Memo to the media: Selective moral outrage is fraudulence
At the core of our fractured nation's profound distrust lies a simple question: Whom to believe?
It's not breaking news to suggest that our inherent individualism invites us to seek news sources that reinforce and intensify our predispositions and prejudices. At best, we agree to disagree. At worst, we morph into a cacophony of blatherers shouting damnation at one another.
It doesn't help, either, when the leader of the fractured nation utters the words "fake news" as much as he uses "and" and "the." And of course all of his sycophants follow in lockstep precision, thus tugging at the idea of some universal credibility.
And then something happens when it honestly makes you wonder whether — in some cases — the 45th president doesn't have a point about the "fake news" thing.
Example: An alarming number of national pundits have chosen crickets as their response to Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson's anti-Semitic post on social media Monday attributed to Adolf Hitler — and Mr. Jackson's subsequent admiration for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
The two-minute drill version: Jackson's Instagram story featured a quote he attributed to Hitler that said white Jews "will blackmail America. (They) will extort America, their plan for world domination won't work if the Negroes know who they were."
Published reports cite historians who believe Hitler never actually uttered the quote. Still, Jackson's intent was quite clear. Eagles ownership, featuring a Jewish owner and general manager, spoke to Jackson, prompting his apology, according to ESPN.com: "Jackson expressed a desire to educate himself and work directly with the Jewish community, and a short time later, his camp contacted the rabbi at Chabad Young Philly to discuss ways for Jackson to donate and work with the organization."
I'm not buying Jackson's "expressed a desire to educate himself" bit. He went to Cal-Berkley. One of the best colleges in the country. Jackson's a smart guy who knew what he was doing.
But there's a bigger issue here than Jackson's foray into anti-Semitism. It is the practice of selective moral outrage from many in the media (and his fellow players) to whom the following applies: Silence is compliance.
How are we supposed to take their opinions seriously any longer when they've chosen silence? There is no room in this country for anti-Semitism.
This is our awakening, folks. Now is the time. Hard conversations are happening. Finally. Productive conversations are happening. Finally. In the burbs, too. We are seeing baby steps toward curriculum changes in schools. Many in white America are beginning to realize how much they truly don't understand.
But then there's this: Race, color, creed, culture do not prevent us from saying and doing dumb things. We all do them. It's called being human. The job of a pundit — print, electronic or otherwise — is to be insightful, provocative and educational. And this: To establish acceptable parameters for The Important People we cover. DeSean Jackson failed to keep his feet in bounds here.
The sounds of silence suggest that the folks lucky enough to have a pulpit are consumed by their agenda more than inspired by their conscience. Somehow, we're led to accept that disagreement is disloyalty. Au contraire. Disagreement and constructive criticism should lead to growth. Is it so hard for Jemele Hill, Stephen A. Smith, one of those gasbags on MSNBC or a group of athletes to suggest that perhaps Mr. Jackson ought to avoid quoting Hitler in the future?
I've read at least some columnists suggest Jackson deserves a suspension from the NFL. I disagree. He was expressing an opinion — we get to do that here, you know — shameful as it was. What Jackson deserves is some public shaming from people who are good at doing it, although it appears only when it suits their agenda.
And when you bellyache about something that merely suits your agenda, again, I ask: We're supposed to take you seriously?
The sad part is that the pundits who have opted for crickets here might have something insightful to contribute on occasion. Now, at least for me, their messages are moot. Selective moral outrage doesn't work.
DeSean Jackson gets no pass here. So I'll start. Memo to Mr. Jackson: In your role to "educate yourself," try to avoid quoting the biggest butcher in the history of the world again.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro