The superintendent of the Jordan, Minnesota, High School District – one Matthew Helgerson – withdrew his school’s football team from an invitational event celebrating the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday this year.
He explained the withdrawal as a preventative measure against sparking racial unrest after spectators at a game with Roosevelt High displayed a Trump 2020 banner and MAGA caps at the game. It is his policy to ban political advertising at games. His policy and its execution are the height of hypocrisy.
While Helgerson penalizes his school and its players for something they had nothing to do with – it was the fans who displayed the banner – he takes no action against the Roosevelt players who played on his field but refused to leave the clubhouse during the National Anthem. What is that if not political speech? Helgerson has every right to ban political advertising at games under his control, but to enforce it only against his own school and at the expense of the innocent? Seriously?
We have free speech in this country. American citizens have the right to speak for or against whomever they please and it may offend some of their listeners. That includes MAGA hats and pro-Trump banners. It includes refusing to participate in the National Anthem.
That said, a school district superintendent has the right – and the responsibility – to make policies restricting some speech where its expression may cause serious disruption to the school programs for which he is responsible.
Yet that authority must be exercised in an evenhanded manner, no exceptions. To penalize one side for doing what the other side does with impunity is out-of-bounds bullying under Constitutional and statutory law. It is the height – the apex – of hypocrisy into the bargain.
Voters in Jordan should be demanding their school board members fire – if unrepentant – Helgerson, or be looking for jobs themselves following a recall election. Hypocritical bullies disgrace our schools.
Of course, hypocrisy is the coin of the realm in a culture of rage such as the one we currently inhabit. Democrats in Virginia are enraged at their Democratic governor because he apparently posed for a photo in blackface 35 years ago. This would be legitimate outrage if it were not Democrats in an uproar.
This is the party of Andrew Jackson and John C. Calhoun – a party founded for the purpose of preserving slavery. Every leader of the Confederacy was a Democrat. This party lauded its most senior senator – KKK member Robert Byrd – and most of its leaders fought against civil rights legislation while there was breath in their bodies.
Democrat Lyndon Johnson promoted much of it, but it was Republicans – the party founded to abolish slavery – that got it through Congress. It was Republican Richard Nixon who implemented and enforced it – including affirmative action. Yet Dems continue lauding themselves as the freedom party.
Black unemployment and poverty rose for eight years under Democrat Barack Obama – our first black president and alleged champion of equality. They have dropped to historic lows under Maverick Donald Trump – alleged by opponents to be racist. Can anyone say Hypocrites?
Democrats do not have a monopoly on hypocrisy. Republicans had control of Congress from 2011 to January 2019. They had one of their own in the White House since 2017. Did they fund border security – including a wall – they say they so desperately want? They sat at their desks, wringing their hands, until the present crisis was beyond their control. There is plenty of room at the top of Mount Hypocrite.
What if we begin addressing this crisis by acknowledging we all live in glass houses? What if I began by admitting that as a teenager I thought myself special because I treated the black people I knew with courtesy. I began to grow up when I worked for a black man at his parking lot and he taught me some of his street survival skills.
By growing up, I mean I repented my white guilt attitudes and came to see accepting the concept of needing to learn from one another is very different from actually humbling myself to learn from the other. But having learned that lesson I no longer burden myself with guilt over what I have repented.
What if a critical mass of us moved from acknowledgment to actually leaving our glass houses and walking into the sunshine, meeting one another on even ground? We can then debate our ideas – not our identities – with respect to match our passion, and may the better ideas win, raising us all to the level of authentic humanity.
I call that the rebound of repentance.
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