David Frum Proves He’s a Rich White Guy

David FrumI have this thing about steroid use in professional sports: I don’t care. Sure, I think it is terrible that people do that to their bodies. They shouldn’t. But there is nothing very natural about professional sports. There is nothing natural about 330 pound tackles running 5 second 40-yard dashes. And then there is the whole question of drugs being a fairly vague category. Why not decide that professional athletes can’t eat more 2,000 calories per day? That makes sense to me. At least it would put an end to the physical freaks that now dominate the world of professional sports — especially football and basketball.

But what are we to make of David Frum’s accusations that Serena Williams’ unprecedented success as a tennis player is due to to steroid use? Well, that’s pretty clear: David Frum is a racist. I don’t mean that in the sense that he is likely to walk into a church and start murdering African Americans. But I also don’t mean it in the sense of everyone having racist impulses because we are human and thus tribal, and because we live in an incredibly racist society. I mean that David Frum is smart and worldly enough to check himself before publicly accusing the most iconic African American tennis player in history of cheating. And he decided not to.

This doesn’t exactly make Frum a bad person. It just makes him a clueless rich white guy. He’s so privileged that he has no clue about it. In one of his deleted tweets he brought up Mark McGwire and Lance Armstrong. I think he did that to convince himself that he isn’t a racist. That’s the thing: I’m sure that he doesn’t see himself as a racist. But the thing is that I can’t find Frum writing about McGwire and Armstrong before. I can’t even find him writing about steroids.

So what we have here is a guy who looks at Serena Williams; and it doesn’t seem quite right to him. So he jumps to steroids, rather than his own biased expectations of tennis — as understandable as they may have been. But having been caught, Frum isn’t backing down. He’s going back the McGwire and Armstrong hedge. Judd Legum explained in an update to his article:

Frum appeared on Roland Martin’s show on TV One on Monday morning to defend his tweets. Frum largely attempted to shift the topic to a general discussion of steroid use in tennis. He did, however, assert there was reason to suspect Serena Williams in particular…

It’s slippery. If called on the particular allegations (Frum doesn’t quite have his facts straight), he just goes to the “steroid use in tennis” narrative. But of course, his comment wasn’t about steroid use in tennis; it was about Serena Williams’ steroid use in tennis.

But apart from the racist content of the whole thing, I think Frum does himself no favor in trying to make it about steroid use in tennis. There is really only one more clear indication that one is a rich white guy without a clue than to be concerned about steroid use in professional tennis. And that is to be allowed to shift the conversation from a racist observation into a concern about the integrity of the game of tennis. That is ultimate proof that David Frum is a rich white guy.

7 thoughts on “David Frum Proves He’s a Rich White Guy

  1. Sorry to have to call you on this one Frank, but:
    David Frum (whoever he is) never said he suspected Serena because she was black. He suspected her because she is so much more physically imposing than her peers. That doesn’t make him right, but it doesn’t make him racist either.
    You on the other hand, clearly have stated that the reason you take issue with his statements is because Serena is black. In fact, it is clear from your post that it would have never been written if she were white.
    We have to assess the evidence before us. 1. We have only speculation that Frum is racist, based on assumptions that do not meet the definition of proof.
    2. We have unequivocal proof (your own post) that you have viewed his comments as racist, based on the color of Serena’s skin.
    The definition of racism is taking a position on something, or someone, purely due to the race of someone involved. One is equally racist if one does this to protect or criticize the issue or person. While we can speculate as to whether Frum raised the steroid issue because of Serena’s race or because of her physique, there is no absolute proof either way (while her physique is the much more likely candidate…no one is accusing Sydney Leroux of using steroids). On the other hand, clearly, this post would have never been written, but for Serena’s race. Sorry Frank, but you are the one proven to be racist in this post.

    • Are you kidding me? Of course Frum doesn’t mention Williams’ race! It’s all subtext and it is in the wider context of the fact that Williams can’t do anything without people talking about her hair or some other nonsense because she’s “different.” You are wrong about racism — at least in polite society. The argument you make here is that Frum isn’t a racist unless he comes out and says, “Williams can’t be good at tennis; she’s black!” Well, no one of Frum’s stature would say such a thing. If he did say such a thing, he would have been fired. Your argument disallows racism unless it is of the most blunt variety. In modern America, it rarely works that way. Thus it acts as an apologia for the widespread racism that we see.

  2. Again, I’m not saying that that’s it’s not possible he brought the issue up for racial reasons. I’m just pointing out that you are speculating. Do you not see the irony in one guy (you) speculating that another one is bringing up an issue, solely for racial reasons when that guy (you) are CLEARLY bringing it up for the SAME reason? You have solely taken issue with his statements because she is black. If you had another reason for taking issue with him, you might be on firmer ground, but when one solely takes up an issue because of race, one is a racist. How can you (the pot) call the kettle black? To put it bluntly, your post speculates, but does not prove, Frum is racist; but, it certainly proves that you are. This is why it is better to stick to the facts, rather than create unfounded rhetoric. A defense of Serena is much better focused on whether there is any evidence that she took PEDs. Frum is speculating as well, neither of you should do so, you should both stick to the facts. Unfortunately, while Frum may, or may not, be someone who takes a position purely on race; you have proven yourself to be.

    • Race is a construct, but one so thoroughly integrated in our society that it is almost impossible not to talk about it. Noting that Williams is black is not being racist, any more than noting the color of her eyes is. What you are suggesting is that we be something like the Colbert character and “don’t see” race. This is a form of racist apologetics — a way of defining away racism. In the 1950s, people claimed that literacy tests weren’t racist. Now we know they are. But at the time, there were apologists claiming that they weren’t and that it was just us liberal racists who thought they were. Sad to say, that’s all that your last two comments are: a way of brushing aside racism as it actually exists in our society and claiming that those of us who point it out are the real racists. It’s fine with me if you want to think that, but don’t imagine that you are being clever — there is a long tradition of such thinking.

      As for my racism, I have been very clear about my own racism on this blog. I have written in some depth about my unfortunate irrational reactions to various people based upon how they look, dress, and so on. No one lives in a racist society without being thoroughly tainted by it. That’s true of all of us — not just white people. I even took pains in this article to point out that Frum’s racism does not necessarily make him a bad person. And also: the article is not about racism, but about privilege.

      Finally, unless you have something new to say, this conversation is over. You think that noticing Williams’ race is racism. Okay. That’s trivializing the concept. But I understand what you are saying. It is unnecessary to restate it yet again.

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