Alan Abrahmason has written a letter highly critical of Lionel Leach's letter to Stephanie Hightower. You can find it here: http://www.3wiresports.com/2015/03/11/race-card-usatf/
First off, Alan noted a very sexist posts in this thread, that we have removed. It should have been removed in our moderating process but wasn't. I'm guessing it wasn't reported to us, and our moderators, myself included, didn't see it on our own because the language in it was worded strangely to get around our cuss filters and it was a very short post people might just skim over. Now that Alan pointed it out, it is clearly offensive. Usually we would just remove it, without a note, but I'm including this note as well so people don't think we are trying to cover up that it was posted here.
Turning to Alan's piece, I don't see how Lionel Leach's email which is way over the top is racist. Lionel makes crazy analogies to Bloody Sunday, but he also makes analogies to Richard Nixon and Chris Christie. He's equally over the top in his ridiculous analogies.
Alan goes on to set up a strawman argument. "Racism in any or all its forms cannot be tolerated, whether white on black, black on black, purple on green."
I agree one hundred percent. Almost no one disagrees with this. However, I don't see how Leach's email is racist. Alan drops a reference to the racists at the University of Oklahoma (I have no idea what that has to do with Lionel's email).
Alan then says, "No one condemns this noise? No one?"
Alan himself then cites 3 emails people wrote that were criticla of Lionel. So clearly people condemned the noise. I even posted in this very thread, "The langage (sic) of the Leach email is way over the top. The MLK references etc do a disservice I think to what Selma was about. Tremendous difference in degree. I think a more understated letter would have been more effective."
Now I focused on Selma, instead of the Nixon thing, but I don't see how his letter is racist. (I also focused on Stephanie because I consider the vote this weekend of much more importance). It does a disservice to the civil rights fight but it's not racist. Strip out the ridiculous analogies and Lionel argument is this:
"You see, I have witnessed bullying in all its forms. Every day the members in the union I represent are bullied by their bosses all day long. I dont let them get away with it, and I most certainly will not allow it to happen in the USATF, the organization I love most in the world.
Our good friend Timothy Baker received a letter from you that was offensive, disrespectful and downright abusive. It was Bullying 101, intended to intimidate Mr. Baker to do what you want. He was shaken by this threat and I am appalled to know that you would send this travesty to him."
That's his argument: Stephanie bullied Tim Baker. I don't buy he was "shaken" by this threat, but Lionel's letter was full of hyperbole.
I never thought to read his letter and think it was racist but the easiest way to not have a discussion on the merits of anything today is to throw out the race card.
That is exactly what Alan does. Alan in nearly every piece he has written that praises the current USATF administration brings out the racism/sexism angle. If anyone is pulling the race card it is Alan.
Dec 18: "The USATF board voted to put forward federation chairperson Stephanie Hightower for the IAAF council slot at elections next year despite a floor vote for Bob Hersh. This produced raw emotion. Why? Sexism? Racism? Petty personality politics? Some combination of all three? Or something altogether else? "http://www.3wiresports.com/2014/12/18/get-program-people-usatf-trending/
(Correct answer: People feel disenfranchised and that they have no voice when a vote of 85% of them is ignored. USATF is super diverse. 85% of the delegates, the same people who elected Stephanie, a black woman, to be USATF President twice voted for Bob, who happens to be an old white guy, for the IAAF spot. Yet now we have to question their motives and pull the race and sexism card?
Feb 6, "What is it about Siegel, who is African-American, that seems to be so off-putting to detractors?"
Alan could easily have written the sentence above without mentioning Max's race but he does so with the words "off-putting" making the subtle hint without having to say it.
Alan continues: "The USOC has made diversity and inclusion a point of emphasis under chief executive Scott Blackmun, particularly in the management ranks of the national governing bodies."http://www.3wiresports.com/2015/02/06/usatf-notion-homework/
Yes they have and the USATF delegates, the same people who voted 85% for Bob Hersh, are the same people who have made USATF the most diverse governing body of any sport in the USA.
Alan's final piece before todays doesn't hint that those who disagree might not have pure motives, but much of the reason that he cites for Stephanie being great for the board is she is in her 50s and black and Bob is in his 70s and white.
Feb 7: "This, too: the IAAF has a “demonstrable need for more women and women of color.” Hightower is African-American."
and " If Hersh got four more years, he’d see 79 before the end of his term."http://www.3wiresports.com/2015/02/07/stephanie-hightower-iaaf-council/
If you think Bob Hersh has lost his faculties, come out and say it. Otherwise leave it out. Evie Dennis who is on the USATF Board is 91 years old according to this: http://www.usatf.org/HallOfFame/TF/showBio.asp?HOFIDs=208
Discriminating against someone because of their age is no better than discriminating against someone because of their race or sex.
Alan has been one of my mentors in the journalism world. And the thing he taught me most was stand for what you believe. Do what is right. A job of a journalist is not to be liked (or disliked). If you have to ask a tough question, ask it. So thanks to Alan's guidance, I have no problem calling him out. Most importantly I don't question his motives. I think he is terribly misguided on this issue and does not know track and field like someone from track and field. But as Alan said let's "start acting with decency and tolerance."
I couldn't have said it better. Let's not question the motives of those we disagree with without proof, but not get sidetracked either. I was worried Lionel's letter would distract people from what the real issue is here and that is the Board of Directors ignoring 85% of its constituents and that is clearly the case. 85% of the diverse USATF Membership voted for Bob Hersh for the IAAF Council, and the Board of Directors may still try and overrule that.