Some Of My Best Friends Are….
By Michael Maynard
May 19, 2014

Unfortunately, I could not find the actual broadcast of this song parody anywhere on the Internet. I heard it when it first broadcast on ‘Imus In The Morning” over 25 years ago. This was an excellent impersonation of Rush Limbaugh done by Bernard McGuirk or Billy West The song is a parody of Garth Brooks’ “Friends In Low Places”. I think the song still applies, just substitute Obama for Clinton:

Well I don’t care what you think
But liberals stink
And Democrats almost as lame

All those Negroes and Jews
They give me the blues
Our country’s dying
And Clintons to blame

Feminazis are wrong
And they don’t belong
In my conservative minded domain

But lets call a truce
Stick your head in this noose
And don’t let me hear you complain

Cause I like friends with white faces
And a burning cross that you know
Chases those Jews away
Then we call it a day
Oh we’re mighty big on the master races
We wear slip on sheets and pillow cases
Oh I like friends with white faces

Unless you have been in a coma for the past month, you have heard about the Donald Sterling imbroglio. Mr. Sterling, owner of the National Basketball League’s Los Angles Clippers was recorded saying racist remarks to his “personal assistant”/mistress of the moment, V. Stiviano. Mr. Sterling is 80 years old. Ms. Stiviano is a part African-American, part Hispanic 31 year old. Ms. Stiviano was supposedly acting as Mr. Sterling’s archivist, which is why she had permission to record his telephone calls.

Mr. Sterling is also heard to have said in this phone call.

I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them? … Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners, that created the league?

As much as I enjoy professional sports, each league is its own cooperative enterprise, each team is its own separately owned business. Owning a major league sports team puts you into a separate club: a separate rich white man’s club. As one National Football League owner is reported to have said, “This is the most exclusive club. There are 100 US Senators, but only 30 NFL teams.” But you know the standard response when someone is accused of any form of bigotry, “Some of my best friends are (female, black, Latino, gay, transgender, etc)”

In the history of the four major United States professional sports leagues, there have been only 2 non-white owners: Robert Wood Johnson, founder of the Black Entertainment Network, and Michael Jordan, former NBA superstar. Michael Jordan currently owns the Charlotte Bobcats NBA franchise, which he purchased from Mr. Johnson. There are currently 122 teams in the four major professional (National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League) sports leagues, and only 1 non-white male owner. That’s 0.82% non-white ownership.

The National Basketball Association prides itself on its diversity.

 In 2013, African-Americans comprised 76.3 percent of all NBA players. Eighty-one percent of players were players of color.

The NBA received an A+ for racial hiring practices, a B+ for gender hiring practices with scores of 96.5 percent and 85 percent, respectively. The overall grade was an A with 90.7 points. While the NBA is the still best for all three categories among the men’s professional sports, it did slip significantly in gender hiring practices as the NBA went from an A- with 89 points in 2012 to a B+ with 85 points in 2013.

Too bad that racial diversity doesn’t apply equally to NBA ownership.

If what Donald Sterling says sounds evocative of being a plantation owner, that’s not all that unique. There have been racist owners of professional sports teams in the past. including one who was a plantation owner.

For all his good and charitable works, including the establishment of The Jimmy Fund, a foundation dedicated to helping children with cancer and finding a cure for cancer, Thomas Yawkey, the owner of the Boston Red Sox, leaves a legacy of racism behind. From Mr. Yawkey bought the team in 1933 to when he died in 1976, the Red Sox never won the World Series. Yawkey was encouraged to buy a MLB by the most notorious racist in baseball history, Tyrus Raymond “Ty” Cobb. Yawkey did own two plantations in South Carolina.

Boston Red Sox Owner Tom Yawkey

Boston Red Sox Owner Tom Yawkey

Yawkey did spend a lot of money on obtaining and keeping star white players like Ted Williams, Mel Parnell, Lefty Grove, Carl Yastrzemski and many others. The Red Sox were the last Major League Baseball team to integrate in 1959. Before then, the Red Sox had a chance to sign some of the best ballplayers ever, Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Don Newcombe, Roy Campenella, and others, who were playing in the minor leagues in Montreal, which was part of the territorial rights of the Red Sox. Would the Red Sox not have had to wait 85 years to win a World Series had it signed “Negro” ballplayers? The “Curse of the Bambino”, sale of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees, notwithstanding, the failure to integrate the team much sooner was a greater reason for the team’s prolonged lack of championships.

With all the current fervor about changing the name of the Washington Redskins, the racist history of the National Football League’s team founder, George Preston Marshall, has been brought back to the public spotlight.

Washington Redskins Owner George Preston Marshall

Washington Redskins Owner George Preston Marshall

When George Preston Marshall died in 1969, he left some money to his children but directed that the bulk of his estate be used to set up a foundation in his name. He attached, however, one firm condition: that the foundation, operating out of Washington, D.C., should not direct a single dollar toward “any purpose which supports or employs the principle of racial integration in any form.” Think about that. This was not 1929 or 1949. Even in 1960 such a diktat might have been, well, “understandable” in a Southern city such as Washington then was. But 1969; “in any form.”

This is the man who gave the Washington Redskins their name. He was one of the most despicable racists in the American sporting arena of the entire 20th century. He thought Redskins was funny, just as he thought the war paint and feather headdress he made the head coach wear were funny. And this is the legacy that current Redskins owner Dan Snyder wants to uphold?

Before Donald Sterling’s misadventures, the previously most publicly racist owner label belonged to Marge Schott. While Ms. Schott was well known about her preference for her dog, Schottzie, over people, she was also known for her hanging the Nazi flag above her desk in her MLB Cincinnati Reds ownership office.

Cincinnati Reds Owner Marge Schott And Her Dog, Schottzie

Cincinnati Reds Owner Marge Schott And Her Dog, Schottzie

“Certainly, the Reds won their only World Series since the mid-70’s during her tenure. But to describe Schott’s tenure as owner of the Cincinnati Reds as an increasing embarrassment, both to the city and to baseball in general, would be putting it mildly. Here are five quotes which have been attributed to her. Four of them are real. One of them is fictitious. Can you spot the faux-Schottism?

“Some of the biggest problems in this city come from women wanting to leave the home and work.”
“Sneaky goddamn Jews are all alike.”
“Never hire another nigger. I’d rather have a trained monkey working for me than a nigger.”
“Only fruits wear earrings.”
“Everybody knows [Hitler] was good at the beginning, but he just went too far.”

Oh, hang on – my mistake. All five are actually genuine, sentences that have allegedly come out of Schott’s mouth. Now, some may have been overheard in off-guarded moments, perhaps: not that it’s an excuse, but if there’s anyone out there who hasn’t expressed some off-color sentiments on occasion.. Well, let’s just say, I thought Easter was last month. But the last was during an interview. With ESPN. If you don’t guard your tongue under those circumstances, there’s not much hope for you. One writer suggested she was stuck in the fifties, but I tend to think that could only be true if he meant the eighteen-fifties.”

With the drafting of Michael Sam by the St. Lewis Rams and the “coming out” of the NBA’s Jason Collins, some of the stigma about the gay professional athlete has lessened, but is not completely gone. One of the most prominent members of the right-wing 1% oligarchy, Richard DeVos, is very opposed to providing any rights to the LGBT community. DeVos is the founder of Amway Corporation. De Vos is also owner of the NBA’s Orlando Magic and gave $500,000 to the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage. Amway’s business practices are certainly not without considerable controversy and legal actions.

Mr. DeVos is very vocal about his bigoted views.

“When HIV first came out, President Reagan formed a commission and I was honored to be on that commission. I listened to 300 witnesses tell us that it was every body else’s fault but their own. Nothing to do with their conduct, just that the government didn’t fix this disease. At the end of that I put in the document, it was the conclusion document from the commission, that actions have consequences and you are responsible for yours. AIDS is a disease people gain because of their actions. It wasn’t like cancer. We all made the exceptions for how you got it, by accident, that was all solved a long time ago. That’s when they started hanging me in effigy because I wasn’t sympathetic to all their requests for special treatment. Because at that time it was always someone else’s fault. I said, you are responsible for your actions too, you know. Conduct yourself properly, which is a pretty solid Christian principle.”

Donald Sterling is not only racist, he is also sexist.

In 1996, a former employee named Christine Jaksy sued Sterling for sexual harassment. The two sides reached a confidential settlement, and Jaksy, now an artist in Chicago, says, “The matter has been resolved.” But The Magazine has obtained records of that case, and according to testimony Jaksy gave under oath, Sterling touched her in ways that made her uncomfortable and asked her to visit friends of his for sex. Sterling also repeatedly ordered her to find massage therapists to service him sexually, telling her, “I want someone who will, you know, let me put it in or who [will] suck on it.”

“When you pay a woman for sex, you are not together with her,” he further testified. “You’re paying her for a few moments to use her body for sex. Is it clear? Is it clear?”

I give new NBA commissioner Adam Silver a great deal of credit for finally severing the NBA’s ties to Donald Sterling. It also makes me question why the highly image conscious former NBA commissioner, David Stern, did not do this in his term in office. Donald Sterling’s lengthy list of legal problems, racist and sexual, should have been grounds for his termination many times over.

Given Sterling’s very litigious history and combative nature, there was no question whether Sterling would fight his involuntary expulsion from one of the most exclusive rich white men’s club, professional sports team ownership. The expulsion is a huge blow to his massive self-absorbed ego. There is also no question that Adam Silver had the authority, which Sterling agreed to when Sterling signed the purchase agreement to own the Los Angeles Clippers, to terminate his ownership, subject to a vote of the other owners. Rumored to be interested in buying the Clippers are television legend Oprah Winfrey, ex-NBA great Earvin “Magic “ Johnson and entertainment mogul David Geffen. Perhaps the three can get together to form a partnership, which would give the NBA a three-fer of owner firsts: female, black and gay.

If he had any dignity, Donald Sterling would accept his time is over and that he should go back to spend his time with his small number of friends with white faces. But he has none and he won’t.

What Sterling represents is how the 1% really view the non-white. There is no difference between what Sterling believes and what Representative Paul Ryan believes when he says:

“We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.”

It’s very easy to condemn and criticize others when you have little or no experience or contact with them. Ryan, the progeny of the covert racism of the Ronald Reagan era, represents all that is bad about current politics: mean-spirited, hateful, bigoted, money-dominated and ignorant. As the lapdog of the Koch Brothers, DeVos family, Walton sisters, Sheldon Adelson, et al, Paul Ryan doesn’t need to hide his racism with code words, but he does to sanitize it for the Fox News crowd who applaud Ryan’s politics while saying to themselves, “Some of my best friends are…….”

UPDATED: September 21, 2014.

From today’s Boston Globe, the story of Tommy Harper, Boston Red Sox player and coach.

As a central figure in the troubled racial history of the Red Sox, Harper endured years of discrimination as a player, coach, and front-office staffer under the team’s Yawkey-affiliated regime. He once fought back and received a measure of vindication with an out-of-court settlement. But he later carried scars from the experience into the autumn of his life.

Now, at 73, Harper has decided against taking his untold stories to his grave. He said future generations should know what it was like for him as a black man to make his way in an organization that long operated on the wrong side of racial justice before the franchise changed hands in 2002.

As a second-class citizen in a climate of prejudice, Harper said, he endured inequities in pay, accommodations, and opportunities. He said he heard racial slurs uttered not only by the team’s fans but its uniformed personnel. At times, he said, his Boston baseball life was an exercise in indignity.

“They called it Red Sox Nation,’’ Harper said, “but it was never my nation.’’


Columnist/Journalist/Writer/Book Editor Co-Founder/CEO of Azimuth Partners, high tech consulting firm for 30+ years. Former columnist for the Washington Post/Newsweek syndicate.Development and Copy Editor for 4 commercially published books.

One Comment on “Some Of My Best Friends Are…. UPDATED

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