Black and yellow privilege disenfranchises Pittsburghers

How do you like your sports plutocracy, Pittsburgh Steelers fans?

Hopefully well, since you financed it by paying for sports teams' football stadium.

That's hundreds of millions and counting — though some of us older burghers remember voting against a referendum to fund such stadiums that was defeated at the ballot box.

But one-party government finds a way.  Pittsburgh coughed up $461 million building Heinz Field and PNC Park in 2001, while owing $40 million on Three Rivers Stadium, which was built in 1970.  Several years ago, the Steelers' wealthy owner was begging for more dough for Heinz Field.

Now it appears that widespread government support has emboldened Steelers owner Art Rooney II to believe he can squelch free speech and academic freedom.

In April, the Center for Political and Economic Thought at St. Vincent College hosted a conference titled "Politics, Policy and Panic: Governing in Times of Crisis."  One speaker gave a presentation resulting in what other academics call the hollowing out of the Center, a 30-year-old institution at St. Vincent.  It appears that the rich Steelers owner is at least partly to blame for this curtailing of academic freedom.

Assistant professor at Hillsdale College David Azerrad's speech, titled "Black Privilege and Racial Hysteria in Contemporary America," exploded like a wobbly grenade.  Professors, students, and members of the college's Board of Trustees protested that such a view could be voiced in the Latrobe ivory tower (one trustee called it "rage inducing"), prompting school president Rev. Paul Taylor and others at the school to denounce the speech.

"Saint Vincent does not endorse the promulgation of any point of view which may be interpreted as a form of invidious discrimination which inherently degrades the sanctity of human life," part of St. Vincent's statement on the controversy read.

The muting of free speech was immediate.  St. Vincent College initially refused to allow a video of the speech to be posted online, then relented.  Formerly conservative newspaper the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review "reported" on the controversy by saying it wouldn't quote the speech: "Azerrad essentially states that white privilege is a myth and that Blacks are the race with privilege in America," a Trib article states.

But the reverential capitalization of "Black" over "white" is everyday evidence of such privilege, as are affirmative action programs, which preference hiring non-whites over whites.

The Trib's editor, Luis Fabregas, came here for college from his native Puerto Rico.  That might mean he feels a vested interest in promoting the lie of systemic racism, which benefits people like him to the detriment of whites.  The newspaper's complete dismissal of Dr. Azerrad's presentation — and refusal to give both sides of the story — speaks volumes.

Azerrad, who is white, began with an anecdote saying if Kamala Harris' father were not Jamaican, she wouldn't be vice president.  "Thanks to him, Harris qualifies not just as a person of color, but as a person of the most important color.  Because in America today we have a semi-official racial hierarchy called BIPOC — black, indigenous, people of color, and then of course, come whites," Azerrad said.

Compounding the outcry, Brad Watson, CPET's chief, resigned to take another job.

"CPET is now a shell in the hands of the administration, to make it look like they have integrity," said Peter Wood, a native of the Pittsburgh suburb of Bridgeville and president of the National Association of Scholars.

Both St. Vincent's administration and CPET's co-director, Dr. Gary Quinlivan, declined to comment for this story.

The Steelers didn't deny Rooney's involvement in the matter.  Asked if Rooney ordered the action on CPET and if he threatened to move Training Camp from St. Vincent if he wasn't heeded, Steelers director of communications Burt Lauten mostly sidestepped the questions.  It seems Rooney, whose football team largely comprises African-American players making an average of $2 million per year, wants to take credit for the CPET changes without admitting them.

"We are not going to discuss the conversations that Art II had with St. Vincent College.  He and the organization are comfortable with how Father Paul Taylor addressed the situation and the policies and changes they put in place to ensure it would not happen again[.] ... [N]o threats were made by Art II about training camp at St. Vincent," Lauten said.

Still, folks of Steelers Country know that if St. Vincent trustee Art Rooney II tells Rev. Taylor, "That'll never happen again," an obvious inference is that Training Camp will move if his words aren't heeded.  The threat would be implied, given Rooney's juice with the college, which will see the Steelers return to camp there this year after a two-year pandemic pause.

So how do you like some rich guy who inherited his wealth and power due to a publicly financed overblown kid's game played by adults making him a billionaire telling you what cannot be said in the Land of the Free?  You have no vote on this, nor does St. Vincent College.  You are under Rooney's thuggish thumb.  Black and Yellow indeed; he cannot even openly admit his bullying.

"If this really happened at the behest of Art Rooney — and I think it did — it shows that the college administration betrayed its students and its principles for an ignominious reason.  Rooney should be ashamed of himself for abusing his position as chairman of the college's trustees.  As for 'democracy' — I don't see any evidence of that here.  This is plutocracy — rule by the rich guy," Wood said.

Keith Whitaker was one of the speakers at the April CPET event.  He opined on the controversy in an article for Minding The Campus.

"To my eyes, this talk helped pulled back a veil, revealing that to be 'Anti-Racist' means, by the anti-racists' own tortured logic, to be anti-white.  'Anti-Racism' asserts constantly that whites are racist.  'White supremacy' is somehow always lurking everywhere, ready to pounce, rather like COVID in some people's minds," Whitaker wrote.  "Conversely, black racism is that which cannot be named, even in the face of obviously racist attacks like those by Darrell Brooks in Waukesha and Frank James in New York.  Blacks cannot be racist, goes the 'logic,' because racism is prejudice plus power[.] ... So only whites are racists.  They are exclusively, and completely — every single one, even little children — racists.  That's why to be 'Anti-Racist' means being anti-white."

So are yinz guys still loving your Steelers, and your sports plutocracy?

Jonathan Barnes is a native Pittsburgher and former Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter and descendant of several Revolutionary War patriots.  He used to worship at the Church of the Gridiron and at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Pittsburgh.  Now he just believes in Jesus.

Image: Bobak Ha'Eri via Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 2.5.

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