Kareem Abdul Jabbar weighs in on the Shane Gillis/SNL issue

The basketball star who has become one of the sharpest social analysts has an excellent take on the firing of comedian Shane Gillis from Saturday Night Live soon after his hiring was announced, when it was revealed that Gillis’s past comedy routines indulged in sexism, racism, homophobia, and transphobia.

I will excerpt just two paragraphs to whet your appetite to read the whole thing.

It’s tempting to open this column by repeating Shane Gillis’ homophobic, anti-Asian and misogynistic slurs that got him fired from Saturday Night Live to show just how desperately unfunny, derivative and dripping with flop sweat they are. But their level of funniness is not the point. Comedians have the right to be unfunny sometimes, just as athletes have the right to lose games, and actors to be in bad films. But when a comedian makes hate-based comments, as Gillis did on his podcasts, we do have an obligation to take a closer look to see whether they are insightful provocateurs of culture and the human condition, or just another middle-schooler blowing milk out their nose for a quick laugh, not caring who they spatter with milky snot in the process.

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also picks up the baton of The Heritage

In my series of posts about Howard Bryant’s book The Heritage, I discussed the book’s thesis of how the responsibility of successful black athletes to speak out on issues of injustice that was started by Paul Robeson, and carried on by Jackie Robinson, John Carlos, Tommie Smith, and Muhammad Ali, went into decline with the arrival of extremely successful athletes like OJ Simpson, Michael Jordan, and Tiger Woods who wanted to do nothing that would endanger their lucrative corporate endorsements.
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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the Atlanta Hawks controversy

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is emerging as one of the most perceptive social critics. I have already linked to his thoughtful pieces on the 2014 Academy Award nominees for best film (I happened to agree with his choice but it did not win) and his reflections on the Ferguson shooting which he said was more than about race and was part of a broader class war.
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LeBron James lashes out at NFL owners

If there is one athlete in professional sports who is untouchable, that is LeBron James. He is increasingly using that power to speak out in harsh terms against the power structure in professional football and to support the protests of people like Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid who have been punished by NFL owners for their kneeling protest against police brutality, an issue that Donald Trump exploits whenever he needs a distraction from his own problems.
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Film review: BlacKkKlansman (2018) (no spoilers)

I just watched this film, based on a true story, that is set in the town of Colorado Springs in 1978. John David Washington plays Ron Stallworth, the town’s first black police officer who, pretending to be a white man, responds by phone to a newspaper advertisement placed by the Ku Klux Klan for new recruits. For actual meetings with the local KKK branch members, he sends in his colleague Flip Zimmerman (played by Adam Driver) who is Jewish. The two of them continue to play their parts as Stallworth, once the KKK people were satisfied that did not “have any Jew in him”, rises in the organization and he even becomes friends over the phone with David Duke, then the Grand Wizard of the KKK (played by Topher Grace).
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The US kill list

The US government, through its various agencies like the CIA, murders people on a regular basis. The government actually has what is known as a secret ‘kill list’ of people it seeks to murder. This should not be a surprise to anyone who has any idea of the history of US government actions. What may surprise people is how easy it is to get on the kill list and how hard it is to get off it once you are on because the criteria used are secret and amorphous.
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Feeling low? Approval ratings dropping? Then bomb someone!

When reports emerged on April 4 of what seems like a ghastly tragedy in Idlib, Syria, the key questions should have been: What exactly happened? Who were the victims? Who were the perpetrators? What was their motive? Was it a deliberate and targeted attack on the victims or had something gone badly awry? What should be the appropriate response? As with any investigation of deliberate killings, identifying means, opportunity, and motive become paramount. Means and opportunity exist for a wide variety of agents in the region, including the Syrian government and the ISIS-affiliated the rebels fighting against them. That leaves motive as a key discriminant.
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