Kristol Defends Racist NBA Owner

Leave it to Bill Kristol to rush to the defense of racist Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling in the wake of his latest statement putting his bigotry on display. Ironically, Kristol says that we should judge Sterling by his actions rather than his statements:

Conservative pundit Bill Kristol on Sunday urged people to judge NBA team owner Don Sterling by his “deeds,” and not to “go hysterical over two or three sentences” where he tells his girlfriend to stay away from black men…

But on Sunday, Kristol admitted that Sterling was “bigoted and foolish,” but accused his detractors going “hysterical” over a few sentences.

“I’m a little hesitant to… everyone goes hysterical over two or three sentences, but lets look at the actual deeds of people,” he said. “If people discriminate, it’s against the law, they should be punished.”

Okay Bill, let’s judge Sterling by his deeds. The Department of Justice sued him for racial discrimination in his housing holdings. He ended up settling that suit for almost $3 million, but here’s some of what was revealed in that suit:

Sterling is also the Slumlord Billionaire, a man who made his fortune by building low-income housing, and then, according to a Justice Department lawsuit, developing his own racial quota system to decide who gets the privilege of renting his properties. In November of 2009, Sterling settled the suit with the US Department of Justice for $2.73 million, the largest ever obtained by the government in a discrimination case involving apartment rentals. Reading the content of the suit makes you want to shower with steel wool. Sterling just said no to rent to non-Koreans in Koreatown and just said hell-no to African-Americans looking for property in plush Beverly Hills. Sterling, who has a Blagojevichian flair for the language, says he did not like to rent to “Hispanics” because “Hispanics smoke, drink and just hang around the building.” He also stated that “black tenants smell and attract vermin.”

The Slumlord Billionaire has a healthy legal paper trail, which creates a collage of someone very good at extorting rents from the very poor. In 1986, the spiking of rents in his Beverly Hills properties—the so-called “slums of Beverly Hills”—led to a large march by tenants on City Hall.

In 2001, Sterling was sued successfully by the City of Santa Monica on charges that he harassed and threatened to evict eight tenants living in three rent-controlled buildings…

And in 2005, Sterling settled a housing-discrimination lawsuit filed by the Housing Rights Center, which represented more than a dozen of his tenants. He paid nearly $5 million in legal fees for the plaintiffs—a staggering amount—along with a reportedly massive, albeit confidential, sum. Not all the plaintiffs, though, lived to see their windfall. Court documents state that on July 12, 2002, “Kandynce Jones was under threat of eviction by [Sterling] even though she had never missed a rent payment. Ms. Jones, who is a senior citizen and a person with a disability, suffered a stroke caused by the stress [of Sterling’s] housing practices. On July 21, 2003, Ms. Jones passed away as a result of that stroke.”

I say let’s judge him by his actions and his words, both of which prove that Sterling is a racist. And there is nothing remotely “hysterical” about that conclusion.

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  • Larry

    Ok, ok. So his deeds aren’t so great, either. Here is the new wingnut meme. Ignore what he says and ignore his deeds. What really matters is how he treats his pets. Yeah, that’s it.

  • a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    You know who else liked dogs…?

  • You mean like with Mitt ‘Dog Lover’ Romney??

  • kraut

    “What really matters is how he treats his pets”

    and Adolph loved his German shepherd “Blondi”. That was so nice of him.

  • wscott

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar actually makes a similar argument, but without the apologetics.

    What bothers me about this whole Donald Sterling affair isn’t just his racism. I’m bothered that everyone acts as if it’s a huge surprise. Now there’s all this dramatic and very public rending of clothing about whether they should keep their expensive Clippers season tickets. Really? All this other stuff I listed above has been going on for years and this ridiculous conversation with his girlfriend is what puts you over the edge? That’s the smoking gun?

  • No, Larry, what really matters is whether he lets nonwhites use his bathroom. And I’m sure he let his black-Hispanic mistress use his bathroom, amirite? Case closed.

  • quiddity42

    I really am not usually the one to get picky about word usage, but “hysterical” bugs me.

  • matty1

    It does seem a shame that it took the leaked conversation to get his racism attention from fans and regulators. Shouldn’t something have been done when he lost the court case?

  • zippythepinhead

    Conservatives like Kristol would be the first to defend big business practices. And the NBA is big business. Sterling’s attitudes and actions are an embarrassment to the other owners which can certainly cost them revenue and there is almost certainly a clause in the NBA franchise contract that forbids conduct that embarrasses the NBA. So condemning Sterling isn’t just liberal nitpicking, it’s conservative business practice!

  • Trebuchet

    Ok, ok. So his deeds aren’t so great, either. Here is the new wingnut meme. Ignore what he says and ignore his deeds. What really matters is how he treats his pets. Yeah, that’s it.

    As long as his pets don’t post pictures with Magic Johnson.

  • colnago80

    Re Raging Bee @ #6

    It is my information that she is no longer his girlfriend and hasn’t been for some time.

  • jws1

    zippy @ #9: “…it’s conservative business practice!”

    Exactly. If hourly employees can be fired for not representing their employer well, even away from the workplace, then the same applies to the highest of high-level executives. That’s why what Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, said Monday was such bullshit, invoking the “slippery slope” argument. Tuesday, his tune changed as he gave his full support to the commissioner’s decision.

  • gopiballava


    “Ok, ok. So his deeds aren’t so great, either. Here is the new wingnut meme. Ignore what he says and ignore his deeds. What really matters is how he treats his pets. Yeah, that’s it.”

    Close. What really matters is which invisible friend he believes in.

  • mikeyb

    There are so many disgusting things about this story it’s hard to know where to begin. So a right winger defends rich entitled white billionaire, no surprise there. Rich white guy says racist things in private, also no big surprise given all the things he’s said and done in the past. So the worst case scenario he will be forced to sell a team he bought for $15M and make close to $1B as punishment. Why are sports teams even worth this much – what does it say about what is important to us? No matter what happens, Sterling will go on living a lifestyle making sexist and racist remarks to new 20 year olds, buying them gifts till he drops dead, basically doing whatever he wants like all entitled onepercenters do. And his equally racist wife can then carry on owning the team. It’s also interesting how the media acts so surprised when this kind of thing goes on all the time. And real institutionalized sexism and racism never raises any ire in the media, like a rich guys salacious comments in private. Hmm it’s hard to digest all of this.

  • Chiroptera

    Some of us consider speaking and typing a message to be deeds themselves. Even if the deeds so far had been exemplary, the current and past messages can be signs of what we can expect in the future.

  • tbp1

    Aren’t this guy’s defenders the same people who insist that Democrats are the real racists because Civil War and Dixiecrats (ignoring the fact that all the mid-century Southern racist Dems became Republicans) and dig up the corpse of Robert Byrd to flog any time they can because he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan (ignoring the the fact that in later life he quit the Klan, repudiated everything it stood for, apologized, and had a perfect voting record on civil rights issues)?

  • Matrim

    Kristol says that we should judge Sterling by his actions rather than his statements

    Making a statement is an action. Is this in dispute?

  • Childermass

    Even sites that defend white privilege (while claiming that they don’t) and say that Bundy’s statement was not racist say that Sterling was clearly racist.

  • AsqJames

    “If people discriminate, it’s against the law, they should be punished.”

    The law is not the only standard by which one may be judged.

  • moarscienceplz

    The fact that the smarmy Bill Kristol want to defend him just amplifies the fact that ‘Sterling’ may be his name, but it certainly isn’t his character.

  • Ok, ok. So his deeds aren’t so great, either. Here is the new wingnut meme. Ignore what he says and ignore his deeds. What really matters is how he treats his pets. Yeah, that’s it.

    I think everyone’s missed the obvious, we should judge him by his worth. And by worth, I explicitly mean his bank account (not his worth as a human)

  • scienceavenger

    …where he tells his girlfriend to stay away from black men…

    But that’s not at all what he said, and brings me to the smoking gun no one is talking about. He was only concerned with her appearances in public with black men. He flat told her to do whatever she wanted in private, including sleeping with them. What that tells me is that he is part of a racist social circle where he feared recrimination and criticism for her public appearances. So all these dunderheads on Fox News claiming that this is just an isolated incident because we’ve put racism behind us are full of it.

    Who was he afraid of? Other owners? If so, which ones? This should not be the end of it, not by a long shot.

    Oh, and [holds nose] kudos to Kareem, who makes my Celtic green heart far happier as a human being than he ever did as a player.

  • magistramarla

    The right-wingers in my local paper have been falling all over themselves to defend him for the past couple of days and have been calling the ex-girlfriend some awful names, too.

    They also greatly admire Bundy and his supporters.

    It’s enough to turn one’s stomach, but I do read their comments just to learn what the wingnuts in this city are thinking. When I read Ed’s posts, especially when he is commenting on rightwingwatch, I can see almost word for word where their arguments came from.

  • lorn

    If Kristol wants to get his facts in order he might start by remembering the time-line. Sterling’s biracial girlfriend released a recording of him expressing his inner racist, the players union threatened action, the NBA then, and only then, took action against Sterling while expressing that it was ‘shocked, shocked I tell you’ that Sterling would say such a thing.

    Living in the south it is easy to see the action for what it is. The NBA has set up a plantation system to exploit the work of athletes. They sell franchises to own individual plantations. Massa’s mixed race girlfriend let out a recording of him highlighting his racism and disrespect for the majority of the workers on the plantations. The workers threatened a strike. The NBA, realizing that without workers there would be no profits and that replacements would be difficult to get, decided to mollify the workers by coming down hard on the franchise owner.

  • Die Anyway

    I’m quite in agreement that Sterling has behaved like a racist bigot, but what does that have to do with retaining or losing his ownership of the team? The owner of Hobby Lobby is a bigot. The owner of Chic-fil-a is a bigot. Nobody seems to be out to make them sell their holdings, although I can tell you that I will never patronize either one (same goes for Papa John’s Pizza) and so now I’ll make sure not to buy Clipper’s tickets. Mostly I just haven’t figured out why this one instance is so egregiously different from many others all around the country that it requires a different solution.

  • tbp1

    @#25: I’ve thought about that, too.

    I think it’s different in this case because pro basketball is entertainment, essentially, and image is extremely important in any entertainment field. Obviously a lot of players are black, as is a lot of the fan base, and I think it’s not unreasonable to think by not acting they would alienate a whole lot of people (and not just blacks, of course, but anyone appalled by such racism). The NBA is a private organization and, within some limits, is free to set its own rules for membership. I suspect this was a cold, hard business decision: this guy is gonna hurt the bottom line, so he’s gotta go. Perhaps there was some genuine moral outrage, as well.