CNN’s Don Lemon’s controversial comments about race in America (video)

CNN’s Don Lemon is the latest man-we-love-but-now-must-hate for speaking his mind on a controversial topic. Lemon’s crime: Speaking out on race in a way that ruffled more than a few feathers.


There’s a growing list of topics in America on which you’re not permitted to have an opinion outside of the “acceptable” one.

On some issues, such as having concerns about the mixing of the races (a poll a few years back in Mississippi found that a plularity of GOP voters in the state wanted inter-racial marriage banned), or worrying that gays tend to be pedophiles (another old chestnut from the religious right that was debunked decades ago), I think we do need to come down hard on anyone who thinks those issues are legitimate to even debate – they’re not.

On other issues, however, I think we’re simply stifling debate, and setting back the very issue we claim to be so concerned about in the first place, but Outrage, Inc. always getting in a huff every time an otherwise good person says something we don’t like.

Race is one of those issues that concerns me.

I grew up in Chicago, in a white suburb, in a moderate Republican family, and ended up a relatively progressive Democrat (certainly on social issues, though on national security less so).  So I think I’ve got a decent sense of how at least some white people think on racial issues.  And I think the way many people are talking about these issues in America of late, especially on the left, doesn’t resonate with a lot of people in the middle who aren’t racists, but who also don’t entirely see the issues the way someone at, say, a civil rights group might see them.  In other words, these are people who aren’t entirely there yet, but they’re also not entire bad people either.

I think on the left, on all issues, we need to do a far better job figuring out how to have these discussions with, and win over, people who aren’t our enemies.  Not everyone is Bill O’Reilly and a Fox News viewer, and we need to keep that in mind the next time we declare a former friend an enemy.  (I gave up, for example, on keeping track of whether I’m supposed to love or hate Glenn Greenwald – so I chose to simply like him, regardless.)

Watching Don Lemon’s video below, and then reading some of the responses which I don’t entirely agree with, got me thinking of the larger issue, and how I fear that our constant, and seemingly increasing, outrage on so many issues, whether merited or not, is not educating people in the middle.  And they’re the ones you need to win over, on any issue, if you want things to change.

Here’s Lemon’s initial broadcast:

Here’s a follow-up discussion:

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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