Fatimah Ali: Dr. Laura Schlessinger & the n-word

Doctor, heal thyself.
Doctor, heal thyself.
Posted: August 17, 2010

DEAR Dr. Laura:

I'm always amazed when other folks blame black people for taking offense at blatant racism.

What's even worse is when someone who has a nationwide radio forum that reaches millions is so irresponsible. Having a national talk show is a privilege - and one you've always taken for granted.

I know the studio phones must have been jumping off the hook last week when your tongue lost all of its sense and spewed the "n-word" 11 times on the air (mediamatters.org/blog/201008120045). Now you have to worry about sponsors who might decide to pull their advertising. And the National Urban League, demanding that you be fired.

But I'm really not surprised by your on-air meltdown because of your take-no-prisoners, unforgiving style. And you're an equal-opportunity offender who seems to dislike everyone: gays, blacks and Muslims, just to mention a few of your targets. You even turned your back on your own religion and denounced Judaism.

YOU PREACH morality to everyone but yourself, so it was only a matter of time before you imploded on the air. You used your forum to blast a black female caller named Jade who'd already been victimized by her white husband's friends, and instead of showing her compassion, you told her she had a chip on her shoulder and not enough of a sense of humor?

Sorry, doc, that just doesn't fly.

But I'm also not surprised by your insensitivity and "blame the victim mentality" because you apparently even disliked your own mother. But we'll get to that in a minute.

There are two issues here: The personal one and the one that relates to the current state of standards in broadcasting.

On the first, I wonder how, decades after the civil-rights movement began, anyone can be dense enough to spew that vile word and then expect forgiveness from her listeners?

On the professional level, how could your producers let your diatribe go out on the air? Whatever happened to the delay button that producers have in the studio to prevent such rants from being aired?

And where's the Federal Communications Commission, which is supposed to respond to offensive language? Apparently, the "n-word" isn't ugly enough for the FCC to act because, as you say, "We hear it everywhere."

Dr. Laura, the word is offensive no matter who says it.

But black people saying it among ourselves in closed company, especially pronounced with an "ah" sound at the end, instead of "er," is much different from when a white person says it. Kind of like when my home girls call me the "b-word" in jest. I might laugh, but if my man calls me one, he gets the ultimate freeze. (Even those few times when he might be right.)

It's simply a matter of etiquette, and it's in poor taste to insult people that you care about, like your listeners.

So, sorry, doc, your lame apology doesn't really make up for your on-air meltdown, or the anger beneath it.

But it's your judgmental mentality that bothers me almost as much. How could you tell Jade (who was brave enough to call your show in the first place) that if she doesn't have a sense of humor about race, she shouldn't have entered into an interracial marriage, and then say that "hypersensitivity" is "being bred by black activists."

I wonder how you made Talkers magazine's list of 100 most-important radio talk hosts. But considering that "el Rushbo," another bigoted blabber who loves to preach disrespect at every opportunity, was rated No. 1, I shouldn't be surprised that you made No. 7.

We should all be able to expect more from you - author of a dozen self-help books, one of which is "The 10 Commandments: The Significance of God's Laws in Everyday Life," and someone who bills her show as a "moral- health program."

But then again, your own mother lay dead and unclaimed for months near your studio, so I shouldn't at all be surprised at your most recent behavior.

Dr. Laura, I'd say you seem to have as many real issues as your callers do.

So maybe it's time to be as tough on yourself as you so often are on them.

Fatimah Ali is a regular contributor to the Daily News, and blogs about food at healthysoutherncomforts.com.

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