Were you upset with the “You’re next” tweet of LeBron James, targeting police officer Nicholas Reardon? Did you find it irresponsible and potentially dangerous? Would you agree that a man of LeBron’s massive influence should be more careful in venting his frustration and anger? Is it possible that the tweet, which LeBron deleted (while blaming others for the hatred), could jeopardize Reardon’s safety, along with that of his loved ones? Could it potentially incite some unstable person to try to take “justice” into his own hands?
If you answered “yes” to all these questions, then I’m with you 100 percent. There is no justification for LeBron’s tweet, even if his “accountability” hashtag and hourglass icon were meant in terms of justice in the courts rather than on the streets.
Not only so, but former President Trump is with you as well, stating, “LeBron James should focus on basketball rather than presiding over the destruction of the NBA, which has just recorded the lowest television RATINGS, by far, in the long and distinguished history of the League.”
He added, “His RACIST rants are divisive, nasty, insulting, and demeaning. He may be a great basketball player, but he is doing nothing to bring our Country together!”
Trump is absolutely right. LeBron has engaged in racist comments, and his comments are highly divisive.
But there is where I have a big problem with those who are condemning LeBron but failed to condemn Trump. It’s called unequal weights and measures. Jesus called it hypocrisy (we’ll quote His words in a moment).
It’s using one standard for LeBron and another for Trump. It’s accusing the one and excusing the other. It’s saying, “Someone with as much influence as LeBron needs to be more responsible,” while at the same time claiming, “Yes, Trump was the most powerful man on the planet, but he was just venting.”
The same criticism can be brought against those who defend LeBron but condemned Trump. Why the double standards? Do you not see the hypocrisy of it all?
As Jesus said to His disciples, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).
Was Trump right in his denunciation of LeBron’s tweet (and some of his past comments)? In my view, absolutely yes.
Did Trump denounce himself in the process? If he was to be consistent, the answer again is absolutely yes, since his tweets were also “divisive, nasty, insulting, and demeaning” and did “nothing to bring our Country together.”
Not only so, but just as LeBron’s tweet could jeopardize the safety of this police officer, who was actually seeking to save the life of another young black woman who was about to be stabbed, so also some of Trump’s tweets could have jeopardized the safety of others.
Really now, do you not think that Trump calling Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger an “enemy of the people,” allegedly complicit in stealing the election, was not irresponsible and potentially dangerous? Should we ignore the death threats Raffensperger received?
For good reason, Georgia Republican Gabriel Sterling said on December 1, 2020, with real emotion, “Mr President, it looks like you likely lost the state of Georgia. We’re investigating, there’s always a possibility, I get it. You have the rights to go to the courts. What you don’t have the ability to do – and you need to step up and say this – is stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence. Someone is going to get hurt, someone is going to get shot, someone is going to get killed, and it’s not right. It’s not right.”
And what of President Trump accusing others of “treason,” which can be punishable by death? Did this not potentially endanger people’s lives, let alone potentially tarnish their future and their career?
When I suggested on Facebook that we need to hold the former president and LeBron to the same standards (really, the President of the United States should be held to a much higher standard), many agreed. Others, however, defended Trump while denouncing LeBron or denounced Trump while defending LeBron.
That’s because, unless we follow the counsel of Jesus in Matthew 7, our vision will be obscured. That’s why Paul wrote, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things” (Romans 2:1).
So, let’s examine our own words and attitudes before passing judgment on others, lest we too be exposed as hypocrites.
And if you’re angry with me for writing this article or calling me Trump-obsessed or branding me a racist or accusing me of virtue signaling, then please, by all means, read the words of Paul and Jesus again. Maybe I’ve made you angry, but perhaps it’s because what I’m saying is true.
And remember: “with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. He holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a professor at a number of seminaries. He is the author of 40 books. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.