Friday, October 1, 2010

On LeBron and Manufacturing Dissent

A couple of thoughts:

1. In a country where 24 percent of the people think the president is a Muslim, and the same number believe he wasn't born in America, I don't see anything controversial with one of the three most famous athletes in this country responding to a direct question by stating that race, "at times," may have affected the judgment of certain people regarding him from afar. And you can't tell me there isn't, at the very least, something curious and worth exploring in the fact that even as LeBron's Q rating has plummeted, Brett Favre is still one of the most popular athletes in America.

2. Whitlock raises some good points here, most notably that LeBron has been mute on issues of race in the past. But maybe this is an opening. If LeBron is never going to win over the majority of the American public, if he's never going to become the worldwide brand that he imagined he could be, if he's now going to be branded as the cartoon villain, maybe this frees him up to become more outspoken. I can't imagine this ever happening. But at least it's interesting to imagine what would happen if it did.

1 comment:

WarningTrack said...

LeBron's comment was dumb, and it was dumb in a very annoying way. It's so broad as to be very easy to defend: of course race is a "factor." Everything's a factor. But even though he didn't say anything more explicit than that, the implication is clearly that people responded badly to "The Decision" because of his race, which is nonsense. They responded badly to it because it was a bad idea with worse execution.

Race is an inevitable part of life. It matters. But people resent the living daylights out of it being introduced into a situation where it has up to that point had no bearing on the discussion. LeBron's situation is just such a situation. It is introducing race *after* you've "lost" some kind of PR battle that people respond badly to, and for good reason. It is almost invariably a desperate move made only when a race-less discussion has turned sour for the person invoking it. It is a political Hail Mary, and one that opposing defenses are increasingly prepared for.

I think trying to connect this to Obama is a bit of a stretch, too (I regard people buying into the Muslim thing as more lazy, and just a random outlet for anger, as opposed to race-based).