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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Air Force Taboo

Well, here in Colorado Springs Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry apologized today for the comments he made after his team's 48-10 loss to TCU over the weekend. In those comments he noted that TCU

"had a lot more Afro-American players than we did and they ran a lot faster than we did. It just seems to me to be that way. Afro-American kids can run very well. That doesn't mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can't run, but it's very obvious to me that they run extremely well."

He also on Monday told The Gazette of Colorado Springs that "you don't see many minority athletes in our program", implying that the academy needed to recruit more minorities.

For those that have read my review of the book Taboo you'll not be surprised that I agree with DeBerry's comments in general. Now I have no specific knowledge of the TCU or Air Force athletes, but as a general principal there is no doubt that at the elite level athletes of west African descent dominate in sports where speed and jumping ability confer an advantage. Football, at some positions, fits the mold and so it would in fact be surprising if blacks weren't overly represented. It also wouldn't surprise me that if a team with 85% African Americans (who are primarily of west African descent) as compared to a team with 15% African Americans wouldn't dominate the top positions when both teams are ranked from fastest to slowest.

So then why was DeBerry forced to apologize? For the simple reason that physical group differences are a taboo subject because of their link to possible mental group differences. That's why, rather than the stated reason that it was a violation of the academy's racial and ethnic anti-discrimination policy, Athletic director Hans Mueh found himself saying:

"What we're talking about is speed. There's speed that cuts across black, white, gray, blue, whatever. It was just an inappropriate comment and you all know it was an inappropriate comment."

The first part of his comment is simply and demonstrably not true. The second part reflects the politically correct orthodoxy.

The simple fact is that DeBerry's comments weren't disciminatory. Discrimination occurs when an individual is treated differently (usually badly) only because of their race and not based on their talents. Acknowledging that there are group differences in no way discriminates against anybody because it has nothing to say about any individual.

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Jim LeDoux said...

Great observations. I get tired of hearing people talking about something being unacceptable because of the fear that someone else may find some offense somewhere within the statement. We all have biases and preferences. That's the reason why one person likes a PC and another likes a Mac. At what point do we stop speaking to one another altogether because we are fearful of offending someone.

I hope we can develop a better sense of humor and less of a sense of self importance. Then the idea of being offended at someone else's comments becomes an afterthought not the primary thought.

Good commentary, Dan.

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