It’s hard to find anything truly shocking nowadays in a world that seemingly no longer has any rules, but that an ostensibly proud and legitimate newspaper like the Wall Street Journal sees fit to regularly lend its imprimatur of legitimacy to the rambling thoughts of a blithering idiot like Jason Whitlock is, somehow, still mind-blowing.
The Journal’s latest act of self-inflicted credibility-erosion comes from this opinion column of Whitlock’s headlined “Is Colin Kaepernick Executing a Trick Play?” That Whitlock is yet again coming at Kaepernick is no big surprise. The failed and disgraced rabble-rouser, who’s sought a way to return to sports-media relevance since his flameout at ESPN, has spent nearly a year harping on the quarterback’s decision to kneel during pregame renditions of the national anthem last season to protest police brutality against black people and what’s happened to his career because of it. Nor is the method of Whitlock’s attack novel or surprising. The lines of argument Whitlock advances in the article are the same, nonsensical ones he’s been going on about on his Fox Sports 1 TV show, All Takes Matter, for months now.
The unsurprising nature of his lines of assault doesn’t make them any less disgusting. In his WSJ piece, Whitlock talked to an unnamed NFL broadcaster about what is clearly Whitlock’s most enduring point of contention with the Kaepernick affair: By the exacting standards of the Great Race Determiner Jason Whitlock, Kaepernick simply isn’t black enough.
But while Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey strategically chose Robinson to break baseball’s color barrier, Mr. Kaepernick’s protest came seemingly out of nowhere. Before the 2016 season, the mixed-race quarterback, who’d been adopted by a suburban white family, was known mainly for his chiseled abs, tattooed body and a touchdown celebration involving him kissing his biceps.
“He is the last guy you would expect to be at the center of this controversy,” a prominent NFL broadcaster told me last week. “We called a lot of his games. We sat down with him maybe 10 times. He’s a nice kid. You never saw this. [Seattle Seahawks cornerback] Richard Sherman, I could see. He always has something to say. He’s comfortable being outspoken.”
It’s interesting that Whitlock, with his implied distrust of mixed-race blacks who grew up in white suburbia, and the anonymous broadcaster, with his or her thinly veiled code words about how “nice” Kaepernick once seemed, both seem to doubt that a black man in America fed up with the killing of unarmed black people at the hands of police would have sufficient motivation to speak out on such matters if said black man happened to be of mixed race, grew up in the suburbs, and was nice. For another opinion on Kaep’s race and how it might inform his behavior, I’m sure Whitlock could’ve traveled down to Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend and asked any of the assembled Angry Virgin Brigade which side of the race divide Kaepernick falls under. (Incidentally, is this “broadcaster” by any chance a fellow employee of Fox, the company that has NFC broadcasting rights? Is Whitlock really pretending to “report” columns that are in fact just watercooler chats with his coworkers?)
As odious as this line of thinking is—that being black isn’t enough to qualify someone as black; that there are grading criteria out there that can be used to test someone’s blackness, involving things like the individual’s blood purity and the race of those who raised them and the census stats of the cities they grew up in; and that this determination is always up for interpretation by any inquisitive soul with an agenda and a few historical facts about a person’s upbringing—it is nothing new when it comes to Whitlock and Kaepernick. The most shameless example of Whitlock essentially calling Kaep a fake black boy who only decided to make a stink about cops shooting people in an effort to assuage his deep insecurity about his own racial identity came in a typically bizarre FS1 meme video. In it, Whitlock analogized Kaepernick to a character in the movie Get Out and offered a not-so-subtle dig at Get Out director Jordan Peele’s own racial bona fides because Peele is married to a white woman:
The less said about that, the better, though in the great library of books Whitlock has never read, the first one he should think about picking up is one discussing the psychological theory of projection.
Anyway, after the WSJ article points out that Kaepernick’s adoptive parents are white, Whitlock raises another of his usual talking points: What’s really behind Kaep’s protest and the controversy surrounding it, he claims, isn’t Kaepernick’s own conscience and moral code, but instead the liberal media’s efforts to deploy its latest weapon in the culture war against all that is holy, conservative, and American.
If Kaepernick’s protest was intended to spark discussion about police brutality, Whitlock’s argument goes, then it has failed royally; the protest has transcended sports, but the content of the discussion has focused mostly on whether the NFL is racist for not giving Kaepernick another job so far this year, and not on the underlying issues. And without a serious discussion of those issues, Whitlock contends, what was the point of all that noise in the first place?
Now, is the lack of discussion about police brutality in the wake of Kaepernick’s protest evidence that the mainstream American discourse on racial issues is at such a sad and underdeveloped state that it is wholly unequipped to reckon with a topic as complex as police brutality, and instead can only process it by reverting to a comfortable game of Spot The Racists? Or is it proof that all of this hullabaloo around Kaepernick is actually nothing but a smokescreen allowing coastal elites to inflict their outré philosophy of equality for transgender people and opposition to neo-Nazism on unsuspecting Middle America? For Whitlock, the answer is clear:
Mr. Kaepernick, the activist-athlete being analogized to Muhammad “Louisville Lip” Ali, has remained strangely silent for months. He communicates through tweets, Instagram posts and leaked bits of information to his vast array of media and celebrity surrogates. ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter reported in February that sources close to Mr. Kaepernick say he’ll end his national-anthem protest in the coming season. If his goal is to raise awareness around the issue of unfair policing involving black men, he is using a silence tactic no other activist has ever used and, at this point, it’s fair to question the effectiveness of his strategy.
But what if his goal is to drive a discussion focused on NFL ownership treating him in a racist manner? In that case, Mr. Kaepernick is serving as a Trojan Horse for the progressive media’s attack on an iconic institution. The NFL is the highest-rated show on NBC, FOX, CBS , ESPN and the NFL Network. It’s an important cultural force, and a conservative one. Mr. Kaepernick is a pretense to change the way football is discussed. It’s working this NFL offseason.
Whitlock has been to this well before. Hopefully you are unfamiliar with this next All Takes Matter meme video, in which Whitlock again accuses Kaepernick of not really being black, going so far as to suppose that maybe the “lovely white couple” who raised Kaepernick has brainwashed him and him susceptible to the influence of plotting and nefarious SJWs/cyber-humans, so that the ideas Kaepernick espouses today are not actually his own.
Again, if Whitlock knew anything about projection, he might ask himself a couple questions: Might his career-long tack of questioning the racial credibility of black people and accusing them of being puppets for the white liberal establishment say something about about his own racial insecurity (perhaps stemming from the black community’s near-uniform rejection of Whitlock)? And deep down in Whitlock’s soul, does he fear that he owes the continuance of whatever is left of his career to nervous white people who would not countenance repugnant attacks like the ones he makes on Kaepernick were they to come from a blowhard of a lighter complexion, but do not feel as if it’s their place to send his takes back to the Corny Black Uncle Barbershop where they belong by dint of his own blackness? But luckily for him, Whitlock probably isn’t that introspective.
What’s important to note here isn’t that Whitlock is saying crazy, disgusting things. He is a crazy, disgusting guy; no one should expect him to be anything other than what he is. But what does make all of this so galling is that the Wall Street Journal would choose to publish this dumbass’s rantings. It’s perfectly reasonable to have no interest in the political opinions of athletes. But to base this case entirely on gross theories about who does and does not count as black is abhorrent. Today’s column is, by Google’s count, the fifth Whitlock opinion column to show up in the Journal since this May. Each one is as simple-minded, predictable, and wrong as the one before.
Who is served by the Wall Street Journal promulgating and endorsing Whitlock’s sub-Breitbart-level takes in the paper’s prestigious pages? Can’t anyone see that the only reason Whitlock is taken even halfway seriously is because halfway-serious places and people keep pretending that he’s not a moron? Do they think that anyone who reads the paper differentiates between, say, a great reported feature from the paper’s respected sports section and this, an opinion-section column with no point or purpose other than calling Colin Kaepernick white? Are they okay with this? Does anyone working there have both the brains to realize how dumb this makes the paper look and the power to make it go away?
As for that last question, I’m pretty sure the answer is “no.” It seems likely that, for the umpteenth time in Whitlock’s career, either well-meaning white people who recognize Whitlock’s shittiness but don’t have the fortitude to do something about it, or not-so-well-meaning whites who actively wish to traffic in Whitlock-style sordid contrarianism will continue giving him a platform to spew his brand of vile idiocy. In that case, after everything we’ve been through over the past year, maybe this fact shouldn’t be surprising at all.