Friday, July 09, 2004

The Criticism of Cosby Keeps Rolling It appears to me that much of the criticism of Bill Cosby centers around Cosby's own shortcomings rather than the validity of his remarks. While I am not defending Cosby, don't we need to keep on target with the issues. Apparently Dr. Martin L. King violated his marriage vows -- surely he is not disqualified as an African American, or as a spokesman for African Americans. Yes, his behavior does resemble those stigmatized lower class behaviors -- and a lot of non-stigmatized upper class behaviors. Jesse Jackson, too, had a child out of wedlock; however, most blacks have not painted him as "white" or as "lower class." As for Cosby's comments inviting white racists to say the same things -- they already are saying the same things and they are saying them gleefully, not remorsefully. We have not questioned the freedom of speech of the hatemongers – why should we question Cosby’s right to express his views? The analogy drawn between Cosby's remarks and Malcolm X's experience seem to point in a very different direction. Malcolm X, when confronted, accepted the fact that he was a thief and made the commitment to do something about it. There is one undeniable fact -- white America is not going to come to the aid of black America anytime soon. In the final analysis, only black America can do that. That, too, was the message of Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammed, and other black cultural nationalists -- reflecting a tradition in black philosophy. The issue is not Cosby's own personal failings as a human being. A meaningful critique of the issues, whether it comes from the left, the center, or the right, whether it comes from blacks or whites, should be first an empirical consideration of the facts not name calling or personal attacks (a favorite tactic of the right). There are empirical reasons for behavioral characteristics in any class in society and for any racial or ethnic category. The first task is to determine if there is empirical validity to Cosby's assertions. If not, the issue should be a dead issue. If there is, then we need to ask the tough question, WHY? But aside from rational critique, the pragmatic and applied question still remains. If there is a problem and if it is to be confronted and resolved, WHO is going to do it? White America? Given US history, not likely!
Weblog Commenting and Trackback by