The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024

The race card

A recently published op/ed, entitled “Celebrities should speak out,” nearly applauded Kanye West, who has become the epitome of free speech. I agreed with most of the article but felt that it was an extreme understatement and that West deserves more than just a slap on the wrist.

The freedom of speech is something we Americans hold dear to our hearts. Unlike other countries, people here can say whatever they want without the persistence of terrified worry. But, like Spider-man’s uncle points out, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

Calling the president of the United States a racist on national television while trying to raise millions of dollars for Hurricane Katrina victims is not responsible. It’s an uncalled for cheap shot that reveals stupidity at its prime.

West took advantage of free speech by drastically deviating from the teleprompter and proclaiming, “America is set up to help the poor, the black people and the less well-off, as slow as possible.”

Free speech became idiot speech when West explained that law enforcement officials have “permission to go down and shoot” African Americans. Correction: Officers (white and black) have been ordered to shoot looters (white and black), the same looters who are shooting back at them and other rescue vehicles.

The nonsense continues: “If you see a black family [in the media] it says they are looting, and if you see a white family it says they are looking for food.” Mainstream media is liberally biased — not anti-minorities biased, Mr. West.

The icing on the cake was his last comment, which lost him what little credibility he had left: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

Rev. Al Sharpton, Amsterdam News’ Editor-in-Chief Elinor Tatum and ordained Baptist Minister Michael Eric Dyson all second Kanye’s notion. When asked in a recent interview to provide proof of the administration’s racist tactics, Tatum replied, “the hurricane.”

When asked to explain, she condemned the slow response and lack of federal assistance to New Orleans with regards to the evacuation. Tatum evidently didn’t realize that the federal government has no jurisdiction over state evacuations and that Blanco didn’t ask for help until two days before Katrina slammed the country. She also hadn’t grasped exactly how much power local authorities, such as Chief of Police Edwin Compass and Mayor Ray Nagin, both of who are black, had during the natural disaster.

Already humiliated, Tatum was asked to give more racist evidence prevalent in Bush’s policies. Her response: the No Child Left Behind Act was “underfunded.” I didn’t realize that the NCLB was strictly for minorities, Elinor, but in case you were wondering, Bush’s record funding of education has gone up 50 percent since Clinton left office. Regardless, there’s quite a disparity between insufficient funding of educational programs and racially discriminating against African Americans.

I’ve heard over and over again that if New Orleans were dominated by rich white people the evacuation would have gone much faster. But if they were rich, wouldn’t they have hopped on the next flight out of New Orleans to safety? This argument doesn’t make sense! It only justifies that the Katrina response has nothing to do with race and everything to do with class: the have nots and have gots. A person’s economic stratum is not a stepping-stone to the color of his or her skin – 75 percent of America’s “poor” are in fact white.

Side note: the Bush 2006 budget allots a record $368 billion for poverty entitlements, 14.6 percent of the entire budget – more than any other president.

I realize I put myself out on a political limb with strong chances of criticism by quoting someone by the name of Bill O’Reilly – but keep in mind that he’s like a Joseph Lieberman or Zel Miller: You know which side they stand on, but they are fair in most assessments of worldly events.

“If you’re poor, you’re powerless, not only in America, but everywhere on earth. If you don’t have enough money to protect yourself from danger, danger’s going to find you. And all the political gibberish in the world is not going to change that,” O’Reilly said.

It is irresponsible and below the belt to assign Bush a level of intent and to assume the worst without evidence. Blame Bush for lost lives in Iraq, the economy or even global warming if you wish, but do not attempt to trump the administration with a race card by demeaning his integrity.

Hollywood and everything related should acknowledge Green Day. Billie Joe Armstrong has mastered the art of poetically sending a political message through his latest album, “American Idiot.” The mere fact that it speaks in different ways to a variety of people (and rocks out) is beyond respectable. Take notes, Kanye West, because your “improv'” skills suck.

Brian Wellman is a first year. He may be contacted at [email protected].

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