Minorities have no excuse to hate | VailDaily.com

Minorities have no excuse to hate

Matt Zalaznick
Vail CO, Colorado

Does retired basketball player Tim Hardaway, now as famous for his homophobic ravings as anything he ever did on the court, understand the cruel irony of his bigotry?

Take the choicest of his statements, “I hate gay people.” Thirty years ago, the word “black” could replace “gay,” and Timmie would have expressed a sentiment shared then by a lot of Americans ” even some who were allowed to go on the airwaves and spout their ignorance to the masses just like Timmie did.

Only these days, the host of the show is less likely to agree. In Timmie’s case, the host came right out and told the ex-Miami Heat guard he was a bigot.

Unfortunately, our culture still gives gay-bashers some leeway. Snickers took its repulsive anti-gay ad off the air after a few days of complaints, but it’s amazing anybody ” either the “creative types” who came up with the concept or the candy company executives who paid for it ” ever thought that commercial was either funny or OK.

Or did they know just what they were doing? Perhaps they realized homophobia still has some marketing appeal, especially in an era when the violently anti-gay Focus on the Family group has the ear of the president; when the vice president is infuriated when reporters ask about how he reconciles his administration’s anti-gay agenda with the homosexuality of his daughter.

And perhaps Snickers was cynical enough to think the anti-gay commercial might win some customers if shown during a Super Bowl that lots of fathers were watching with their sons.

A brief glimpse of Janet Jackson’s breast was a national scandal, even gets the attention of Congress, while a little bigotry is barely news and in some cases, Snickers was played as the victim of political correctness.

The saddest thing about Timmie’s tirade is that it’s much less excusable when a member of a racial or religious minority goes on the attack. I guess some might call it revenge, but one hopes, for human nature’s sake, that someone who has an experience of bigotry would have a wider worldview.

But it’s a sinister element of American society ” upward mobility is not only professional or financial, it also can be hateful. Some members of minorities, once they reach a certain level of social or financial comfort ” once they’re no longer the ones being lynched or chased into ravines by anti-Semitic mobs ” will begin to discriminate against the minorities still at the bottom of the pile.

In my middle-class Jewish family, I learned most of the racial slurs I know from a relative who must have forgotten Jews, as much as any other people on this planet, have been on the violent end of prejudice since the beginning of time.

So will Mexican immigrants, now facing such hatred, also become bigots in a few generations, once their hard work has allowed their children and their grandchildren to go to college and become doctors, lawyers, members of the elite?

Against whom will they discriminate?

Who knows. Refugees from whatever wars on going on in the Middle East or Africa?

Gays and lesbians, perhaps.

Or maybe there’s a bright side to all this: Perhaps society’s gawking at yo-yos like Mel Gibson, Michael Richards and Tim Hardaway means bigotry has become a kind of laughable spectacle. That may be true for some types of prejudice, but I think gays and lesbians, among some other groups, are not quite considered full-fledged members of society.

And until then, the Tim Hardaways of the world will be much worse than clowns, and commercials like that made by Snickers deserve a lot more critical attention than a black woman’s breast.

Assistant Managing Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 748-2926, or mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.

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