Bill Clinton, More Missouri Football Fights …

by on November 30, 2007

Dear Paul:

Thanks again for your work on BeyondChron. I have a small beef with your Clinton article. I have not heard his statement that he opposed the war. If he did say this, can you point me to it on the web?

What I had heard is as follows:

* Some years ago, Clinton was interviewed on Democracy Now! by Amy Goodman. She asked a pointed question. Clinton went ballistic, and said if she wasn’t more “something” (civil, unbiased, even-handed, disinterested) he would leave. He made it very clear he felt he was in “enemy territory,” and expected to be treated fairly by his lights. He has not reappeared on that show, to my knowledge.

* Last year, I heard that Clinton had spoken in Oakland at a downtown church, and was asked about Hillary’s support of the Iraq invasion. He again went ballistic, and held that at the invasion time he thought it was the right thing to do, still did so, and his wife should not be crucified for holding the same position.

So I’ve never expected anything less from Bill. He goes carefully ballistic, he’s no fan of the Left, and he seemed clear on his position on this war. I couldn’t vote for him in 96, think his attitude of triangulation is a poison on the nation, but a lot of republicans and demos like his (and his wife’s, by association) style. Maybe he should define what “lying” is.

Paul Larkin

Reader Feedback on Missouri Football “Slavery”

By Irvin Muchnick

My Beyond Chron piece Missouri’s #1 Football Ranking Has Only One Explanation – Slavery Is Back! elicited some heated response. Below are exchanges with three readers.

These correspondents share a theme that it is absolutely abhorrent to introduce the imagery of slavery in connection with a football game. They ignore the fact that my essay played off the explicit hype of the Missouri-Kansas football rivalry as a “Border War” and on coverage of last Saturday’s game in places like The New York Times and Sports Illustrated, which reflected on the roles of these two states in Civil War history – as well as on evidence in these stories that there are some sick boosters who seem to buy into this paradigm.

The headline, of course, was a joke that fell on some tin ears. Still, I also note that during my reporting of a 2003 article for the Los Angeles Times Magazine about the issue of paying “student-athletes” in the revenue sports of football and men’s basketball, I heard plenty of African-American jocks cynically referring to the system in private conversation as a “plantation.” Indeed, the LA Times story was entitled “Welcome to Plantation Football.” I later collaborated with Ramogi Huma, founder of the Collegiate Athletes Coalition, on a failed book proposal with a similar title.

I don’t suppose it will do any good to say that I hope Mizzou beats Oklahoma tomorrow.


[email letter to Beyond Chron from Jack Gokin:

Dear Sir:

Wow, Mr. Muchnick’s piece on Missouri was one huge pile of ill-informed garbage. His lack of knowledge, not only about football, but also about The Border War, certainly qualifies Him to pontificate about them. There were atrocities committed on BOTH sides in The Border War. However, the motives of the “Jayhawkers” had little to do with freeing anyone, & everything to do with lining their own coiffeurs, via pillaging, rape & murder, which included women & children.

Perhaps Your writers could do a modicum of research before writing such tripe. Journalism at it’s worst…lazy, sloppy, & erroneous.

Btw, congratulations on taking a cheap shot at the tragic passing of a 19 year-old kid. The entire state was shocked & heart-broken by Aaron’s passing. He was a great kid, who wanted nothing more than to be a Missouri Tiger. He is kept on the roster, & His picture & number prominently displayed, out of respect, & as a tribute to Aaron. It’s what HIS TEAMMATES wanted, & how they wanted to remember & honor Him. Again, nice cheap shot.

Jack G.


[Muchnick response]

Yeah, but what did he really think? 🙂

The guy is reading into the piece when he says I was saying Jayhawkers were good guys. Maybe he has a guilty conscience.

As for the Aaron O’Neal reference, Gokin is entitled to consider it a cheap shot, and I’m entitled to believe that a clear cluster of summer-practice deaths in “amateur” college football is unacceptable. Whether people are heartbroken over O’Neal’s death is beside the point, as is how his teammates choose to honor him. I didn’t say the Missouri football program dishonored O’Neal, I said it killed him.



[email from Brian Kaiser:]

This was very inappropriate and distasteful – I have half a mind to send this link to the NAACP and let them get a hold of you, and believe me, they will back you in to a corner and have you crying for a piece of garbage like that. Declaring a racism reference because of a winning football team? Sour grapes much? That rag doesn’t belong used as toilet paper. I hope for your own moral sake you remove that garbage ASAP. Good luck sleeping at night. Distasteful and totally uncalled for.


[Muchnick to Kaiser]



[Kaiser to Muchnick]

Are you denying the fact that you wrote that hideous article about Missouri being a “slave” school?


[Muchnick to Kaiser]

I criticized the excesses of the college football industry, expressed my distaste at the notion that the Missouri-Kansas football rivalry seems to be rooted in some people’s minds in the 1850s border war, and threw in some ironic quips and a provocative headline. Hideous article or not, it is “about Missouri being a ‘slave’ school” only to a willful misreader.

Please do me a favor and forward the piece to the NAACP or anyone else you wish to share it with. Robust discussion is a good thing.


[Kaiser to Muchnick]

It is a sport. Bringing in slavery to the issue is your own doing and you did it in a very negative and demeaning manor. I’d suggest you pull the article, or reword several things and your opinion on “if that’s what it takes to be #1 I’d rather be 6-5” garbage. It’s disgusting, and not humorous.


[Muchnick to Kaiser]

So your feedback has evolved from a threat of an NAACP investigation to a suggestion that I change a few passages to make the essay more palatable to you. Thanks, I’ll pass.


[email from Michael Steinberg:]

Dear Irv:

Just wanted to “congratulate” you on your recent article on Missouri football and slavery. That was perhaps, no it actually was, the shallowest, cheap shot article I have ever read. Try extricating yourself from your cubicle every once and while and you might find MU’s season to be a nice story!
I imagine the Shangri La otherwise known as San Francisco has plenty of racial, gender, and economic justice issues to write about. Why not suggest your beloved Golden Bears share gate revenues with the thousands of desperate homeless people in your fine city?

The Civil War ended long ago for those of us in the “fly over” states. I suggest you move on as well. Isn’t there some aging white fascist you should be slandering?

Michael K. Steinberg, PhD
The New College
Department of Geography
Assistant Curator of Ornithology

[Muchnick to Steinberg]

Dear Michael:

Thanks for your feedback. The archives of BeyondChron show that I have written extensively about what I see as the excesses of the college football industry, and use provocative language in the process. Nor is Cal spared from my criticism. See, for example: [I’m pretty sure the picture the editors slapped next to this one is a mistake]

Slandering aging white fascists doesn’t interest me as much as taking a different slant on current hyped mass entertainment.

Irv Muchnick


[Steinberg to Muchnick]
Well I am glad to see those of us in the heartland aren’t the only ones targeted by your poison pen!

[Muchnick to Steinberg]
Yeah, I’m just a poor misunderstood midwestern populist.

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