LeBron James, words matter

Samuel Chi

When I hear “posse,” my immediate thought was Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.

But LeBron James thought otherwise when the New York Knicks’ Phil Jackson recently used the term. James thought it meant disrespect. He thought it was an insult. He thought it was racist.

What was Jackson supposed to say instead of “posse?”

“Boys?” No, we’re not touching that one.

“Gang?” Are you kidding?

“Crew?” Maybe. To be sure, though, we’d better test it first on a college campus.

Let’s try that at the University of Virginia, where students and faculty protested the school president’s use of a quotation from Thomas Jefferson. What’s the problem with the third president of the United States — and the founder of UVA? Oh, that’s right, he owned slaves so Jefferson is now persona non grata on his own campus.

If Jefferson is off limits, then what of George Washington? He was a slave owner, too. And about half of the Founding Fathers. And why stop there?

Franklin Roosevelt should be shunned, too. Adolf Hitler at least gave Jesse Owens a friendly wave. FDR wanted no part of him.

Perhaps the most iconic figure of the modern Democratic Party invited all the white Olympians to the White House after the 1936 Berlin Games, but not Owens. Owens was so incensed by the snub that he campaigned for Alf Landon, the Republican candidate for president in 1936.

In that spirit, let’s ban the use of anything ever uttered by FDR, including “the only thing to fear is fear itself.” Let’s declare the entire history of the Democratic Party an affront to all decent people. After all, perhaps our most racist president, Woodrow Wilson, was a Democrat, as were almost all the politicians who fought to preserve first slavery, then segregation.

No doubt Jackson used the word to tweak “King” James a bit. But for James to respond by playing the race card is punching below the belt.

To make the matters worse, Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy chimed in to spray some more kerosene, offering an unsolicited mea culpa for having used the term “posse” himself and denouncing it as offensive. To his credit, Jackson, a former hippie and a liberal soul, has stood his ground and not apologized, so far.

We’ve arrived at a time when every expression can be a “trigger,” every Halloween costume can send someone scurrying to a “safe space,” and reciting history can be deemed “microaggression.” It’s more than about choosing your words carefully. You should just choose not to use words.

Here’s an idea: Let’s ban the English language.

Samuel Chi is the co-founding editor of RealClearWorld and managing editor of RealClearSports.