly was right.

Yet the reaction to his statements branded him as some type of racist idiot, questioning the ability of blacks to succeed in the NFL as coaches and quarterbacks. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, who Rush was talking about when he made his comments, felt compelled to call a press conference to deal with the alleged racist comments about him.
Of course the odd thing here is that by blowing this story completely out of proportion and making race an issue where it was not, the media proved Rush to dead on target in his analysis. The media -- including sports media --  has made an ugly habit of injecting race into every story possible over the past decade.

This is sad to see. Sports have done more to solve our racial problems than possibly any other factor in our history. Fans have learned to root for players no matter their color, and the players have learned to play together as a team, despite different skin color. Sports has in many ways led the way to where America should be, a color blind nation where qualifications, not pigmentation, is important.

Sadly the sports media never figured out that skin color really does not matter to players or fans anymore. Instead they have increased their focus on race as its true importance has diminished. Perhaps to create controversy where there is none, or to try to be social crusaders where none are needed, sports commentators and writers have done their level best to make race an issue as often as possible.

In the process they have helped to create the inane speech codes which now exist in this country. Certainly we claim to be a nation which respects and adores diversity. Yet only certain speech is considered deserving of a place in this diversity according to the rules the media wants to force on us.

Issues of race are especially tricky when one wants to offer opinions. Basically if the commentator offers an opinion which can be possibly construed to be racial in any manner then he or she is in danger of getting fired. Of course there are some pretty extreme double standards which apply here as well.

Generally speaking, a person of color, who is liberal, can say almost anything they wish with no fear of consequences. Even if their speech is racist and inflammatory they are pretty much free to say anything. A conservative, however, is on borrowed time any time they attempt to address issues of race.
In fact, the situation is so bad now many conservatives sound as if they are reading a prepared speech carefully worded whenever they discuss any issue dealing with race. They have seen the examples of how a word or two can be used to destroy careers and lives. And they have chosen the path of conformity and less resistance.

By doing so, of course, they have effectively lost the ideological war to their liberal counterparts. And make no mistake; liberals are fine with that. Despite their oft-made claims of loving free speech, it is liberals who have forced speech codes and political correctness upon the rest of us.

They have created a climate where expressing a conservative viewpoint, especially where race is concerned, is not only unwelcome, but downright hazardous. And in the ideological war in which America is in, there are two ways to win.

First, one can be correct and have common sense and reason to support their views. Conservatives generally like to use this strategy. Second, one can simply make their opposition afraid to state their views by putting in place speech codes, which punish certain views. Liberals are using this strategy with increasing fervor.

Don’t think so? Ask Rush Limbaugh. 

Doug Hagin resides in Dallas and hopes to one day be a nationally syndicated columnist with his own radio show

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