It’s human nature to blame someone or something else when we screw up. We all do it, but only up to a point. On the other hand, there are some folks who carry the blame game to an absurd and often offensive level. In 2015, the man who murdered several students at an Oregon community college blamed his crime on the fact that he was a frustrated virgin. In 2017, an Ohio man who slaughtered two people said that pain pills made him do it. Every year we hear of a young mother who kills her baby and blames it on post-partum depression. And then there are the husbands who get caught cheating and blame a sex addiction for their bad behavior. Speaking of bad behavior, how about New York Governor Andrew Cuomo? During his resignation speech, Cuomo said he wasn’t aware that groping women was wrong, and blamed his ignorance on a generational and gender divide.
In almost every instance of the blame game, whether it involves groping or murder, offenders like to say, “That’s not who I am.” But the truth is, that’s exactly who they are, and nowhere is that more evident than in cases in which someone has gotten caught using a racial or ethnic slur. For example, in 2006, actor Mel Gibson was pulled over for driving drunk and then preceded to lambast the arresting officer with a string of anti-Semitic slurs. Later, Gibson blamed his behavior on alcohol.
In 2018, Roseanne Barr went on a late-night Twitter rant in which she claimed that Valerie Jarrett (Barack Obama’s former Chief of Staff) was the product of a marriage between the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes. At the time, Roseanne was riding high with “The Connors,” a revival of her former ratings winner, “Roseanne.” But the racial slur got her fired from her own show. When making a public apology, Barr claimed she didn’t know that Jarrett was Black, and blamed the sleep aid Ambien for the slur.
In 2020, while competing in a virtual race, NASCAR driver Kyle Larson cut loose with the “N” word, and later said, “I wasn’t raised that way.” Earlier this year when he thought his microphone was switched off, an announcer for an Oklahoma high school football game also uttered the “N” word. The next day he blamed his behavior on low blood sugar. And recently, country music star Morgan Wallen got caught (again) using the “N” word in public, then blamed his utterance on being sleep deprived.
Let’s be clear. Alcohol, Ambien, virginity, low blood sugar, and lack of sleep do not make White people say the “N” word. You either have that word in your vocabulary or you don’t. Put another way, if someone gets caught using the “N” word, you can bet they’ve used it before. And if you’re that comfortable using a racist slur, then you are a racist. Just once I’d like for one of these high-profile offenders to admit that they are racist, instead of saying, “That’s not who I am” and then blaming their prejudice on something else. I’d much rather deal with a racist than a liar.