I realize the world is becoming more and more polarized. Since the last presidential election (which seems like a century ago), people have retreated into their own “camps,” watching only their preferred television networks, reading only publications or websites that confirm their views, staying in their own social media bubbles by hiding all of the “libtards” or “RepubliKKKans” who disagree with them and the like. These “camps” are generally divided along political, racial and/or socioeconomic lines.
I totally get that human beings have strongly held beliefs and convictions. We should! It’s one of the things that separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom. And people should absolutely be proud to stand up and defend those beliefs. Sadly, we used to be able to do that in a civil and respectful manner. Maybe we disagreed with our friends, family members or neighbors on an issue or had a different candidate’s campaign sign planted in our front yard, but we didn’t think they were “evil” because they thought differently than us.
There have been a number of factors that have pushed us away from civil discourse over the years. It’s not just one election or one president. I hope we will one day get back to a place when our leaders are applauded for reaching across the aisle and making compromises, rather than being run out of town for it. And I hope we can one day have discussions with our friends with differing viewpoints without it ending up in the dissolution of that friendship. I hope.
But while I can understand folks feeling strongly about their beliefs, what I find most troubling is the blatant disregard for facts. Or even the want or desire to seek them out. It seems if the facts don’t support our own beliefs/case/narrative, we have no need or use for them.
This disregard for truth happens in all the various “camps” or sides of the aisle, and two examples of this happened right here in our own backyard recently.
The first is the now-infamous Saraland Waffle House incident, where a 25-year-old black woman, Chikesia Clemons, was wrestled to the ground and arrested by white officers after employees called and complained she and her friends were being disorderly. The video went viral, and without any context it did look very disturbing.
Making matters worse, the reports that first surfaced made it seem this woman was simply arrested as a result of asking for a manager’s name when she was told she would be charged for plastic “to-go” utensils. Clemons and her attorney, Benjamin Crump, and supporters, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, continue to advance this narrative that her life was worth less than plastic utensils, a sentiment Sharpton expressed on his “PoliticsNation” show on MSNBC last Sunday. The Saraland Police and Waffle House have stood behind the officers, saying she was drunk, disorderly and threatening. Crump claims he has witness statements saying otherwise.
OK, so with all of the differing accounts, maybe it’s hard to know who to believe, but in this case, there is a surveillance tape of the moments leading up to the arrest, which we can all watch with our own eyes. And it clearly shows Ms. Clemons getting aggressive and threatening the staff and returning after being asked to leave. Maybe it doesn’t answer every question or show all the angles, but it clearly shows that this wasn’t merely over being charged for a spork. And that is an argument Mr. Crump and Rev. Sharpton have to know in their heart of hearts is at least somewhat disingenuous. She acted in a manner that usually gets people arrested no matter what they look like.
Does institutional racism still exist? Absolutely. The Starbucks incident in Philly recently is a perfect example of it. Will a white girl like myself ever fully appreciate what it must be like? Absolutely not. But after watching Crump and Sharpton totally ignore some of the inconvenient facts of this case and try to turn this into more than it was, I do know all that will ultimately do is make righting the actual wrongs in this world so much harder.
At the same time, many of the very same people who have been screaming for folks to examine the facts and review the tapes in this Waffle House incident were the same ones who immediately dismissed accusers of Judge Roy Moore, many of whom did so without reading a single word of the Washington Post report they were so quick to disregard as a conspiracy propagated by the left and George Soros.
How can you dismiss something you have never even bothered to read? I just don’t get that. After reading the very heavily sourced initial story and the subsequent follow-up pieces, I personally felt some of the stories and women were more credible than others. There was no videotape to watch in this case, but common sense can be just as illuminating.
Judge Moore filed a lawsuit this week against three of his accusers and a man named Richard Hagedorn, who he seems to credit as the mastermind behind the “conspiracy” against him. Hagedorn, he says, has connections to the women and to the Washington Post. Moore also claims Leigh Corfman, the most high-profile of his accusers, was compensated for her story. It will be interesting to see where this leads. And both “sides” should listen to the evidence presented in this case.
The truth, as if often does, probably falls somewhere in the middle. But we should all want to know what that truth is, even if we don’t like it.
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