Friday, July 02, 2004

Laugh if You Must...

...but I think this might actually have possibilities:

Al Sharpton [...] now has a job on a reality TV show that guides people on career makeovers. Spike TV, the Viacom cable channel that targets a young male audience, said Sharpton will host "I Hate My Job," premiering in the fall.

"I like the concept of trying to have people discover their purpose in life, and not have the world define them or settle for less than who they want to be just to pay their bills," Sharpton said Tuesday.

The eight male contestants in the show will quit their jobs and work with two "life counselors," Sharpton and California psychologist Stephanie Raye, who will give them advice and weekly assignments. A panel will decide which contestants will continue each week.

Yes, I know, Al Sharpton is the enemy and nothing he has ever said or done up to this point has been worthy of the notice it has received. But I come from a tradition that commands love of enemies and turning the other cheek, and if we can get past our immediate distaste for the man there are several points here that should be encouraging to conservatives.

Look, first of all, the man is talking about getting jobs and, more importantly, about people taking initiative in changing their life. This is almost a complete reversal of his usual schtick of victimhood and resentment. That alone should merit notice. Even if this were not Al Sharpton we were talking about, having a black leader advocate and model a proactive approach to self-improvement could do wonders for the black community.

And the venue itself is intriguing. I am no fan of television and reality shows are the scum on that particular fetid pond as far as my (intentionally limited) experience goes. But there is no denying that they are popular with exactly the sort of people who could possibly benefit from a show about getting a better job. Also, a show where a black guy and a woman are handing out advice to young males (some of whom are likely going to be white) is apt to appeal to the diversity crowd. In other words, some liberals might actually learn something. True, people usually don't learn much from passive entertainment, but at least the psychological association between competition and the job market might seep into a few public-schooled, nanny-stated skulls full of mush. You never know.

It's probably too much to hope for, but I also find the fact that a minister is being slated for a role of counselor encouraging as well. No, Sharpton wouldn't be my choice for a public representative of Christianity, and the show is not likely to emphasize any of his religious insights (if any). But, again, you never know. Christ has a way of working miracles in rather unlikely subjects. St. Paul, for instance.

And, speaking of St. Paul, what if Mr. Sharpton found that he actually liked making a positive contribution to society, rather than constantly tearing apart the work of others for his own personal agrandizement. Is it possible that he might actually start seeing things from a more conservative perspective? If he did, the response from the Right, after they got over their shock, would probably be much more welcoming than he has probably considered. That has been the experience of such former leftists as David Horowitz and Tammy Bruce.

OK, this is a big leap, and there is no indication that Sharpton is even contemplating it. But, call me a crazy optimist, in the back of my mind I keep hearing Mouse from the Matrix asking, "What if he makes it?"

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