There are a couple of myths I would like to debunk:
- Contrary to popular belief the hands of a child is not a safe place to store a gun
- Contrary to popular belief you will not die from Pop-Rocks and Coca-Cola
- Contrary to popular belief people who are broadcasters for ESPN are intelligent
You might remember not to long ago I posted a story about Jemele Hill and some comments she published in an ESPN article stating:
“Rooting for the Celtics is like saying Hitler was a victim. It’s like hoping Gorbachev would get to the blinking red button before Reagan.”
Of course those comments were quickly taken off the website and Hill was suspended blah blah blah.
The lastest ESPN blunder wasn’t in the form of print but spoken by Bonnie Bernstein who graduated magna cum laude from the University of Maryland’s prestigious Merrill College of Journalism.
While being a guest on Mike and Mike in the Morning last Wednesday Bernstein made a stranger than fiction comparison between American high school basketball players and Palestinian suicide bombers.
Below is a transcript:
It’s sort of like, you know, and this isn’t — I’m prefacing this by saying this is in no way an analogy to sports because I know we live in a hypersensitive society — but I remember a while ago I was reading an article in the New York Times about Palestinian suicide bombers and I just remember being struck by the notion that from the point of birth, people in Palestine are taught to think that dying in the name of God is a good thing.
They grow up wanting to be suicide bombers. So bringing it back to sports — and again, I’m not making the comparison or the analogy — if a young talented basketball player is being told at an early age that they are destined, it is a good thing to focus on basketball and not worry about what’s going on in the classroom, why are any kids going to be worried about what’s going on in the classroom?
Why she couldn’t just say the last three & half lines and leave at that is beyond me. I think she knew those remarks would offend people and guess what…they did.
Ray Hanania of the National Arab-American Journalists Association sent this statement to the Mike and Mike show:
I think it was very inappropriate for Bonnie to use that racial stereotype of Palestinians as an example to back up her comments that NBA hopefuls “are programmed” to make it in the NBA the way Palestinian children are “programmed” to become suicide bombers …
I don’t need to explain that suicide bombers are not a race or ethnicity, or that there are 7 million Palestinians and have been only 50 suicide bombers over the past 15 years.
It’s clear that Hanania is correct that Bernstein made an inappropriate comparison. In my opinion, Bernstein knew that the comparison she was about to make was inappropriate, which is why the first line of her comments is “I’m not making the comparison,” even though that was exactly what she was doing.
I think it’s odd that Bernstein would go on and make an analogy even as she said she realized that people might be offended by it. Of course ESPN made her apologize.
ESPN has posted the audio of the apology:
“Hi, this is Bonnie Bernstein, and I’d just like to take a minute to apologize for making a connection this morning on Mike and Mike between Palestinians and the adults who influence the thinking of many young NBA prospects. I was a student athlete who was lucky enough to have part of my college expenses paid for by a scholarship, and so I’ve always embraced the importance of higher education.
That said, it upsets me greatly — as I think you can tell, if you heard the interview — when I hear about adults telling impressionable kids, ‘Don’t worry about school, your future is in the NBA.’ These stories just lend credence to the notion one is often a product of his environment, and while I emphasized that twice during our discussion, in hindsight I realize it was simply a mistake to bring Palestine into the discussion at all, and for that, I apologize again.
Lesson learned: Religion and politics have no place on public airwaves at a sports network. That’s definitely a credo I will live by from this point forward. Thanks and have a great day.”
Hmm…that apology sounds false, and it candy-coats over what Bernstein said plus it creates this false impression that what Bernstein did wrong is simply to discuss religion and politics. Bonnie Bernstein should have known that religion and politics have no place on a sports network.
What I find disturbing is that Bernstein was stupid enough to take a political matter like the Palestinian suicide bombers and use it so superficially.
I’ll try to explain. When I started this blog I did so as a hobby only. It’s still a hobby today albeit it can be frustrating at times. I get up early every morning to write before I venture out into the real world to my real job that I admit love. I’m not complaining about getting up early in the morning either. However, if the opportunity were to ever arise where I had a shot at writing for ESPN or being a broadcaster for ESPN full-time, I would hand over the reigns to this blog in a heartbeat.
I know I’ll never have that opportunity but I also know I have enough common sense not to make or print such statements as Imus, Jemele Hill or Bonnie Bernstein have recently done. I complain about idiot athletes all the time. Well, guess what. The landscape of idiot sports writers and/or commentators seems to be growing exponentially.
So if I was given the opportunity that these and others in the sports media community were given, you can bet your sweet ass I would learn to choose my words a little more carefully.