Within a week we’ve seen the untimely deaths of two cultural icons, the sentencing of our most heinous Ponzi schemer and the reversal of the Ricci case concerning discrimination against white firemen in New Haven. The overwhelming media hype concerning Michael Jackson is spearheaded by the two most famous race vultures in America - Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton - two unelected demagogues who never miss an opportunity to glom on to someone else’s celebrity and never fail to cheapen any cause they touch. In this case, they’ve chosen a talented, even trail-blazing performer who was a drug addicted anorexic at his demise but clearly suffered from numerous other mental problems including pedophilia, body dysmorphic disorder and compulsive spending that stratospherically surpassed the bounds of hundreds of millions of dollars in income. It is unimaginable that this confused person should be held up as a tribute to anything other than musical talent. Michael Jackson didn’t see himself as Black when he was alive; he changed his skin color and his features and was the custodial father to white children who had no biological relation to him. Yet the reverends Sharpton and Jackson have insinuated themselves as pallbearers to some implied black martyrdom with presumed racial overtones.
The fomented frenzy over Michael Jackson has all but eclipsed the sad death of Farrah Fawcett, our eighties pin-up who had the virtue of looking athletic, clean-cut and sexy all at once. Until she posed for Playboy at 50, she was a sex symbol who showed very little skin, who got by without breast implants, tattoos or body piercing and whose dazzling smile and windswept hair belonged to sunny days at the beach as opposed to torrid nights in the bedroom. Less than a generation later, she was morphed into Pamela Anderson, an ersatz exaggeration of a similar type into its most degraded extreme. complete with de rigeur sexually explicit videotapes and surgically enhanced facial and body parts. Farrah Fawcett will be remembered as the last avatar of the American cheerleader with a look that radiated good health until she was ironically felled by cancer.
As for Bernie Madoff, his day in court made me wonder why a confessed swindler who has ruined countless lives, destroyed numerous charitable institutions and created havoc in families across the world deserved to be dressed like a proper gentleman to hear that he was sentenced to 150 years in jail. Wouldn’t a prison jumpsuit have been more appropriate? Why was he given one last chance to look dignified in public? His criminal behavior extended over several decades, stimulated suicides, robbed his victims of their dignity and in many cases, even the simple luxury of a roof over one’s head, yet some antiquated protocol dictates that he should be dressed as he was before he turned himself into a pariah. It’s equally not clear to me who decided that his wife was entitled two and a half million dollars to live on - a sum that many Madoff victims would be thrilled to have in hand.
But finally, some proof that rationality has not been totally lost in American jurisprudence surfaced in the Supreme Court decision in the Ricci case. White firefighters who studied hard and passed the test for promotion only to see the city they give their lives for disallow their accomplishment because no black firemen passed the test, appealed all the way to our highest court and deservedly won their case. Though this will never get the media blitz that freaks and scoundrels generate, the case is a rare tribute to an America that often does reward persistence, integrity and a just cause. The Ricci case is further proof that common sense can overrule political correctness and the contrivances of racial engineering. Not since 9/11 have firemen taken center stage and it’s shocking to realize how few years passed before their heroism was discounted to suit the perversities of racial quotas. Did anyone count whether an equal number of black and white firemen die in their line of duty? The answer to unequal test results is to help minorities prepare better before the test, not to punish the achievers after the fact. Ultimately, the hullabaloo over Jackson and Madoff will dissipate but the Ricci decision will have a far reaching impact that should help restore merit and fairness as the standard bearers in American life. Perhaps it will also help us to reflect again on our true heroes who work anonymously without the benefit of press agents, handlers and corporate merchandising but who are the bedrock of what is best in our national character.
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