Will the real white boys please stand up?
Might it be possible to suggest that Mike Ditka, like half of America, has lost his faculties? That he is, at the very least, visually impaired? After all, from Ditka's vantage point, there is nothing wrong with America: "I don't see all the atrocities going on in this country that people say are going on." Mike Ditka, surely, has no access to technology. No television, no smart phone, and nothing as hi tech as that old Marconi thing-and-mijig, the radio. As a result, the Ditka principle obtains. Since he sees no evil, no evil - let's just call it racist policing - can be said to exist. America, the land of the free, except for those such as Colin Kaepernick who, because they take a knee in protest at atrocities, are offered the special Ditka deportation package: just "get the hell out" of the US.
But, one might ask, if Ditka is such a luddite, how come he knows about Kaepernick but not about what happened (and here we'll restrict ourselves to just, say, last week), but not the events of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Charlotte, North Carolina? Might this have something to do with the Ditka worldview, in which black motorists being killed by white police officers does not rise to the level of atrocity?
I'd like to suggest that, as an act of political education, free for Da Coach, of course, ESPN ask Tony Kornheiser - let's leave his "Pardon the Interruption" companion, Mike Wilbon out of this because now and then black Northwestern University graduates deserve a respite from the politics of race - to provide Ditka with a crash course in American race relations. Last week Kornheiser remarked to Wilbon, quite uncontroversially, that in this country black motorists are not afforded the same rights as white ones.
On Friday, with Wilbon not on the set (I hate it when one, let alone both, members of this double act take a break), Kornheiser followed this up with a pointed critique of white NFL players. When, Kornheiser, wondered would white players take a stand? When indeed? In his musing, Kornheiser playfully, in a way that was, of course, not playful at all, wondered if "Aaron Rodgers" might "come on down." What does the view look like from Rodgers' white perch in Green Bay, Wisconsin? What about Eddie Lacy, yes, the black guy you hand the ball off to, Aaron? Have you asked him about those atrocities, real or, as Da Coach would insist, imagined they may be? Has Rodgers, or Eli Manning or Ben Rothlisberger inquired about how the other 68.7% of NFL players, the black majority (and Pacific Islander), live? Have you asked your stand-in Jacoby Brissett about this, Tom? And, coach Fox, coach Rivera, coach Jackson, what do you think of the 76 year Chicago Bears legend? I won't bother to ask about Rex Ryan, whose dad was Da Coach's old defensive coordinator when the Bears triumphed in that famed Super Bowl XX (1985), because apples don't fall far from trees, as we all know.
Until the white minority in the NFL steps us, until someone in the NFL coaching fraternity takes umbrage, Mike Ditka's visually deficient viewpoint will have to stand in as the voice of whiteness, spewing a Reaganesque pathologization of blackness. Remember that Reagan-inspired 1980s discourse about "welfare queens" and "young bucks dining on T-bone steaks?" Ditka's view of things, however, may belong to an even earlier discourse, that of racial uplift, that hoary old New England chestnut about Horatio Alger and up-by-your-bootstraps mentality; c'mon now, lads, what is Kaepernick on about with this nonsense about "Making America Great for the First Time?"
For the first time, please. Blacks, and everyone who is lacking, have only themselves to blame. "I see opportunities if people want to look for opportunity," Da Coach intones, "Now if they don't want to look for them, then you can find problems with anything, but this is the land of opportunity because you can be anything you want to be if you work. Now if you don't work, that's a different problem."
Discursively, I may be wrong but I would venture that Mike Ditka is what you get (and not as a historical anachronism, regrettably) when Ronald Reagan is ideologically fused to Horatio Alger.
It ain't pretty, but it sure as hell is real. There can be no question that Mike Ditka would be the ideal candidate to head Trump's newly fabricated Department of Sport and Thrift. Or, as it will soon be known in the world of sport, Da Coach's Department of Equal Opportunity. "C. Kaepernick" need not apply for any backup quarterback positions. Only those who stand for the national anthem, salute the flag and pledge their obeisance to atrocity-free America will have their NFL player admission passes renewed. Jim Brown's name will be struck of the list of players eligible for admission to the Ditka fraternity.
In our moment, Tony Kornheiser has become the in-studio version of Peewee Reese, the then-Dodger captain who, when his teammate Jackie Robinson was the target of white vitriol, draped his arm around the black man. In that single gesture, Reese challenged not only white racism in general, but he confronted and overcome the Southern prejudice he'd been raised with in Louisville, Kentucky. But, surely, to assign Kornheiser the Reese role is almost to accede Ditka's anachronism. How about we meet halfway and invoke that old Marshall Mathers refrain: will real white boys please stand up? Please stand up, follow Tony Kornheiser to your racial enlightenment class.
Will the real white boys please stand up?