official police report is up and while there are naturally differences
between accounts, we were struck by one particular fact: nowhere to be
found in the various interviews and reports is the supposedly racist
language which so offended Charles Foster. When given a chance to
discuss what he considered offensive, Foster dared the police officer to
throw racist terms at him, a losing proposition which the officer wisely
denied (we recall from the previous stories that Foster claimed Knight
said that he'd tell a black player who made it to the NBA that he should
buy his mom a house and hang on to the rest because people, presumably
other black people if Foster were correct, would come after his money).
He did reveal that he went to a multi-cultural high school and a
multicultural class at IU, and was leaning on their definitions of what
racism is, and to us, that is the nub of this particular disagreement:
there is virtually no way that people who were raised and educated so very
differently could ever agree on a definition of racism.
To someone of Knight's age, who was born in an era of blatant and overt
racism, who likely defines racism in terms of Bull Conner and murdered
Civil Rights workers and George Wallace and water hoses and so forth,
racism is likely a more concrete issue. That's not to suggest that that is
necessarily the truth, but that may well be his perception
of the truth.
Foster says he was trained in a multicultural environment, and
(assuming that the previous comments were accurate), and also said
that he was raised to "not let things like that go," that his
education "did not teach me that that was the way to make these kinds
of issues go away."
So we have here in a microcosm two really dominant American themes: 1)
race, and 2) Puritanism.
We argue that these two will never agree on a definition of racism, but
we also would argue that they are both Puritans, and both insist that the
world conform to their views. Both will be eternally disappointed,
needless to say, but despite their intracultural differences as Americans,
they resemble each other a great deal, and if you don't think it's funny
that Knight supposedly throttled a long hair doppelganger, you have no
sense of humor: we have met the enemy, and he is us, as Pogo said once
upon a time.