Rush Limbaugh did
the right thing when he resigned from ESPN’s Sunday Football Countdown over
remarks he made concerning Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.
Limbaugh suggested that McNabb was “overrated” and only held in high regard
by the media because it wants to see a black quarterback succeed.
Limbaugh is certainly not the first sports commentator to consider McNabb
to be overrated. Indeed, Limbaugh attributed the success of the Eagles
to their powerful defensive line as opposed to their offense. The Eagles
have lost many of their good defensive players and have struggled thus far
this season, as has McNabb. Those comments are fair game.
But what does McNabb’s race have to do with his success or failure as a football
player? For Limbaugh to raise McNabb’s race is both inflammatory and irrelevant.
The sports media cares if their team wins, not if their starting quarterback
More to the point, McNabb is hardly the first quarterback who just happens
to be black. One can point to Dante Culpepper of the Minnesota Vikings and
Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons as two of the better quarterbacks in
the NFL. What about Doug Williams, who guided the Washington Redskins to
a championship in Super Bowl XXII? What about Warren Moon, who had an outstanding
NFL career with the now defunct Houston Oilers and the Vikings?
Before coming to the NFL, Moon led the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football
League (CFL) to five consecutive Grey Cup Championships. In the last of these
championships in 1981, the opposing quarterback for the Ottawa Roughriders
was one J.C. Watts. This is the same J.C. Watts who served as a Republican
for four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional
District. At best, Limbaugh does not know as much about the NFL as he would
have us believe. At worst, he has become a liberal caricature
of a conservative and for that he has only himself to blame.
Martin Luther King, Jr wanted a world where one should be judged by the content
of their character and not by the color of their skin. Ronald Reagan envisioned
“a color blind society.” Most conservative intellectuals argue for
“race neutrality” when it comes to advancement in education and employment.
When conservatives like Limbaugh or Trent Lott make ill-advised remarks it
creates the perception that conservatives possess a deep-rooted hostility
to blacks and undermines the efforts of conservatives who believe in equality
of opportunity to make America “race neutral” and “color blind.”
Of course, if I believed that conservatives were inherently racist I would
not consider myself one. Most conservatives are fair-minded and look
at the individual and their merits. Indeed, it is worth remembering that
Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson both supported the Republican Party. Surely,
Owens and Robinson would not have become Republicans if they believed them
to be inherently hostile to them. Indeed, Owens became a Republican when
Alf Landon, the 1936 GOP Presidential Nominee, shook his hand after his Gold
Medal winning performance in that year’s Summer Olympics in Munich.
FDR would not do so.
Rush Limbaugh fumbled. It is now up to conservatives to recover the
ball. We can best do that by judging individuals based
on their performance on the field not by their identity off the field.
Aaron Goldstein, a former member of the socialist New Democratic Party, writes poetry and has a chapbook titled Oysters and the Newborn Child: Melancholy and Dead Musicians. His poetry can be viewed on www.poetsforthewar.org.