It’s true that I am a perennial party pooper, a consistent contrarian, a rainer on parades, if you will. There’s no reason for me to stop now.
Let me start by saying I’ve never seen Rick Sanchez’s show. In fact, I’d never heard of him until he was fired. I don’t watch much TV and I sure don’t watch cable news. What I’ve heard thus far is that Sanchez is a moron and his show is dumb.
But clearly he wasn’t fired for that reason. He was fired because…because…umm…well…what happened was he…
I read Sanchez statements and I interpreted them thusly: I am a Latino man and I believe I have suffered institutionalized racism at the hands of white liberals–many of whom are Jewish people. Jewish people are powerful within the entertainment industry and Jon Stewart is one of those people. I think that Stewart and some other people of his ilk look down on me.
I have to assume that CNN and others assumed Sanchez said something he didn’t. I could guess what that something was (insert anti-semetic implications here) but what does it matter? The fact is Sanchez didn’t say anything wrong and his firing sends a confusing message.
Not only can you be fired and ridiculed for what you say, you can be fired and ridiculed for what we think you might have possibly been alluding to vaguely in your comments. For the record, THAT’S BULLSHIT.
Jon Stewart’s childish mocking of someone who was fired for something they didn’t say rubs me the wrong way. Minorities struggle with institutionalized racism on a daily basis, and Sanchez’s comments, however impolitic or unwelcome, were a valid representation of what many routinely face. Hearing Stewart and many in the liberal contingent act as though Sanchez committed a grave offense while ignoring the fact that he clearly relayed a painful past and present experience shows two things: 1. How off limits discussions about racial bias are–even from people who have their own platform from which to speak and 2. How completely out of touch some white people are with how minorities navigate this world.
Interesting that even after achieving the one thing that most journalists want—his own television show–Sanchez was still filled with enough resentment (certainly driven in part by Stewart’s mocking) that he mentioned racial inequity on air in a personal sense, something that almost never happens. And now we know why it almost never happens.
Stewart gets to mock Sanchez’s “meltdown” while ignoring the crux of his point. Privilege anyone? This is the very thing that Sanchez was talking about. It’s difficult to know that no matter how much you accomplish there are certain people who will never respect you simply because you’re (insert disadvantage here), and then, after disrespecting you they can take you down, and then kick you while you’re down. Stewart may not see himself as one of those people, he may not think that his disdain for Sanchez is racially motivated–and perhaps it’s not. But that doesn’t make Sanchez’s experiences any less valid or Stewart’s na na na boo boo’ing any more appealing.
I’ve said it many times before, but Christopher Hitchens is one of my favorite thinkers and has heavily influenced my own work. I enjoyed reading his thoughts on the Sanchez situation in Slate magazine and agreed with his characterization of Sanchez’s comments as “uncontroversial.” Hitchens also suggests that Stewart lead a charge for Sanchez to be reinstated, and I think that would be the mature thing to do.
But Stewart doesn’t seem to be interested in approaching this subject maturely. And yeah, it kinda pisses me off.