Wednesday, August 23, 2017

What's in a name, and other stupidities

It's no stop-the-presses news flash that we live in a country now where the inexplicable has become the inescapable. The default response to pretty much everything these days, more and more, is one word.

That word is "Seriously?"

And so this latest bit of nonsense from ESPN, the Worldwide Leader In Political Correctness, apparently, and also Oh, Come On. And also, of course, Seriously?

It seems the WWL has decided, in the wake of the white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Va., that it's making a lineup change for its broadcasts of University of Virginia football games. The reason?

Because the announcer lined up for the job is named Robert Lee. Which means he shares a name, but nothing else, with Confederate icon (and rally flashpoint) Robert E. Lee.

One more time: Seriously?

(ESPN's explanation for the move is it was a mutual decision, and it was done to spare Lee a lot of cruel memes and harassment. Understandable, but it seems not to have occurred to any of the suits that his replacement now will likely be subjected to proxy cruel memes and harassment. Because idiots will always find a way to be idiots.)

Anyway ... forget for a moment the ultimate absurdity of this, which is that ESPN's Robert Lee isn't even white. He's Asian. Worse is that it gives yet more fuel to Trumpian America's favorite paranoid delusion, America Is Being Destroyed By Political Correctness.

It's not, of course. Most of what Trump's America regards as "political correctness" is simple common decency. It's what your mother told you, if you were raised right, about not deliberately insulting others.

Which brings us back to Robert Lee, and those confounded monuments -- the latest flashpoint for the "white nationalists" (cough, cough) who marched in the streets of Charlottesville when they weren't driving Dodge Chargers into crowds.

The "white nationalists" (cough, cough) regard pulling down those monuments as tantamount to erasing history. It's not. It's simply correcting what the cult of Lost Cause remembrance and neo-Confederate thought distorted to begin with. And in any case, most of the monuments in question were erected some 60 years after the war, as part of Jim Crow and the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan. They were not erected to honor the memory of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, but to remind African-Americans that the white man still ran things down this way.

They were, in other words, a deliberate slap in the face to people who'd already endured too many slaps, and of course much, much worse. And that's why it's entirely appropriate to remove them from public places paid for in part by African-American tax dollars.

And as for the erasing history nonsense ... well, the last I looked, no one had closed Gettysburg National Military Park. Or Shiloh or Antietam or Chancellorsville/Wilderness, all places where monuments to Lee and Jackson stand and should stand. History is pretty lovingly preserved in those places, I've noticed, and in any number of museums dedicated to the Civil War. Don't see a whole lot of erasing going on there, nor will I.

The larger issue here is not history but the future. Back of the monuments kerfuffle is a whole lot of free-floating anxiety among certain whites about an increasingly multi-cultural America. Thus the elevation of a crude race-baiting buffoon to the White House, and blatant voter suppression, and "white nationalists" (cough, cough) marching in the streets chanting slogans straight out of Berlin and Munich in the 1920s.

These are serious issues in this country now, and they demand serious reflection. But when ESPN indulges in silly public relations ploys, it doesn't address those issues. It simply demeans and devalues them.

To our detriment.

No comments:

Post a Comment