Dwyane Wade and LeBron James may no longer be teammates. But that doesn’t mean Wade doesn’t still have his friend’s back.
Fox News host Laura Ingraham insulted and belittled James’ intelligence for criticizing President Donald Trump, trafficking in problematic, racist tropes. Wade responded in a tweet, noting how Trump’s election has allowed racist people to openly express their beliefs.
They use to try and hide it.. now the president has given everyone the courage to live their truths. https://t.co/OwLSMHIG0m— DWade (@DwyaneWade) February 16, 2018
Ingraham told James and Kevin Durant to “shut up and dribble” for their critical comments of Trump and lambasted them for using strong language and being “barely intelligible, not to mention ungrammatical.” She then added, “Must they run their mouths like that?”
'Shut up and dribble' — Fox News's Laura Ingraham to LeBron and Kevin Durant after their criticism of President Trump pic.twitter.com/0BlokQDIIl— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) February 16, 2018
The "they" in "must they run their mouths like that?" is doing a lot of work here. https://t.co/NFLgC1UCDS— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) February 16, 2018
Ingraham’s comments revive a talking point from many right-wing pundits — that successful Black people in the United States should be grateful. The argument is foolish; successful Black people have earned their spot in a society that systematically discriminates against them. James had the n-word spray-painted on his house; being rich didn’t inoculate him from racism.
Ingraham also criticizes James for being “ungrammatical” and for leaving school early to go to the NBA. I wonder how she would take criticism of non-college-educated white people for being “ungrammatical.” Moreover, it’s worth pointing out J.A. Adande’s argument that reporters should not “clean up quotes” of athletes.
For one, it’s patronizing, with the implication that anything that deviates from the norm is inherently inferior and must be corrected. Black English, for example, isn’t a referendum on intelligence — it’s a reflection of centuries of segregation, just as American English is a linguistic representation of our country’s split from Britain. Passing judgment based on speech can often say more about the listener than the speaker. (Do we consider Yoda any less wise because of his mixed-up syntax?)
In response to the controversy, Ingraham issued the following statement:
“In 2003, I wrote a New York Times bestseller called ‘Shut Up & Sing,’ in which I criticized celebrities like the Dixie Chicks & Barbra Streisand who were trashing then-President George W. Bush. I have used a variation of that title for more than 15 years to respond to performers who sound off on politics. I’ve told Robert DeNiro to ‘Shut Up & Act,’ Jimmy Kimmel to ‘Shut Up & Make Us Laugh,’ and just this week told the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich to ‘Shut up & Coach.’ If pro athletes and entertainers want to freelance as political pundits, then they should not be surprised when they’re called out for insulting politicians. There was no racial intent in my remarks - false, defamatory charges of racism are a transparent attempt to immunize entertainment and sports elites from scrutiny and criticism. Additionally, we stated on my show that these comments came from an ESPN podcast, which was not the case - the content was unaffiliated with ESPN.”