The recent locker-room incident involving Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton of the NBA’s Washington Wizards has justly been condemned by many commentators. For those of you who are not sports fans , this , in brief, is what happened: Arenas, a star guard, and Crittenton, a little -used reserve ,had issues with each other. Arenas allegedly brought four , unloaded, guns to the Wizard locker-room and left them in front of Crittenton’s locker with a note that said ” Take your pick.” Crittenton responded by pulling out a pistol of his own and loading it with a clip. Thankfully, the incident did not go any further.
One wag reminds us that the Washington Wizards were formerly known as the Washington Bullets and another joker says the team should be called the Washington Guns and Bullets. But this is no laughing matter. Over the years, there have been a number of unsavory incidents involving pro athletes and this is merely the latest, if potentially the most serious.The NBA has suspended Arenas indefinitelywithout pay while it continues to investigate the incident. Crittenton meanwhile denies that anything happened .
Today’s Washington Post features a column headlined ” Celebrities and athletes offer a Poor example on Guns and Violence .”Here are some excerpts. Can you guess who wrote these words ? Hint: It’s a well known black activist.
“Guns are not a joke. Violence and recklessness continue to be treated as acceptable and even heroic behavior by part of our society……
I also feel a keen sense of guilt that black leaders have not raised our voices more dramatically. If the assailants in these incidents had been white, we would have been marching, but because this is same-race behavior, we shake our heads, say a few words and allow it to continue.
None of us — not the government, private industry, clergy, civil rights leaders or parents — has responded with the needed urgency. It is a crisis that youth today think they have more in common with Scarface than with Martin Luther King Jr., or look up to mobsters more than to Malcolm X. All of us must deal with the romanticizing of gunplay and denounce the idea that it is acceptable to resolve differences with destructive behavior. Our society cannot continue to reward commercial success while telling people that their private misdeeds have nothing to do with their public images. We must have and enforce a standard for American heroes.”
I agree with everything that he writes except the last sentence. I don’t consider any pro athlete a hero. But I digress.
The column was written by Al Sharpton! Al Sharpton !! I still cannot quite believe it. After all , this is the same Al Sharpton who has been notorious for playing the politics of race , most infamous for pushing the Tawana Brawley case even after it was widely conceded to be a fraud. The same Al Sharpton who has been a self-seeking publicity hound during his entire career.
At a time when some commentators are calling this a symptom of a societal problem and characterizing Arenas as ” immature”, I’m glad to see that Sharpton is stepping up to the plate and saying what needs to be said. Bill Cosby tried to do the same some years ago and ran into a firestorm of criticism . I hope that this time these remarks are seen as constructive and not derogatory. Kudos to Sharpton for saying the right things.