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Viking View (09/05/2007)
By John Edstrom

A teaching moment

...for the edification of

liars, hypocrites, phonies, or the just plain stupid

Well fans, once in a while the field of sports journalism provides the writer with what may be called a "teaching moment," when he has a chance to treat his subject in a broader context that affects society as a whole, not just those who wish to lose themselves in the casual entertainment of the games.

Such a moment came to me, so I thought, when I opened my August 9 Minneapolis Tribune sports section, and this item jumped out at me:

"Camp Chatter

‘I hope it's not like Ebola or anything like that.'

--Childress in response to questions about a virus that kept [Marcus] McCauley out of both practices Wednesday."

Boy, is he gonna get it now, I thought. How could he possibly be so insensitive as to make a joke about eb*la in specific regard to an African American player? Some will remember how violently elements of the community reacted when a joke was made about the eb*la virus (without any specific reference to African Americans) in this column a few years back. And that was just Winona. The Tribune circulates to five states and is available to the U.S., indeed the world, through the Associated Press. I hunkered down beneath my desk, awaiting the firestorm.

Nothing. Not a single word from anywhere in Minneapolis, nor Washington D.C., nor anywhere in the nation, nor the whole wide world. Maybe, I thought, Winona, being a university town, is just ahead of the rest of the world in sensitivity to these kinds of things. I waited some more.

Nothing again. Not one word from the crusading student journalists. Not a single peep out of the ever vigilant City Hall or Mayor's Office. No special meeting of the Human Rights

Commission and its sensitive-to-the-point-of-tears ladies and gentlemen. And where was the fellow over at WSU who had made a study of the arcane lore of racism so that he could sniff it out unerringly and scourge its practitioners without mercy?

What is happening to the world, I asked? How could Winona have become so insensitive to social injustice?

And then it occurred to me clear as crystal. If Brad Childress could make that remark about eb*la in regard to one of his black players in front of a team dominated by blacks, playing in a league dominated by blacks, in front of the nation and the world, (let alone Winona), without anyone taking offense, it was because there was no offense to take. And by corollary, those who raised such a hullaballoo in Winona over the eb*la joke in this column were liars, hypocrites, phonies, or just plain stupid.

Let them come crawling back, begging me to resume my seat on the Merit Board of the City of Winona. I will happily spurn them from my loftier seat of moral superiority.



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