It’s that time again.
Today we will look at the “You don’t see what you don’t want to see” side of Rockman’s message. A couple of examples have stood out recently.
I will start with Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team. Donald made some comments that were considered racist in a telephone call with his mistress (it is alright to openly cheat on your spouse). A recording of this private call mysteriously made its way into the media, and everyone was outraged. He was fined $2.5 million dollars, and banned from contact with the franchise he owns. Wow, they really don’t put up with racism in the NBA, do they?
Well, yes they do. They just don’t put up with headlines about racism in the NBA. Sterling’s racist comments were less of an open secret than they were common knowledge. The man is eighty one years old, he didn’t start feeling this way yesterday. His comments were not even racially motivated. He did not want his mistress hanging out with Magic Johnson, who has been drooling over owning the Clippers for a decade. Because Magic is black, the conversation veered into comments about blacks, but Sterling has said and done much worse things in the past. They just did not make headlines. Because no one had wanted him to sell the team before (at a sizable profit).
The NBA did not see the racist in their midst because they did not want to see the racist. They saw the color green.
Following the shootings in Sandy Hook, a number of gun control measures were introduced. It is far easier to blame the tool than blame the person using it. For some reason Sandy Hook was different enough to raise the issue of mental healthcare reforms, Adam Lanza was clearly troubled and poorly serviced by the mental healthcare community. The idea of forced mental health treatment is something we really don’t want to consider. It is easy to say the crazy person should be locked up, but what if we know the crazy person? We have sympathy for them, just like Adam Lanza’s mother did. We should be able to see just how well that worked out for her, but we still insist, despite all the data indicating otherwise, all we need to do is ban guns.
We do not see the problem because we do not want to see the problem, we just want to do something, believing it will make us feel better. In some ways I wish they could ban the guns and then accept responsibility for every murder that takes place afterward.
Recently the story of human trafficking in Nigeria has made the news again. It has been portrayed in this case as a terrorist group kidnapping young girls from schools because they believe education for women is an insult to Islam. The President of Nigeria, the sadly named Goodluck Jonathan, initially refused to acknowledge the kidnappings, then his wife, the inappropriately named Patience Jonathan, held a meeting with the mothers of the girls. Since the mothers were terrified of being identified, they sent a representative, who was arrested for not being a mother of a kidnapped child. No patience in Nigeria.
The story, after languishing in the world press for weeks, has hit the American media, and now President Obama has promised aid, saying “Time is of the essence.” Time may be of the essence for the few (over two hundred this week) girls kidnapped in this story. But this story is not about education for women, or Islam, or terrorists, or Al Qaeda. These girls were kidnapped by a wanna be warlord, who is financing his criminal activities by trafficking in the only resource he can obtain. These kidnappings did not begin last month, and they will not end with the return of these (now permanently scarred) girls. As long as there is a thriving market for children, children will be kidnapped for resale.
We do not see the human trafficking problem because we do not want to see the human trafficking problem. We do not want to think about what happens to these children. We would rather talk about other issues, like misguided attempts to prohibit women from education, and Al Qaeda, and terrorists, than thugs stealing human beings for profit.
We choose what we want to see, turning a blind eye to the actual problems, and in doing so, sustain those problems.