I am not so sure, however, that the owner of the LA Clippers will be able to come to a similar conclusion in a timely manner (at least I have the advantage of 308 years of hindsight, thanks to my time travelling!).
In a story that has spread all over this internet of yours, it was reported that a man alleged to be Donald Sterling of the Clippers was overheard telling his girlfriend V. Stiviano not to bring any people of African descent to “his” games. Ironically, Ms. Stiviano herself is of mixed heritage, black and Latina. He also admonished her for posting a photo of herself with basketball legend Magic Johnson on the Instagram site.
Many have already leaped to their own conclusion, and have condemned Mr. Sterling for his racist remarks (not just these, of course, but also his long history of racist remarks and discriminatory practices). Understandably so, of course, for statements of the type that he allegedly made do not have any place in a society such as ours, where everyone, of whatever race or national origin, is guaranteed life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness (thank you, Mr. Jefferson, for those immortal words!)
Ben’s own history
Lest you think this is a case of my own pride and hypocrisy masquerading as righteous indignation over this whole affair, I need to admit to the errors of my own ways when it comes to racial ignorance and intolerance. True, like many others, I was a man of my times, back in the 1700s. Slavery was still a horrible fact of life in the colonies.
I myself profited from the slave trade, by carrying advertisements in my newspaper for slave auctions; personally, I also had a slave or two for our household. I had even gone on record in some of my writings, in fact, expressing my hope for a country that would have more white Englishman like myself and fewer minorities.
Looking back on those statements of mine today, I am aghast that I ever thought that, let alone published it. And dear reader, that was not the least of my embarrassing statements of that sort – to this day, my words haunt me, especially since there are so many Franklin autobiographies out there, in every book shoppe, spelling out the horrible truth about my early prejudices.
What turned the tide for me, however, was visiting a mission school in Philadelphia, where young black students were doing an outstanding, highly commendable job with their studies. No longer did I feel that any of their shortcomings were due to race – the truth is, any social maladjustments they may have experienced were due solely to us, the white landowners and men of means, who had oppressed them through this awful institution of slavery.
To make up for this tragic crime, I proceeded to change things as best I was able. I eventually became a leader in the early abolitionist movement, advocating for the end of slavery, even as we attempted to deliberate the true meaning of freedom while creating documents like the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
What’s more, I even published one of my famous hoaxes as a way of pointing out the folly of one of my political opponents, who had just delivered a speech supporting the continuation of slavery. My story, Observations on the Slave Trade, put the very same words my opponent had used into a speech delivered by the fictitious Divan of Algiers, in which he expressed similar fear and concern over the possibility of losing his white Christian slaves, who had been captured and enslaved by the Barbary Coast pirates. Turnabout was fair play!
I even used the same arguments as the American politician – with the Algerian potentate claiming the Christian slaves were happier and lived longer in the care of their Muslim masters, and that the economy of Algiers would be thrown into chaos if the slaves were freed!
I sincerely hoped that this hoax wasn’t “too little, too late,” but I felt that I had to do something to make amends for my earlier mistakes.
Bringing this tale back to the present… I hope that when all is said and done, Mr. Sterling also comes to his senses and not only issues an apology, but also works to right the wrongs he has perpetuated through his many years in public life.
Your humble servant,