Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Hysterical Defense of Dog the Bounty Hunter Tells Much about America’s Racial Backslide

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

“I am sick and tired of people like you and the phony and fake Al Sharpton who go after white people who say something you don't like and then using the degrades black women, etc.”

That was one of the tamer emails I got when I called for A&E Television to cancel outright the Dog the Bounty Hunter show. We all know by now what round em’ up and bring em’ back alive Duane Chapman aka the Bounty Hunter did to get the temporary ax. He let fly a “B” and “N” word laced rant and borderline threatening oaths at his son for having the temerity to date a black woman. A&E “suspended” production of the show. That was a weak, tepid, and vacillating response. And I told why. Dog’s comments about black women are more than just gender and racially demeaning and hurtful to black women. They are a vicious attack on and call to end interracial relations, as well as an incitement to violence. Dog the Bounty Hunter’s’ statement was far more damaging than shock jock Don Imus’s.

I frontally challenged A&E and said that suspension of the show is not enough. A&E can send the strong message that the sentiments he expressed will not be tolerated by immediate cancellation of the show.

The suspension I also said is simply a cover your butt holding action by A& E that left the door wide open for Dog to climb back on the airwaves. That prospect was even more real and fresh in mind with the announcement the day before by Citadel Broadcasting that shock Jock Don Imus had cut a deal with the network and would be back on board December 3. A&E might and probably would do the same once the furor died down. The reason is simple. Dog tinkles the cash registers for A&E. It’s a network that in the past few years has transformed itself from a station that prided itself on high brow, educational faire into a channel that now routinely churns out reality type schlock to makes a buck.

But the hysterical defense of Dog and the bile emails this writer got has nothing to do with A&E or even the hunt down the bad guys thrill and titillation of Dog the Bounty Hunter. It has everything to do with the blame the victim with a vengeance mania of far too many whites toward blacks. Think about it. If Dog were black and had unloosed a string of expletive laced white “B”s at his son for dating a white woman, there would have been a national outcry. A&E would have instantly and permanently pulled the plug on the show. And the Dog would have never in this life graced any studio in America.

There would have been no talk of forgiveness, or let by gones be by gones, and he’s suffered enough prattle. He would have been the enduring fount of evil and eternal symbol of bigotry and intolerance. Just ask former Grey’s Anatomy star Isaiah Washington or ex NFL superstar Michael Vick It’s also evident in the backlash to the Jena 6 case in Louisiana and from Genarlow Wilson’s case in Georgia. Two cases where young blacks were harshly charged with alleged crimes against whites. Many turned silly, verbal summersaults to rationalize, duck and dodge and ultimately justify the racial injustice against them.

It’s no surprise why. During the past two decades, the drumbeat of black bashing, stereotyping, negative typecasting, and vilification of young blacks has ballooned into a lucrative growth industry in much of the talking head media. The hunt and scrounge for any excuse no matter how threadbare to justify racial abuse and injustice is relentless.

The battle over shock jock Don Imus was and is a near classic example of the let the villain off the hook syndrome. When Imus was initially canned polls showed a majority of whites waffled on or flat out dismissed his slurs as a right to free speech, or insisted that a hand slap suspension was enough. The pulsating demand for his return to the airwaves never ended. Now that he’s back, he’s hailed as a virtual conquering hero by his legions of admirers.

The same is happening with Dog. He issues a contrite statement, and a belated apology, and his manic defenders wail that he’s touts Christian redemption. That’s more than enough for them to bestow total absolution on him if not make him into an honored figure that has suffered enough. Then in the even more perverse and bizarre twist, leap at the chance to fling the standard name calls of demagogue, race baiter and clown at perennial punching bag Al Sharpton for blasting Dog’s tirade.

Washington and Vick did the same tear jerk mea culpa as Dog but it didn’t soften any public hearts toward them. It shouldn’t with Dog either.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is The Latino Challenge to Black America: Towards a Conversation between African-Americans and Hispanics (Middle Passage Press)