No One Should Support Donald Sterling, Including the Clippers

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The owner of the Los Angeles Clippers is one of the most ugly human beings in America. Donald Sterling was caught on tape speaking about black people as if blacks are subhuman. It’s racist and extremely disturbing. The Clippers are scheduled to play against the Warrior this afternoon.

I see some parallels between Donald Sterling and Brendan Eich. The Eich controversy arose because in 2008 he supported a ban on same sex marriage. This is considered a bigoted position by many people in the United States. The Sterling controversy arose (again) because he is a huge racist and was caught on camera saying that he didn’t want his girlfriend to publicize her interactions with black people nor was she to invite black people to Clippers games.

Eich resigned after his support of Prop 8 (a CA state ban on same sex marriage) became a distraction to Mozilla. Board members resigned in protest and a large segment of the public was relentless in holding Eich and Mozilla accountable. The public, or at least a large segment of the public, demanded it.BmIUZs2CcAAEIrg.jpg-large

Sterling’s racism is far worse than Eich’s disapproval of same sex marriage. It’s not even close. This incident is not an outlier or even surprising. At least a dozen disgusting Sterling comments spanning over 30 years have been publicized. It would be a shock if these were the only examples of his racism.

Making things worse, Sterling owns a team that employs 10 of the most gifted black athletes in the world. He is their boss. He signs their checks. They are playing for him. The people Sterling finds so disgusting are literally the same people he pays to play basketball. They are the same people who are lining his pockets with cash.

Fans sometimes feel like their favorite athletes play for them. In one sense that might be true, but the reality is that professional sports leagues are a business and the athletes are employees of their franchise owners. There are ten black basketball players who are actually working for this idiot. Whereas Eich was an employee of Mozilla who was paid to be the CEO of a corporation, Sterling is the owner of the Clippers. To me, this means that he and the Clippers are more intimately interconnected than Eich was to Mozilla. It also means that shunning the Clippers is a more direct blow to Sterling than banning Firefox was to Eich. Also, Eich was participating in the political process when he supported Prop 8. Sterling is just plain racist in every possible context. His words betray his feelings that blacks are not worthy of treatment as humans.

There is also a tendency for fans to imagine that the Clippers are Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford, and their teammates. We sometime think that the players are the Clippers. But they are not the Clippers. They work for the Clippers. They are the basketball team unit of the Clippers. Donald Sterling is the Clippers. The players on the Clippers are hired guns who are here today and gone tomorrow. The Clippers are Donald Sterling. When the Clippers win, Donald Sterling wins. When we cheer for a Blake Griffin dunk, we are cheering for Donald Sterling. This is not how most fans think, but this is reality.

It works the other way too. Some athletes choose a team because they want to play for the owner of that team. Famously, Jerry Buss was a deciding factor in the decision of many free agents to sign with the Lakers. The players understand that the players on the team work for the owner. Their success is his success. They know that they are playing on behalf of the team owners.

I am confident that all the players on the Clippers are disgusted by Donald Sterling. The Clippers are scheduled to play a playoff game against the Golden State Warriors today. Meaning, Donald Sterling is paying athletes to play against the players being paid by the owner of the Warriors. Framed in this manner, I think it would be appropriate, noble even, for the Clippers players to refuse to work for Sterling until he steps down from his positions as Chairman of the Board and NBA Governor. Racist attitudes are always unacceptable and must be protested in every possible way.

Intolerance of intolerant people is not intolerance. There are varying degrees of socially acceptable behavior. While the country is split on gay marriage, the country overwhelmingly rejects racism. This makes Eich’s behavior far less abhorrent than Sterling’s behavior. There is just no room for people like Sterling in 2014 America. He can live a quiet life outside the public sphere, but society should not be publicly cheering for his company, even if they are a basketball team.

I believe that many blacks would never choose to work for a company with a clearcut racist at the helm. If a glaringly racist owned a local grocery, was a politician, a judge, or a mechanic, I doubt the people the racist regularly disparages would work for the racist. It may not seem like the same thing, but I think the NBA is no different. If Cliff Paul wouldn’t work at a State Farm branch where a KKK Grand Wizard was the boss, and I am sure he wouldn’t, why should Chris Paul work for someone who shares the Grand Wizards values on blacks (but not Jews, obviously)? In fact, Kobe Bryant, who has been accused of “not being black enough,” had this to say:

I would have so much respect for the Clippers players if they possess the cojones to do what Kobe says he would do. They should refuse to play for this man. Tell him, and the rest of the racists, that we won’t stand for it. Some things are more important than basketball. Making a public statement to help stamp out racism is much more important than basketball. It’s not honorable to play for him. It’s dishonorable. Sterling has already showed that he is a disgusting human being, take the high road. In this case, the high road is not the road that leads to Oracle Arena.

As much as I was embarrassed by the Firefox fiasco and the reaction to it, I think the circumstances here are different enough and severe enough that the men who are most directly connected to Donald ‘Racist’ Sterling should protest his comments and attitudes. Normally, I don’t look up to athletes as role models, nor do I expect them to make good moral choices. But this is a no-brainer. Unless racism doesn’t bother someone at all, Sterling’s statements were bad enough that they deserve much stronger condemnation than Eich received.

Make it happen Clips. Do the right thing. Do it for the good people of the world who would never support this kind of behavior in any other industry. Do it because racism is wrong, even in the NBA. It’s so wrong, that it does not deserve a seat at the table. Sterling is so abhorrent, that not only should the players be so disgusted that they won’t play for him, but I think we should all be disappointed if they do play for him. Do the right thing, Clips.

  • MarkSoFla

    It’s easy to ask the employees to break their contract and probably invalidate it. But it’s very tough for those employees to do so, especially when they have no other skills to fall back upon. Instead the request should be to THE FANS – in general people respond to money or lack thereof, so the local fans should avoid the games, simply stop attending them, I bet at least 50% of the attendees deplore racism and would do it. And nationally, it could also work to force the other owners/NBA to bring pressure on the situation, if only 10% of fans stop attending the games, they would act immediately.

    • I am not trying to hurt Sterling financially. He is old and filthy rich. This is not about him. It’s about self respect. You can’t work for drek like Sterling. It’s just wrong.

  • vladimir

    How Clippers’ players would sabotage their owner? By quitting playoffs? It’s us who should not attend Clippers’ games. It’s easy – many have no means to buy tickets. Not to watch games on TV? Or close your eyes during Clippers’ ball possession? I’m confused.

    • It’s not for the sake of sabotage. It’s simply out of disgust and a refusal to work for Sterling.

  • Hanan

    Is there a difference between personal feelings vs. how it affects practical public issues? Is there any evidence that his feelings against blacks affected anything? Personally, I am much more bothered by the blurring of the lines between the public and private spheres. That to me, is much more detrimental to some guy personally not liking black people. Unless I am missing something, this was caught on tape, not something said for the public. Hell, my grandfather has some some pretty bad things about black people, but when it came to actual treatment, he treats everyone the same.

    And where does it stop? What if someone likes everyone, but hates Germans, should we quit our jobs because we won’t stand for anything less than perfect personal admiration for every race and ethnicity?

  • Hanan

    “There are varying degrees of socially acceptable behavior. While the country is split on gay marriage, the country overwhelmingly rejects racism. This makes Eich’s behavior far less abhorrent than Sterling’s behavior”

    It’s nice that you see the nuance difference in these two things, but certainly many on the Left saw Eich as a bigot and deserving of being tossed out. Much on the left see no difference between racism and disapproval of gay weddings. In fact, much of what you have written here was easily said by many on the Left against Eich and that we ought not show any tolerance toward his intolerance…..

  • DF

    The hypocrisy in this post is just amazing. Just two posts ago you were singing the praises of Shir Hashirim. This poem, may I remind you, contains the famous line “I am black, but I am beautiful”, meaning that most blacks are ugly. [Every translation in the world has the “but”, don’t try to claim otherwise.] Every tractate of the Talmud says far more racist things than ever Sterling said, and yet you study their words every day. Indeed, one hopes you are still against intermarriage – is your opposition to marrying a non-Jew any less race-based than Sterling’s comments? What, does religion permit you to engage in racism?
    And, pray tell, what exactly is wrong with Sterling’s viewpoints, anyway? I want to hear some thinking here, not just following the herd. Sterling – and I assure you, tens of millions of others who’ve just not been taped – doesn’t like blacks. Blacks, no one denies, not the least other blacks, have their own sense of culture, argot, likes, dislikes, etc. Is Sterling expected to love all that? Why should he? Is he not entitled to his own cultural preferences, no less than you are entitled? How easy it is for an orthodox rabbi, cloistered among fellow Jews, who went to private school among other orthodox Jews his whole life, to tell other people how to live their lives. Precisely the type of thing other limousine liberals are rightly mocked for. Believe it or not, white gentiles have a culture of their own that they are interested in preserving just as you are. If you’re not going to do the walk, don’t talk the talk.
    Now, had this been a question of actions, as opposed to opinions, I would have something else to say. But there is no proof at all of that. [And I trust you know far better than to cite mere allegations. There’s not a good sized business in America today that doesn’t receive allegations of various discrimination on a weekly basis. Why not, they’re free to file with the EEOC, and you might get lucky by extorting a few thousand dollars in nuisance value from companies who have other things to do than fight the never ending stream of charges.] If Sterling actually denied Blacks entrance to games, I would have something else to say. But to state his opinions? You tell me why you’re allowed to state yours, but he can’t state his.

    • M

      If you’re actually looking to understand the line check out a fascinating dialogue here (Google + thread from Google + Chief Architect Yonatan Zunger)

      • DF

        M, I clicked on the link, but the page it links to is blocked from my (work ) computer. Videos, Facebook, etc., are all blocked.
        In any event, I’ve not see any answer at all to the question: How does any orthodox Jew have the nerve to preach the ills of racism, when all of Judaism, and the foundational texts of Judaism, are chock full of it?

    • ksil

      he certainly can state his opinions, but don’t throw a fit when there are consequences….sheesh

      • DF

        My comments were posted before any action was taken. But that just begs the questions I posed, which no one has answered, because no one can.

  • anon

    while I agree with some of what you wrote asking them not to play is unfair. They may play for him but they also play for themselves. They have a chance at a ring so telling them to give it up is unfair. this isnt a regular season game.

  • Hanan

    Here’s an uglier human being in America: Howard Levin.

  • Hanan

    Well there you go. He’s banned for life. I wonder, isn’t this a textbook case of loshon hara and what could happen to peoples lives in light of loshon hara?

  • PG

    R. Fink,

    I’m not sure how to understand this outcry. All I heard him say was that “he didn’t want his girlfriend to publicize her interactions with black people nor was she to invite black people to Clippers games.” I think he was getting grief from his friends on this as well. I also think that he said that he loved black people. Admittedly, a certain amount of racism here – but not over the top.

    Anyways – weren’t you ever at yeshiva? Did you never here the rebbeim speak disparagingly about the ‘shvartzes’ in particular and the ‘goyim’ in general? I know I heard it many times. Do you hold them to the same standard? are they disgusting as well? What am I missing?. Thanks.

  • simonzee1

    Maybe this Sterling matter is just a distraction from the fact that the Democrats and other so called liberals in Hollywood are about to take our internet.

    The reality is that Harvey Levin from TMZ a gay Jew is doing the dirty work for liberal secular Jewish Democrats. This is the beginning of a Jewish liberal war on Republicans..

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg are all Jewish supporters of Obama who as C.S Lewis referred to as the claasic do-gooders like we have come to expect from most left-wing liberals who want to rid the world of guns…upsized sodas and oil including the Keystone pipeline and a free internet.

    We also know that a very Jewish and post hippy Hollywood descriminated against Conservative Script writers for over 30 years.

    What marks out the tyranny of the way these people operate is that which marks the left of politics and liberal donors.

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

    C.S. Lewis”

    But essentialy these attacks on the freedom of the internet are about money and the operations of lobbyists, where….essentially Hollywood is behind the reforms to give away the last controls of the internet including the hire of the lobbyist Robert Holleyman.

    After a public outcry this decision to give away the last controls of the internet looks to be on hold but now the FCC is stepping in and destroying a free internet after failing to take control of newsrooms. They now are talking about a censorship fast lane.

    This after the FCC  failed to put monitors and censors in every news room.

    Americans need to realise how militant the left is and how influential these Liberal donors are. If they supported the giving away of the internet so that they could attack piracy behind the scenes then they likewise support attacks on a free internet and create the tools to enliven political censorship with the Obama administration working behind the scenes to attack opponents. These FCC reforms are part of this…moving into this direction.

    We see how the Obama administration has used the federal beauracracy to attack opponents. Who is to say that this new FCC proposal for a fast lane will not use information supply with deals behind the scenes to do the same and attack political opponents. Obama is always meeting behind closed doors with the media or Silicon Valley giants. It will happen and it is a disgrace as Google has already proved itself to be left in politics. They are all do-gooder tyrants where we would be better off under robber barons.

    What is Google and Facebook getting out of this new FCC proposal?

    What we know for sure is that the left wing silicon valley giants cannot be trusted along with the FCC. They will use the do-gooder justifications to fight against piracy to take away a free internet and you can take that to the bank. Read the quote from C.S Lewis again.

    If Hollywood can have this much clout….discriminate against conservative scriptwriters for so long and work together with Obama to take away a free internet then all should be concerned. This is an activity of so called do-gooders that believe they have the authority to strip all of us of our internet freedoms. Conservative Christians need to stand up to these secular liberals and secular Jewish do-gooders that have too much political clout in America.

  • Sparky6string

    I most definitely support Donald Sterling. Possessing opinions no matter how unpopular is a freedom we should have, as well as feeling safe in our own homes. This man has been treated in an UN-American manner and that is a bigger crime than personal preference. Shame on the media, shame on those being fooled here, shame on the opportunists (that most likely started this) and shame on those that recognize the injustice here and do not act.

    • SDK

      Anyone can possess opinions. Anyone can have personal preferences. But we the people do not need to treat all opinions or preferences equally. Our government cannot imprison Sterling for his speech, but we the people can definitely demand his ouster. His employers can fire him. People can refuse to associate with him. People can punish him socially and financially. My personal preference is not to give my time, money, or acceptance to people like this or to anyone and anything associated with it. Everyone is allowed those preferences and the vast majority of Americans prefer that someone like this not be associated with a major sports franchise. America is not about avoiding the consequences of your actions and words. Neither is Judaism.

      • Sparky6string

        Yes statistically anything is possible and people can do a lot of things. And obviously people can do most of that since most of it is happening, but is this policy enforced universally? You are correct also in that not all opinions and preferences should be treated the same, for instance having one’s privacy encroached upon and private thoughts recorded for the world to hear without consent is a larger infraction than possessing an unsavory opinion. Those that cannot see that must be blinded by hatred. Support who you like, and do what allows you to respect yourself, and allow others to do the same, but continue to seek understanding please.