So, Clippers owner Donald Sterling may have told his girlfriend to stop posting photos of herself with Black people. And he may have been accused of sexual harassment. And as a real estate mogul, Sterling may have been so racist that the Justice Department sued him for bias. But in the scheme of things, this guy is the victim. And the real culprit is his so-called “girlfriend from hell.” At least that’s what people ranging from Donald Trump to Fox News hosts and viewers are saying.
Before we get into the tragic story of Donald Sterling being victimized by his girlfriend, let’s review some history about the philandering billionaire. As most people know, it has been alleged that Sterling made some bizarre and racist comments in a recorded conversation with his girlfriend, V. Stiffiano, who happens to be Black and Mexican, by the way.
Why are you taking pictures with minorities? Why? It’s like talking to an enemy. Hispanics feel certain things towards blacks. It bothers me a lot that you’re associating with black people. […] You’re supposed to be a delicate white or a delicate Latina girl. […] You don’t have to have yourself walking with black people.
But we would be remiss if we presented this as an isolated incident. Sterling has said several racist things in the past like, “I wanna know why you think you can coach these n******”; and “all the blacks in this building, they smell, they’re not clean”; and “Is she one of those black people that stink? […] Just evict the bitch”; and “all of the Mexicans that just sit around and smoke and drink all day.”
But we would also be remiss if we presented Sterling as merely rhetorically racist. Sterling is a man of actions, not just words. And he puts his money where racist mouth is. The Justice Department sued him for refusing to rent his apartments to African American and Latino people. He wound up paying the largest housing discrimination settlement in Justice Department history.
But we would also be remiss if we presented Sterling as only racist, when he is so much more. He is a renaissance man of hatred and exploitation. He also settled with a former employee who accused him of sexual harassment. And in a trial against a former girlfriend, Alexandra Castro, Sterling testified that “the woman wanted sex everywhere… In the alley, in her car, in the elevator, in the upstairs seventh floor, in the bathroom… Every time she provided sex she got $500… When you pay a woman for sex, you are not together with her… You’re paying her for a few moments to use her body for sex. Is it clear? Is it clear?”
OK. Phew. Still with me? So, not so surprisingly, Sterling uses delusions of grandeur and martyrdom to deflects charges of racism. In the tape, when Stiffiano reminds him that he has Black players on his team, Sterling responds, “I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them? Do I know that I have—Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners, that created the league?”
In some ways, Sterling’s distortion of reality is to be expected. After all, a lifetime of not mere white privilege and financial success but exploitative, racist, and misogynist behavior — which is enabled by the NBA — can, actually, result in the creation of alternate and convenient realities. But what is somewhat shocking is that other people have such a warped vision of who Donald Sterling is.
Of course Alex “Because there is a war on for your mind” Jones, defended Sterling, but that’s neither surprising nor interesting. Rush Limbaugh did too, though that’s even less surprising because he is a fellow persecuted white billionaire. Speaking of persecuted white billionaires named Donald, on Monday, Trump portrayed Sterling as a powerless victim, who had been manipulated by an evil woman. When Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade explained that many viewers calling into the show were sympathetic towards Sterling because “it’s a private conversation… clearly she was baiting him,” Trump couldn’t have agreed more:
It’s terrible, he got set up by a very bad girlfriend She was baiting him and she’s a terrible human being. It’s terrible, he got set up by a very bad girlfriend… the girlfriend from hell.
Wow, Trump. Project much? Was Sterling also “baited” by the African American and Latino people he refused to rent apartments to? Was he baited by the countless people who have testified that they witnessed racist behavior from Sterling? This guy has the worst luck ever!
But Trump, Jones, and Rush look like total Sterlingphobes next to conservative blogger and big Shakespeare fan John Hinderaker, who sees a certain tragic figure in Sterling.
So Donald Sterling emerges as a pathetic figure: a reverse image of Othello, a doddering old man with a young black mistress who cheats on him. So an 80-year-old man with a much younger, mixed-race girlfriend is sexually insecure–go figure! He has a friend, a negative-image Iago [someone’s really committed to this Othello simile], who plays on his insecurity and teases him when the mistress posts pictures with black men, however innocent they may be. So the old man asks her not to do it.
But the young woman already has one foot out the door, and she illegally records her conversation with the old man, and then turns it over to two of the most disreputable gossip sites on the internet.
This sad domestic drama has become the best evidence the Left can come up with of the ongoing legacy of slavery and discrimination. It merits denunciation by the President of the United States, who locates the old man’s sad story in the grand sweep of history.
Hinderaker also offers this gem in defense of Sterling: “On the tape, Donald Sterling says, ‘I love the black people’.” Interestingly, Donald Trump has boasted, ”I have a great relationship with the blacks. I’ve always had a great relationship with the blacks.” In the white privileged, out-of-touch spaces these men inhibit, they don’t even get that calling Black people “the blacks” is a good indication that you neither “love” or “have a great relationship with” them.
Watch: Jay Smooth on the Donald Sterling tapes and the psychology of racism and sexism