When Facts Are Not Welcome

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - November 02, 2005
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“On average, African Americans have darker skin than non African Americans.” A racist statement?

How about, “On average, African Americans run faster than non African Americans.” Racist?

Apparently a lot of people think so. Or, at least, a lot of TV talking heads and the usual race-baiters would like us to think so.

This story began a couple of weekends ago when the Air Force Academy football team was trounced by Texas Christian University, 48-10. In his post-game interview, Academy football coach Fisher Deberry was quoted (I can imagine with some exasperation) as saying; “I guess what we need is more black football players!” Although I didn’t catch the game on the Pay Per View channel (we favored the Texas-Texas Tech game since I live with a Tech alum), it’s apparent that Coach Deberry was simply saying that Tech’s black running backs and receivers were too fast for his whiter defense to contain. A recap of the game in the next day’s sports section bears that out.

Well, the P.C. crowd on CNN, ESPN and other outlets turned Deberry’s compliment of the TCU team into something else altogether: “a shocking comment about blacks,” wailed Paula Zahn. Or as Stephen Smith, a black, regular ESPN host, put it variously, “insensitive, stupid and ignorant.” Smith then expressed the presumption that any comment by a white person on black athletic superiority necessarily implies an underlying presumption of black intellectual inferiority. Interesting! I wonder how Smith got into and out of Deberry’s head from the ESPN studio.

In his best-selling (incredible!) book, Bad as I Wanna Be, Dennis Rodman, that paragon of linear comportment in the NBA, acknowledges blacks do run faster and jump higher, but only because they work and try harder. And that’s only because many see basketball as their only chance for a ticket out of the ‘hood. He cites the success of white player Larry Bird (and he could have mentioned John Stockton) as proof that whites can also “make it” in the NBA.

Nevertheless, Dennis, blacks make up 80 percent of the NBA and 65 percent of the NFL, with only 14 percent of the total population. Do all those black athletes really want it that much more than all those white athletes? Jon Entine has the answer in his recent book, Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports; and why we are afraid to talk about it! Entine’s well-documented, scientific approach asserts what many would consider the obvious: It’s all in the genes, biology and ancestry! Again, on the average, blacks are genetically superior athletes in some sports - in basketball for sure, in football (how many white NFL corner backs and wide receivers can you count?), in track but not so in field - except in the events that require raw speed, the long jump, for example. Entine even points out subtleties like blacks of West African ancestry are faster at shorter distances, while blacks from East Africa - notably Kenya and Ethiopia - are better at long distances.

Deberry now knows “why we are afraid to talk about it!” For making a statement simply implying that black football players tend to run faster than white football players, no less true than “On average, African Americans have darker skin than non African Americans.” For simply stating a scientifically verifiable truth, he is being pilloried by the media and was forced into an embarrassing public apology by the superintendent of the Air Force Academy. Granted, the academy hierarchy is as gun-shy as the white-tailed deer that run freely on the Rocky Mountain campus. Recent scandals stemming from allegations of sexual harassment and religious proselytizing are still warm. But for whatever the reason, common sense has taken another hit from the P.C. police.

Last week I talked about our commonality and the need to focus upon that which unites rather than divides us. In spite of the fact we all have different physical and intellectual strengths and weaknesses - some genetically determined, some not - none of that diminishes our right to equal value as human beings. But every time those who make their living and their reputation on racial conflict concoct that conflict out of thin air just to stay in business, it hurts the cause of truth and unity for all of us.

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