Full disclosure: I have been as guilty of this stuff as anybody else. So in the pantheon of “people who need to change,” I volunteer to bat leadoff.
This pandemic, if nothing else, has illustrated a few things to me: 1) politics during a health crisis are toxic and destructive; and 2) the unending need to be right about everything is overrated.
Example: Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots, recently sent the team plane to China to get 1.2 million N95 masks for health care workers in the United States. He just saved lives. We learned here in our corner of the world this week from the story of the Mebus sisters of East Lyme that the tight-fitting N95 masks are lifelines on the frontlines.
Common decency, not to mention common sense, suggests that our feelings about Mr. Kraft, his hobbies, his team and his political views are patently irrelevant to this act of kindness. He did a beautiful thing that stands on its own.
I mean, nobody hates the Patriots more than yours truly. But that’s merely the fun of sports. Lobbing a few snowballs at each other. If we can’t separate the outcome of a football game or a man’s political views from his bid to save lives, we need to reboot.
Then I see this tweet from Jemele Hill, the once insightful host on ESPN, who writes for The Atlantic:
“This is where I remind people that Robert Kraft is friends with Donald Trump and gave to his campaign. It’s incredible that Kraft family is doing this, but hope they understand their money helped empower their friend.”
That tweet is the absolute worst of us. The worst. The inability to give credit to an adversary in a time of crisis — in the name of perpetuating an agenda or just in the need to be right — is exactly the behavior that sinks us lower into the morass.
As one Twitter rebuttal said, “Whatever happened to just crediting people for doing good things? The Internet has turned life into an impossibly cynical showdown of competing purity tests that just makes everyone hate each other.”
Sad. I used to find Ms. Hill’s work quite credible. I found her take on race in America insightful. A few years ago, ESPN aired “Dear Black Athlete,” a one-hour town hall special that, using sports as a backdrop, detailed many of the issues facing blacks — and all Americans — today.
Ms. Hill said: “Part of the reason why the racial dialogue has only gotten so far is we need all sides to not just see this as a black problem. This is America’s problem. You cannot ask the people most burdened and oppressed by the system to also fix the problem. It’s impossible. It feels like a lot of times we are spinning our wheels because I don’t think everybody is equally invested in seeing this go away.”
Ms. Hill, choosing to join the cacophony of communal contempt, has gone from a must listen to a one-act play. Everything is viewed through the political prism. Even an act of humanity gets couched by political affiliation.
It’s not part of the problem. It is THE problem.
I’ve learned that I can only control my behavior. No one else’s. And while there are days the columnist’s job is to be a know-it-all, my goal is to at least separate politics from humanity. Humanity stands on its own. And if an adversary of mine contributes to humanity, I’ll be the first to say so.
I just don’t need to be right that badly.
And I don’t want to become a one-act play.
How about you? You want to politicize everything? Free country. Except that I’m no longer interested in your feedback. Hence, I’m either going to stick my fingers in my ears and make that NANANANA sound until you go away … or simply ignore you.
You no longer matter.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro