I hesitate to waste a second on Donald Sterling, who is really just another old white racist who got some notoriety for that. For the moment, he steals the spotlight from the public-lands thief in Nevada who is a hero to the shameless radical right. I like to imagine there is a dwindling supply of ignorant bigots, but I’m a foolish optimist.
Sterling’s punishment is akin to taking a ball from a child who owns an entire chain of ball manufacturers and ball stores — futile and short-lived. He’ll buy another ball in an instant.
Those who see this as justice or simply a tale of how quickly one can fall from grace might do well to realize he’s not gouging out his eyes, committing seppuku, taking the black, or in line at a soup kitchen. He won’t spend a second in an actual pillory or shunned in any way he cares about. He’s not even remotely contrite or comprehending of the fuss and he is certain we have no right to judge him.
What is most on my mind is how two minutes of him being himself matter more to everyone than an entire lifetime of being himself. This guy didn’t misspeak or put his foot in his mouth or slip up. Sterling knows in his heart that old rich white men are better in every sense than anyone else. Not in the benign way that you think you’re a better driver or cook than someone else, but in the way that assumes anyone who is not a white male isn’t a human being.
The stench of that world view is impossible to hide, especially if you’re so rich you can command attention from anyone. How many times a day, in how many situations, has Sterling simply spoken his mind? Perhaps he has never been honest in a room full of basketball players, but I’m sure he felt he had the right to do so. After all, he owned them and gave them everything they owned.
I wonder about the enablers and yes-men who surround Sterling still. The people who didn’t leave the room when he entered or, worse, accepted his invitation to dinner or parties. The people who never said “shut the fuck up you spoiled bastard.” Would you speak your mind to this guy if he were your boss?