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Jewish World Review / May 21, 1998 / 25 Iyar, 5758

Larry Elder

Larry Elder 'Stuff' happens

REMEMBER THE PRESIDENT'S recent town hall meeting on sports and race, where he encouraged team owners to hire more minorities for management jobs?

A small article in the sports pages illustrates a big, yet unspoken, problem. The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination will determine whether black Boston Red Sox employee Thomas Sneed suffered racial discrimination. His complaint? In June 1996, Sneed claims that an office desk photograph of himself and his white fiancee was defaced with a racial epithet.

Then, Sneed claims that about a year later someone covered a photograph of his fiancee with that of a woman recently murdered.

Now, we have few details. But based on published accounts, let's examine this. Some jerk writes a racial epithet on a black guy's desk photo. The Red Sox should do what? Polygraph every employee? Offer a reward? Torture every third staffer? Has Sneed considered the possibility of locking his office?

Feminist Betty Friedan justifies her Clinton sex-scandal silence this way: "Women are quite capable of saying no to an unwanted sexual advance" and are not "passive, helpless little creatures." Friedan is basically saying: Stuff happens, Paula. Are we women so weak that the slightest unwanted remark or gesture throws us into a hissie fit? C'mon gals. We're of sterner stuff!

Does this advice apply to our Thomas Sneed? If Betty Friedan can tell women to reject the role of "passive, helpless little creatures," will the NAACP or the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund demand the same of blacks and Hispanics?

Someone once placed a box of feces in the campus mailbox of an unpopular law professor. What, no independent counsel to hunt down the culprit? A student in my college dorm woke up to find a taped picture of Adolf Hitler on his door. The caption read, "To Steve with love, Adolf." What, no task force on campus hate crimes? Sometimes, stuff happens.

A friend recently saw a black guy wearing a T-shirt. The front said "Imported from Africa" and the back, "No one can ever know the pain of the black man, so don't try to tell me that you understand."

A little unsolicited advice: Don't wear that during a job interview.

As the president asks employers to open up and broaden their hiring pool, he fails to give a message to prospective minority employees: Don't wear your race on your sleeve. We live in a population where 10 percent of the people believe that Elvis is still alive and 8 percent believe that if you send him a letter, he will get it. Idiots abound. Many of us will encounter workplace stupidity. And, in the case of Thomas Sneed, make that cowardly stupidity.

My dad says that no one can make you feel inferior without your permission. But black House Democrat Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) seems to see things differently. When she recently visited the White House, she said, security questioned her but not the young white aide she accompanied. McKinney called her encounter "a classic case of stereotyping and outright discrimination."

The White House crime? When McKinney and her aide arrived at the White House gate, the guard, according to McKinney, "did not address his questions to me." Well, off with his head! "I'm absolutely sick and tired of having to have my appearance validated by white people," McKinney said. She instructed Clinton to tell his staff that "I don't need to be stopped and questioned because I happen to look like hired help."

Now, suppose McKinney is one of your employees, and you write a negative evaluation of her work. Better call out the National Guard. You may need the backup.

Sports team owners, like most employers, fear the hypersensitive, victocrat-oriented mentality of some prospective minority and female employees. Try running a business. Try meeting a payroll every other week. Rough, tough stuff, this entrepreneurship. No employer wants to waste time, money and energy facing a disgruntled employee, attorney at the ready, crying discrimination.

Some claims are certainly legitimate. Some, however, result from viewing the world through race-tinted glasses. Bosses want good, solid, hard-working, realistically thick-skinned workers who understand that, sometimes, stuff happens.

Victocrats need not apply.


5/18/98: This just in
5/11/98: Stepping up
4/30/98: Who's faking whom?
4/16/98:To spank or not to spank

©1998, Laurence A. Elder