Charles Barkley, the great basketball player who played at Auburn and had a storied NBA career, should definitely stick to commenting on sports. Recently Barkley endorsed pro-abortion Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and said he has problems with those who oppose abortion. Barkley endorsed Barack Obama, which in itself is his choice and I grant celebrities the right to make any statement that want for a candidate they believe in personally.
But Sir Charles, as he was often called, added, "Every time I hear the word ‘conservative,’ it makes me sick to my stomach, because they’re really just fake Christians, as I call them. That’s all they are." When Wolf Blitzer asked Barkley to explain the terms he was using Barkley condemned conservative Christians for wanting to be "judge and jury." He added, just for good measure: "I’m pro-choice. And I think these Christians–first of all, they’re supposed to be–they’re not supposed to judge other people. But they’re the most hypocritical judge of people we have in this country. And it bugs the hell out of me."
Then Barkley concluded: "They act like they’re Christians. And they’re not forgiving at all."
I wonder what would happen at CNN if an analyst (Barkley is employed by CNN as a basketball analyst) called liberal Christians who support Obama and Clinton "fake Christians." I tend, therefore, to think that Charles Barkley is getting a free pass simply because he did not offend the wrong group in this case.
Even CNN’s Wolf Blitzer realized in the interview that Barkley was going too far when he reminded him of the truth by adding: "But you can’t lump all these conservatives as being fake. A lot of them obviously–most of them are very, very sincere in their religious beliefs," he said. Barkley’s best attempt at a biblical answer to this question was: "Well, they should read the part about they’re not supposed to judge other people. They forget that one when it doesn’t fit what they want it to say."
I frankly do not care what CNN does with Charles Barkley but I do care that the media culture generally allows this kind of preposterous statement to go unchallenged while Don Imus was fired in a storm of protest over referring to black women basketball players as "nappy headed ho’s." What really happened to "free speech" in America? I confess that I don’t much care for Imus either but one thing I do know, now more than ever–Charles Barkley is not nearly as bright and fair-minded as I once thought. I respected him as a great athlete and even listened to his views regarding race and racism at one point. But he went way too far in this interview. By his standards I am one of those who bugs "the hell" out of him. And this is all because I believe that a society of just laws ought to protect innocent unborn children. One thing I can do is turn Barkley off the next time I hear him speaking on anything, including basketball. He lost my respect totally this weekend and unless he offers some kind of thoughtful apology I doubt he will get it back. I think I am not alone in this response and millions will agree. I am not a far-right conservative in any meaningful sense of this term so it is Barkley who has "judged" in this case, not me.