Hans Christian Andersen once wrote a story about an Emperor who positively worshipped clothes. As the story goes, “he had a coat for every hour of the day, and instead of saying, as one might, about any other ruler, ‘The King's in council,’ here they always said, ‘The Emperor's in his dressing room.’"
Two conmen posing as clothes makers eventually come to the kingdom and started spreading tales of the “unusual” qualities their fabrics possessed. According to the two men, they were absolutely beautiful. And—conveniently— invisible to anyone who was unfit for his office, or who was unusually stupid.
Naturally the Emperor hired them to remake his wardrobe. And, naturally, every one of the Emperor’s officials couldn’t see it—but lied and said they could.
Eventually the Emperor himself went to see the clothes. And he too found himself having to lie. As he paraded through town, all the townspeople lied, too.
To make a short story shorter, it took one voice to wake the crowd up:
“But he hasn't got anything on,’ a little child said. ’Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?’ said its father. And one person whispered to another what the child had said, ’He hasn't anything on. A child says he hasn't anything on. But he hasn't got anything on!’ the whole town cried out at last.”
I don’t actually want to talk to you about literature, or Hans Christian Anderson, or the ridiculous Emperor swindled into buying what was effectively “air.”
I actually want to talk to you about heroes.
Charles Barkley. (AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr)
To be certain, the little child was hardly a hero for pointing out the fact that the king was prancing around naked in front of his entire kingdom.
After all, the child simply stated the obvious.
You know what’s crazy? Today, stating the obvious is something that makes you unpopular. It makes you incompetent. In some people’s minds, it even makes you a racist.
In my book—and as I raise my child— it makes you hero.
Basketball icon Charles Barkley came out in the wake of the Minnesota and Louisiana officer-involved shootings, and the massacre of the Dallas police officers and actually dared to say that we need to be honest.
You can read the whole transcript here (and I strongly suggest you do), but here’s the gist of it:
- Some cops have made mistakes. But that doesn’t mean all cops are bad.
- We can’t assume we know how to do a cop’s job.
- We don’t get as mad when black people kill each other, as when a white cop kills a black person.
- The African American community mistreats itself, and yet demands respect.
- There’s a crime problem in the African American community which propagates stereotypes.
- Rioting and violence isn’t the answer.
- Jumping to conclusions is wrong.
- We all need to do better.
And for that, Barkley has been absolutely skewered:
This tweet was deleted before publication. Screenshot.
Barkley didn’t justify the officer involved shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana (in fact, he said quite the opposite). He didn’t say it was okay for police to indiscriminately shoot black people. He didn’t say police brutality was okay. He didn’t say all black people should be shot by police.
He simply asked that we all step back, assess our own communities, understand the situation, and move forward.
But none of that matters—because the crowd has decided that stating “the obvious” is offensive. And the offensive must be silenced.
Is it any wonder people are afraid to stand up and state what is otherwise—in any sane universe—common sense and truth? So then, it shouldn’t be any wonder that someone who’s willing to take the flack (time and again, by the way) for doing it is, indeed, a hero to our society, and to the next generation of children looking up to them.
In a world that’s convinced the emperor’s got clothes, Barkley, sir, you’re exactly that.
Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com (a political commentary blog), and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show (TheBlaze Radio Network, Saturday, from noon to 3 p.m. ET). She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree.
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