“Hey, you got your politics mixed into my sports!”
“Hey, you got your sports mixed into my politics!”
Laura Ingraham, the latest name in a centuries-old line of faceless, angry white Americans, made an ass of herself on the banner network for championing bald-faced discrimination, good ol’ Fox News.
Honestly I can’t even really recommend you watch it, if only because if you, like me, are instantly pissed off at her deliberate “Trigger a Liberal” manner of speaking, it may not be good for your cholesterol, much in the same way that strangling a vagrant may not be good for your soul. What she says is profoundly racist, deliberately flippant, and perpetuates the new and sadly simple fact that Republican Conservatives are stupid white bigots. She tells them exactly what they want to hear. It’s dangerous. It’s wrong.
Also she’s running for Senate this Fall, so that’s nice. Hopefully by this time in 2019, Ingraham will be nowhere near any office of any standing. Please vote.
Sports is often a reflection of society, and in some ways signal lanterns echoing societal shifts.
Jackie Robinson broke the race barrier almost 20 years before Martin Luther King walked across the Pettis Bridge; Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists 23 years before Rodney King was savagely beaten by the LAPD; the US Olympic hockey team beat the Soviets 38 years before we are, once again, sniffing out Russian meddling among our affairs.
None are directly related or one causal of the other. They are all threads in a massive cultural quilt that many of us can never appreciate, because we are too tightly stitched into our own squares.
The wonderful and immensely talented athletes that make the NBA and NFL great are predominantly Black Americans. They are Black. They are human beings. They are American citizens. They are also exceptionally good at a profession that provides entertainment and a common interest for our entire country, in addition to paying them millions of dollars to do so.
They are allowed to speak their mind. They are entitled to use their platforms. They are permitted to engage in peaceful protest. As is anyone protected under the freedoms of the Constitution.
A great many people in this country are reluctant even still to acknowledge that Black Americans are human beings, much less citizens with a vote and a brain. Many would prefer these Black Americans resume being field hands, and many still would celebrate the re-institution of slavery. Many more beyond that would prefer to gather all non-white, non-Christians, and enslave/imprison/execute them.
That’s not going to happen. It shouldn’t happen. To want it to happen is a crime against our species.
But dumbass, insecure, and ignorant white people will keep turning the flour of the mill, one belligerent Facebook post and Twitter take at a time. Triggering a liberal here, insulting a democrat there.
These are the low, and dying crust of a bygone and fading prejudice. And yet these vocal buffoons insist, using the power of social media, that Black Americans, liberals, Democrats, and any other person in the entertainment or sports industry who isn’t a bigot, keeps their mouth shut so that these oafs can enjoy their politics-free sporting event, devoid of any guilt for being a racist.
This is the new normal, as is the other new tradition we’re swirling into our American mixing bowl of distrust, animosity, ignorance, and imbalance: Shooting large groups of innocent people.
Now don’t me wrong, we Americans have a long standing tradition of gunning down innocents, dating all the way back to our long-standing campaign of slaughtering the Native American Indian tribes.
This new form of school shooting and mass murder is more amorphous, however. Weighing it evokes a similar sense of perplexity to Walter’s thoughts on Nihilism:
At least racists, bigots, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and nu-American terrorists like the alt-right believe in something. What they believe is morally bankrupt and devoid of humanity, but it’s a stance, and from that stance we can understand. We can try to make sense of things.
But for what feels to be a great many of these shootings, it has no real tang.
- Vegas, 2017: Shooter fired at random into a concert crowd, no clear motive beyond violence. 59 people killed.
- Aurora, 2012: Shooter fired at random into a movie theater, no clear motive beyond violence. 12 people killed.
- Sutherland Springs, 2017: Shooter fired at random into a church, no clear motive beyond violence. 26 people killed.
- Orlando, 2016: Shooter fired at random into a nightclub, no clear motive beyond violence. 49 people killed.
- Parkland, 2018: Shooter fired at random into a school, no clear motive beyond violence. 17 people killed.
The common thread among all of them, at least so far, is mental illness. The Vegas shooter wasn’t taking his bipolar medication; the Aurora shooter had a CVS receipt’s worth of mental disorders; the Sutherland shooter was a well-documented ticking time bomb; the Parkland shooter was obsessed with guns and tortured small animals; the Orlando shooter slipped through the fingers of mental health professionals.
And yet the leader of the free world removed measures to keep weapons out of the hands of the mentally unfit.
We have a lot of work to do, and it starts at the smallest level: Knowing ourselves, and growing ourselves. Taking action. Voting. Defending the voiceless. Telling your relatives and friends to knock off saying racist or homophobic shit. It’s not funny.
Forgiving ourselves for saying stupid shit, having bloody thoughts, and thinking selfishly.
Helping ourselves in the pursuit of mental health improvement. Encouraging others to do the same. Normalizing therapy, doctor visits, and restoring trust to the enterprises of science, medicine, and the press.
Believing that we’re not doomed. Believing we’re capable of great and wonderful things.
Do these things. And let the people who keep dragging bottom get lost in the annals of faceless shame.