Nothing But Rants
Telling you why things suck since 2012. A Cliff Reinitz blog.

Stop Being Lin-tolerant

So it happens that there’s an NBA player named Jeremy Lin.  If you haven’t had your head up your ass for the past few weeks, you likely know who he is even if you don’t give two shits about basketball.  He’s a Harvard man, the current starting point guard for the New York Knicks, and of Taiwanese heritage.  It is the refusal of some people to see him as more than that last tag which I am writing about tonight.

See, a week or so ago, the Knicks lost their first game with Lin as their starting point guard.  He played a pretty good game, but turned the ball over too many times, which allowed the other team to stay in the game and win.  ESPN’s headline about the game?  “Chink in the Armor.”  The resulting uproar in response to juxtaposing a well-known ethnic slur with a player of that ethnicity led to some embarrassment at ESPN, and the firing of the headline writer.

And all you racist assholes who called for that firing to happen should be ashamed.

Yeah.  YOU’RE the racists here.  You’re the ones obsessed with race.  Chew on that one for a minute.

“Chink in the armor” is not a racist phrase, you dips.  It predates the existence of the ethnic slur “chink” by several centuries.  If we really are living in a post-racial age, then using a non-racist phrase in reference to anybody should be fine.  But no, so many of you damn clowns look at Lin, and all you see is his skin color.  Then you see a perfectly innocent word, part of a perfectly innocent phrase in context.  You put the two together — and I do mean YOU, because the headline writer apparently didn’t.  He treated Jeremy Lin as he would have treated any other player.  That anyone could characterize treating people the same as racist should be Lin-conceivable.

Look, let’s call a spade a spade.  If the player in question were black, no one at ESPN would have felt the need to have a red face or to show their yellow bellies.  If the player in question were white, you wouldn’t be bitching over “chink in the armor” down at the honky-tonk.  If the player were Latino, would you feel the need for the headline to be perfectly spic-and-span?  And that goes for people of any foreign nationality too.  If he were Irish, would you call for the writer to be hauled off in the paddywagon?

Okay, I admit that last one was a stretch.  The Irish can’t play basketball.  Still, the point stands.

What kills me is how many writers there are on the Web who are perfectly okay with all of this.  Huan Hsu over at Slate thinks the phrase “chink in the armor” should just be retired.  Right, of course.  Because it’s easier to just ditch perfectly good descriptive phrases than to actually engage our brains and think about what was said.

At least Hsu is civil, and willing to grant that the “other side” might have a point.  Kimberly Foster of For Harriet actually goes on the offensive against white people who might disagree with her.  You see, if you’d led her life, you would have been confronted with racism all the time, being judged by the color of your skin.  So that means it’s perfectly okay for you to make blanket statements about white people, I guess.  It’s not like that’s Lin-consistent.

The worst I’ve read so far is from Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo, who has since modified his words — too late to do any good, of course.  His original article, linked here, said the headline was “apparently intentional” — without a shred of evidence that such was the case, because behind-the-scenes details about the incident were far from public.  So Dwyer helped drive the news narrative that cost an innocent guy his job.  Fucking awesome work.

And then there are the always-out-of-touch commenters at the Huffington Post.  Some of them presume to judge the man as clearly racist, even after enough of the story has come out to make that seem like the least likely possibility.  But that’s not a surprise.  These are people who, by and large, actually believed Barack Obama in 2008.  So it’s not like their critical faculties don’t need some dusting off.

Look, if Anthony Federico isn’t lying, and the preponderance of the evidence suggests that he isn’t, then he’s morally clean.  On the very worst reasonable interpretation, he made a mistake which no editor caught before press time.  And as far as I’m concerned, it wasn’t a mistake, because there was nothing wrong with it.  That’s right.  Not one damn thing.  Lin had a weakness in his game, a chink in his armor, if you will.  (And keep in mind, I don’t give a damn whether you will or won’t.  My blog.)  The phrase fits the situation perfectly.

Frankly, I’m not even cool with the middle position that Federico should need to apologize anyway, even if he didn’t mean anything bad, because of that whole pesky double meaning thing.  Why should he?  Racism lies in intent, not effect.  And it sure doesn’t look like Federico intended to be racist.  Jeremy Lin said he didn’t think the headline was meant as a racist statement.  And he’s the most concerned party.  So back the fuck off.

If you’re the one suggesting that we treat people differently in the same circumstances solely because of their race, then you are racist.  And you need to take a long hard look at yourself, and figure out why you’re so Lin-tolerant.


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