INGRAHAM WAS WRONG, BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN JAMES SHOULD GO UNCHALLENGED
Laura Ingraham is in hot water over comments she made about Lebron James.
In case you missed it, here’s what the conservative firebrand had to say about the basketball star:
“It’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball,” Ingraham said.
“Unfortunately, a lot of kids and some adults take these ignorant comments seriously,” she said. “Look, there might be a cautionary lesson in LeBron for kids: this is what happens when you attempt to leave high school a year early to join the NBA.”
“Why must they talk like that?” she continued, adding, “Keep the political commentary to yourself, or as someone once said, shut up and dribble.”
There are those who have claimed the radio and television host was using a racist dog whistle, but those people clearly know little about Ingraham or the things she has said throughout her career. Ingraham has made similar comments about musical artists like the Dixie Chicks and numerous actors over the years.
Some have questioned Ingraham’s comments about James not going to college when some of her talk radio colleagues — chief among them Rush Limbaugh — likewise did not attend college.
The reason is ideological: Limbaugh agrees with Ingraham and James does not, so she attacks one and says nothing about the other.
But really, all of this is straight out of Ingraham’s standard playbook. She has made telling celebrities and athletes to keep their political opinions to themselves a staple of her “Middle America vs the cultural elites” routine. She even built a book around the concept about 15 years ago called “Shut Up and Sing.”
What Ingraham did wrong here was not the fact that she picked on James. The NBA star is a global icon with an enormous platform, so if he steps into the political realm, he’s fair game. Instead, the issue is the fact that instead of simply rebutting James and explaining why she thinks he’s wrong, she declared that because of his profession, he should not even voice his opinions.
The reality is that when it comes to political opinions, celebrities are no different than the average person. Knowing and understanding these complex issues takes a lot of hard work and thought. Some put in that work and most do not. Think about all of the times in your life you have had political conversations with friends, family, and neighbors. How many times did you walk away impressed and how many times did you walk away shaking your head at their ignorance? The same ratio is likely when it comes to celebrities.
Nobody should ever be told they cannot hold an opinion merely because of their profession. That is obviously ridiculous. But so is assuming that just because a person is famous means they know anything. They may, they may not. But just like lawyers, plumbers, doctors, waiters, etc…. it is on a case by case basis. Some celebrities will prove to be smart and well-versed on the issues and others will sound like shallow talking points. That’s really the way things are for anybody of any profession.
However, as I said earlier, with the freedom for a famous person to express his opinion to a massive audience due to the loud megaphone fame provides also comes added scrutiny. If my neighbor has an opinion that would upset some people, nobody knows about it except for the people he interacts with. But if a worldwide icon like Lebron James says something similar, virtually everybody is aware. So, he should be prepared to face intense scrutiny and pushback from those who disagree with him politically.
But he should never be told he isn’t “qualified” to speak about politics because everybody has that right. Laura Ingraham should remember that next time, and instead of telling James to “shut up and dribble,” maybe she should try addressing him and attempt to persuade him by providing a convincing counter-argument.
Call me crazy, but I think that might be a slightly better strategy and a tad more mature than just calling him names in-between commercial breaks.