Cheating? George W. Bush and his minions cheated Al Gore of the presidency in 2000, and the Supreme Court aided and abetted him in this cheating. Imagine the course of history had we a kinder, gentler president who might not read a children’s book upside down in the moments before Sept. 11?
Let’s not even talk about the theft implicit in the banking bailout. These banks were lent money to aid in economic recovery by lending money, but instead of lending, they’ve tightened up credit requirements, making it more difficult for some people to borrow. And figuring out ways to cheat on one’s taxes may be one of the great American pastimes.
There are more ways to cheat that putting your sticky fingers on things that don’t belong to you. African-American men are cheated of their dignity and freedom of mobility, whenever empty taxis speed by them. African-American women are cheated of the ability to see themselves reflected in the public space when advertisers treat us as stereotypes. And racism cheats us of the ability to have equality of opportunity.
I’m not at all condoning Lance Armstrong’s doping, and I fully agree with the decisions to pull his titles and banish him from biking. Yet there is much irony in the way people are handling this. The Today Show had cheater Pete Rose commenting on Lance Armstrong’s cheating. That’s like asking the fox to comment when his brother breaks into the henhouse, or like asking George W. Bush to comment on an election. And not to play the “race” game, but don’t you think all hell would break loose if this were an African-American athlete?
We send young people mixed messages when we both say “play fair” and “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” We live in a win at any cost, winner take all, society. Lance Armstrong wanted to win so he doped up, and some of those around him probably did the same. No excuses. But in a winner take all culture, what do we expect?
Now Armstrong has humbled himself by admitting he was wrong after adamantly denied he was doping. Why now… to clean up his name, to get back in the game, to keep raising money for his cancer-fighting organization? Like the foundation of our nation’s culture, though, Armstrong is both a liar and a cheat.
It is a shame that Lance Armstrong chose to cheat during his biking career. If we had to recite a litany of cheaters, we’d have to start with the Pilgrims, the Founding Fathers that condoned slavery, and move on from there.
(Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer. She is president emerita of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.)