Today on Los Angeles’ progressive talk radio station KTLK 1150, substitute host Johnny Wendell blasted Barack Obama’s selection of Dr. Sanjay Gupta as Surgeon General of the United States.
In course of his rant, which included attacking Dr. Gupta for his presence on CNN and for his televised disagreements with “Sicko” filmmaker Michael Moore on health care policy, Wendell said that Americans think that people with “foreign accents,” like Dr. Gupta, are smarter than they are.
But Sanjay Gupta is not “foreign” and does not have a “foreign accent.” Dr. Gupta is from Michigan.
What Sanjay Gupta does have is a non-Anglo-Saxon sounding name, which some racist or very stupid people might therefore call “foreign.”
Whatever issues are properly raised by Obama’s choice of Dr. Gupta as Surgeon General, his being or sounding “foreign” isn’t one of them.
I understand that Johnny Wendell, like conservative talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, is part political commentator and part clown.
But racism or bigotry (even of the unintentional and merely stupid kind) isn’t funny.
It isn’t progressive.
I would have welcomed a progressive talk radio discussion about Gupta’s political and social views, as well as his personal qualities. But Wendell’s statement in connection with Gupta about people who have “foreign accents” was not about any of these things but only about Gupta’s race and ethnicity.
That’s racist and unacceptable.
Especially on self-described “progressive” radio.