They got to him.
After days of debate that was the height — check that, the nadir — of public discourse the head coach of Oklahoma State University’s football program has come out with an apology. Mike Gundy had become the latest target of racial outrage, not because of comments he made, not over posts he created on social media – not even over political donations or other actionable activities. It was all because a photograph surfaced of Gundy on a fishing trip wearing a shirt with the logo of One America News Network.
This led to media squelching, activist outrage, athletes threatening to not play for the coach, and the bulk of this country saying, ‘’Are you F-ing kidding about this?!?!’ For a day or so expectations hung in the balance, but then late yesterday came the decisive result; they broke him. Gundy released a video apology, taking a knee socially and offering up his very essence to the outrage mobs — for wearing a t-shirt during a private outing.
— Mike Gundy (@CoachGundy) June 16, 2020
Gundy appears so forlorn and broken that I rewatched this clip to see if I could catch the shadows of his hostage-takers moving around. This is disappointing, it is depressing, and it represents so much that is wrong with our current state in this society. Gundy mentions, unironically, how his wearing that shirt affected the hearts of his players. That any grown adult partaking in the brutal warrior-like game of football can be so affected by the photograph of a news network logo on a shirt is the real problem. Does no one understand that logo is found in numerous other environments?
These players and activists who claim they were so affected are selling a myth. All of the evidence that has been circulating of OANN being a racist news outlet has been based on one video. A clip of anchor Liz Wheeler saying some choice criticisms of Black Lives Matter, made on July 2016, is all that has been shown as the ”proof”, and here is where the lie of the accusation is exposed. All of the charges of institutional racism are based on this lone clip, made by one on-air personality. If OANN is so blatantly racist why do we only have this solitary clip, conveniently edited, from four years ago?
No, I said the MOVEMENT is a farce, which you would know if you didn't selectively edit a video from four years to make it seem like I said something I didn't. https://t.co/6lOsKMK1ts
— Liz Wheeler (@Liz_Wheeler) June 16, 2020
Gundy’s humiliation already does not seem to be enough. One of his most outspoken players has been Chuba Hubbard, who declared he would refrain from team activities as a protest…over Gundy’s t-shirt. Following the video confessional, Hubbard had this as a response.
A step in the right direction. https://t.co/SsRdQoxBTG
— Chuba Hubbard (@Hubbard_RMN) June 16, 2020
So Gundy reducing himself to a neutered condition over doing absolutely nothing wrong is only considered ”a step”. What the end result is in all of this is not stated. Here will be the thing to watch: Following this humiliating ‘’confession’’ will Gundy still end up getting fired? The probability of that happening is high.
There are numerous reasons for Gundy here, and those in similar positions of accusal, to avoid doing the bent-knee apology. For one, it establishes that completely innocuous actions can be determined to be racist and criminal. Secondly, it only empowers the crowd leveling the accusations and compels that mob to go after its next perceived victim. But the most telling reason not to beg for forgiveness over non-sins — it has no effect on the anger.
One of the common traits seen in this series of pieces I have done involves those under fire for alleged thought crimes being forced to make their apology only to then incur the wrath of punishment. A professor told not to give black students favoritism during exams apologized and quoted Martin Luther King, before he was suspended. The CEO of Second City stepped down after supporting Black Lives Matter. A professional soccer player was told to delete offensive Instagram posts by his wife and issue an apology, only to be released from the team anyway.
A political voting analyst was forced to apologize because he simply retweeted a university study on riots and election results, and then was promptly fired. The worst was the case of the Alabama superchurch, where the pastor apologized over hitting the ‘’LIKE’’ button on a few inoffensive posts only to lead to the church being evicted from numerous locations in the community. Time and again we see that apologizing for non-crimes does nothing to quell the mob, instead it only feeds the beast.
There are actual examples we can point to of times a demand for an apology has been met with scorn and dismissiveness, and the results are telling. Actor Terry Crews was recently on the receiving end of the outrage mob, all because he dared to question some of the aspects of the current activist narrative. He dared to say these rather sober and conciliatory words– ”Defeating White supremacy without White people creates Black supremacy. Equality is the truth.’’
Some from the activist side took exception, and demands went out that he back down and pay heed to the mob with an apology, lest he risks career immolation, like a Target store in Minneapolis. Instead, Crews stared down the mob and only became more resolute. He responded with this jarring text– ”Any Black person who calls me a coon or an Uncle Tom for promoting EQUALITY is a Black Supremist [sic], because they have determined who’s Black and who is not.
Crews has not been hounded out of his career. In far more glib fashion, but no less relevant, the national chain company Domino’s Pizza was an attempted cancel-culture target this week. Our favorite under-medicated Never Trumper Rick Wilson tried to have the company rendered to nothing as a result of a claimed allegiance to the Trump administration. He offered up a completely non-political communication between the White House press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and the Domino’s Twitter account. It was not a recent exchange; McEnany was in college at the time she raved about their pies.
The company did a smart thing and instead of a wan and scripted apology the company used another tactic — mockery. It took the proper response to such an imbecilic charge and effectively pointed and laughed at Wilson.
Welp. It's unfortunate that thanking a customer for a compliment back in 2012 would be viewed as political. Guess that's 2020 for ya.
— Domino's Pizza (@dominos) June 16, 2020
The result — Domino’s has been praised and celebrated for its response, and Wilson has become the one on the receiving end of numerous explorations into his own versions of social inequities that he managed to invite upon himself.
These are the best ways to address the torches and pitchforks crowd. If you give them the demanded pound of flesh they only become energized and more rapacious. The best course is to defang the beast. Usually, you discover that snarling looming shadow is being cast by an ankle-biting threat that scurries off the moment it is challenged.