Lou Dobbs to Black People: “Quit Whining”
Posted on October 16, 2009
By Leila McDowell, NAACP Vice President for Communications Wow. Lou Dobbs isn't just going after our Latino brothers and sisters anymore. The CNN television host, famous for his nasty and incendiary attacks on immigrants, has now set his sights on the African American community. In a radio broadcast last week, after a discussion of the brutal beating death of Chicago student Derrion Albert, Dobbs just went off: "It's a black community problem. And part of the problem is the black community is not being responsible and I mean turning Heaven and Earth to protect our children." And then: "I don't want to hear your excuses. I don't want to hear your lame nonsense about how much money you need to save the next life. you have it in your power, the black churches, the black school leaders, the black community leaders, the black community organizers, the black parents of that community. Fix the problem. Quit whining, quit looking to someone else for the solution, and by God, let's move ahead." Lame nonsense? Money? When I first read the transcript, I couldn't immediately put my finger on exactly which part of Dobbs' drivel made me so angry. Was it his glaring ignorance of "the black community" and our response to the Derrion Albert murders? The condemnation-to anyone who was paying attention-was swift and severe. From the NAACP to community organizers in Chicago, I've seen nothing but outrage, condemnation, and planning. The danger of the Dobbs frame is that it forces folks to be defensive, to feel compelled to focus exclusively on their anger. The reality is - as Martin Luther King pointed out decades ago - "violence is the language of the unheard". Frantz Fanon, author of the seminal book Wretched of the Earth, documented the violence of the oppressed against each other. Chicago has the highest teen homicide rate in the country. Tragically, there are many more Derrion Alberts - just not always caught on tape. The real conversation we need to be having is not one of condemnation, but of examination of just what causes the violence of young men in our communities against their brethren and how do we prevent it. This, Dobbs might be interested to learn, is a "solution." So when Dobbs attacks us for making "excuses", he joins a chorus that uses the mantra "don't make excuses" to keep America, white and black, from having the crucial public discussion about solutions and demanding from a government we fund with our tax dollars what is needed to save our kids in urban wastelands: libraries, after school programs, quality schools, good health care, grocery stores, parenting classes, and opportunity. Of course, in the end it's not Dobbs I am so angry at. It's CNN. In my years as a producer and a journalist, I knew of no TV station or newspaper that would allow such pure, uninformed, and downright nasty venom to be directed toward any particular group of people. It's not that I worked for any particularly enlightened or even P.C. outlets - in fact, I did a stint at CNN in its early years - but we were news people, and it was our job to be accurate, fair and even-handed. Lou Dobbs' foul, ugly bigotry is not suitable for a news channel. CNN should be ashamed. The NAACP Blog is geared toward promoting a free exchange of ideas. The views represented in individual posts may not represent the official position of the Association.