The folks around Dallas must find a new way to tell if the temperature’s going to be merely hot or brutally hot after chief TV meteorologist Bob Goosman got fired for a Facebook post about the mothers of African-Americans who were slain by police and a neighborhood watch police wannabe.
Not to worry. As Bob Dylan said, you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
That’s especially true in Goosman’s case, despite his protests to the contrary. Goosman insisted that the storm he kicked up with his comment about the women, who appeared onstage at the Democratic National Convention last week, resulted from a misunderstanding. “The DNC parading the mothers of slain thugs on their stage has made me furious,” he wrote.
Slain “thugs,” he insisted afterward, had no racial connotation.
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Even if one removes the obvious racial implication of his comment – does anyone really think he’d have used that word regarding any other racial group? – we should be offended that he assumes all of the victims were guilty of ... something. Each case was different and the only thing all the victims had in common was, hmmmm, let’s see now ...
‘Thug’ is the new ‘N-word. You can trace it to the emergence of hip-hop as a popular music form in the past 25 years.
Mark Anthony Neal, Duke University professor of African-American Studies and English
Dang, can’t quite put my finger on it.
Mark Anthony Neal, Duke University professor of African-American Studies and English, can put his finger on it. “‘Thug’ is the new ‘N-word,’” Neal said when I spoke with him Monday. “You can trace it to the emergence of hip-hop as a popular music form in the past 25 years. Given the political correctness of the moment, where you can’t publicly call someone the ‘N-word,’ ‘thug’ has become the stand-in term. ... What’s important is that we don’t even have a comparison to think of young white males as thugs.
“You really have to go back to the ’50s, ’60s or ’70s and think of ‘West Side Story,’ Henry Winkler as Arthur Fonzarelli on ‘Happy Days’ or James Dean in ‘Rebel Without A Cause’ for any references in pop culture of white males being called thugs.”
B-b-b-but isn’t “West Side Story” a beloved Broadway play? Wasn’t The Fonz the most benign leather-jacketed toughie in history? And doesn’t James Dean remain an icon of 1950s cool? I asked.
“Exactly,” Professor Neal said.
Now, it’s certainly possible one could have concluded that having the women add their poise and dignified sorrow to what was essentially a political coming-out-party for Hillary Clinton amounted to political exploitation. That’s a legitimate beef. Why, though, was it necessary to add the racially exclusive word?
Look, we get it. Some people are never going to like us, never going to recognize our humanity, never going to give us the benefit of the doubt: “You know, Martha, maybe that black fella really didn’t deserve to die for selling loosies or bootleg CDs.”
We get it, I tell ya. If we didn’t get it before some weather reader became “furious” – yes, he said he was furious – at the mere sight of grieving black mothers on TV, we get it now.
You know what, though?
The same July week that Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were shot and killed by police in Minnesota and Louisiana, respectively, William Ray of Raleigh decided it would be a good idea to go out on Old Creedmoor Road in Wake County and point a shotgun at passing motorists.
We don’t give a damn. You don’t have to like us, but neither do you have to fear us to death – ours. And you danged sure don’t have to shoot us when we pose no threat to your life or anyone else’s.
The same July week that Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were shot and killed by police in Minnesota and Louisiana, respectively, William Ray of Raleigh decided it would be a good idea to go out on Old Creedmoor Road in Wake County and point a shotgun at passing motorists. When a deputy arrived and snatched away the shotgun, Ray pulled out a pistol and fired. When I spoke with Sheriff Donnie Harrison on Monday, he said, “Both of them were lucky. We always try to get our officers to defuse situations, and I complimented Deputy (Donnie) Farmer on the way he did it. We don’t want to put hands on anybody, and we don’t want them to put hands on us.”
Right on. When I asked if Deputy Farmer would’ve been justified in taking out Ray, Harrison said, “Yes and no. (Ray) raised his weapon ... but the deputy was close enough to grab the barrel. If he’d been far enough away not to be able to grab the weapon, he’d have been justified” in pulling his weapon and firing.
Ray, as people around the world noted when the three cases were examined together, was arrested – unharmed – and, according to a jailer at the Wake County Detention Center, was released on bail last week.
He faces charges of assault on an officer and destroying property. All things considered, though, that’s not too bad, because at least he is not dead. Some people think that’s because he’s white.
Sheriff Harrison calls him lucky. Can a brother get some of that luck?
I remember an Esquire magazine interview about 15 years ago with then-New York Police Chief John Timoney. The magazine called the dude “America’s best cop.”
To me, the best cop is the one who lets you slide with just a warning when he stops you for going nine miles over the speed limit or when he sees that your license and registration have expired.
Best cop or not, Timoney was the most honest. In the article, he commented on the 1999 case of Amadou Diallo, a West Indian immigrant, who was shot at 41 times by New York cops who claimed they thought he was armed. He wasn’t. All were acquitted of second-degree murder and one was promoted last year.
Timoney, according to Esquire, delivered “a reasoned and impassioned defense of their actions.” The cops, I remember him saying, did everything by the book. He admitted, though, “There’s one thing you can’t get around in that case, and that’s the fact that if Amadou Diallo was an immigrant from Belfast, Ireland, he’d be alive today.”
There’s something else you can’t get around. If William Ray had been a black kid from Chavis Heights – after pointing two guns at a deputy – odds are he wouldn’t be alive today.
You gonna argue with the best cop in America?