The other day, Chris Myers sat in on the Dan Patrick show. While there, he broke the first rule of fill-in hosting on radio — don’t do anything that anyone will remember the next day.
Yeah, he broke that. Here’s the money quote.
It’s a great country here. We have disasters issues when people pull together and help themselves and I thought the people in Tennessee, unlike — I’m not going to name names — when a natural disaster hits people weren’t standing on a rooftop trying to blame the government, okay. They helped each other out through this.
And Mike Helton, president of NASCAR, Tony Stewart, among some drivers went from the race over to the middle Tennesee area where still a lot of hardworking, tax-paying, legal American citizens have been affected by the floods and are trying to rebuild their lives and they are helping out. And I think that other people around the country, of course the music industry in and around Nashville helping, without making a big deal out of it and I think that’s a good thing.
Now, because he’s not a fool, Myers apologized…to the city of New Orleans.
I can’t think of anything more ridiculous.
New Orleans was merely the vehicle he used to express his views. There’s nothing fundamental about that city that brought Myers to make his statement. Myers’ rhetoric was steeped in bootstraps ideology, which is used as often to affirm the greatness of the American spirit as it is to separate “real” Americans from fake one. That would explain why his transition from talking about the complainers of Katrina to “hardworking, tax-paying, legal Americans” was so smooth (complete with a NASCAR shout-out, it should be noted).
This wasn’t about New Orleans or Arizona or anywhere else. This was about people, with locality serving as little more than context for this passive-aggressive attack.
What people? It was about the power and resolve of white people and, by an extension Myers didn’t have to make to make his point, the deficiency of black people. Or, more specifically, about how all black people do is complain when things get hard.
Never mind, of course, that those folks pulling together in Tennessee had a lot of help doing so from dry land. It seems erroneous to compare the aftermath of the flood in Tennessee to what happened in the midst of disaster in New Orleans. If it’s like that, there was a telethon for Katrina. Top that.
Think I’m reaching? Put it like this — it wasn’t all of America that was on those rooftops begging for someone, anyone, to save them from the water. Yanno, the water that had friggin’ nutria rats in it.
And this dude apologized to New Orleans?
Come on, man. You weren’t talking about the city. You were talking about those people. And the only thing you really know about those people was that they were black (and presumably poor). No way in the world you’re going to get me to believe all he was doing was speaking on an isolated incident when what he took from the single greatest American tragedy of my lifetime — and I limit it there because that time is all I can speak confidently about — was people complaining.
No, not the people drowning, or cooking on roofs, or losing everything they had. All they were doing was complaining.
But don’t apologize to New Orleans, Chris. Apologize to me and the rest of the people that look like me. That’s who you offended because that’s who you were talking about. Myers’ racism is the same racism that partially explains why it took so long to get people off those roofs, why the President of the United States never treated the situation with proper gravity, and why Katrina was largely ignored by the media as soon as the ground was dry enough for everyone to get the hell out.
It’s the racism that we all say we hate but spend so much time trying to ignore. Well, there it is. It’s right in your face, and it was offered without provocation. And, to make matters worse, it was expressed without a semblance of backbone, dancing around the topic as if he just had to say it, but didn’t want to get in trouble.
And an apology to Mitch Landrieu is enough, ha?
I think I chose to write about this because of the significance Katrina plays in my life, for better or worse. I haven’t been the same since. At first, I didn’t get it. Then I got too much, walking around in a malaise for days and days because I was so distraught by what I saw on TV and what I heard people say about the area, the people, and the situation. I haven’t paid close attention to the news like I used to. I’m far more cynical than I ever was, perfectly aware that the only difference between me and the folks on the roofs was a whole lot of good luck.
In many ways, it broke me. I heard a good friend openly weep in the airport when the storm was approaching. I talked to him as he drove back and forth to Houston, looking for a father he didn’t like that much in the first place but couldn’t leave in the Astrodome. It was the end of any idealism I had about how things should be.
But, for Chris Myers, it was a bunch of black people on the roof, whining when they could have been building boats or swimming to freedom or growing wings so they could fly or Macgyvering helicopters to get outta there or something. Hell if I know what he thought they should do.
But I know what he should do now — be real. What Myers said was racist, and it displayed a level of racism that’s disturbing coming from someone whose job is to cover sports, where so many black men participate.
Don’t apologize to a city in a letter. You’ve got access to places where you can do what you should — come out and acknowledge what you said as being racist.
Now, if Myers doesn’t think what he said was racist, fine. Where are the rest of you to tap him on the shoulder, like good friends do, and remind him that what he said was, in fact, racist. You’ve got enough common sense to see through that rhetoric, and it only took me a sentence or two to unravel that thought process.
So, if it wasn’t racism, either Myers or anyone else can answer that — what about those people made them complainers when, under similar circumstances, the people in Tennessee rose up? What makes one group different than another. Given that n > 30 in this case, allowing us to assume the population in Tennessee is essentially the same as those in New Orleans, what made them different?
He said, effectively, that black people are whining malingerers, even when give a chance to fight for survival. We know what’s up. We know what he did. Now let’s call him on it.
There are all kinds of hot buttons in the media, things you don’t go out of bounds talking about because they’re of such great magnitude. Katrina was as much of a horror as any of those things.
Yet this cat can say that, send one fake apology, and it’s over?
Sorry, but I’m not going for that, even if all I can offer on the topic are these 1,100 or so words.