When polarizing events happen in the era of social media hot takes, the personal lives of the people involved, are often dissected.
These days, this practice is called victim-shaming.
Due to my association with many folks who are in law enforcement and in the military, I have a front row seat on how propaganda can evolve. The same people who’ve told so many of us not to jump to conclusions often do the same. It fits the narrative they want to mold.
When news surfaced of another killing of a police officer, such as Suburban Chicago police officer Joe Gliniewicz, due to the current political climate in our country, cops are automatically labeled as heroes and anyone who says otherwise is branded as a cop hater.
The memes that are posted to social media often state President Obama’s alleged hatred for the police/military along with blaming the motto “Black Lives Matter” for the “War on Cops.” That “war” has since been debunked by the Washington Post.
As the news of the type of man Gliniewicz was started to surface, I wondered why he was considered a hero in the first place. After the smoke cleared, this man was the worst type of police officer anyone could be. Watching this play out could’ve been the straight to DVD/ Netflix movie sequel of the movie “The Departed.”
I also noticed that the same people, based on their political affiliation, engaged in a healthy amount of victim-shaming when it came to the countless number of Black people who’ve become hashtags. From 2006-2012, a white police officer killed a black person at least twice a week in this country.
In most cases, we knew more about their backgrounds than we did about the people who were involved in their death. Recently, a young boy was murdered in Chicago and it made national headlines. The parenting skills of his parents were questioned instead of posting the $50,000 reward for information regarding his killer(s). A since taken down Instagram photo of the kid’s mother holding a gun insinuated that the mother had something to do with his son’s death. I’m not defending the woman, but would those folks say the same things after multiple pictures of Sarah Palin holding guns were posted? Probably not.
This goes to show us that just because someone works in a noble profession, doesn’t mean they should be considered a hero. It also says that just because someone has a gun, doesn’t mean that are directly responsible for the death of a nine-year-old.
In the sports world, there’s a history of how narratives can strongly influence public opinion. For instance, remember how the early 90’s Duke teams were considered to be clean cut, while UNLV and Michigan’s Fab Five were considered to be thuggish and disrespectful? Remember how Allen Iverson’s “practice” comment was blown out of proportion? The real reason for why he reacted the way he did wasn’t as publicized as the partial reaction was. Not many of the media members, fans, and sports radio talking heads even bothered to report the entirety of Iverson’s comments.
As I wrote this column, I came across the cover of the Dallas Morning News. The front of the paper has a cutout with Clippers Center DeAndre Jordan with devil horns:
Dallas newspaper gets fans ready for Clippers-Mavs tonight. Don't miss this on Prime Ticket at 5pm. pic.twitter.com/vBK2nDFoLg— Ralph Lawler (@Ohmeomy) November 11, 2015
Yes, he reportedly reneged on a handshake agreement. However, I’m not sure why that makes him the devil. At the heart of it, Jordan did what most of us have done our entire lives. Why was he branded differently?
Before, I saw many folks online making an unfair juxtaposition to the Mizzou protest and comparing it to what the Clippers did ( in their minds, didn’t do) when the Donald Sterling s--t show took place. The juxtapositions predictably left out the work done by Chris Paul with the NBA Players’ Union.
No point in comparing Mizzou to Clippers/Sterling. A boycott is last resort. Clips allowed process to play out & concerns were addressed— J.A. Adande (@jadande) November 9, 2015
#Mizzou football players used their big time program status for change where they saw injustice. What a story. Wish Clippers had done same.— Patrick Brogan (@PatrickMBrogan) November 9, 2015
See, that’s the thing. Why do we hold everyone to the same standard? In a movement or a call to action, we all have different roles. Some folks can rebel rouse, some can make signs, some can write out demands, and others folks make sure everyone is fed. Some folks are built a certain way. It is what it is. Just because they don’t show the outward passion that today’s millennial Black activists, like DeRay McKesson or Johnetta Elzie, shows, doesn’t mean that they don’t care.
Ever since 9/11, anytime anyone who "looks like" a Muslim entered a public place, people give them the side eye. It's another example of how negative propaganda can have an effect on the critical thinking skills of many Americans. Since those who follow Islam are viewed in a certain way due to terrorist attacks, should I be worried when white men walk into schools, government buildings and movie theaters? How about an AME church?
Being stereotyped is no fun.
President Obama said it best, in response to right wing talk regarding Sryian refugees, when he said if you aren't a Native American, you're from somewhere else.
It seems that many folks have forgotten their roots when it comes to immigration. Ignorance is bliss but it is also dangerous in the wrong hands.
It appears that no matter where you’re from, or whom you align yourselves with, everyone, at some point, will jump to conclusions. In some cases, it’s okay to step back and stay above the fray. After all, a lot of folks who claimed that the aforementioned cop was a hero, along with blaming Black Lives Matter, are awful quiet these days.
It’s human nature.