Friday, May 10, 2019

Ben Shapiro Met A Real Journalist: Meltdown Ensued

“This whole thing is a waste of time. Frankly, I don’t care — I don’t frankly give a damn what you think of me since I’ve never heard of you... I think we’re done here.”

When I saw Ben Shapiro trending on Twitter my imagination started running wild. Did he have another college visit canceled? Did someone expose plagiarism in his latest book? Was he subpoenaed to testify by the House Judiciary Committee?

My mind raced from one morbid conclusion to another. What happened that set social media on fire?

Instead of being a good husband and enjoying a peaceful Friday, I watched this video and started writing. OMG! This could have been a masterclass in contrarian journalism. His BBC interview with Conservative Journalist Andrew Neil was better than anything I could have imagined.

Shapiro knew he was in trouble when his arrogant and condescending brand of deflecting from tough questions didn't work. His career was built on his ability to dictate the terms of debate. His bait and switch style of avoiding tough questions is predicated on creating some ridiculous ad hominem fallacy and forcing his protagonist to defend an indefensible position they likely don't hold. Andrew Neil didn't take the bait.

What happened to Ben Shapiro is what happens to pseudo-intellectuals who are forced to defend their elementary arguments at the grownups table. He thought this interview would be a great chance to hock his book across the pond. He was wrong. His narcissism and immaturity is all anyone is talking about.

I've watched this interview twice. This was a perfect opportunity for Shapiro to cement his status as an intellectual leader of the modern conservative movement. He failed. He failed because he's spent too much time in the echo chamber. No one benefits from avoiding challenges to their ideology and worldview. Years of debating stoned undergrads and having his beliefs confirmed by Fox news pundits have caused him to believe the voices in his head telling him he's a genius. 

Ben Shapiro, Glenn Beck, Dan Bongino and Sean Hannity are intellectuals for people who don't read. The fact that serious conservative voices have been replaced by this group of lightweights hurts the country. Public policy is being driven by people who don't have a fundamental understanding of history, governance, our problems or how to fix them. This is every bit as sad as it is funny.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Aubrey Huff, Trash Takes and Why Social Justice Warrior Isn't an Insult

"I miss the days when #athletes entertained us with the athletic ability, and didn’t bore us with their political opinions! I know the American 🇺🇸 sports fans will greatly appreciate it! Please @MLB @NHL @NBA @NFL @espn leave politics out of sports!"

Former Major League Baseball player Aubrey Huff represents the views of 90% of the people I encounter on a daily basis. This point of view isn't inherently trash.

When I watch a game, I want the announcers to offer commentary based on the possible strategies that could be employed and any locker room, or behind the scenes, drama that could affect the game play.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to use sports to escape the pressures of life. All of us need down time, but this point of view becomes problematic when it seeks to silence reasonable criticisms and commentary about issues that affect everyday people.

Athletes, like anyone in the public eye, are often asked questions about topics outside of their professional purview. This is normal. Athletes are allowed to have opinions. Athletes, like everyone else in our society, are entitled to their own opinions.

The Aubrey Huff's of the world will always place their comfort ahead of the suffering of others. Being an athlete doesn't insulate a person from racism, nor does it mean they have to ignore it.

Using celebrity to magnify a cause has and always will be an effective way of getting people to pay attention to the suffering of disadvantaged people. One doesn't have to be overtly oppressed to have empathy for people who are.

Comparing the last two president's politics is folly. Athletes of color aren't protesting Donald Trump because of tax policy. They have seen his disdain for anyone who isn't white and refuse to legitimize his bigotry. Ignoring the president's words and actions are a luxury people of color don't have.

Talking about this is exhausting. It shouldn't be this hard to get decent people to recognize the constant dehumanization people of color have faced at the hands of this administration. 

Being Labeled a "social justice warrior" isn't an insult; it's a badge of honor. Fighting for equality is serious business. People have lost friendships, money, their freedom and their lives standing up for the dignity of others. We are allowed to disagree about politics, but we should all agree that people have a right to stand on their principles. 

Saturday, May 4, 2019

You Can’t Spam Your Way To Success!

Image: The Center for Client Retention 
Have you ever been in that awkward social media position where you are being tagged in every post a friend makes? They turned their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram into the most annoying advertising campaign ever. They’ve convinced themselves that the first 100 times you ignored their posts were due to some circumstance beyond your control, and if they keep adding you eventually you will click the link or donate. This constant spamming is actually alienating the people who are most likely to support them.

Here’s the hard truth: You can’t spam your way into support. Social media can be cruel to anyone trying to find their customer base, but especially content producers. I understand the mentality: you have a list of contacts, who have contacts, who could help you create a ripple effect through your social media feeds. This compound interest of people could give you a solid launch into your business endeavor, but this only works if you deliver a product people feel compelled to share. Telling people you have a product and showing them your product are two different things.

It’s a double edge sword for content producers: you have to give a certain amount of your product away in order to build your clientele. People aren’t going to buy content if they don’t know what they are getting. People want to know what your brand is.

Everyday people swipe past hundreds of free articles and videos written and produced by academics, experts in their respective fields and seasoned journalists. Why should someone pay for your time? What have you given them? How can they benefit from their investment in you?

There is an audience for all kinds of content, but you will never connect with them without first letting them know what you have to offer. Social media advertising campaigns have to be supported by underlying content. You need a place people can go to see what you produce. Telling people you have a product without giving them an example is wasting your time. You can’t spam your way to success. Constantly spamming people in your social network is more likely to alienate them than cause them to support your efforts.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Why Are You Hiding Your Testimony?

Some of the embarrassments and failures we buried in our past are constitutive parts of who we are. A lot of us are hiding the obstacles we had to overcome because of pride. It's not illegal to acknowledge the roll our mistakes played in making us who we are.

One of the most liberating things we can do is accept ourselves. This doesn't mean we don't work to overcome our limitations, but we have to accept every foible and idiosyncrasy that makes us unique. You are allowed to love yourself. 

Loving yourself is empowering. Self-esteem isn't gifted to us; it, like faith, is hard won. No one can give it to you, and no one can take it from you once you have it. Your trials and tribulations are proof that you are a conqueror. Why are you hiding your scars? Why are you hiding your testimony? Why are you denying yourself?

Too often we allow ourselves to be prisoners to the cult of perfection. You don't have to be perfect to stand with your shoulders back and head up. You don't have to wait for the world around you to affirm your dignity. If you love and accept yourself you can stand in a room full of people who don't like or respect you and be unfazed. Every mistake you've ever made can be something you draw strength from. Don't hide the things that make you possible.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

What Are Our Priorities?

"What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?"

Friedrich Nietzsche

(Philippe Wang/Getty Images)

The Cathedral at Notre Dame should be rebuilt. As a preservationist and someone with a genuine interest in history its imperative that the architects tasked with this job make every effort possible to restore this Gothic monument to its former glory. This isn't controversial. There are iconic structures throughout the world that should be preserved for future generations. 

What's controversial about the billion plus dollars raised is how the restoration of an inanimate object has been more of a unifying factor than the suffering of flesh and blood people. This isn't an either or proposition. We can do both, but we should start with our neighbors. No society can call itself just while the people suffer. 

As we celebrate this Easter we should put the suffering of the very people Jesus died for at the top of our to do list. Too many offer lip service to the plight of poor people. We are ignoring and shunning the very people we should be helping. 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

America's Response To Police Brutality In 26 Steps

1) Guy pulls gun on Black woman. 
2) She calls cops. 
3) Cops forcibly tackle HER and take HER to jail. 
4) Guy who pulled gun is not detained. 
5) Black people get upset.
6) White people get mad because we are upset.
7) They say, "We need to see the whole video."
8) They say, "She should have just complied."
9) Police release body cam footage. 
10) Footage shows egregious abuse of power.
11) Cop placed on desk duty. 
12) They say, "Police work is hard."
13) They say, "Sure, there are some bad apples."
15) They say, "All lives matter."
16) We say, "Yes, but clearly our lives matter less."
17) They say, "You are a hater. Why do hate so much?"
18) We say, "How is loving ourselves hateful?"
19) They say, "You are dividing the country."
20) We say, "like Black Codes and segregation?"
21) They say, "We were immigrants."
22) They say, "Our family didn't own slaves."
23) The conversation is no longer about the incident. 
24) We get mad, disappointed and then sad.
25) Systematic dehumanization goes unchecked.
26) Another brutality video goes viral: restart at step 5.