Penn State worships at the altar of the ‘Nittany Lions’ football team, and less than five years after Joe Paterno was fired, university officials decided to celebrate him. After all, his team won more football games than any other, and although his former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of sexual abuse against children and sentenced to 30 – 60 years, a commemoration of Paterno’s life and times was heavily attended and promoted. Paterno was fired in 2011 for doing nothing to stop the desecration of many boy’s lives — black and poor boys — even though he had knowledge of allegations against Sandusky. For the most part, the coach remained silent, which enabled Sandusky and gave him free rein to destroy lives.
On Saturday, September 17, the 50th anniversary of Paterno’s 50th game, Penn State paid tribute to him despite criticism that doing so would display insensitivity to the victims. During the second quarter of the game with rival, Temple University, the announcer at Penn’s Beaver Stadium, reportedly, directed over 100,000 fans to view a video featuring Paterno’s career highlights.
Here’s why Penn State shouldn’t honor Joe Paterno’s legacy: https://t.co/gFtPicimGN
— I Will Block Ya Mama (@FeministaJones) September 18, 2016
In the third quarter, another video was played. It was dedicated to Paterno and his widow, Sue, and expounded on the virtues of their $4 million donation for expanding a library and a local hospital, noted Fox News. When Paterno’s image appeared, fans cheered as the announcer read a statement on “Jo Pa’s” commitment to athletes and academics.
Joe Paterno announced that he was going to resign after Sandusky was arrested in November 2011. The Board of Trustees of Penn State decided to unceremoniously fire Paterno for the part that he played in Sandusky’s serial sexual assaults on children. After the controversial firing, Paterno died of complications from lung cancer just two months later. Investigations later revealed that Paterno had knowledge of Sandusky’s actions long before 2001, the year a graduate assistant coach reported a witnessed incident to Paterno.
Media reports did not indicate the background of the victims, but the coded language did, per News One. Code words such as at-risk and underprivileged are euphemisms for black and poor. The skin color and social status of the victims makes the crimes no less horrific and the fact that Sandusky’s program was supposed to help youth who had problems makes his acts no less unconscionable. But the ethnicity and socioeconomic class of the victims, undoubtedly, played a part and remains a factor in how Penn State and its illustrious graduates continue to deify Paterno and slight the victims. Imagine the reaction if a black coach had been raping white boys from affluent families. It’s guaranteed that the serial rapist wouldn’t have his choice of victims over a 35-year period.
— Heavens! (@HeavensHawkeye) September 17, 2016
Where are the social justice warriors? There was a lone young man with a sign outside Beaver Stadium with a sign that read “You Forgot Already” and a megaphone stating the scandal facts. There were also some in the stands who turned their backs during the video and displayed a large banner that condemned Paterno’s inaction: “He turned his back, so we’ll turn ours.” The protesters paled in comparison to the worshipers who shouted out their adoration for Paterno and gave clap offerings at the sound of his name.
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) September 18, 2016
Penn State and its alumni should be ashamed, but they aren’t. No one called them to task on their behaviors. The victims, after all, weren’t going to block entry to the stadium, which is not, by the way, their duty. They displayed tremendous courage by coming forward. Many of the assaults could have been prevented, but in the aftermath, few stood in the abused’s stead. It’s all about the race and class of the victims, and if they are not deemed worthy by mainstream America, they are dehumanized and dismissed.
[Featured Image by Paul Vathis/AP Images]