Please don’t send the Thought Police inside my head and tell me how I should think.
It’s fine if you want to tell me how you think I should act toward and around others.
I do that all the time … lately in this space I wrote a screed on what I think y’all should do about being out in public during this coronavirus mess.
It was funny, there were a lot of negative comments on our Facebook page about not wanting to be told what to do, but the clear majority of the emoji responses … like, love, anger, etc. … were positive.
My silent majority.
I grew up in Los Angeles. My parents were Democrats. They told me racism is evil. I went to racially diverse junior high and high schools.
In my 30s, my political views shifted to the right during the Reagan Administration and have stayed there.
As I’ve said before in this space, I’m an independent, who leans right of center. Usually vote for Republicans, but not always. I believe in limited government and state’s rights and think we keep moving in the wrong direction.
I still believe racism is evil and what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis was clearly criminal and understand the clarion call for change.
But I’m uncomfortable being told how to think and feel and this rush to sanitize minds and history.
- Rename Lubbock because he was a confederate officer?
- Take Elmer Fudd’s gun away? When he would sing “Kill the Wabbit, kill the wabbit” it never made me want to go get a weapon and slaughter bunnies.
- Outlaw the cartoon Paw Patrol because all police are evil?
- Forcing the resignation of the New York Times’ opinion editor because he published a piece from a conservative senator?
- Taking “Gone With The Wind” off the air until it can be explained? I never liked “Gone With The Wind,” … struck me as a whiny soap opera, so frankly, I never gave a damn. It’s not like it’s “Casablanca.” Are we going to take that off the air because it eventually offends Germans?
Over the past few years, I’ve attended many of the Wednesday night Film Club screenings at the Alamo Drafthouse … which lately has been held virtually. You watch a movie on a streaming device and then get on a Zoom meeting to discuss. These are different movies, foreign, offbeat, quirky. Some are great. Some are awful. But it’s fun discussing them.
But every now and then we’re watching an older movie and one of the people during during the discussion would complain about how what we were watching isn’t acceptable now.
Once or twice, I pointed out that was reality at the time and you have to see it in that light. But one person saw everything through a snowflake lens which shifted the discussion from discussing a film to social engineering.
Often in my job as a newspaper editor, someone would call to ask if we would remove an older news story about something they did that was embarrassing … a drunk-driving arrest or something along those lines.
They were going after a job, their potential employer Googled their name and found a newspaper story through the Internet.
They’d want it removed, sometimes threatening legal action.
When I worked for the Avalanche-Journal, the then-parent company had a policy that our archives were untouchable. It was the history of the community and we did not alter it unless, of course, something proved to be inaccurate.
At the A-J and other newsrooms I supervised, I tried to make our newsroom as diverse as possible for no other reason than it was the right thing to do. Lubbock and the South Plains has a large Hispanic population. If you read the paper and never saw a byline with the last name of Gomez, Gonzales, Hernandez, what message are you getting?
I was also raised in a Jewish family. I accepted Jesus in my early 30s and am what is called a Messianic Jew … which is what Jesus and the Disciples were 2,000 years ago.
Three members of my mother’s family perished in concentration camps. I’ve had more than a few uncomfortable interactions with anti-Semitic twits, a few since I moved to Lubbock in 2006.
So I know what it’s like to be discriminated against and in one case I did have concern for my life.
The concentration camps still exist as a historic example of inhumanity. I don’t want them removed.
Human history is human history. We learn from the good and evil. Revisionist history is dangerous.
A friend posted the following from George Orwell’s “1984”:
“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
I’m also white.
I don’t know what it’s like to be African-American in this country and I’m not going to tell African-Americans how they should feel.
My people came here to escape a horrid life in Europe, but we were not brought here as slaves.
Over the past weeks I’ve heard African-Americans say they still fear for their lives and the lives of their children and grandchildren because of their skin color and examples sadly keep popping up to support that fear.
At the A-J, I did a story about the last Dunbar High School team to win a PVIL state title in basketball. PVIL … not UIL … because high school sports were segregated. These kids could play pickup ball with people of different races, but no organized sports. This wasn’t in the 1890s or 1920s. It was in 1965, when I was 11 years old.
In that story, I quoted retired A-J editor Burle Pettit about why the story about Dunbar’s win was a small little item on an inside page and not a major story on the sports cover. He said, not in any way defending it, that’s the way it was back then.
Every now and then, I get barbecue from Wiley’s on the east side of Lubbock. Buford Wiley was on that team.
Shortly after taking the job at the A-J, an African-American reader called to tell me he felt the A-J ran a disproportionate number of photos of people of color with crime stories as opposed to white people.
We talked about it in the newsroom and quickly decided to make sure if police provided a “mug shot” with a story about an arrest, that we ran them all.
I’d like to think I’m more color blind than most. I’m not the guy who displays a confederate flag outside his home on the south side of U.S. 84 on the way to the New Mexico border.
But I have some biases. We all do … no matter our skin color. We can all do better.
Like many of us right of center, I was not happy with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the National Anthem, It cost him his career.
But I found myself sympathetic to Kaepernick when I saw a recent meme on Facebook of two photos next to each other. On the left, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on George Floyd’s neck. On the right, Kaepernick kneeling during the National Anthem before an NFL game a few years ago.
Above the photo of Chauvin it said “This … ”
Above the photo of Kaepernick is said ” … is why.”
I also understand fear in the African-American communities is terrifying and personal.
But my sympathy dimmed when the protests and riots led to burned buildings and widespread damage a block from my youngest daughter’s house in Minneapolis and within a mile of my 91-year-old mother’s house in L.A. neighborhood where I learned racism was wrong.
I was very, very angry because at least for a few hours I was terrified and it became personal for me.
As I’ve told more than one person in the last few decades, if we all would practice the two greatest commandments … love God and love others … we wouldn’t have these problems.
But we don’t and social media exacerbates it.
I may not be completely color blind, but I’m completely anti-butthead, whatever your color.
(There’s another word I’d like to use, but Scott Mann and I decided when we launched Lubbock Lights a little more than two years ago we didn’t want to add to a media world where cuss words are used as often as “the.”)
So those of you who want my sympathy for Black Lives Matter … you have more of my attention than you had in the past.
But this has to be a two-way street.
I may not agree with everything you want to do and I’d appreciate the respect I show you to show me the same respect that we may agree to disagree in some areas.
But let’s all be careful going forward because freedom of thought is a very dangerous thing to try and control.