It’s been quite the rollercoaster of events these past couple of weeks, with Nazis openly marching in the streets, a self identified anti-fascist group employing their own fascist techniques to shut them up, historical statues and monuments vandalized by mobs and a president who has not yet learned that how and when you say something is just as important as what is being said.
Taken individually, these things are not yet cause for too much alarm. The majority of the country soundly rejects Nazism and white supremacists, is appalled by mobs tearing down statues and is waking up to the violent tactics of groups like Antifa. Collectively though, they are symptoms of much a greater problem; one whose essence is captured in a seemingly small event.
You may have heard that ESPN has taken sports announcer Robert Lee off the job of covering the University of Virginia’s opening football game next month. Yes, you read that correctly, the ESPN Powers That Be thinks the general public might mistake a very much alive Asian man with a very dead and long buried Confederate General, thus risking a backlash.
As per ESPN Spokesman, Derek Volner:
“We collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name.”
On the face of it, this seems like just another case of corporate stupidity, an extreme example of executive CYAism destined to morph in to a scathingly funny Saturday Night Live skit.
Dig deeper though and it’s not so humorous. Apparently there were concerns for Mr. Lee’s safety, which can only mean a few scenarios.
- We’ve reached such a state of absurdity in this country that just sharing a name with a controversial figure is enough to make people worry about a backlash.
- ESPN received pressure from sponsors and/or the professionally aggrieved to drop Mr. Lee.
- Or, even worse, there actually were violent threats made against him and the station.
So no matter how you slice it, ESPN has taken the route of self censure by sidelining a perfectly capable and loyal employee out of fear. Perhaps fear for his very life, for sure fear of being labeled racist and causing a national ruckus and absolutely out of fear of losing advertising dollars.
Instead of sticking up for Mr. Lee, beefing up security and publicly berating the noxious thinking that led to his reassignment, the network took a dive and caved. All done preemptively mind you, because of what the corporate suits thought might happen.
It’s a sick spirit that causes this; one of defeat and keeping your head down, where truth continually gets sacrificed on the altar of political correctness because playing it safe is paramount. It’s what allows bad events and people to thrive and turn in to larger movements because good people have been conditioned to say nothing. Don’t you know, life is easier when you don’t speak out?
This sickness is more evil than words or even violence because it affixes to the heart and warps the way a person thinks. It also spreads very easily.
This keeps me up at night.