Monday, October 11, 2010

Rick Sanchez, Jon Stewart, and Minority Status

Now that Rick Sanchez is making all the right apologies and saying all the "right" things, he is angling to get his job back with CNN.

If you haven't been following this one, Sanchez went after "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart during a radio interview, implying that Stewart could not possibly understand how someone like Sanchez, a minority member, felt as an American professional. Sanchez did not stop there, however -- he went on to say that because the people who run media organizations are "culturally similar to Stewart" (read: Jewish) that Stewart had the upper-hand. Sanchez even went further, questioning whether a group of people with disproportionately high education and wealth could be considered an oppressed minority in America.

My first reaction to all this is that I never heard Jon Stewart describe himself as a member of an oppressed American minority group.

My next reaction, though, is to turn some of this back on Sanchez -- as a wealthy, good-looking, light-skinned guy who came to the U.S. at age 2 and speaks unaccented English, just exactly whose boot is on this guy's head? If America is such a terrible place, and the *other* Americans are so out to get him, how did he walk away from drunk driving situation in which he left the scene of an accident and the *other* guy eventually died?

One of my long-term fears for our country is that we're going to allow certain people to write blank checks for self-indulgence and thus stifle all debate and sense of personal responsibility. At some point, no matter what you've gone through -- racial discrimination, accent discrimination, PTSD from a war zone, physical disability, disease, accidents, unemployment/job frustration, divorce/separation, drug addiction, and so on -- it's important that people be empathetic -- but only to a point.

Because from this author's vantage point, there's only so much empathy I can extend to a highly-pampered, vain millionaire with a mediocre level of talent. I *get* that he has overcome difficulties in his life, but that doesn't make him automatically right...or CNN automatically wrong.

If it did, wouldn't that be a little bit condescending? Bringing kid gloves and allowing an automatic *halo* around any figure who can check the right status boxes seems like the furthest thing from equal treatment that I can imagine.

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