Paul R. Lehman, Walker and West exploited by media for their criticism of President Obama

July 15, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, blacks, Congress, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, fairness, justice, Media and Race, minority, Prejudice, President Obama, Respect for President | 1 Comment
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Just because someone says it is new does not means that it is news. Recently two people were covered by the media for comments they made regarding President Obama. No one is challenging or attacking their right to free speech, but one has to wonder why the media would be interested in what these individuals had to say. The two people in question are Jimmie ‘JJ Walker, former star of the television show “Good Times,” and U.S. Army veteran, now congressman from Florida, Allen West. Three reasons exist for the appearance of these men being covered by the media, their celebrity, their ethnicity, and their comments relative President Obama.

Under normal circumstances, the media would not really care what Walker and West had to say, but we are in a political campaign season and anything said by anyone of notoriety that might attract attention is captured. The fact that both Walker and West have some notoriety makes them likely candidates for coverage, especially since they usually call attention to themselves by what they say. The media are aware of this element and uses it to attract the viewers’ and readers’ attention. The fame enjoyed by these two men would not be considered of great consequence or influence because their appeal is generally to specific audiences. Generally, the media would not consider these men for coverage simply because of their notoriety.

One of the things that do make Walker and West of interest to the media along with their celebrity is their ethnicity; they are both African American. Because African Americans are usually represented in the media in a negative context, their presence is usually in a stereotypical context—involving crimes, drugs, violence and other equally negative offenses. So, when the two elements of fame and ethnicity are combined, the media views this as possibly attention getting coverage. Many people are probably familiar with the names and past references to Walker and West, so some interest is created with the mention of their names. The degree of media interest in Walker and West is based on their appeal to various audiences, and the audience’s perceptions of them.  For the media to cover them their fame and ethnicity are only part of the attraction. What they have to say is the key to their coverage.

The third thing Walker and West have in common that warranted media attention is the fact that they both have made disparaging remarks about President Obama. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and that right is protected by the Constitution. So, what makes the negative comments about President Obama worthy of media coverage simply because the words came from Walker and West? The answer could possible be found in the subjects of politics and ethnicity. Many European Americans in and out of politics make disparaging remarks about President Obama on a regular basis and no one gives it a second thought. However, when an African American of note says something negative about President Obama some cause of concern is created because apparently no African American is expected to criticize President Obama in the media. Yet, that is precisely the reason the media covers these two men.

Some European American critics of President Obama feel that they are unjustly accused of demeaning the President with their remarks, so when an African American say publically the same things, the European Americans feel justified and relieved. However, just because some African Americans say negative things about President Obama does not mean that what was said was accurate and true. One has to examine not only what was said, but also who said it. For example, Walker does not believe that President Obama should have been elected President and certainly should not be re-elected. He said that Obama’s “not a good guy for the job we have to do.” We need to take a moment and examine what Walker said and question his rationale for his belief and statement. All of Walker’s professional life has been lived as a comedian and most of his public appearances have been because of his history in his profession. One can reasonable wonder the logic of Walker’s comment about President Obama. What facts and evidence does he use to arrive at his conclusion about President Obama’s qualifications to serve as President? The fact that someone makes the statement regarding another’s qualifications for service without a shred of concrete fact or evidence can only be taken as opinion. Walker is certainly entitled to that, but why should the media be interested in just his opinion?

West has a history of being publically critical of President Obama. Were it not for the frequent negative remarks West makes concerning President Obama, most of America would not know he exist. He has learned that because of his position in Congress, and his ethnicity, whenever he wants media attention, all he has to do is make a speech in which he  denigrates the President or some of the President’s work. The majority of the people who place any value on what West says about President Obama are people who are critics of the President and feel that they are being supported by West. Again, if one was to examine the claims made by West against President Obama and his administration, the issue of logic, proof, and accuracy would come into question.

In all fairness to these two men, they have the right to speak their minds and state their opinions regardless of who agrees with them or not. The point being made here is that they are being exploited (most likely) without their knowledge by critics of the President who want to justify their own negative feelings and by pointing to these two African Americans to try and avoid the charge of bigotry. Fortunately, the ploy does not work because most Americans are not fooled by the celebrity, ethnicity, and words of individuals making political statements. The words must have meaning and creditability in order to be given value or as Shakespeare said, they represent “a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

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  1. Could not agree more. Using West and Walker as poster children proof that you are not a bigot is like choosing a female running mate to prove that you are not sexist.

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