Work and Days

The Weariness of the Whiners


Brandon Marshall, the New York Jets wide receiver and occasional sports commentator, charges that the National Football League is racist. He alleges that the league favors white players over black athletes like him, especially white marquee quarterbacks.

Aside from the fact that Marshall recently signed a three-year contract for $27 million — and, for example, African-American lineman Marcell Dareus just concluded a contract extension with the Buffalo Bills for six years at $100 million — examine Marshall’s whimper in light of the demography of the National Football League.

Currently, African-Americans comprise about 12% of the population. Yet they make up about 67% of the current meritocratic, but allegedly racist NFL roster. In the quota parlance of affirmative action engineering, they are “overrepresented” in one of America’s most prestigious and compensated industries at over five times their percentages in the general population. Nor are blacks just the purported grunts on the battlefield of the league; they make up 16% of the head coaches and 24% of the league’s general managers.

The NFL may be exempt from the long arm of the Obama administration’s tenets of proportional representation or disparate impact. Or it could be insensitive to the participation rates of Asians and Latinos. Or it may not be using outreach to recruit whites in commensurate numbers to those of the general population. Whatever — but it is hard to figure out how an African-American multimillionaire (e.g., $9 million per annum in compensation) could complain that being black proves a burden in the present-day NFL. Perhaps Marshall might have been paid $10 million per year?

His writ is about as absurd as empathizing with Oprah because she once alleged that a white clerk at the zillionaire Swiss Trois Pommes boutique neither immediately acknowledged her celebrity status nor showed her quickly enough a $38,000 Tom Ford crocodile-skin purse on the shelf. Hence was born “handbag racism.”

Univision newsman Jorge Ramos recently disrupted a Donald Trump news conference to recite yet another litany of supposedly ethnically insensitive attitudes shown toward Latinos who enter the U.S. illegally. Ramos has crafted a lucrative career by blurring the line between journalist and pundit activist, and by damning U.S. immigration law and the unfairness and inhospitality of the United States toward illegal immigrants. Note that naturalized citizen Ramos left Mexico to immigrate to America, ostensibly because what he routinely can now say in the United States would have landed him in jail in Mexico — in the manner that should Americans enter Mexico illegally in the way Mexicans cross the border into the U.S., they would be jailed, then summarily deported at best and at worst serve prison time for a variety of crimes, among which spelled out in the Mexican Constitution would be altering the racial essence of Mexican demography.

Ramos has parlayed his carping at the perceived unfairness of his adopted country into becoming the highest paid journalist in the world at a reported $75 million a year, paid out by the Spanish-language television corporation owned by a non-Latino Los Angeles billionaire. Again, the United States may be many things, but one thing it is not is unfair or insensitive to either the whining Ramos in his role as a naturalized Mexican-American activist or to one-tenth of Mexico’s population that have chosen to flee Mexico and to enter and reside in the United States illegally.

The cult of the whining victim is now ubiquitous. Two high-school football players in Texas, angry that their team is losing and galvanized by their whining coach, decide to take out a referee and smash him with two cowardly hits. The reason? They claim the flattened ref got what he deserved — because of course he was a racist. The Marine Corps has discovered, as Nature might have advised it, that male ground troops on average perform more muscularly and effectively in rough combat-simulated training than do women. They apparently prove stronger, more combative, blood-thirsty, and aggressive, and fight with greater stamina. One reaction is not to accept the data, but, of course, by whining how the data has been improperly — and no doubt — socially constructed in sexist fashion, or is irrelevant altogether, maybe the standards can be lowered a bit.

In the logic of whining, Michael Brown did not commit a felony or two in the last minutes of his life, from strong-armed robbery to assaulting a police officer, but was instead begging for his life with “hands up” and shouting “don’t shoot.” There is less cause and effect anymore, only someone who must be excused from responsibility and culpability by his own claims on victimhood.

The 21st century has become a cowardly era in which we point to collective race, class, or gender rather than own up to our record of behavior and performance when our exalted expectations are not met. Or is it worse than that? Does a Brandon Marshall count on making unsubstantiated charges of racism in hopes of preemptory careerist advantage: one must prove he is not a racist in the future by offering beneficia in the present?

The culprits are not just our obsessions with race, class, and gender, or the careerist aspirations of elites. We also live in the most affluent and leisured era in the history of Western civilization. But given human nature, our bounty has not given us pause for appreciation, but rather increased our appetites in geometric fashion. The more we have, the more we think we deserve — or else. In an affluent society, society can afford now to have no losers. There is enough stuff and praise to be shared by all. In T-ball everyone is a winner; so is today’s student who feels A’s are his birthright. The poor man in the inner city has more computing power in his palm with an Apple smartphone than did the billionaire twenty years ago in his study — but, of course, not as versatile a phone perhaps as that of today’s billionaire, and thus he can legitimately whine that life is not fair due to the machinations of someone else.

The bane of our age is not poverty but parity, or rather the perceived absence of a state-mandated equality of result. It no long matters how much one has, much less in comparison to those abroad or to Americans of our past. The rub is whether someone has something more or better than your own — and why and how that can still be possible in the American horn of plenty. Given those requisites, whininess is the lubricant of our national machinery.

On the other end of the social scale is the whining of the established elite, who bitch that the public has forgotten that they must be exempt to cross-examination and therefore must remind us of that by perpetual whining. The Obama administration mastered this natural trait of privileged scapegoating. For the first six years of Obama’s administration, all supposed achievement was Obama’s; every confirmed failure was the legacy of Emmanuel Goldstein, aka ex-President George W. Bush.

So monotonously expressed was Obama’s whine that we came to believe that Iraq was tumultuous rather than quiet and at peace when he came to office, that the September 2008 financial crash was exploding on the day of his inauguration rather than four months old, contained and addressed, that racial relations were improving rather serving up Fergusons and Baltimores, and that the Middle East and Russia were rather stable rather than imploding from Syria and Yemen to the Crimea and Ukraine. Obama never set a deadline with Syria, much less ignored it. The UN alone did that, not he.

Obama’s doppelganger is Hillary Clinton. Poor Mrs. Clinton. She was misled about her server, or did not want a handful of clumsy duplicative communication devices or did nothing improper or at least nothing illegal, or at least nothing indictable, or at least differently from past secretaries of State, or never sent classified material, or at least never material that was stamped officially confidential. Who then caused this scandal? The New York Times, Fox News, the right-wingers, the Republicans, or the Clinton-haters.

Ours is the age of constant whining — and now let me cease whining how wearisome it has all become.

(Artwork by