Call me naive, but why can’t everybody just be happy for the guy? Jeremy Lin has become an overnight sports sensation, knocking the NBA on it’s ear, and breathing new life into the New York Knicks. Suddenly a young man’s success has been turned into a discussion about race. Why have some people regressed to a point where Asian-American racism takes center court and eclipses the triumph of the man’s game? Jeremy Lin is a nice looking young guy with a degree from Harvard in economics. Economics is going to come in handy, because the product endorsements are bound to come rolling-in.
The central question still remains, WHY has his meteoric rise to sports super-stardom become an issue of race? Asian Americans and all sports-minded Americans have a new role-model. That’s a good thing, right? Of course it is up until some idiot starts making tacky racist comments. Maybe people don’t generally associate basketball excellence with Chinese heritage, however, it doesn’t seem to me any one race, color or creed has the corner on talent, whether it’s sports, arts or sciences. So why not an Asian American basketball hero? The novelty of an Asian basketball star led to the firing of an ESPN editor trying to be too clever by half in using the old phrase “Chink in the Armor.” The phrase itself has no connection to race, but used in that context, it does. Let’s examine that phrase for a moment — a ‘chink in the armor’ infers weakness — quite literally a battle-damaged area in a warrior’s armor. That’s the origin of the quote. Jeremy Lin clearly isn’t a weakness, he’s a strength for his team. If instead, that ESPN editor had said ‘Knick in Shining Armor’ he would still have had his job.
Then there’s that awful Photoshopped fortune cookie mess somebody put out on the internet. As Photoshop work goes, it’s not even well executed. I’ve heard it said “all humor contains an element of aggression.” There’s some truth to it — I get pretty close to the edge right here on my own blog — but the real issue is the spirit in which the words are spoken. I get angry at a lot of people on my blog (mostly politicians) but not based on race or gender. No one should be so dull and politically correct to a point where they reach pure, dim sterility — have a little fun. For example, I like to have a little fun at Chris Christie’s expanse. I try to only allow myself to get ‘mean’ when ‘mean’ is what’s called-for.
Derogatory criticism based NOT on character or calling-out belligerent actions is patently nonconstructive — it’s merely diminishing the critic himself to slurs about race, gender or sexual-orientation and tend to emanate from a place of insecurity and fear. Fear that the ‘other’ might be superior to the ‘known and familiar.’ We see this play-out everyday with people who hate Barack Obama but can’t rationally articulate why. They can’t put a finger on what it is that bothers them about him, because they don’t want to admit the smartest guy in the room is black, and they’re hiding their own racism only from themselves. It rocks their world and triggers their insecurities. It’s time for everybody to calm down and let Obama and Lin enjoy their successes — even shoot a few hoops. I’d love to see a friendly photo-opp where Jeremy Lin and President Obama take to the court together. Oh who am I kidding? What I really want to see is a bipartisan game of dodge-ball where everybody gets to pummel Newt Gingrich until he’s black and blue. Shirts or skins?