• $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • other
  • use Paypal

CALLING ALL COUNTERPUNCHERS! CounterPunch’s website is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. We are supported almost entirely by the subscribers to the print edition of our magazine and by one-out-of-every-1000 readers of the site. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners to the “new” Cuba. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads or click bait. Unlike many other indy media sites, we don’t shake you down for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it. So over the next few weeks we are requesting your financial support. Keep CounterPunch free, fierce and independent by donating today by credit card through our secure online server, via PayPal or by calling 1(800) 840-3683. Note: This annoying box will disappear once we reach our fund drive goal. Thank you for your support!


White Noise


Jason "Big Sexy" Whitlock has told me to "mind [my] own damn business" when it comes to his mission to lead a new Civil Rights movement against "black idiots". But whether you are talking about Whitlock or someone hanging a noose on a tree, there is a problem when you say, "Just ignore it and it will go away."

Whitlock’s latest on Fox Sports, titled, "NFL buffoons leaving terrible legacy" takes it to even another level. It’s an ugly clarion call for athletic ethnic cleansing. He makes the case that the NFL is getting whiter, all thanks to black "hip hop buffoons" who are alienating owners, coaches, and fans. He writes, "African-American football players caught up in the rebellion and buffoonery of hip hop culture have given NFL owners and coaches a justifiable reason to whiten their rosters." Justifiable: meaning it is a process he both defends and understands.

His evidence for actions that "justify whitening" lie with flamboyant Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson and Chiefs running back Larry Johnson [no relation]. He believes that both men consciously undermine their coaches, Marvin Lewis and Herm Edwards, two of the few black head coaches in the NFL. To even the casual football fan, even those who favor Whitlock’s politics, the argument should make no sense. Larry Johnson, a coach’s son from a middle class background, is the Chiefs’ captain. He certainly has a reputation for being enigmatic and sulky, but his Chiefs, picked to finish last, are now standing at a surprising 4-3.

Chad Johnson’s Bengals have been a disaster at 2-5, with so many arrests they are referred to as Cincin-Attica. But one of their few players who have brought game every week, played at a pro bowl level, and stayed out of trouble is Chad Johnson. In the "No Fun League" he delights fans by being a bleached-blonde libertine.

Once again: Larry Johnson: middle class and sulky. Chad Johnson: extraverted and blonde. The only thing these players seemingly have in common is their last name and All-pro skills.

But Whitlock sees another commonality: the color of their skin. They are "bojanglers", buffoons, and symbolic of all that is wrong with "black athletes in thrall of hip hop/prison culture."

But perhaps sensing the transparency of his argument–and the fact that we’ve heard this song from him before, Whitlock isn’t done. He also writes, "[The whitening of rosters] is already starting to happen. A little-publicized fact is that the Colts and the Patriots–the league’s model franchises–are two of the whitest teams in the NFL. 47 percent of Tony Dungy’s defending Super Bowl-champion roster is non-African-American. Bill Belichick’s Patriots are nearly as white, boasting a 23-man non-African-American roster, counting linebacker Tiaina "Junior" Seau and backup quarterback Matt Gutierrez."

There is no end to how irretrievably stupid this is. No demographic evidence exists that the NFL is becoming "whiter." Yes, more players of Latino or South Asian, Pacific Islander, or even African heritage are playing the game. That speaks far more to the dominance of football in an increasingly multicultural United States. In other words, his example of Junior Seau and Matt Gutierrez don’t exactly point to the whitening of the league.

Also, as the Battery Chucker Blog points out, even the Colts and Patriots are seeing their seasons rise and fall on the success of their African American players. "Outside of Manning, Brady and Bruschi, the major components of both teams are men like Moss, Harrisson, Freeney, Maroney, Samuel and Wayne. Yes the rosters for both teams are nearly half white, but the majority of the players carrying the load are black, some with corn rows, dreads, tattoo’s and big cars and it certainly isn’t have an effect on the teams success."

The Patriots example is a particular head-scratcher. This year the Pats took a chance on the ultimate poster-child of "hip hop athletes", Randy Moss, and the results have been spectacular. Three years ago, they rode the back of another disgruntled, corn-rowed "head case" Corey Dillon, to a Super Bowl.

But none of that is what makes Whitlock’s article wrong. The worst part about it is that it is racist: pure and simple. It’s racist because Whitlock is cheerfully willing to justify "whitening rosters" because of the actions of a few. Yes, there are pro athletes–in every sport of every color–who are narcissists that believe the world spins at their command. Stop the presses. This is the way it has always been in our hero-worshiping, sports obsessed culture. Ty Cobb beat a paraplegic fan for heckling. Ted Williams gave the finger more than once to the Boston faithful. Mickey Mantle went up to the plate hung over and would cuss out young starry-eyed reporters. In football, Whitlock’s good friend, quarterback Jeff George was a career head case. When a rookie named John Elway spurned the Baltimore Colts for the Denver Broncos, he was derided as selfish. The difference is that when these athletes acted in such a manner, no one railed about a "crisis of the white athlete" or the "buffoonery" of "white culture." No one said, after Bret Favre admitted to a pain killer addiction, that maybe teams should take a chance on more reliable black quarterbacks. But Whitlock strains to provide ideological cover for every fan freaked out by a bigot’s definition of "hip hop" and any owner looking to jettison problem players. Instead of building bridges, Whitlock uses his platform to burn crosses.

The worst part of the column is when he writes, "You know why Muhammad Ali is/was an icon? Because he rebelled against something meaningful and because he excelled in an individual sport. His rebellion didn’t interfere with winning. Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, etc. rebelled with dignity and purpose."

Don’t believe this self-serving sound bite for a second. It’s as convincing as George Bush giving Ali the Congressional Medal of Freedom and calling him a "man of peace." Find a column where Whitlock has anything good to say about athletes who have taken a stand against war or the criminal justice system. He mocks athletes who have stood against the war in Iraq and for the young men in Jena. The young Ali, Brown, Russell, and Kareem would have regarded Whitlock like something beneath contempt.

If Whitlock was around in the 1960s, he’d be more an ally of Carl Rowan, the prominent African American columnist who said upon Malcolm X’s death, in the New York Times, that Malcolm was "an ex-convict, ex-dope peddler who became a racial fanatic." Whitlock is on a side that believes the number one problem facing black America is black America–and he’s using sports as a vehicle to advance his case. It’s a debate that falls apart in the face of every crumbling school, prison, and hospital in any-city USA. It’s also a position that, in the current climate, emboldens all the wrong people.

DAVE ZIRIN is the author of "The Muhammad Ali Handbook" (MQ Publications) and "Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports" . You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every week by e-mailing edgeofsports-subscribe@zirin.com. Contact him at edgeofsports@gmail.com


October 13, 2015
Dave Lindorff
US Dispatched a Murderous AC-130 Airborne Gunship to Attack a Hospital
Steve Martinot
The Politics of Prisons and Prisoners
Heidi Morrison
A Portrait of an Immigrant Named Millie, Drawn From Her Funeral
Andre Vltchek
Horrid Carcass of Indonesia – 50 Years After the Coup
Jeremy Malcolm
All Rights Reserved: Now We Know the Final TTP is Everything We Feared
Omar Kassem
Do You Want to See Turkey Falling Apart as Well?
Paul Craig Roberts
Recognizing Neocon Failure: Has Obama Finally Come to His Senses?
Theodoros Papadopoulos
The EU Has Lost the Plot in Ukraine
Roger Annis
Ukraine Threatened by Government Negligence Over Polio
Matthew Stanton
The Vapid Vote
Mel Gurtov
Manipulating Reality: Facebook is Listening to You
Louisa Willcox
Tracking the Grizzly’s Number One Killer
Binoy Kampmark
Assange and the Village Gossipers
Robert Koehler
Why Bombing a Hospital Is a War Crime
Jon Flanders
Railroad Workers Fight Proposed Job Consolidation
Mark Hand
Passion and Pain: Photographer Trains Human Trafficking Survivors
October 12, 2015
Ralph Nader
Imperial Failure: Lessons From Afghanistan and Iraq
Ishmael Reed
Want a Renewal? Rid Your City of Blacks
Thomas S. Harrington
US Caught Faking It in Syria
Victor Grossman
Scenes From a Wonderful Parade Against the TPP
Luciana Bohne
Where Are You When We Need You, Jean-Paul Sartre?
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The US Way of War: From Columbus to Kunduz
Paul Craig Roberts
A Decisive Shift in the Balance of Power
Justus Links
Turkey’s Tiananmen in Context
Ray McGovern
Faux Neutrality: How CNN Shapes Political Debate
William Manson
Things R Us: How Venture Capitalists Feed the Fetishism of Technology
Norman Pollack
The “Apologies”: A Note On Usage
Steve Horn
Cops Called on Reporter Who Asked About Climate at Oil & Gas Convention
Javan Briggs
The Browning of California: the Water is Ours!
Dave Randle
The BBC and the Licence Fee
Andrew Stewart
Elvis Has Left the Building: a Reply to Slavoj Žižek
Nicolás Cabrera
Resisting Columbus: the Movement to Change October 12th Holiday is Rooted in History
Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria