- The Washington Times - Monday, January 7, 2002

Dan Issel is looking to be reeducated this year after he told a heckler in the stands to "drink another beer, you Mexican" bleep following a difficult loss last month.
Issel offended the person, and possibly every Hispanic group in America, the legal as well as the illegal ones. Let's try to be kind to illegals. They have a Constitutional right of sorts to be illegal.
Issel was suspended four games without pay, and eventually, after all the ever-sensitive thinkers in America expressed their abhorrence over his verbal crime against humanity, Issel felt compelled to end his 25-year relationship with the Nuggets.
Hopefully, Issel is coming to terms with his anger-management problem and ethnically incorrect views. He is a very bad white man, of course, with a prominent nose, and one of these days, after he has completed his reeducation, perhaps he will be allowed to rejoin society.
Issel obviously did not have an epiphany on September 11, as all the rest of us did. He did not discover what was really important. He did not come up with a newfound perspective on life. There is mindless chatter, and there is a punch in the nose. We profess to know the difference now. One hurts more than the other, although words hurt, too.
The poor heckler undoubtedly is scarred for life, probably undergoing expensive therapy to make sense of it all. Did he have another beer at Issel's urging? We do not know. We just know he is a victim, doing his best to take it one day at a time, however tough each day is. We only can hope for the best. We wish him the best. We can relate.
We all have said things that we probably shouldn't have said at one time or another, even those of us in the media who make a career out of going tsk, tsk. But there are certain things you just can't say. You can't identify someone by race or creed, because it is wrong. I am American. I am a white American. To some, I am a white American bleep. Oh, my. I am traumatized. Please, hold my hand while I try to gather myself. I feel faint.
By the way, you can call us Ugly Americans in Salt Lake City next month if a few of us take too much pleasure in waving the flag. Don't you know all the red, white and blue makes the visitors from abroad uncomfortable, even as they wave their flags?
You also can call John Rocker a redneck or a cracker, whichever you prefer, because name-calling is judged on a sliding scale. It helps if you are a member of an aggrieved party, and Mexicans are an aggrieved party. We took a whole lot of their land away from them a long time ago, and now we are supposed to be sensitive to that, if not guilty as heck.
Issel could have come out of the ordeal unscathed if he had told the fellow to have another beer, you Euro trash bleep. We don't get too worked up about Euro trash, mostly because many of us are descendants of Europe's trash.
Why do they hate us so in the Middle East? We need to understand. They say so many bad things about us, and because of our incredible sophistication, we do our best to understand. We want to understand why Richard Reid is trying to light the fuse sticking out of his shoe. We want to sit down and discuss it all, possibly because these people are serious hatemongers who put actions to their words. If Osama bin Laden had limited his hate to words, we probably would have gotten around to inviting him to a diplomatic dinner.
Fortunately, none of us thinks like Issel. We don't mock the short, the overweight, the bald, the ugly, the blue-collar worker, the suburban dweller, the mountain folks. We don't tell hillbilly jokes. You can't do that. You do that and you are only a different form of the late Jimmy the Greek, God rest his unenlightened soul. You are in his family.
No, none of us ever succumbs to the name-calling high jinks. We never have been on either side of it. No way. We are all alike. Can't you tell? We are one and the same. We never would snub our nose at the working class. We never would make distinctions based on material wealth, professional status and educational background. No, all we are saying is give peace a chance. All we are saying is give Martin Sheen a grate on which to sleep.
Fans have feelings, too, and we are obligated to respect those feelings, depending on the incident. We do not have to respect the bottle-throwing fans in Cleveland. We do have to respect the fan in Denver, Issel's buddy, because of his ethnicity. Besides, the fan only was congratulating Issel on his latest coaching performance. The fan probably said, "Great job, Dan. Can I buy you a beer?"
Issel broke down in tears in the news conference following the exchange, compounding his initial stupidity with a staggering level of wobbliness. The tsk-tsk brigade voiced approval, seeing profound sincerity in the tears. It seems Issel squirted just enough water to meet the initial tenets of his rehabilitation. It was a beautiful sight. Maybe we can all get along, after all, the Nuggets and the Hispanic groups, you, I and Saint Rodney King.
Issel also might have said, "You know what? They don't pay me enough money to take that kind of crud. He unleashed on me, and I did likewise. I paid the price. End of story. All you verbally flawless ones out there have a nice day."
Issel is an American. You are an American. I am an American. You are permitted to insert a bleep if you like. We can agree to exchange verbal fire, which, believe it or not, happens all the time in the world outside the 24-7 news cycle. At least it happens all the time in my itty-bitty world.
It even happens in Stillwater, Okla., where a loose ball on Saturday led to a free-for-all between a fan and several Texas basketball players.
The fan, who initiated the melee after his pregnant wife was inadvertently hit in the scramble for the ball, appeared to receive the worst of it. The Big 12 Conference is investigating the incident to determine whose pain it should feel.
The Texas players, T.J. Ford in particular, were obligated to defend themselves, although you could argue that perhaps they went too far. But that would be nitpicking. The fan started it, and the Texas players responded with passion and conviction.
We'll leave it to the superior ones in our midst to decide if a choke hold merits an old-fashioned pummeling. They have earned the right. They always exhibit amazing self-control. They never get mad.
Issel was supposed to be above it all, interestingly enough, and God only knows why. He is a basketball lifer, which is hardly a life steeped in deep thought. You win some. You lose some. You entertain the masses. That's about it.
For now, Issel has been banished to cultural purgatory, and we all feel better.
We all know what is important following September 11.

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