Thursday, July 22, 2010

When Tag Turns into a Nasty Game

When I was a child one of my favorite neighborhood games to play was tag. My friends and I would run around our neighborhood in Whittier, California often into the twilight and early evening hours running and chasing each other with shouts of "Your IT!" when the IT person tagged someone else.

Often there would be a refrain, a sort of rule we would use called "no tag backs" meaning we would not be able to quickly tag back the person who had just tagged us. This, of course, made the game more interesting. Though we had a great deal of fun. The game was essentially pointless. It was simply a lot of running, shouting, and figuring out who we could "tag" and how we could "tag" them.

We seem to be playing another version of this today. Also with a great deal of shouting and running around. None of which accomplishes much, but can give the illusion of excitement. That is not to say that people don't ever get hurt. Like the childhood game where sometimes in the exuberance of tagging someone, your enthusiasm would get the best of you and when you tagged another, they would fall down. If it happened on the pavement, scuffed knees and tears would sometimes be the result. Today's version of "tag" can have consequences and sometimes innocent people, who did not even sign up to be in the game get hurt.

I am speaking, of course, about the on-going tempest associated with the NAACP, the tea party movement, Shirley Sherrod. The back and forth between the tea party movement and the NAACP led up to the embarrassing debacle of the firing of Shirley Sherrod on Monday. It appears that nearly everyone from the blogger, to the administration to the media, to Bill O'Reilly and I say even the NAACP itself, had a role to play and contributed to this unnecessary ugly incident.

I am most sympathetic to Ms Sherrod. Here she was trying to make a point about overcoming bigotry, to do the the right thing and a knucklehead with an agenda pulls out a snip of her talk, out of context, and displays it for all to see so that he can make the point that bigotry is not one-sided. I also blame the NAACP itself for creating this environment in which members of the tea party movement felt compelled to "tag back" after they were "tagged" with the brush of racism.

Racism has nothing to do with the fundamental tenants of this movement.

The Tea Party Movement is most fundamentally about freedom.

The goals of limiting the government (especially the federal government), keeping taxes low, minimizing regulation, etc. are all means to maintain that core American value - Freedom.

Charges of racism and racist remarks do not belong in this conversation. I am troubled and sad that people involved in this from both people associated with the tea party to the NAACP with the support of news organizations of all persuasions, have allowed the conversation to be hijacked into this senseless shouting match in which, not only is no one listening to the other, but they are not even having the right conversation.

If I was a cynical man, I might think that this was the agenda of the perpetrators all along.

In this world of imperfect men, Freedom is a fragile thing that needs to be protected, nurtured, respected and if maintained, represents our best hope for a future or wondrous innovation, prosperity and progress. Let us strive to stay on this message and not allow ourselves to be sidetracked with pointless games of "tag". Perhaps we can avoid skinned knees, bruised egos, and knee jerk reactions that devastates the lives of our citizens who are simply trying to do the right thing.

Let Freedom Ring

For something a little different, consider my thoughts on State of Independence

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