Recently, The Cutline reported that Fox News was “forced” to shut down a news story that described President Obama’s 50th birthday as a “HipHop BBQ” due to racist comments. My first thought after reading this was “What other comments were they expecting to get?”
I want to be clear on one point. I am not completely against Fox News. I believe we all have different opinions and viewpoints about political and social issues and I’m always happy to hear both sides of the story. One sin many of us make is listening to just the side that we agree on. Whether you agree with Fox News’ conservative stance or not, we should all be willing to listen to both sides, even if it’s just to make us slightly more educated. Heck, I can even argue that perhaps Fox News was slightly right in criticizing Obama for throwing a major bash the same day the downgrade occurred. It still doesn’t excuse the LANGUAGE they used to describe it and they are not absolved just by pulling the post.
What amazes me about Fox News is the gall they have to put out words that can incite prejudicial and racist opinions and yet act like they have absolutely no responsibility in the matter. Shutting down the post after it’s already been out there doesn’t fix the problem…the long-lasting damage is already done. At face value, the term “hip hop BBQ” might seem inoffensive, but I have never heard Fox used the term “redneck BBQ” for any of President Bush’s party.
I have some news for YOU Fox: While you may be protected by the First Amendment, and while I understand that you have the right to express your opinions openly, don’t expect to not have any serious repercussions or try to project yourselves as unbiased. The fact is, that you use words that incite the kind of racist, violent reactions you got from your post.
We have a saying in Spanish that goes “tira la piedra, esconde la mano” (throw a stone, hide your hand) to mean that we have done damage but we are covering ourselves from it and in fact try to blame others for the consequences. This is Fox News’ modus operandi. They use words and phrases like “hiphop BBQ”, and “Obama’s fist bump” to create negative imagery in the minds of their close-minded viewers. And the result is explosive. They go as far as portraying the annual Iftar dinner as if it were Obama’s “secret Muslim celebration”.
Fox News can be as conservative as it wants to be. They have the right. But when you use your freedom of expression to sneak direct or indirect stereotypical, prejudicial images of the president of the United States, you have no one to blame but yourself. Step up to the plate and either stop using references that have anything to do with skin color, race, ethnicity or cultural background or at least admit to everyone that you are against the President because of his skin color and mixed race. Don’t confuse political speech with hate speech.