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In defense of my 'boy' Dylan Ratigan

There’s a lot of race stuff in the news today. You have the NAACP condemning racist elements in the Tea Party. (I’ll write about that in a bit.) Separately, in the wake of the Uganda bombings, President Obama told the South African Broadcasting Corporation that al-Qaeda is racist because it doesn’t “value African life.” And you have my good friend and MSNBC anchor Dylan Ratigan getting smacked around because people think he called Obama “boy.” Folks, time to take a step back.

Ratigan's alleged offense took place on today’s “Morning Joe.” The gang was talking about the debt crisis and Ratigan took up his riff on Wall Street’s control of the levers of power in Washington.

You got Barack Obama very aggressive on the campaign trail about how he was going to take care of the private equity tax loopholes.....and he didn’t do it. When it came down to it, when the Wall Street guys got across the table from him and said, “Oh, you’re going to change our tax, little boy? I think not.” Because I’ll tell you right now, when you’re a 75- or an 80-year-old billionaire from New York, who’s looking at any government in this country that’s trying to play with the tax code, you know who wins? The 80-year-old billionaire from New York, every time.

Please note: Ratigan was characterizing the patronizing view that Wall Street has towards Washington.

Any viewer of his show, or anyone who has read his essays last year on Huffington Post, knows how easily he’s enraged by the corporate takeover of the people’s government and how corporations view lawmakers -- from the president (no matter who he is) on down -- as staff to do their bidding not to control their excesses.

Should he have been a little careful when saying the word ‘boy’ anywhere close to the name ‘Obama’? Sure. The understanding that the word has been used to belittle black males from slavery through Jim Crow and even present day might explain why everyone on the "Morning Joe" set looked like they had their OMG faces on.

But I hope Dylan isn’t bullied into apologizing. I’ve known him for ten years. And when you know Dylan, you know that his heart is in the right place, even when his mouth might make you think otherwise.

By Jonathan Capehart  | July 14, 2010; 1:08 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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I believe Jonathan. Fine, Ratigan is not racist, and didn't mean the comment as such. No problem.

But why are there so many people who find racism under every rock? NAACP finds T partiers racist? Well, they are mostly white right? MSNBC showed a T party sign with President Obama with a bone through his nose. So the entire movement is racist. Why would so few african-americans go to a tea party? Could it be that 90% are staked to the President's legacy and his party?

When people view the world through race, class, gender, orientation, it colors every word and nuances every thought - inaccurately most often. It's groupthink, and it burned Dylan Ratigan.

Posted by: slatt321 | July 14, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Excuse me, I think you (conveniently) left out the next sentence where Ratigan says, in his own voice, that "this guy [Obama] bends over for them every time."

Yeah, a real sweetheart.

Posted by: converse | July 14, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

And then, when Ratigan is called on being offensive, he responds, "I am trying to offend."

It's not like he didn't know exactly what he said and what it meant.

Why are you defending this jerk? Are you sure your first name is Jonathon? Any nieces or nephews?

Posted by: converse | July 14, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Dylan's comment this morning on "Morning Joe" rolled from his lips so effortlessly that this rhetoric is common to him. It exists in the most reachable areas of his brain. The 'Little Boy' reference was, in my opinion a very natural stereotype that Dylan has for African Americans. When able to think first, this reference would not have been made but before thought with a 'just let it flow' frame of mind, his remarks were insensitive and all the other people that were on set knew it immediately. With thought comes a better presentation with some 'dos' and 'donts'.

Dylan needs to appologize and then we all need to move on. Dylan is a bigot but I can live with that. I will still watch his show and listen to his commentary. But if I didn't know before, now I know.

I wonder if Dylan Ratigan believes that all African Americans look a like. I wonder Dylan, I wonder...

Posted by: OneDollarEarned | July 14, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Jonathen C. Please do Black people a favor and stop defending the indefensible. I see another Black person has been made to make execuses for the tea party. Stop the madness. Black people apologizing for the racist actions of whites is disgusting.
Black people don't need to hear about your personal experiences with Dylan. We don't care. He said what he said and it was clear.

Posted by: Tright | July 14, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Stop apologizing for white people Jonathen C.

Posted by: Tright | July 14, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Jonathan, I'm gotta believe that you really didn't want to write this crap. But in order to keep your job at msnbc you did the indefensible and stuck up for that no good twit ratigan.I understand you got bills like we all do and maybe msnbc and the post are forcing your hand. I mean where would you go if you got canned for standing up for your President and your race? The unemployment line?
I honestly feel sorry for you. But at some point you will have to make that decision.

Posted by: Dontefourus | July 14, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

seems like when "da Man" says something racially insentive, "da Man" always seem to find that one negro to trot out to defend his racist words. I guess today jonathon is that negro.

jonathon in the great words of chad ochocinco, "chile please!"

Posted by: me2u_now1999 | July 14, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Jonathan, your defense of Ratigan doesn't make sense.

It is well-documented that Wall Street hates President Obama. They refer to him as a thug, a Chicago ganster, a socialist. They don't refer to him as a little boy. I know you must read the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, your own paper.

The "little boy" racial stereotype came from Dylan's twisted image of the President. He invented that! He can't pass it on to nameless Wall Street Billionaires. He said it and he has to own it.

I've watch you during the past two years on Morning Joe and other MSNBC programs. You are like a black stock character from a time that I had hoped had passed. I feel embarrassed for you watching you do all the shucking and jiving, skinnining and grinning. Anything to please your white superiors.

Posted by: rbowser38 | July 14, 2010 11:16 PM | Report abuse

I am sure your mother can not belive her son that her son is defending the man she had to call in on a live TV show to get her sons manhood back from him and give it back to her son. And now he is defending something that can not be defended. Shame on you Jonathan.


Posted by: gogirl2 | July 15, 2010 12:56 AM | Report abuse

I heard his comments this morning and I was insulted.

I had a white co-worker who started a conversation with "I'm not a racist." I listened as he explained he was soccer referee and was called a racist by a player's girlfriend. She'd missed the play and asked him who made the goal. He pointed to her boyfriend who was black and responded, "That boy over there." She called him a racist.

I asked him if the players were teens or adults. He responded, "Adults."

I asked him what he would have called the player if he'd been white.

Dead silence.

I didn't say anything and neither did he. He just lowered his head and walked away. He was clearly troubled that he'd hurt that young woman's feelings and trying to understand why he'd called a black man a boy.

I don't know why he did or why Dylan did today. But I ain't making any excuses and you shouldn't either.

Dylan needs a time out.

Posted by: sjbrown1 | July 15, 2010 2:03 AM | Report abuse

Jeez, Jonathan, what have you been drinking. Anybody that either saw the clip or saw it live KNEW what Dylan was saying. It's fairly typical of him. You, I have no explanation for.

Posted by: sbass1 | July 15, 2010 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Based on some of the comments here, I have to wonder if some of you even SAW the clip in question. As Mr. Capehart points out, "Ratigan was characterizing the patronizing view that Wall Street has towards Washington." Mr. Ratigan was NOT calling Pres. Obama "little boy" - he was putting those words into the mouth of a hypothetical Wall Street executive, for effect. He was attempting to show how dismissive Wall Street is to the type of reform being proposed in Washington.

As for someone in government "bending over" for big business and Wall Street" - is this really news to some of you?!? It's been happening my whole life.

If Dylan is guilty of anything, it is of further fomenting the "us vs. them" mindset replete in the current political atmosphere; potentially setting true progressives against Wall Street and a President who is obviously NOT as Progressive as we thought/hoped. But, he was NOT attacking the President, beyond chastising him for not standing up to these wealthy business interests.

Just because Mika, Joe and the panel aren't adult enough to avoid giggling whenever someone expresses a real thought, doesn't mean what he said was wrong. Just cause they aren't comfortable with proud liberal rhetoric doesn't mean there's a problem with his message.

Plain and simple, if you want to promote the idea that Dylan Ratigan is a racist, you'll have to find more substantial evidence than that which is found in the transcript of Morning Joe from 14 July 2010.

Posted by: Nate1787 | July 16, 2010 1:13 AM | Report abuse

I like the President, voted for him and will again if he runs

That said, I watched the show and I was stunned by Dylan Ratigan, a man I had never seen before. What he said was difficult but also true, Barrack Obama needs to be pushed.

Posted by: startpackingfl | July 16, 2010 2:18 AM | Report abuse

Wait a minute. According to Capehart, Dylan was portraying what Wall Street would say. It's not what he (Dylan) would say. Looked at it this way, Dylan was probably right: This is how Wall Street sees Obama: a little boy. The BIG problem: Blacks see racism everywhere. Some Blacks are so sensitive about some words like "boy" that it's almost impossible to carry on a conversation without seemingly offending them.

Posted by: Paaa | July 16, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

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