At bottom, Geraldo Rivera is a liberal, so I regularly take issue with him; in fact, more often than not. It isn’t a reflexive response, in other words, for me to stand up for the guy — but video currently storming the internet is provoking me. It captures the scrappy Fox News journalist squaring off with an ill-mannered, African-American Baltimore protester feverishly objecting to his and the network’s presence during the city’s recent riots.
For several minutes, Baltimore native Kwame Rose can be seen berating Rivera as he prepares an on-site broadcast for the Hannity show. At moments mere inches from the broadcaster’s face, eyes popping, volume elevated, gesticulations spastic and tone menacing, the twenty-year-old agitator barely permits him an edgewise word. Eventually, Rivera dryly raps, “You’re not talking, you’re screaming.”
When the news veteran begins futilely walking in circles, attempting to get away from him, Rose stalks him like a pestering adolescent, barking at the back of his head. An observer can be heard chortling, “He’s got Geraldo on the run, yo!” And, admittedly, Rivera is sporting an excrement-munching grin as he paces helplessly about the scene.
But what was he supposed to do? Slug the lout? (That would’ve gone over well with the fifty-or-sixty-person-strong mob jeering him.) Try reasoning with his hectoring, hysterical accuser? (Solomon’s admonition comes to mind: Don’t answer a fool according to his folly, or you’ll be just like him — Proverbs 26:4) Scrap his plans and turn the microphone over to him? (That solution would’ve thrilled the viewers, I’m sure.)
Once FNC’s cameras start rolling, Rose muscles his way in front of Geraldo, mugging and bellowing into the camera, at which point the heretofore restrained Rivera loses it, grabbing him, “Get out of the way, man!”
Rose whirls on the seventy-one-year-old journo: ” Get your hands off me!” (As if it had been Rivera violating his personal space, not the other way around, all along.)
“Stop blocking my camera!” the mustachioed correspondent demands.”You’re making a fool of yourself!” .
What was Kwame Rose’s primary beef? “All we want is for Fox News … to leave Baltimore until they are gonna report the real story … the boarded-up homes … the homeless people … the poverty levels … I want the white media out of Baltimore City until y’all are gonna come here to report what’s really happening!”
Oh, that’s all you want, Kwame?
Forgive me, guess I missed the coronation ceremony where you were crowned king of “Charm City” reportage.
Clearly, this young African-American activist resents that Roger Ailes hasn’t parked a permanent camera in his metropolis’ more distressed precincts, documenting every dystopian permutation playing out on its streets. For Mr. Rose and his ilk, American media hasn’t fixated sufficiently these past fifty years on issues involving “the war on poverty”, “race relations”, “minority concerns”, “underfunded inner-city education”, “people of color”, “white guilt/privilege”, the failure of $22 trillion (and counting) sunk, since LBJ, into absolving urban America of its disintegrative pathologies.
Yet, one of this nation’s principal cities is being looted and burned to the ground? Best that news outlets give that story a pass, quoth Kwame Rose.
Particularly unsettling in all this? Downright scary, actually? Bloviators like Mr. Rose, with demoralizing predictability, are granted celebrity status — not just by local yokels, but by major media outlets as well. The guy’s become an internet sensation.
Thus is boorishness alchemized into spotlight-seizing virtue in 21st-century Western Civilization.
Several years ago, National Review, with for-the-ages brevity, pinpointed a disturbing trend: Nowadays, culture too commonly fetes not wisdom, but glibness. Increasingly, I’d add, it’s abrasive glibness.
The angry lad from “Balmer” can thus be tossed in among the fattening ranks of other unhelpful minority “headliners” who are hoisted onto a national platform so they can subject the general public to their chatter — even though they typically don’t have much of value to say. Entrenched as go-to, race-issue commentators, these spokesmen stand ever-ready with their skin-color-focused opinions. They are lionized by their groupies, occasionally stylish, frequently overbearing in their presentations — and, of course, black. That last bit, irrefutably, confers on them a cachet which compensates for whatever personal shortcomings might otherwise hamper their stardom. Bewilderingly, they become figures of influence, although, plainly, they are utterly unfit and mal-prepared for that role.
How else to explain, among so many others, those twin “Reverends-of-Shame”: the criminally reptilian Al Sharpton or incoherent Jesse Jackson? What about volcanically sputtering “Civil Rights attorney” and Fox News stand-by Leo Terrell? Or HuffPost Live‘s racialist gatling-gun of academic bafflegab Dr. Marc Lamont Hill? Then there’s — Heaven help us – the daft and dangerous Congresswomen Maxine Waters (D-CA).
This favored cohort is extended undeserved prestige chiefly for two reasons: their dependable availability to show up and make a colorful stink about things; and their epidermal pigmentation. Any ideological adversaries attempting to call them out for their ignorance, gracelessness or corrosive impact on society and race-relations court the indictment before which all quail: Racist!
Meantime, pillars of decency and wisdom like Col. Allan West, Bishop Harry Jackson, columnist Starr Parker, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Ohio politician Ken Blackwell, former senatorial candidate E.W. Jackson and presidential contender Dr. Ben Carson — who also happen to be of African-American ancestry but who aren’t afraid to sagely acknowledge reality even when conservative Caucasians agree with them — are widely disregarded, dismissed or even derided as sell-outs, Uncle Toms, deniers.
Something’s very, very wrong about this state of things — and anybody with working gray matter and willingness to embrace unpleasant but necessary truths ought to know it. Sooner or later, clear-thinkers who’ve had enough and who’ve concluded people’s well-being and America’s future outweigh any discomfort over being called a handful of libelous names, must step forward, informedly, to confront and refute the cranks and nincompoops — and not apologize over it.
It’s their indispensable duty: rebuking malignant, whiny stupidity in whatever hue it comes wrapped, wherever it makes an appearance — be it in the glittering studios of a cable TV network or on the boulevards of Baltimore aflame.
Image: Screen shot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjUaAUhyPwk