When it comes to the national political conversation, it’s not unusual to hear the right complain that the left is too quick to bring race into everything. Given recent events, we hopefully won’t hear that line again for a little while.
The same week as the U.S. Supreme Court’s affirmative action ruling and rancher Cliven Bundy’s thoughts on “the Negro,” Los Angeles Clippers owner Don Sterling has generated a national controversy of his own following his allegedly racist remarks.
NBC News has not been able to authenticate a recording obtained by TMZ in which a man identified by the website as Sterling tells a woman the site identifies as his girlfriend, V. Stiviano – who is part African-American, according to the recording – that he has a problem with her “promoting” that she is “associating with black people” on her Instagram feed. […]Lawyers for Stiviano confirmed the authenticity of the recording, according to TMZ. In a statement, the lawyers denied that Stiviano leaked the tape to any news media and said that the 15 minutes of audio released is part of an hour-long conversation.Accused by the woman on the recording of having problems with minorities, the man’s voice said on the tape, “There is no negativity. I love everybody. I’m just saying in your lousy f***** Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people.”“You can sleep with them. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want,” the man added. “The little I ask you is not to promote it on that, and not to bring them to my games.”
The recordings also appear to include comments from Sterling in which he attributes his views on race to society. “We don’t evaluate what’s right and wrong, we live in a society,” the 80-year-old owner appears to say. “We live in a culture, we have to live within that culture.” He then adds, “I don’t want to change.”
It is not the first time Sterling has faced accusations of racism.
And as the controversy gained national prominence, it took on greater salience in the political world.
President Obama was asked for a reaction during a news conference in Malaysia yesterday. “The owner is reported to have said some incredibly offensive racist statements that were published. I don’t think I have to interpret those statements for you; they kind of speak for themselves,” he said. “When people – when ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk. And that’s what happened here.”
The story also generated considerable discussion on the Sunday public-affairs talk shows, including condemnations from some U.S. senators.
“In our country, we have a First Amendment which allows ignorant racists to say whatever they want to say,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D- Mo.) said. “However, I hope the NBA takes swift action against this man.”
That seems quite likely. Indeed, league action now appears inevitable: “The NBA is investigating the remarks, which have yet to be authenticated, and a decision on possible punishment for Sterling is expected soon. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA player who serves as an advisor to the league’s players union, said the harshest possible sanctions must be considered by the league…. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league may conclude its investigation in the next few days. He wouldn’t say what the league might do if the recording is authenticated, but penalties are likely to include fines or a suspension from operating the team.”