If only everyone were a sports fan…

In one day, two political heavyweights fanned the flames of racism in America.

Right wing voice Rush Limbaugh, speaking of the school bus incident in Belleville on his radio program, said “The school bus filled with mostly black students beat up a white student a couple of times with all the black students cheering. Of course the white student on the bus deserved the beating. He was born a racist. That’s what Newsweek magazine told us in its most recent cover. It’s Obama’s America, is it not? Obama’s America, white kids getting beat up on school buses now. You put your kids on a school bus, you expect safety but in Obama’s America the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering.”

We were all in school at one point. There have always been fights at school. And many times there was a crowd cheering for one participant or another. Didn’t that happen in West Side Story? What was the excuse then? Despite the fact that Belleville police have now said that this was a case of brutal bullying by some over-aggressive, stupid kids, Rush wants to make it a race issue.

On the same day, former President Jimmy Carter said in an NBC interview “I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African American. I live in the South, and I’ve seen the South come a long way, and I’ve seen the rest of the country that shared the South’s attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African Americans”

Continued Carter: “And that racism inclination still exists. . . . It’s an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply.”

Well, President Carter, Mr. Obama did get elected. And many people expected a dramatic turnaround in eight months. I would hope that the economy would be as much an issue here as race.

Isn’t it interesting how sports is able to overcome most of these obstacles? Among sports fans, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods are adored by the national sports audience, black or white, as are Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.

And it doesn’t matter what color you are if you’re a knucklehead. What Michael Vick did was despicable, what Brett Favre continues to do is bothersome, what Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro did stained their sport. It doesn’t matter what color they are, sports fans can agree or disagree based on what people do, rather than what color they are.

Wouldn’t it be nice if our country would see color the way most sports fans do? How cool is it that the most beloved athletes in St. Louis in the last quarter century are Willie McGee and Kurt Warner and Albert Pujols? Three guys from vastly different ethnic and societal backgrounds, with different skin colors, who happen to be great people that do great work. And whenever they’re introduced, they get a standing ovation from everybody.

America would be a better place if our population could avoid the rhetoric and hyperbole, and simply see people, rather than race. But our population can’t if our perceived political heavyweights won’t.