July 18th, 2019

earl watt mugL&T Publisher Earl Watt


I’ve heard a lot about Nancy Pelosi’s clap during the State of the Union, mostly those on the left praising her for being as condescending as possible when supporting one of President Donald Trump’s talking points with applause. I just thought that was how every geriatric clapped, a little sideways and awkward, and in a way that makes sure the person being applauded can see. 

Other than clapping like every great-grandmother at a school play, it really wasn’t a big deal.

What has been a big deal this week has been the problems in Virginia with the three top-ranking Democrats all facing a variety of scandals, two of which with racial overtones and another with a claim of sexual impropriety.

I’m not defending any of the actions taken by any of these men, but I do question the immediate reaction to commit political homicide on each of them.

I know the world we live in today is intolerant and throws around terms like bigot, racist and misogynist as if they were standard pronouns for anyone that doesn’t support abortion, climate change or reparation payments.

The scary part of all of this is the idea that the real sins committed by these three men, or by anyone for that matter, are unforgivable, that these men are unredeemable, and that they must pay a life sentence of ridicule for any action they may have taken at any stage in their life.

It seems only enlightened liberal thinkers can or have evolved their approach to life, and anyone else who may disagree or maybe even had racial thoughts at any time in their lives must be discarded forever.

In the two cases of men wearing black face, that was a stupid, stupid move. All indications is that these were done in their adolescent years or early 20s.

To come back and exact a political price 30 years later, or to believe that these two were the only men to ever racially crossdress is the pious position of the executioners of today.

It’s easy to go on to a talk show and take the high road by calling for their removal.

It’s much harder to go on that same talk show, condemn their actions and then examine the roads taken since then to see if these men have learned something since then.

If we are ever going to bridge the gap of understanding, there will be more and more people who have skeletons in their closets that represent poor behavior or a lack of understanding among the races.

If we are going to socially execute them every time they are discovered, it’s no wonder these yearbook photos and other items have been hidden away.

In a way, society has forced these people to either continue to believe racist thoughts or to try to hide those years when they were less educated about diversity.

I wonder what would happen if Jesse Jackson would have been discovered to have had another love child today? The new approach would crucify the man. However, when those revelations came out 20 years ago, he admitted his mistake, and society left the judging to Rev. Jackson and his creator.

That certainly wasn’t the case of Paula Deen who admitted to using the N-word in the 1980s after being robbed by a black man who put a gun to her head.

Her television show was canceled five years ago when the revelation was made, and she was financially punished.

Most of the time, this anger is directed toward conservatives with the assumption that they are all closet racists at heart, and as soon as any evidence can be produced, liberals will seek the social death penalty.

They have made exceptions, like Hillary Clinton praising Democratic Senator Robert Byrd who used to be a Grand Wizard in the KKK.

Clinton herself flip flopped on issues like gay marriage, at one time stating she believed marriage to be a “sacred bond between a man and a woman,” but later changed her position to support civil unions.

Her reasoning — America has changed, and she has changed with it.

If that can work for Hillary, why can’t it work for these two men in Virginia?

Is it not rational to believe that we have learned a lot about different races in the past 30 years? Has society not been more welcoming of interracial marriages, and have we not seen a number of firsts for many minorities in the past 30 years as archaic ideas of prejudice subside?

They aren’t gone, and probably never will be, and no matter how far we advance, it will never be enough for some, either.

It’s not enough to simply acknowledge an apology made by someone who made a mistake years ago and still expect retribution. In these cases, the punishment has little to do with these two men and everything to do with societal retribution, that these two men should be made examples for everyone who ever dressed as a black person at a costume party, for every racist ever.

There is an opportunity here for a broader understanding and a better historic perspective. What these men did was wrong, and it was wrong when they did it, but have they expanded their understanding since then?

It seems to be a common practice today to dig up a person’s high school yearbook or even notes on a calendar and try to end their careers in public life based on underage drinking or allegations made decades later where no evidence can be found, or to see if they dressed up in a racially insensitive way.

If I were partisan, I would join the fray and call for these men’s jobs.

But first, I am a Christian who needed a savior to wash my stains away, and I was challenged in scripture to forgive others as I have been forgiven.

So I won’t take the bait the media wants us all to swallow and join in with the torches and pitchforks.

I choose to believe that these men made mistakes, and that the lessons they have learned since have made them new people, not espousing the same ideas they may have had 30 years ago.

We have to believe people can change, that we can learn to better understand one another and quit holding every public official hostage to their teenage and 20-something versions of themselves.

It’s easy to condemn but hard to forgive.

I challenge us all to try an attitude of forgiveness and understanding. If we did, we just might find a quicker path to a better tomorrow.

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