For whatever reason, the media seems to take delight in destroying people who espouse ideas they do not agree with. We no longer discuss ideas, we destroy the people who put forth ideas we do not like. Most of the obvious examples of this are conservative politicians, but occasionally other people fall into the net. One of the people recently attacked (justifiably so, but attacked) is Bill Cosby. Bill Cosby over the years has evidently done some horrible things. However, that doesn’t mean that what he has said about the problems that we face is not valid.
Yesterday Joe Brown at the Tampa Tribune posted a short commentary on Bill Cosby. Mr. Brown reminds us that there were a lot of people who took issued with Bill Cosby‘s speech given at an NAACP event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the historic Brown vs. Board of Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.
This is on excerpt from the speech (taken from the American Rhetoric Website):
Now, look, I’m telling you. It’s not what they’re doing to us. It’s what we’re not doing. 50 percent drop out. Look, we’re raising our own ingrown immigrants. These people are fighting hard to be ignorant. There’s no English being spoken, and they’re walking and they’re angry. Oh God, they’re angry and they have pistols and they shoot and they do stupid things. And after they kill somebody, they don’t have a plan. Just murder somebody. Boom. Over what? A pizza? And then run to the poor cousin’s house.
They sit there and the cousin says, “What are you doing here?”
“I just killed somebody, man.”
“I just killed somebody; I’ve got to stay here.”
“No, you don’t.”
“Well, give me some money, I’ll go….”
“Where are you going?”
Everybody wanted to go to North Carolina. But the police know where you’re going because your cousin has a record.
Five or six different children — same woman, eight, ten different husbands or whatever. Pretty soon you’re going to have to have DNA cards so you can tell who you’re making love to. You don’t who this is. It might be your grandmother. I’m telling you, they’re young enough. Hey, you have a baby when you’re twelve. Your baby turns thirteen and has a baby, how old are you? Huh? Grandmother. By the time you’re twelve, you could have sex with your grandmother, you keep those numbers coming. I’m just predicting.
I’m saying Brown versus the Board of Education. We’ve got to hit the streets, ladies and gentlemen. I’m winding up, now — no more applause. I’m saying, look at the Black Muslims. There are Black Muslims standing on the street corners and they say so forth and so on, and we’re laughing at them because they have bean pies and all that, but you don’t read, “Black Muslim gunned down while chastising drug dealer.” You don’t read that. They don’t shoot down Black Muslims. You understand me. Muslims tell you to get out of the neighborhood. When you want to clear your neighborhood out, first thing you do is go get the Black Muslims, bean pies and all. And your neighborhood is then clear. The police can’t do it.
Mr. Brown points out:
For years I’ve heard rumors about Cosby, but, I’m ashamed to say, I chose to ignore them, or hoped against hope that they weren’t true. I felt his messages of self-determination and nonvictimization were too important to be derailed by his personal conduct. I didn’t put him on a pedestal, but I ignored any flaws he might have had. As I had to admit to my friend, I was wrong.
(Speaking of people on pedestals, a fictional character I and millions of other Americans had put on one, Atticus Finch, the hero of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” was knocked off of his with the release of the novel’s prequel, “Go Set a Watchman.” Who’s next?)
So, as Martin Luther King asked in the title of his last book, where do we go from here?
Before the rape allegations, Cosby caught hell from a lot of people because he scolded those who have failed to take advantage of the hard-fought victories of the 1950s and ’60s. Well, someone still needs to do that, although maybe not as curmudgeonly as he did.
As the comedian joked, Cosby drugged women and dropped his pants, but our youngsters still need to pull theirs up. The messenger was flawed, but his relevant message still needs to get through.
We are all flawed people, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have something of value to say. What Bill Cosby did was horrible, but we need to have a discussion on what he said–it might help us deal with the poverty and violence we see in the black community.