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“Just shut up and…..listen”

Fox News’ Laura Ingraham and pro basketball superstar LeBron James went at it a couple of weeks ago, and interestingly, both have been conspicuously quiet ever since.

In case you missed it, the conservative commentator took issue with the ball player’s political views in a TV ad where he accused President Trump of not ‘giving a <hoot> about the People’. Ingraham attacked James’ intelligence and his message to kids, and told him to “shut up and dribble.”

Huh? Really?

Before the NBA All-Star Game, he struck back by calling her a minor celebrity compared to him and refused to shut up because, he said, “I mean too much to society.”

Huh? Really?

Much like when these little Twitter-Instagram-Facebook spats erupt, you’re left to wonder, do either of you know enough about the other; if not personally, at least the grounds for their platform? And when you break down this ignorance, isn’t that what race relations are in America today?

On one hand, you have the white, Ivy League educated granddaughter of European immigrants, who’s also a single, working mom with three adopted kids – one from South America. Balance that with what she’s accomplished in rising to the pinnacle of her profession, and over so many male counterparts I might add, all while building an audience of millions.

James, meanwhile, is the son of a single mother who moved more than 10 times before he was nine. Then, because of his athletic talent, he could have left high school early but instead got his diploma, excelled in his vocation, and now is worth something like $400 million.

Do you write her off as a child of white privilege? Is he just a slickly marketed up-by-your bootstraps climber now turned activist?

One thing you notice is that both Ingraham and James conquered the perceived impossibility of ambition. Both beat the professional odds and both have taught themselves to summon composure under pressure, when it counts the most. How do both translate that to an audience, primarily young impressionable people, they both seem so concerned about?

James and Ingraham could have a whale of an interesting conversation about this, if they chose not to write each other off. They could start with a discussion of the gulf between them and look for new language with which to understand each other.

But that won’t happen. Why? Because there are those people who strip athletes of their basic citizenship and demand their silence. And there are just as many whose political punditry is the domain of the articulate, no matter your viewpoint.

It would be a fascinating reversal if, instead of baiting and trading taunts, James went on Ingraham’s show and elevated the conversation. Answer her tough questions, but ask a couple of his own; a la Bill O’Reilly versus Jon Stewart of several years ago. And going further back, Pat Buchanan and Tom Braden; nice intelligent commentary.

You might start with answering aren’t we all entitled to free speech? On that one I give James an assist, and Ingraham a slam dunk. But, and this is the tough part, this is a game that will end in a tie score.

 

Gene Motley is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at gene.motley@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7211.