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Screwin' The Pooch . . . On The Cover Of The Rolling Stone

Wanna see my picture on the cover
Gonna buy five copies for my mother!
Wanna see my smilin' face
On the cover of the Rolling Stone . . .

- with apologies to Dr. Hook

Okay, I'll be the first to admit it: I enjoyed watching General Stanley McChrystal get fired. In the parlance of our nation's military, he "screwed the pooch." Big time. On the cover of the Rolling Stone, no less.

But I didn't enjoy watching him get b-slapped for the heck of it. No, it was a kind of vicarious joy for every time I was underestimated because of my race and unable to respond. Most African Americans of my generation who have achieved some modicum of responsibility or success in the workplace have at one time had their abilities questioned or underestimated for reasons unrelated to performance. Many times, people of other races have pegged us as unqualified affirmative action beneficiaries no matter how stellar our credentials or past accomplishments. The only weapon at our disposal, more often than not, has been to work harder and prove them wrong -- the old "twice as good to be half as good" that our Civil Rights Movement parents taught us. But, man, does that get old. I've often argued that we will have achieved equality when black mediocrity is not tied to blackness but to humanity, period. But we're not there yet.

So, you can imagine the joy I had when I read McChrystal's remarks about the President and wondered if he would have been so bold were the President not black. Regardless, he screwed the pooch, or, as they say on East 14th in Oakland, he got "out of pocket." And this time, regardless of the source of his animus -- off his meds, angry, race, whatever -- even the conservative pundits had to fall in line and agree that this kind of behavior was unacceptable from a general serving the Commander-in-Chief. It was with great fun that I watched the ever Obama-critical George Will have to reach the same unavoidable conclusion: McChrystal had to go. Yes, even George Will had no choice but to agree with President Obama this time.

I enjoyed hearing that the President made General McChrystal endure the military brass' version of a perp walk: Going to various high-ranking officials and apologizing in person before getting his head handed to him in the Oval Office. Had McChrystal had any honor, he would have resigned long before stepping foot on American soil. He definitely is not samurai material.

Although I know the President likes to keep issues of race out of politics, I must say that, for every post-Civil Rights era African American who has endured having their abilities questioned or underestimated for reasons unrelated to performance or ability, it was a small, silent victory for us that the President won't admit. I'm okay with that. It was just nice to see us on the powerful end of the equation, if just this once.

And in my fantasy as to how this all played out, the President leaned over his desk, accepted General McChrystal's resignation, and whispered in his ear: "How ya like me now?"


Anonymous said…
White men are BORN into affirmative action. They're the only ones who actually get affirmation on whatever they want to do. All kinds of people help them be/do. Then they turn around and make those dirty words for the rest of us.
I think it's hard for whites, especially white men, to realize their privilege because if you've always been in the majority, what other experience of non-privilege do you have in order to know that what you experience is not the norm for others? It's like being born wealthy -- if you've never been poor, would you really see all the ways your wealth gives you privilege? I don't think they can help it.

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