When columnists are looking for something to write about, they usually can rely on items appearing in the news during the past week — and my topic today came gift-wrapped with a cherry on top.
It fits into the “just when you think you’ve heard everything” category with a dash of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! thrown in for good measure.
As if enough ridiculous things hadn’t already happened in the wake of the Charlottesville tragedy with removing monuments and similar actions triggered by a knee-jerk mob mentality, came one for the ages courtesy of ESPN, the major sports network.
You probably have heard that an ESPN college football announcer just happens to be named Robert Lee. And he has been removed from working a Sept. 2 game in Charlottesville between the University of Virginia and William and Mary.
Obviously, Lee’s name is similar to that of a certain Confederate general, which apparently is so intolerable for ESPN it has assigned him to another game that day.
The interesting thing about this is Robert Lee (the announcer) does not wear a gray uniform or wave a flag with stars and bars, and doesn’t reflect at all the background of a dyed-in-the-wool Southerner. He is Asian-American, one being denied an opportunity to watch the powerhouse University of Virginia football team in person strictly because of his name.
This makes me think the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission — the agency responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting job discrimination — should add another protected category to its list. It already includes job applicants or employees who are treated unfairly on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age and other reasons.
Perhaps there should be a provision for persons with names similar to those of Confederate leaders.
I would guess that Robert Lee (again, the announcer) probably is not a Rebel sympathizer, yet he has unfairly been placed in a national spotlight by ESPN due to its hypersensitivity in the name of political correctness. This is part of a pattern for that network, which is known for its editorial support of far-left liberal causes and events such as NFL players refusing to stand for the national anthem.
At the same time, ESPN’s popularity and financial position has declined to the point that the network recently had to lay off scores of employees, including some of its best-known personalities such as football expert John Clayton.
Speaking for myself as a rabid fan, I think the American sporting public prefers an entity that simply televises games and gives us scores and highlights rather than a vehicle for left-leaning political causes.
So in looking at its stupid move involving Robert Lee, I guess it’s a good thing ESPN doesn’t have an announcer named Stonewall. For he surely would be banned from working the game on Sept. 2 between Air Force and Virginia Military Institute, where Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson served as a professor before joining the Army of Northern Virginia.
The Robert Lee incident wasn’t the only idiotic event occurring this week, as a similar one unfolded at the University of Southern California, home of the famed USC Trojans.
Well, it just so happens that the white horse an individual dressed as a Trojan soldier rides onto the field before football games has been declared a racist symbol by a group at USC, the Black Student Assembly, post-Charlottesville.
The horse is named Traveler, which also was that of Gen. Lee’s horse.
So naturally, the group wants the horse to be renamed, but I wonder why they just don’t go ahead and shoot the animal at halftime due to the clear role it has played not only in helping rouse the fans but promoting the racist South.
In trying to make sense of reports such as those involving Robert Lee and the USC horse, not to mention attacks on George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, my first impulse is that these stem simply from ignorant folks failing to grasp the futility of taking political correctness to extremes.
However, my conspiracy-theory side makes me suspect something more sinister might be afoot by these far-left wackos — although I could be giving them too much credit for (a) having intelligence that (b) is directing them toward some logical end-game.
One of the first things socialists and communists seek to do in overthrowing a democratic government is attacking the very foundations of said government. That includes its flags, symbols — or statues.
Then when historical figures who formed that government are discredited, the next step is its dismantling.
Today a statue, tomorrow the Constitution.
Tom Joyce is a staff writer for The Mount Airy News. He may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.