Ticklish Ears

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Maybe You Should Leave Those Locker Room Speeches to the Coach

I’ve been pretty hard on college administrators lately, but I certainly don’t want to be accused of painting with too broad a brush. While some of them have attacked free speech on campus, others have themselves been attacked for their speech.

Case in point: LA City College.

When Steve Maradian gave a talk to the baseball team at Los Angeles City College, he said, the players thanked him and gave him a hat.

So Maradian, president of the college, was shocked when a reporter showed him a letter signed by the members of the men’s basketball team — an all-black squad and one of the strongest of any community college in California — saying that a similar talk Maradian gave last Monday, before the season opener, was racist.

The racism charge doesn’t pass the smell test. To begin with, it was given to a reporter at the LA Times. That shows class. Instead of going to the President with their complaints (or, say, asking the coach to do so), they instead go immediately to the Times. It should be noted at this point that an assistant coach also signed this letter. One wonders where the adults are.

Furthermore, with the exception of vague claims of racism, nothing in the letter indicates that the President said or did anything racist. There are comments like this:

he also said that he will attend every game and that he does not want us to embarass [sic] the school or we will “feel his wrath,” - a shocking statement filled with underlying racism.

Shocking? Filled with underlying racism? Wow! Now we have to walk on eggshells when we talk to college athletes. That sure eliminates a whole collection of motivational speeches for their coach.

But I think we get to the heart of the matter with this little tidbit from the letter:

It hurts us to be talked down [sic] by our president in such an insensitive and politically incorrect manor [sic].
(emphasis mine)

Finally, the crime is identified! He was insensitive and politically incorrect (though I’m still not sure how). Shame! Welcome to Larry Summers’ world, President Maradian. Tread very lightly.

There’s one more kicker in this story, and it comes courtesy of the aforementioned assistant coach, Wendell Westbrook.

Westbrook pointed out that Maradian is of Armenian descent, though he is from Massachusetts. “Armenians are a clannish type of people,? he said. “They don’t do a good job of communicating with the black community.?

See? You can only denigrate people if they come from an Armenian background. Those clannish, uncommunicative Armenians!

Makes me glad I’m Swiss-Irish.

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