Perspective comes with age, and one observation that has become clearer as I’ve gotten older is that in absence of knowledge, people will fill in the gaps. And they will almost always be wrong.
The current President Trump Twitter storm is just the latest example.
On Sunday, July 14th, President Trump sent the following three tweets:
Technically speaking, only a few hundred thousand people read the tweets. That means most of the people talking about it have gotten their information from either a news outlet, or word of mouth (friends, relatives, overhearing conversations, etc.)
I first heard about these tweets in the news. And the word assigned to them was “racist,” which made me go look at the original tweets.
Since that first news report, everywhere I’ve heard about these tweets, and the reactions to them, has included the word “racist.” I’ve heard “racist tweets,” or “racist comments,” in every iteration of the story.
This is not uncommon. You see this when people are talking about celebrities, politicians, and their jobs. They get a nugget of information that is true, and in absence of more information, they assign reason and decide that it’s true.
I’ve worked at many jobs in which the workers were given a policy change or product development, but didn’t understand why. And in absence of there being a reason, they decide to assign their own.
What shocks me the most is that the reason most people assign is inevitably evil intent. “They created that policy so they can: exploit the work force/make more money off of us/screw the consumers/etc.” People simply don’t give others – especially those who “outrank” them – any benefit of the doubt.
Going back to the Trump tweets: take a minute to read them. Above are the original three tweets.
After you read them, ask yourself: whether or not you agree with them, did you find them racist? What verbiage did you see, specifically, that indicated he was making a point about race? Which race was he commenting on, and what was his comment about it?
You may have assigned race to it through your own thinking and experience, but you wouldn’t have found it in the tweets, themselves. You may have thought he was using code words, but that’s your guess. You can’t know what was in his heart or mind as he wrote them. You may believe he is a racist, but that doesn’t make him a racist.
While some communicate better than others, most people choose the words they’re using and are aware of what they’re trying to say. If someone says something with clumsy wording, ask them what they meant and give them another crack at it.
Calling someone a racist because of a comment they made is a particularly lazy, and often offensive, description of what one is doing or trying to say.
There is very little racism in our society today. What we have is culturalism. We’ll deal with that tomorrow.