Ok, hear me out?
First of all let me say that I abhor racism of any kind. Also, I want to be clear ahead of time that I am NOT anti-Semitic in any way.
After hearing TONS of reports and opinions on the “Donald Sterling Tape” and the whirlwind that has been going on around it, I finally listened to the whole thing myself the other night.
What really surprised me the most, is that I think there is some (partly) good news: There is no racist owner in L.A. That’s right, I really think Donald Sterling may be getting something of a bad rap.
If you listen to the tape CLOSELY, and if you resist the knee-jerk reaction one would normally get when they assume someone is racist:
1. We hear Donald Sterling mention “the culture” he lives in many times.
2. We hear Sterling ask a direct question like, “Do you know how black people are treated in Israel? They are treated like dogs! Etc”
3. When his (former apparently) GF asks him if he wants her to change the color of her skin, he is appalled and obviously very upset. He responds with words like, “How could you say that to me? You really know how to hurt a person”.
4. He clearly expresses that he has nothing against minorities.
So on one hand he is saying things that suggest he likes and is supportive of minorities, and on the other hand he makes the seemingly contradictory statements that he doesn’t want “black people” on her Instagram and sitting with them at the Clippers games.
AND, he makes definite references alluding to the fact that he gets a lot of criticism from his other friends if and when he or his GF is seen socializing with “minorities” or “black people”.
SO: To me it’s rather clear to see what REALLY is going on here. Donald Sterling is an older Jewish man. And not only do I propose that he is NOT racist, but if he is critical of anything he is critical of “the culture”.
He is not communicating well at all, but what he’s really trying to tell her is essentially: “Black people are treated like dogs in Israel, Jewish people and especially many of the older Jewish people don’t view black people as equals, and so it doesn’t matter what I think of minorities and black people: If me or my GF are seen with them then I will get A LOT of criticism from my older Jewish friends. And SO it would just be SO much easier for me if you would not have black people and other minorities on your Instagram and sitting with us at the games.” As I mentioned, that’s not exactly what he said, but at this time I believe that is what he meant.
And none of that above even addresses the fact that he was recorded without his knowledge and that no matter what you think of his words that alone is a massive violation of privacy. One of the many reasons a person would want privacy is that their words can be misunderstood if they don’t phrase what they mean according to who is hearing the message.
The reason I actually care about an idea as unpopular as “defending” Donald Sterling, is that I become so tired of what I call “one-way tolerance”. We hear constantly today about tolerating other people, other skin colors, other cultures etc. Some people are born white, some people are born black: AND some people are born in a different TIME and culture. Donald Sterling is an older Jewish man who was born probably in the 1930’s, and he and his older friends lived through their most formative years before the Civil Rights Movement. Does that make it right for them to be bigoted? No, but where is the tolerance for people who had segregation INGRAINED into them BY the CULTURE when they where forming into adults? Especially when it comes to older Jewish people in particular, when it is very clear by Sterling’s own statements that many people from Israel and other Jewish people can tend to be particularly segregationist(there are many who talk much of the subject of “Jewish Supremacy”, the idea which many Jewish people have that as “God’s chosen people” everyone else is less than them. I won’t address that subject here).
So, in SUMMARY: I propose that Donald Sterling was TRYING to tell his GF that he is “between a rock and a hard place”. He is an old man who is trying to please everyone: His minority GF, the black people in the NBA, AND his older Jewish friends. Not only is he NOT actually saying racist things, he is actually criticizing the “culture” which makes it difficult for him to please his minority friends AND his Jewish friends. He is a frustrated man who just wants everyone to get along, and THAT is why he was worried about her Instagram and who was sitting with them at Clippers games.
Should he have been stronger, and just said, “You know what I am going to sit with who I want, and to hell with my older Jewish friends!” Perhaps YES that might have been the truly right thing to do. But to do that would probably be to cut off almost all of the people he shares a history, a heritage and a religion with. And can we really expect that from a man who probably doesn’t have many of his old friends that are still alive in the first place?
Where is the tolerance for this man and how he grew up? The culture he grew up in, a culture he was born into and is not personally responsible for? Can we not agree that while his fears may be dated, that we can understand why?
Haven’t you ever cared a lot about two different people, and you know that one of those people doesn’t like the other? And in that situation haven’t you every worried that being seen with one of those people you care a lot about might upset the other person that you care a lot about?
That I say is what is really going on here. And this man Donald Sterling is having his character “hung in public” because he cares too much for too many different groups of people.
Perhaps you will listen to the recording again, and share your thoughts afterwards?