LeBron James’ enthusiastic, headfirst dive into politics is at the root of my aversion to the NBA star.
Wednesday, James returned to the presidential campaign trail when a reporter asked him about President Donald Trump’s statement that he turns off his television when he sees NBA players supporting Black Lives Matter and kneeling during the national anthem.
“I really don’t think the basketball community are sad about losing viewership, him viewing the game,” James told NBA bubble reporters. “And that’s all I got to say.”
Of course, James’ grammatical and political eloquence did not stop there. The More Than An Athlete activist stumped for voters.
“I hope everyone, no matter the race, no matter the color, no matter the size, will see what leadership that we have at the top in our country and understand that November is right around the corner and it’s a big moment for us as Americans. If we continue to talk about, ‘We want better, we want change,’ we have an opportunity to do that. But the game will go on without his eyes on it. I can sit here and speak for all of us that love the game of basketball: We could care less.”
I don’t have a problem with people voting. I have a problem with the selling of politics as some sort of silver bullet to the cultural, spiritual and family- structure problems afflicting America in general and black people in particular.
Politics is the sworn enemy of truth. As a Christian and a journalist, I believe the truth is the lone ally of the righteous. I’m leery of all politicians and political people. I’m most leery of politicians and political people who use race as their primary tool to gain political power.
LeBron James is a one-trick political activist. His political magic trick is the left-wing dog whistle affectionately referred to as the race card. James doesn’t know it — he’s too young, too inexperienced and too manipulated — but his political activism mimics Republican George H. W. Bush’s 1988 political ploy.
President Bush used a black career criminal, Willie Horton, much the same way James, Black Lives Matter and the Democratic Party are using George Floyd, the career criminal who died tragically during an encounter with Minneapolis police.
In 1986, Horton was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for a 1974 murder in Massachussets. The state’s department of corrections released him on a weekend furlough as part of a controversial rehabilitation program that Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis supported while governor of Massachusetts. Horton did not return to prison from his weekend furlough. He escaped to Maryland, where he raped a woman and pistol-whipped her boyfriend. Horton is now 68 and serving a life sentence at a maximum-security prison.
Bush’s campaign made Willie Horton the star of the 1988 presidential election. The media criticized Bush for playing racial politics and using Horton as a dog whistle to white racist voters.
Bush vs. Dukakis was the first major election cycle that I was eligible to vote. I passed. I found the campaign intentionally divisive and devoid of substance and honesty.
Little has changed in the 32 years since.
George Floyd is the star of this election cycle. James and NBA players want to make Breonna Taylor, a black Louisville woman killed in a failed police drug sting, Floyd’s vice presidential running mate.
It’s all divisive racial politics devoid of truth.
James is pretending to be a warrior for social justice reform, feigning concern for Floyd, Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and their families. The concern is disingenuous because the real agenda is political power. Floyd, Taylor and Arbery are political pawns who won’t be brought back to life by the election of Joe Biden or any politician.
American police do a very dangerous job in the most heavily-armed country on the planet. It’s inevitable that deadly mistakes will transpire in the execution of police work. The police make those mistakes regardless of the race of the perpetrator. Every year the police kill approximately twice as many white people as black people. Yes, black people are just 13 percent of the American population. But the violent crime rate in black communities causes police to engage with black men more often than other groups.
None of the above is new information or insight. Racial politics stop us from discussing police brutality in an honest fashion.
Politics is the enemy of truth. James’ embrace of politics has put me at odds with him.
I was a LeBron James supporter throughout his initial stint in Cleveland. When public sentiment turned against James and his business associates in the aftermath of his first Cleveland exit, I wrote a long profile story for FOX Sports that elevated the reputation of Maverick Carter, the architect of The Decision. At the time (2011), I was ridiculed for defending Carter. In 2014, when Kobe Bryant mocked James and the Heat for donning hoodies in support of Trayvon Martin, I blasted Bryant and supported James in an ESPN column. Later that year, when critics argued that James’ pride should prevent him from reuniting with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, I argued the opposite.
My consistent criticism of James didn’t take flight until he entered the political arena during the 2016 election cycle. He campaigned for Hillary Clinton and began his public trolling of Donald Trump.
I’m not a Trump supporter. I do, however, oppose the point of view that Trump is any more or less of a problem for black people than any of the 44 previous presidents. The framing of Trump as an anti-black lunatic is the kind of political ploy that keeps me out of the voting booth. Trump is no more black people’s problem than Willie Horton was white America’s problem.
In January of 2017, I appeared on Colin Cowherd’s radio program and articulated my concern that LeBron was in the process of jumping the shark politically. Five months later, during the NBA Finals, LeBron claimed that someone spray-painted the n-word on his Brentwood, Calif., mansion. He offered no proof. He bizarrely compared himself to the mother of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy brutally slain in Mississippi in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a woman.
Spray paint on a gate that James and his family never personally saw somehow was analogous to the pain of a mother losing her child to murder?
Politics is the sworn enemy of truth.
James has far more in common with Jussie Smollett than Emmett Till’s mother.
James, Smollett and other black celebrities have replaced the black church as the principal tool used to galvanize black voters. As America has turned secular and young black people have abandoned religion, the black church has lost its ability to control black voters.
Black Twitter is the new black church.
It’s a horrendous substitute. Like all man-made institutions, the church is flawed. But the church does concern itself with and maintain an allegiance to truth. Ministers associate with other ministers. A corrupt and dishonest minister will occasionally be chastised by one of his peers or a courageous true believer in his congregation.
Does anyone inside The Church of LeBron James question him on anything?
Does Twitter, the overseer of clickbait, have any regard for truth?
Only Twitter could turn George Floyd into Rosa Parks. A strong black church would not allow it. Someone in the congregation would know the pregnant woman who Floyd robbed at gunpoint. Someone in the congregation would object to elevating Floyd to national hero status.
Floyd did not deserve to die under the knee of Derek Chauvin. Floyd also does not deserve hero worship. He shouldn’t be used as a device to control black voters and demonize white people who disagree with Democrats.
I didn’t like it when Republicans exploited Willie Horton. The exploitation of George Floyd is just as repulsive. That’s my problem with LeBron James and his woke disciples. Floyd is their political power tool.
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