The Geezer and the Grazer: Poster boys for racism

The Rev. Martin Luther King dreamed of a time when a man would be judged by the content of his character rather than the color of his skin. I’m no interpreter of dreams, but I’m guessing that Dr. King expected all of the old white racists would eventually die off, and then racism would no longer exist. Well, that day must have finally come, because Chief Justice John Roberts justified gutting the Voting Rights Act by intimating that racism is dead in America. Unfortunately, the racists didn’t get Roberts’ memo.

Among them were Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling.

Bundy became a media darling of the Tea Party when it became known that he refused to recognize the federal government. It seems that the 76-year old Nevada rancher has been letting his cattle feast off of public lands for more than two decades, and now owes his estranged Uncle Sam in excess of one million dollars in unpaid grazing fees.

Why FOX News and the far right made Bundy into a hero is beyond me, because by grazing his cattle for free, he’s essentially been on government welfare. Nevertheless, Bundy and his militia buddies armed themselves and sported American flags, so the Tea Party was totally on board. Last week, however, big mouth Bundy opened his pie hole one time too many, and out came a diatribe about how the “negro” would be better off under slavery. Hypocrite Bundy even complained that blacks were on government subsidy. Hey, nobody said he didn’t have balls. Speaking of which, one of Bundy’s minutemen threatened to cut off Senator Harry Reid’s jewels, and soon thereafter, the Feds launched an investigation into the militia.

To be truthful, no one with a functioning brain was surprised that an old white rancher and his militia buddies hate black people.

What was surprising to many of us, however, is that next door in California, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, who has spent decades hiring African- Americans and paying them millions of dollars, turned out to be a racist.

Billionaire owner Donald Sterling was caught on tape telling his girlfriend she was not to be photographed with black people, nor was she to bring any black people to Clippers games. Sterling’s racist rant went viral, and within a couple of days, the team had lost most of its major sponsors, including Virgin Air, Carmax, Mercedes Benz, Red Bull, and Kia, among others. Meanwhile, current and former NBA players called for Commissioner Adam Silver to take the Clippers away from Sterling, and if he didn’t mete out a severe enough punishment, they would boycott the playoffs.

League commissioner Silver then dropped the hammer on Sterling, issuing a lifetime ban, a $2.5 million fine, and pledging to force a sale of the Clippers. Unlike the Bundy incident, which is still under investigation, the NBA took swift and decisive action, and gave the nation some sense of temporary closure on an ugly chapter in the history of sports. But here’s the rub. Silver and most of the offended players already knew that Sterling was a racist, and a very bad guy to boot. In fact, Sterling has been in and out of court on numerous occasions including in his capacity as a slumlord, in which he was found guilty of denying housing to black and Hispanic applicants.

So there you have it. Last week, Cliven Bundy said that blacks would be better off as slaves, and at the same time the world realized that, sure enough, dozens of blacks who are “owned” by Sterling ARE better off, to the tune of millions of dollars per year each. Why these talented men of color would work for such a man is a disturbing aspect of this saga.

As for Dr. King’s dream, the good news is that both Bundy and Sterling are old men, and won’t be around much longer to spew their filth. The bad news is that it looks like racism will still be with us long after they’re gone. Just last week, a young female candidate for Senate likened minority food stamp recipients to animals, and last month, some frat boys from Georgia tied a hangman’s noose around the neck of a statue of James Meredith at Ole Miss. Somehow the poison spread by old racists is reaching and influencing young racists, and that is discouraging to say the least. We can only hope that the Feds will crack down hard on Bundy, and that the NBA’s severe punishment of Sterling will serve as a warning to young haters.

For now, though, Sterling needs to be put out to pasture, so perhaps he can stay at Bundy’s ranch. They deserve each other. !

JIM LONGWORTH is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11am on WMYV (cable channel 15).