Mar 112010

This country needs an enema. Apparently, anytime a person of Caucasian descent mentions the word “watermelon” in conversation regarding a person of African descent, it is a racist comment.

And Dan Rather did just that when he decided to break out a metaphor for President Obama’s utter incompetence in selling government health care legislation.

He was attempting to make the point about the lack of the president’s ability to sell ideas, and he mentioned the large green fruit as part of his metaphor.

Now, far be it from me to criticize the man for articulating what he thought was an accurate point: If he deserves to be criticized for anything it was for not thinking of the furor that would erupt from the politically correct, too-damned-sensitive-for-real-life crowd.

Then again, maybe he thought about it and figured, “To hell with it.” Racism, in case you need a reminder, is not against any law. Dan Rather said something that someone somewhere might construe as racist. This should not be major news.

When I heard Rather’s comment, I started chuckling because of the inevitable reaction from the politicians and minority groups.

I have no idea when it became such an inflammatory issue, but at some point this country lost its collective fecal matter.

Any racist in this country knows it’s usually Hispanics who sell fruit next to roads, not presidents.

Some of you see the humor in that comment; some of you feel I have racist tendencies of my own. The problem with your assumptions, and possible assertions, is you have an inaccurate perception of what really matters in this life.

You see –– and I really love starting a claim with this next line –– I have friends of all races. This is what happens when you serve in the modern military, and you happen to not be a racist twit.

I would not think for an instant to judge a person by their skin color or nationality because I recognize the ignorance behind such behavior.

However, I really cannot tell you how amusing I find jokes regarding racial and ethnic stereotypes to be. Most, if not all of my friends of various races and backgrounds, find them amusing as well.

Maybe it comes from the fact we had all been to war and knew what mattered; maybe it comes from being comfortable with who we are. I don’t know, and I don’t particularly care.

I also understand this does not universally hold true to just people of my own race. I have Jewish family members who take great offense to jokes making fun of Jewish stereotypes, but personally I find them hilarious.

No race on Earth has a better claim for discrimination and maltreatment than Jewish people –– of which I am one. Yet, when I hear a new Jewish joke about saving money or bargaining, I may well find it hilarious. The reality for me is that stereotypes are funny.

In order for something to be offensive, in my mind, it has to be universally wrong. Stereotypes typically are based on a generalized truth.

KFC sold $211 million in product in 2009. All races made purchases, but to say so wouldn’t be funny. Yet were I to insinuate or claim the majority of those sales took place in the D.C. area during Inauguration Week, it becomes something much bigger than a vocalized stereotype. It’s a stupid joke. Carrot Top has been far more comically offensive.

We are in one of the worst economic downturns in history, we are fighting two overseas wars, Washington D.C. is useless and we will see remakes of both the Karate Kid and The A-Team in theaters this summer.

We all have bigger things to worry about than what Dan Rather or any other potentially racist idiot has to say. I will remind you, this man resigned in shame for falsifying a story about the last president. Why does anyone –– particularly racial equality groups –– pay him any attention?

Let it go. When someone of another race prevents you from getting a job or a loan because of your race, then it matters.

Seth Stern is a senior journalism and sociology major. His column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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