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writing for godot

Slow learners: An Open Letter to the President

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Written by amiller333   
Sunday, 05 August 2018 16:28

Aaron L. Miller, PhD

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Dear Mr. President,

It sure doesn’t seem like criticizing athletes should be where anyone draws the line, but maybe that’s our fault, Mr. President. Maybe, hard-skulled as we are, we should have said “enough is enough” when you illustrated why you consider women lesser humans to be grabbed and used, or when you said unconscionably racist things about Mexicans, or when you separated young children from their families, or when you failed to condemn neo-Nazis, or when you have belittled ruler after ruler of what once were ally nations. Knuckleheads like us probably should have been fed up a long time ago, but I guess you can say we are just slow learners.

While I cannot speak for all Americans, especially not for those more intelligent than I, your recent slandering of LeBron James’ intelligence seems as troubling to me as any of these other things you've said. That’s because, even as I do not support any team LeBron has played for, I know that LeBron is a hero, and not because of his basketball skills. I know that unlike some people who are rich and famous, he gives generously to charity and helps the unfortunate, in eye-popping numbers to boot. I know that LeBron’s right when he says you’re trying to use sports to divide us, just as people like you have for centuries used the myth of race to divide and conquer and to advance the sorry notion that one’s racial “stock” makes you smarter. I know that that’s the point of the very category of race, the ideology of racism, and in your case, ad hominem attacks on one of our greatest black public figures.

In fact, we all know, Mr. President, thick-skulled as we all may be, that your personal attacks merely reflect your hateful belief that the color of one’s skin determines the power of one's brain, the content of one's character, and even the value of one's life. We know that when people like you have no good and logical argument to employ, you resort to character assassination and subliminally racist epithets.

But you see Mr. President, we all also know of LeBron’s good deeds for those in need, and, accordingly, we know about much more than his intelligence: we know of the courage of his heart. Yes, slow learners as we may be, we know that he’s smarter than you give him credit for, and that, even if he wasn't, his heart would more than make up for it, anyway. We know that LeBron, like so many other impressively courageous pro athletes today, is not just an athlete. We know that he’s a brave and passionate advocate for prosperity for all; in short, we know he’s a bigger man than you, and not just physically.

But there’s one more thing, Mr President, that you may have overlooked, or perhaps you’re just too intelligent to understand. You see, what LeBron knows - and what we all know - is that Americans have always adored our sporting heroes not only for what they can do on the court and field, but also for what they choose to do off it. Often, that means taking a moral stand and effecting positive change, rather than trying to destroy the good name of others.

That is why, dim witted as we may be, I know I am not alone in knowing that your attacks on LeBron’s intelligence – or ours – will never divide us. Slow learners though we may be, I know we will, like LeBron himself, continue to think not with our heads but with our hearts, all the while remembering one important lesson you have taught us: that an attack on the intelligence of our heroes is an attack on the intelligence of all of us.

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