Frank Beckmann of WJR Radio, University of Michigan football and Detroit News fame simply doesn’t understand why people pick on poor Sergio Garcia for playing on racial stereotypes during his anti-Tiger Woods hissy fit.
What the Spanish golfer – wonder if he favors paella? – didn’t realize is that fried chicken was once a popular dish among American slaves who were not allowed to own livestock and couldn’t avail themselves of other southern delicacies like steak and ham.
To the politically correct, the mention of fried chicken is an immediate endorsement of slavery rather than a testament to the innovative determination of the American slave population to improve its own physical wellbeing by creating a readily available dish which improved their diet.
The history of slavery, of Africans systematically kidnapped and carried across the Atlantic Ocean to be worked like animals, isn’t some Rudy-like inspirational tale of an underdog made good. What’s more, the post-emancipation stereotypes (i.e. fried chicken) were conjured as a way to justify segregation and lynching and everything else Jim Crow symbolized.
The idea that these stereotypes so rooted in the history of slavery and Jim Crow can be spun somehow into a charming story of perseverance is even more perverse than Beckmann’s attempt to defend Garcia’s comments as just old-fashioned joking.
Garcia jokingly remarked that he’d try to make amends for his recent on-course dispute with Tiger Woods by having the world’s most famous black golfer – Garcia never mentioned race – over to the house for a dinner of fried chicken.
The politically correct elites immediately condemned him as racist, Woods chose to take offense, and Garcia was forced to make a public apology though his intent was clearly not malicious.
Garcia never mentioned race because he didn’t have to. The fried chicken eating Negro stereotype has been around since D.W. Griffith’s pro-Klan “Birth of a Nation” portrayed African-American Reconstruction legislators as shiftless malcontents stuffing their faces.
No reasonable person could think Garcia would make the same “joke” about Phil Mickelson or Rory McIlory. Nor can anyone look at Tiger Woods and think that guy regularly eats much of anything fried. The only plausible connection between Tiger Woods and fried chicken is Woods’ blackness, so don’t piss on my leg and tell me Garcia’s intentions were banal.
Dumb vs. Malicious
Twenty-five years ago, Dodgers GM Al Campanis and betting guru Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder lost their careers for racially insensitive remarks. Their dismissals were probably appropriate for a whole host of reasons. However, one could empathize with Campanis and Snyder in that they were basically old men who were raised in a very different America than the one that emerged after the civil rights movement. Their comments, while abhorrent, reflected ignorance rather than malice.
Garcia merits no such sympathy. At 33 and born in a post-Franco Spain, he is not an old man from a different time. It's impossible to believe he didn't know exactly how such comments would be received.
In essence, Garcia was saying that, even if Tiger Woods wins another 100 tournaments and 25 more majors, he will always be little more than human chattel that owes his liberty to an accident of history to Sergio Garcia and his ilk.
If Frank Beckmann can’t understand the clear and obvious implication of Garcia’s remarks then to call Frank Beckmann dumber than a pile of sawdust would be insulting to sawdust. Maybe Beckmann is that feeble-minded, or maybe he’s simply more comfortable with a society that tolerates Sergio Garcia’s bigotry than Tiger Woods’ presence on a golf course.