Right Opinion

The Knee-Jerk and Bandwagon Are Two Things America Can Do Without

James Shott · Nov. 14, 2017

Things have really gotten strange lately. Much of this is traceable to reactions to the 2016 election, and a lot of it is a response to things that individuals simply disagree with but take their dislike to a too-high level.

President Donald Trump’s enemies think their dissatisfaction with him is more important than his work as president.

They rise in Congress to express hopefulness that Trump will be impeached before Christmas for his imagined collusion (collusion, by the way, is not a crime) with Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton. Yet after a year of complaining about it and six months of investigation by a special counsel, so far three indictments for alleged crimes that occurred years ago is all that has been found, none of which have much if anything to do with Donald Trump.

Clinton supporters screamed at the sky in observance of the first anniversary of Trump’s election, just like they screamed when Clinton lost the election that she was guaranteed to win and felt she was entitled to on that dark night of Nov. 8, 2016.

They regard the recent Democrat victories for governor in two blue states as a sign that America now rejects Trump. However, not only was Trump not on the ballot this year but these two blue states did not vote for him for president last year, so this is an argument without supporting evidence, and they ought to be embarrassed by it.

In every line of work, some practitioners are better at it than others. News journalism has always had some who did not always, or ever, follow ethical standards, but these days the latter type seems to dominate the field. The Japanese Fish Food Fiasco provides a recent example of either journalistic incompetence or agenda journalism.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Trump were shown standing at the edge of a Koi pond, ready to feed the fish. Abe and Trump use a spoon to sprinkle the food from a box at first, then Abe dumps the contents of his box in the pond. Having seen his host dump his food, Trump dumps his food, too.

Here are some examples of what passes for news these days:

  • New York Magazine: “Trump Under Fire for Improper Fish-Feeding Technique.”

  • CNN’s headline said, “Trump feeds fish, winds up pouring entire box of food into koi pond,” while showing an edited video of the event.

  • A tweet by Justin Sink of Bloomberg said Abe and Trump were “spooning fish food into the pond” when Trump “decided to just dump the whole box in for the fish.”

  • “Trump and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe were scheduled to feed koi spoonfuls of food. Until Trump poured his entire box of fish food into the pond,” tweeted CNBC’s Christina Wilkie, who then later deleted the tweet.

If many in the media feel led to falsify something so insignificant as feeding fish to make the president look bad, imagine how they might handle really important news items.

And then there are the numerous allegations of sexual criminal behavior from years ago involving Hollywood personalities and others. What is surprising about this is the eagerness with which these allegations frequently are accepted as truth. Yes, they all may be completely true. Or possibly, some are true and some are not.

Anyone can allege anything against anyone else at any time. An allegation is only an allegation, and in America people are innocent until proven guilty. These allegations may be cases of she-said/he-said with no evidentiary support. This situation is not made easier when the complaints are years or decades old.

It is under these circumstances that Alabama Republican Roy Moore, candidate for the U.S. Senate, has been accused of unspeakable things from 30+ years ago. They may be true, but they are at this point only allegations. Yet the timing and the over-eager belief of these allegations may doom a candidate before any proof is offered.

People want to remove/destroy statues of Confederates and residents of the South without knowing anything more about them than that they owned slaves or perhaps just lived at the wrong time. They also want to do away with “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem because the word “slave” appears in the third verse, a verse many or most people have never heard of before.

University of Michigan musicologist Marc Clague, who is board chairman of the Star Spangled Music Foundation, offers this: “The social context of the song comes from the age of slavery, but the song itself isn’t about slavery, and it doesn’t treat whites differently from blacks.”

“The reference to slaves is about the use, and in some sense the manipulation, of black Americans to fight for the British, with the promise of freedom,” he said. “The American forces included African-Americans as well as whites. The term ‘freemen,’ whose heroism is celebrated in the fourth stanza, would have encompassed both.”

Our country is weakened when people react too quickly and without due consideration of things, even horrible things like sexual assault. The atmosphere becomes needlessly controversial and even dangerous. Restraint and thoughtfulness are hereby recommended.

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