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Marc Lamont Hill

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The 15 Most Overrated White People

Posted: 10/08/2012 2:02 pm

Today, our nation engages in one of its most bizarre cultural rituals: the celebration of Columbus Day as a national holiday. Although history proves that Christopher Columbus was an immoral treasure hunter who merely stumbled upon a region that had already been "discovered" by indigenous non-whites, we continue to praise the vicious conquistador as a hero.

To honor the true spirit of Columbus Day, I have created my own list of overrated white people. Of course, this list is not exhaustive, as there are countless other White people who are equally underwhelming.

Elvis Presley - Elvis didn't write his own songs (despite taking credit for them), barely played the guitar, and was a worse actor than the entire cast of Belly. Despite being a cheap facsimile of Little Richard, he is still known as the "King of Rock 'n Roll." Only in America...

Ronald Reagan - You can't have a conversation with a Republican without hearing Reagan's name invoked as the patron saint of American politics. As a result, Ronald Reagan moves closer and closer to the Mount Rushmore of our public imagination with each passing year. How easily we forget that Reagan was largely responsible for shutting down mental hospitals, bloating the military, shrinking benefits for the needy, sparking mass incarceration, and declaring ketchup a vegetable for our children's school lunches.

Justin Bieber - Sure, the kid can sing and dance. But is he better than dozens of black R&B singers? Nope.

Donald Trump - The Donald was always obnoxious, but he dipped to new lows this year by jumping on the Birther train. But that alone doesn't make him overrated. Just racist and dumb. No, Trump is overrated because people actually look to the self-important hack for legitimate political insight. The only thing more inflated than Trump's intellectual value is his net-worth, which is nothing close to the "many billions" he alleges.

Prince Harry - The Tito Jackson of the Royal Family. Prince Harry is something like the 234th heir to the throne, yet the media talks about him as if he were Prince Charles himself. I guess if we realized how unimportant he was, his ridiculous antics would be less newsworthy.

Tim Tebow - At best, Tebow is a 2nd or 3rd string player. Sure, he's led his team to some amazing 4th quarter come-from-behind victories. But that's usually because his crappy play over the first 3 quarters put his team behind. Tebow's celebrity -- despite the fact that he couldn't beat out mediocre Mark Sanchez for a starting spot -- proves an old football axiom: Black men throw interceptions; White men are "gunslingers."

President Obama's Economic Team - Despite wolf cries from the Right that President Obama is organizing a socialist revolution, the President's economic advisors are living proof that he's far from a Fabianist. Rather than delivering on the change that many people expected -- and that the Obama Administration continues to trumpet as fact against all evidence to the contrary -- Obama's closest economic advisors have continued to push forward a business-as-usual strategy that continues to reward big business, stimulate the wealthy, undermine fair trade, and deny the possibility of living wages for poor people around the globe.

William Shakespeare - There's no doubt that Shakespeare has a rightful place in the Western literary canon. Unfortunately, thanks to sycophantic critics and narrow-minded educational systems, Shakespeare is the only person who seems to matter to the average person. Billy's hulking presence in the Western literary imagination has led to the marginalization of other incredible writers of his era, such as Kyd, Middleton and Webster, whose work merits equal if not greater attention. Also, as a result of his deification, we ignore the fact that many aspects of Shakespeare's work -- such as the writing in Hamlet or the generally narrow range of female roles in his plays -- just aren't that awesome.

Babe Ruth - While there is no doubt that Babe Ruth was the most dominant player of his era, he was also the beneficiary of smaller playing fields and a segregated league. It may be cliché to say, but there's little doubt that Ruth would have lower career numbers if he had been forced to face Satchel Paige and his peers on a regular basis. Nevertheless, The Babe, rather than Hank Aaron or Willie Mays, continues to be the most celebrated figure in the history of the sport.

Kate Middleton - Almost no one get more media attention (and Huffington Post traffic) than Prince William's wife. What does she do again?

Joel Osteen - The only preacher in America who can give an entire sermon without referencing a bible. Somehow, Osteen has convinced the world that he is a legitimate theologian rather than a schmaltzy self-help salesmen in pastor's clothing.

The Whole NHL (except Wayne Simmonds) - Has anyone noticed that the whole season is about to be canceled? Nope, didn't think so.

Bill Clinton - Despite bombing Africa and the Middle East regularly, approving the Welfare Reform Bill, Prison Litigation Reform Act, and "three strikes" legislation, Black folk regularly regard Clinton as a messianic figure. He may have been better than Bush, but Slick Willie was far from a savior.

Eminem - Without question, Marshall Mathers is a dope MC. His first two LPs (particularly the second) will go down as classics and his latest releases, Recovery and Bad Meets Evil, are some of the best albums in recent years. Still, the "genius" and "greatest of all time" labels are too quickly attached to Em at the expense of more significant old school rappers like Kool G Rap and Big Daddy Kane, as well as contemporaries like Black Thought, Kool Keith, Jean Grae and Pharoah Monche.

Bill Walton - More than any other player in the history of the NBA, Walton embodies hyperbole. In his current role as an announcer, Walton routinely refers to at least eight different players as the "best player in the league, bar none" and refers to routine turnovers as "the worst play in the history of Western civilization." As a player, Walton put together one of the greatest college careers in NCAA history and led Portland to a championship. Still, a career full of recurring injuries and his sixth-man role in Boston make Walton's placement on the NBA's 50 Greatest Players list dubious at best.

Sarah Palin - Although her political career is likely over, Palin continues to be a powerbroker among Right wing extremists. Despite her lack of knowledge of policy or strategy, Palin is still a go-to pundit on conservative media outlets. No one destroys the myth of white supremacy more effectively than Sarah Palin.

Who would you add to the list?

Loading Slideshow...
  • PRESLEY

    FILE - In this undated file photo released by NBC-TV, singer Elvis Presley is shown in concert in the later part of his career. Presley's estate announced it has authorized holograms of the King of Rock, Marilyn Monroe's estate has expressed interest and there's no shortage of other beloved stars whose fans would die to see them perform again. (AP Photo/NBC-TV, FILE)

  • Ronald Reagan

    FILE - In this Aug. 23, 1984 black-and-white file photo, President Ronald Reagan gives the thumbs up gesture during his acceptance speech at the final session of the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas. Mitt Romney did not mention the war in Afghanistan, where 79,000 US troops are fighting, in his speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday. The last time a Republican presidential nominee did not address war was 1952, when Dwight Eisenhower spoke generally about American power and spreading freedom around the world but did not explicitly mention armed conflict. Below are examples of how other Republican nominees have addressed the issue over the years, both in peacetime and in war. (AP Photo/Peter Southwick, File)

  • Justin Bieber

    Musician Justin Bieber performs during the Believe Tour at Staples Center on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

  • Limited Edition Marchesa/NFL Collaboration Launch

    NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 02: Business magnate Donald Trump attends the Limited Edition Marchesa/NFL Collaboration Launch at National Football League on October 2, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

  • Tim Tebow

    New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow (15) leaves the field following an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Miami, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. The Jets won 23-20 in overtime. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • Obama Speaks On Financial Reform

    WASHINGTON - JANUARY 21: President Barack Obama delivers remarks on financial reform as U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner (3rd-L), Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors Christina Romer (2nd-L) and U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) (4th-L) look on in the Diplomatic Reception Room on January 21, 2010 in Washington, DC. Obama announced measures to narrow the size and scope of banks and their investment activities. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

  • John Cook

    John Cook of Ballston Spa, N.Y., walks atop a billboard featuring baseball legend Babe Ruth after he and co-workers installed it in Half Moon, N.Y., on Wednesday, April 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

  • Kate Middleton

    FILE - FOR SPANISH END OF THE YEAR STORY MODA - In this April 29, 2011 file photo, Miss Catherine Middleton arrives at Westminster Abbey for the Royal Wedding in London. (AP Photo/Paul Rogers, Pool, File)

  • Joel Osteen

    FILE - In a Sept. 30, 2007 file photo, Joel Osteen preaches during a worship service he leads with his wife, Victoria, at Lakewood Church, the congregation he took over 8 years ago after the death of his father, John Osteen, founder of the institution. A stake in a yet-to-be-made movie about the life of Jesus Christ’s mother with mega-preacher Joel Osteen of the Lakewood Church as executive producer could soon be held by the U.S. government. The plea deal that makes that happen could be a screenplay in itself. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Steve Ueckert, File)

  • In this picture, taken Oct.5, 2012 Islanders' John Tavares, NHL lockout player, now with SC Bern,challenges for the puck during the match between EV Zug and SC Bern in Zug, Switzerland,(AP Photo/KeystoneSigi Tischler)

  • Bill Clinton Campaigns For Obama In New Hampshire

    DURHAM, NH - OCTOBER 3: Former U.S. President Bill Clinton speaks at an event at the University of New Hampshire October 3, 2012 in Durham, New Hampshire. Clinton touted President Barack Obama's economic plan, as opposed to the Romney/Ryan plan, and the importance of the upcoming election ahead of tonight's first presidential debate. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

  • Eminem

    FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2010, file photo, rapper Eminem performs at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Anti-gay sentiments have been entrenched in hip-hop for decades. Eminem, widely known for offensive lyrics toward homosexuals, has joined Jay-Z in saying people of the same-sex should be able to love one another. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)

  • Bill Walton

    FILE - This April 5, 2010, file photo shows Basketball great Bill Walton speaking during the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class announcement, in Indianapolis. Walton is ready to recap his amazing career and even more amazing recovery. Simon & Schuster announced Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, that Walton, 59, is working on a memoir that will come out in the fall of 2013. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

  • Sarah Palin

    FILE - In this Sept. 3, 2008, file photo, Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, speaks during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn. Republicans heading to their 2012 party convention in Tampa are eager to hear an earful about the shortcomings of President Barack Obama's record, the woeful U.S. economy and the competing visions of the two presidential candidates. They aren't looking for compromise, which most Americans say is necessary to get the nation on track. The delegates hear rhetoric that is brutal, vitriolic and far from conciliatory. Some lines from both conventions are memorable. Comparing her mayoral experience in Wasilla to that of Democratic nominee Barack Obama, Palin said, "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, expect that you have actual responsibilities." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

 

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