We spend so much time dancing away from our own mixed-up feelings about race and class that when some dumb bastard reveals himself as a real racist, we each dig in with our own spoon, like it's a hot fudge sundae on the house.
How many times have we dug in … on Jimmy the Greek, on Al Campanis, on Marge Schott, on Don Imus and now on Donald Sterling?
Not that I mind an occasional dessert. But I don't pretend it is good for me. Even Sean Hannity is distancing himself from Cliven Bundy! Well, I guess it's slightly better than nothing that Americans can occasionally unearth someone sufficiently ignorant to receive bipartisan scorn, though it sure would be more productive if we could ID a fellow citizen who we could admire in common.
But as we congratulate ourselves for defending the feelings of poor Magic Johnson—and now the cursor blinks out Morse Code for: What are you going to say next, Murray?—we know goddamn well that that we'll go on talking around the real issues, skirting the rough neighborhoods, avoiding the weird social situations and dodging the true disagreements among us.
(Issues, neighborhoods, situations and disagreeements like those I encountered at a rare meeting that I attended a few weeks ago in a desolate West Side neighborhood here in Chicago. The church basement rocked and groaned with the kind of post-exasperation and after-rage you would feel if you'd been left at the bottom of a well for a few years, while you could hear what sounded like a nice party going on 200 feet up, a silhouetted face occasionally peering down the bright circle at you, and then disappearing. [And then I disappeared.])
I may have once believed that "honest dialogue" would solve our social ills. Tomorrow I turn 45, and I'm sorry to say I don't believe that any longer.
Time will solve them—the time it takes for people to become wise, or to get fed up and organize.
Or it won't.
But meanwhile, the less bullshit the better. And our fascination with Donald Silver is bullshit.