Talk about a political football. At a time when most municipalities are running in the red, another line item must now be factored into budgets: new history textbooks. That’s right. It turns out that the real reason for fighting the Civil War was the North’s desire to steal the incredible wealth of the slaves. Apparently, despite subjugation by their owners, the majority of slaves were millionaires, and those who weren’t still received a guaranteed minimum of $310,000 per year.
Shocking as this recent historical find seems, it was certified by Minnesota running back Adrian Petersen, and as we all know, anything a National Football League player says must be true. Petersen’s plethora of antebellum knowledge was revealed as he enlightened the nation by comparing the NFL labor dispute to “modern-day slavery.”
At issue is how to divvy up $9 billion in revenue between owners and players. Talks have broken off and management has locked out the players. Summing up how the players were being treated during the negotiations, Peterson said, “It’s modern-day slavery, you know?”
He added, “People kind of laugh at that, but there are people working at regular jobs who get treated the same way, too.”
That brilliant Petersen Principle, though, remains a bit unclear. Were those “regular” people—those not involved in the NFL negotiations—average Americans who will work the first four months of this year just to pay their local, state and federal tax burden?
As in, a “slave” to the government? A government, by the way, that “regular” Americans send more money to than they spend on food, clothing and shelter combined.
Or was Petersen’s defense of regular people referring to the poor and disadvantaged NFL saps who only make seven figures a year, compared to Petersen who makes $10.5 million and whose six-year contract is worth almost $41 million? And for those making the league minimum of $310,000, well, they should probably pick cotton in the off-season just to make ends meet.
It must be tough being an NFL slave.
The Petersen case underscores just how hypocritical some “leaders” have become regarding race relations. As a result, we aren’t the color-blind country we should be, but instead see the gulf between black and white only widen.
Take the pathetic defense of Petersen’s remarks from his agent Ben Dogra (who obviously has a financial interest in seeing this flap go away). Rather than condemn the statement for what it was, he defends it with meaningless rhetoric. “I think anybody that knows Adrian knows that (he) is a very strong-willed and passionate individual,” Dogra said. “The game means an awful lot to him.”
Gee, thanks for clearing that up, Ben. In other words, because he makes eight figures a year and is “passionate,” it’s okay to equate his situation to slavery, which, by the way, is still rampant in parts of the world.
But it gets better: “People should not just take his statements per se word by word. It’s a difficult time. He would love to play. I’m sure that everybody would love to see football continue in the NFL … nobody should really look at those words and take them out of context.”
Nice try, Ben. But how exactly are they “out of context”? He compared his situation to slavery. That’s a fact. It wasn’t a slip of the tongue, and there’s no gray area here. His “passion” and “love of the game,” while admirable, have absolutely nothing to do with his racist remarks. He shouldn’t get a free pass for outrageously disrespecting the misery that slaves in America endured. A life, by the way, that they couldn’t walk away from, unlike Petersen, who at 25, could quit his work today and live comfortably for five lifetimes.
But he has been given a free pass. And that is the real—and wholly unreported—story.
Adrian Petersen will come and go. He’ll probably make some half-hearted apology written by PR specialists and appear at events to make him seem more racially-sensitive (although he has yet to do so). And he’ll dazzle on the gridiron for seasons to come (especially if he learns to stop fumbling). But in the big picture, Petersen is irrelevant.
No, the biggest frauds of all need to be exposed. Through the whole flap, nary a peep was heard from the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons of the world. And where was that bastion of cowardice, the NAACP?
Conspicuously silent, but what else is new?
And this is precisely why they have no credibility left. Condemning racism of all kinds and promoting equality should be their goals, but instead, it’s the polar opposite. To them, separate and unequal trumps unity, and the condemnation of racism is done on an extremely selective basis. Translation: Jump on the bandwagon in cases involving a “racist” white person, but go on vacation when the person is black.
The list of being on the wrong side is long: the falsely accused Duke lacrosse team (who were innocent); the Tawana Brawley case, which Sharpton enflamed with racial rhetoric (where rape allegations by white men of a black girl were proven false); the ridiculous firing of Don Imus; and the Jena Six case in Louisiana, when Jackson reportedly ripped then-presidential candidate Barack Obama for “acting like he’s white.”
But when a situation like that of Adrian Petersen comes along, providing a perfect opportunity to explain why slavery comparisons are so hurtful and destructive, their silence is deafening. And their credibility, whatever is left of it, crumbles.
The conversation at kitchen tables and watercoolers around the nation is that Jackson and Sharpton are worthless, and the NAACP promotes racism far more than it fights it. But fear of being labeled racist and bigoted keeps most people—and most media commentators—from taking on these hypocrites and speaking the truth.
Racism still exists in America, albeit to an infinitely smaller degree than it once was. Perhaps the greatest example of that progress was illustrated when a black president—itself a remarkable feat—gave the eulogy of Senator Robert Byrd, a former member of the KKK.
Unfortunately, that progress has come in spite of, not because of, people like Sharpton and Jackson. But there is a silver lining. Their blowhard political grandstanding and blatant hypocrisy have become such trademarks that they not only lack credibility, but more important, relevance. No one cares what they have to say anymore because their platforms have been built on a house of cards.
The biggest tragedy of all is that, had these men—dynamic orators of great charisma—truly fought the good fight, America’s racial divide would be measurably smaller.
What a shame. Leaders who preach color-blindness but really only see black-and-white … are a terrible thing to waste.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com. Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.” Freind, whose column appears regularly at phillymag.com and nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a frequent guest commentator on talk radio and state/national television, most notably on FOX Philadelphia. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com.