Paul R. Lehman,Dr. Laura shows ethnic ignorance, arrogance, and insensitivity

August 21, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, American Racism, Media and Race, Race in America | 6 Comments
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Dr. Laura says she is quitting her radio because she cannot exercise her 1st Amendment rights. She believes herself to be the victim of unjust ethnic criticism as a result of a conversation she had with an African American female caller. When the conversation focused on the issue of race, things got out of hand, so to speak. During this conversation Dr. Laura showed herself to be ignorant, arrogant, and insensitive concerning ethnic groups in America.

Dr. Laura showed her ignorance of American history throughout the conversation but especially when she said she knew what the N—word meant. She proceeded to show her lack of knowledge by using it without reservation. The use of the N—word, however, was of minor concern compared to some of the other statements she made. For example, Dr. Laura reacted to the caller’s comments about her use of the N—word by stating “Don’t take things out of context. Don’t double N—NAACP me.”Just what did Dr. Laura mean by that statement? The context she used in making that statement suggests something unfair or unjust. If she had any knowledge of the NAACP she would have known that it has always fought for the fair and just treatment of all people, not just African Americans. She might, in deed, owe some of her success to the effort of the NAACP and the Civil Rights Acts they influenced. The suggested use of the reference would invite a negative and derogative interpretation. Dr. Laura supported her use of the N—word as acceptable because she has heard it on HBO and from Rappers and African American comedians. She believes that if they can use it, so can she.

One other example, among the many reflecting the ignorance of Dr. Laura, is her statement that “I really thought that once we had elected a black president, the attempt to demonize whites hating blacks would stop, but it seems to have grown, and I don’t get it. Yes, I do. It’s all about power.” Why would someone be so naive to think that just because an African American was elected President that all the problems involving ethnic groups would be resolved? She did. She apparently failed to realize that it has always been African Americans fighting for the rights to be first-class American citizens against the power of European Americans who tried to prevent it. Her display of ignorance began when she tried to talk about a subject of which she knows little.

Ignorance of a subject for Dr. Laura was not a reason to assume superior knowledge of it to the caller. Dr. Laura’s comments indicated that she holds the perspective of being above the caller because she is white and the caller is black. This attitude is displayed when the caller makes a comment about a neighbor who repeatedly used the word ‘black’ in reference to her family and her feeling uncomfortable hearing it in that context. Dr. Laura quickly stated, “I don’t think that’s racist.” Dr. Laura assumed that her ethnic superiority allowed her to speak to the caller’s feelings without knowing the callers experiences. That attitude is called arrogance.

Dr. Laura’s arrogance appeared again when she told the caller that “I think you have too much sensitivity.”Again, because of her feeling of superiority, Dr. Laura believed that she could better characterize what the caller was feeling than the caller. When the caller tried to make a point based on her perception, Dr. Laura steped up and tried to “shoot it down.” Dr. Laura’s arrogance coupled with her ignorance showed her to be insensitive. The fact that someone who knows little about the subject for which she is speaking refers to her caller as being too sensitive shows the height of insensitivity. This insensitivity is also hypocrisy.

What the entire exchange with Dr. Laura and the caller showed was that Dr. Laura is a victim of American bigotry like many other Americans. She bought into the myth of many races of human beings with some being superior to others. African Americans, as for as bigots are concerned, are at the bottom of the social latter and so have no power to over-rule anyone considered above their ethnic group. Dr. Laura believes in a white and black race rather than a human race. She also believes that biological differences separate these so-called races. Dr. Laura seems to have no grasp of the current information that shows all people as part of the same human race and that the differences we encounter can be attributed to culture, education, economics, religion, and geography. Why, for example, would she identify Obama as “half white” if she did not place a value on “whiteness” Why would she believe that Americans would vote on a presidential candidate simply because of his skin color? No doubt that skin complexion might have had an influence in some people’s choice, but they would not usually vote for a fool of any color.

Dr. Laura seems to be out of touch with reality, but because she sees herself as a white, superior American female; she believes she has the right to say whatever is on her mind. The old statement of total white freedom was at one time, “free, white, and twenty-one”seems to be the one Dr. Laura clings to. If anyone disagrees with her, he or she is wrong, not her; after all, she has the power to cut them off (the radio). Maybe Dr. Laura will spend some of her free time becoming better informed about America and Americans today. She might even want to read my book, America’s Race Problem. She could do worse. One thing is for certain for Dr. Laura and for all the talking heads on radio and television, and that is the value of the old saying that it is better to be thought a fool than to speak and eliminate all doubt. Enough said.



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  1. I hadn’t been following this as I’ve become quite numbed by the upset people create around words. Now, quickly I need to say that I don’t believe in the use of degrading, demeaning, or threatening language. I think your points are well made, thoughtful, and extremely polite considering the incident under discussion. And I will be reading your book.

    I assert that every human being has the personal power to decide whether to get upset over a word, essentially the naming of a concept, and how much energy one is willing to put into whatever emotion one chooses to activate. Life is short, our energy is, therefore, limited and how we spend it is important.

    Do you think it an oversimplification on my part to suggest that in a great many cases should those of us with sound ethical and moral principles, as well as respect for human dignity, no matter our skin color, simply ignore the babble of many of these idiots they might become naturally selected as a social exile?

    In Dr. Laura’s case why do we not, as reasonable people, write her sponsors and boycott their products. That, sir, would be an effective end to Dr. Laura who, in my opinion, has always been a crashing bore and woefully misinformed.

    I am not suggesting our society simply condone the wide spread use of language that degrades, or demeans, yet we must remember, especially now as our liberties under the Bill of Rights erode in a post-9/11 frenzy, that the First Amendment should be held sacred by us all. Yes, holding it sacred does mean we will be exposed to some things with which we cannot agree and that anger us. Yet it is important not to lose the freedom to express one’s beliefs, even if in a manner offensive to some.

    The First Amendment is touchy stuff because it gives people like Dr. Laura a shield to hide behind while the poke their head around its sides and shout their blather. It is really like protecting the school yard bully, isn’t it?

    In the end, what do I know? I’m just a guy with white skin (reddened by years of overexposure to the sun) who grew up in Oakland, CA, graduated from Oakland High School, and got my MBA in Alabama. All I suppose I really know of any value is from my experience of the people I grew up with of all ethnicities and that tells me when we forget the words and labels for one another there isn’t really much of anything separating us. I pity Dr. Laura. How can one be so educated yet so stupid simultaneously?

  2. Dr. Laura’s strange thought patterns go far beyond this particular outburst, and they date earlier than many may realize.

  3. Words are indeed powerful. Try as you might you cannot dress up the N word. It is what it is and it means what it means no matter if its spewn from a radio talk show host, from a couple of friends at a sports bar, or set to music and boomed at a party. It still means the same thing.

  4. I too found Dr. Laura’s latest tirade appalling. And her umbrella of ignorance includes Civics and History — the First Amendment guarantees her a platform to spew, but does not guarantee protection from consequences.

    I used to listen to Dr. L many years ago, when she gave relationship advice. But she became increasingly demeaning in tone to her callers, and I couldn’t stand to listen to her anymore. It was as if she was being paid to make mincemeat of her callers from a lofty perch — in a tone smug and superior — she had the microphone and the cut-off button. No empathy or listening skills required. I only wonder what took so long for her to overplay her hand.

    • I should have said the First Amendment guarantees her “the freedom” to spew — not necessarily a platform. Hope you know what I mean.

  5. From Wings of Silver compiled by Jo Petty some years ago, “Nothing is opened more by mistake than the mouth.” Under stress and self-defense Dr. Laura exposed her authentic self. Bare naked BIGOTRY that reveals all of its ugly private parts (ethnic ignorance, arrogance,etc.) is not a pretty sight.

    Enlightenment is Power.. Thank you once again!!!

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