Saturday, December 20, 2008

Canadian Dog Whistles

I don't want to cherry-pick articles and make it look like the NBA is under attack, and I don't want to unnecessarily draw attention to poorly thought-out columns by people who probably haven't seen an NBA game in 20 years, if ever. Really, I'd rather write about what an amazing game last night's Jazz-Pistons matchup was, or how brilliant Rasheed Wallace was in the first half or how much of a difference Deron Williams made in the second quarter. But I somehow ended up reading this article by Mark Hasiuk (which I arrived at through this post) and it seemed worth digging into, since most of the responses to it caught the obvious racist tropes but missed the old-school Jew-Bashing aspect. 

So, let's dig in:

Title: "NBA: a ghetto gutter run by money grubbers" - Dogs everywhere just went deaf. A question, though -- is the title anti-Black, anti-Jew, or both?

The NBA is America at its worst - Really? See, I would have gone with something more obvious, like indefinite detentions and waterboarding at Guantanamo. But you know, maybe it's the NBA. Yeah.

Players like Allen Iverson--perhaps the greatest basketball talent of his generation--spend more energy producing sneaker commercials than winning basketball games. - I honestly haven't seen an A.I. shoe commercial in a very long time. 

NBA players wear saggy shorts, roll in posses and cuss on camera. - Hey hey old friends! Why didn't you bring the rest of the gang, you know, tatoos, cornrows, and jewelry? (A few paragraphs down, there is in fact a reference to "flamboyant chauvinism, jailhouse lingo [and] black ink tattoos").

Television ratings have dropped steadily since 1996.  - Apparently no one filled him in on the news.

Basketball icons such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the late Red Auerbach have denounced today's players, calling them 'thugs' and 'bums.' - There isn't any reference here, so it's hard to respond. I would find it odd if Kareem had denounced today's players that he still works as a coach for the Lakers. Similarly, Auerbach was involved with the Celtics right up until the end. He also probably called everyone a bum, that's what you call people when you're from Boston.

Now comes the anti-Semitism alert. See if you can spot the dog whistle words and phrases in the below passage. I'll bold them, just in case.

Hip hop, a cultural movement spawned in 1970s New York, has been dead for years.

It sold its soul to corporate sleaze merchants, who repackage black music for a white suburban consumer base.

Nope, the remnants of hip hop--flamboyant chauvinism, jailhouse lingo, black ink tattoos--didn't kill the NBA. It was New York lawyers like Stern, who cashed in on the athletic ability of young black men while ignoring the social realities of basketball in America.

. . .

Ironically, the greed of Stern and his gang of crafty owners (ubiquitous Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban currently faces insider trading charges) may ultimately rescue the NBA from the gutter.

Look, Mark Cuban isn't Jewish, but anyone who's ever paid attention knows what "greedy" and "crafty" and "New York lawyers" mean. And "sleaze merchants" takes it old school, to the days of Shakespeare.

Stern can keep his basketball franchise. His NBA cabal doesn't belong around here. - Again, "cabal" has expanded its meaning and can be used in non-denoninational ways, but taken in context, it's hard to believe that the use of a word that's derived from Hebrew wasn't purposeful.

Oh Mark Hasiuk, who are you? Ah, it turns out that when you're not busy trying criticize a sports league about which you know nothing, you're writing about the threat to the future of a pure Canada posed by immigration from the third world. Well, I for one am thrilled that I won't be seeing you at the next game I go to. You can keep your pure Canada and your Pat Buchanon and your "European culture" that "spawned the now-universal tenets of democratic rule, personal freedom and Christian-based virtue—not to mention many of civilization's greatest scientific and technological achievements" -- but I'm keeping my NBA, my mongrel heritage, and the number zero


  1. maybe more like hasn't watched a game in about 24 years. the 'peak' of the so-called 'once proud' league, mr. jordan himself was scorned for wearing gold chains and baggy (for the time) shorts as a rookie dunk contest hopeful in like '85. not disagreeing with the 'peak', but hasiuk's wasp-centrist and generally ignorant issues with the league are so recycled. dude needs an original thought.

    thanks for the post, mcfruity.