I've lately become confused over how so many Americans say they are offended.
All this offensiveness has led me to surrender and join the legion of immature whiners to compile a list of some matters that offend me. I'm offended:
That someone else's perceived offenses might be considered greater or more deserving than my own.
That freedom of expression and speech are under attack by groups who believe only their thought processes matter, regardless of how nonsensical and radical they might be when compared with truth.
That so many youth today have never been properly educated on the deadly ramifications of communism and the downfall socialism has brought to nations who embraced it.
That Washington, D.C., has spiraled to new lows into a cesspool of corruption, selfishness, irresponsibility, power-grabbing, dishonesty and a rampant love of special-interest money.
That people of faith and restaurant owners alike are needlessly singled out by governors of Democrat-controlled states for what amount to crippling, even devastating financial consequences, under the guise of supposedly fighting covid-19.
That not nearly enough folks are offended by the lack of respect shown toward their fellow Americans.
That many in the corporately controlled mainstream national media intentionally mischaracterize looters, criminals and arsonists as "protesters."
That much of this same media has abandoned the constitutionally protected responsibility to be objective and fair in reporting in favor of partisan activism and spreading propaganda.
That no matter what we actually may write or say, there are those who either misconstrue or mischaracterize the actual words in order to push their own agendas and satisfy the need to pronounce judgment.
That many no longer show our flag and national anthem the honor they deserve, secured by blood and sacrifice by our military.
Solidarity Santas swell
I know when I see Bill Bowden's byline on a story in this newspaper, the reporting will be factual, balanced, interesting and well-written.
So it was no surprise to see his article about the seven-foot Black Santa Claus inflated in the front yard of Chris Kennedy's North Little Rock home drawing nasty comments from some hateful soul who sent a letter complaining about the decoration he's used each Christmas for four years.
It makes perfect sense to me that Kennedy, who is Black, would want his young daughter Emily to feel the jolly old elf is a Santa for her, too, which is why he began placing the display in his yard four years ago for Emily's first Christmas. Kennedy decorates each year in early November in tribute to his late father.
It's difficult to imagine in 2020 how any adult with a lick of sense and empathy could send such a nasty letter, especially at Christmas. But then, this is a new era in America where millions among us eagerly defame, curse, smear, denigrate and attack others who look and/or believe differently than them.
Kennedy said he wants his daughter to know and see that she is represented in the season's joy and magic. Hard to believe even the lower-functioning among us could have a problem with that.
Here is what the dimwit letter-writer whose remarks initially saddened and angered Kennedy said: "Please remove your negro Santa Claus yard decoration. You should not try to deceive children into believing that I am a negro. I am a caucasian (white man, to you) and have been for the past 600 years. Your being jealous of my race is no excuse for your dishonesty. Besides that, you are making yourself the laughingstock of the neighborhood. Obviously, your values are not that of the Lakewood area and maybe you should move to a neighborhood out east with the rest of your racist kind. Yours truly, Santa Claus." Kennedy shared this message signed by "Santa" on Facebook Live.
People obviously were paying attention.
Fourteen of Kennedy's white neighbors quickly stepped up by taking to Amazon and ordering Black Santas to inflate in their own yards. And lo the word went out across the land (even into the pages of national newspapers) that here in the land of the free, we still have caring folks who won't stand for nasty affronts against peaceful neighbors wanting to enjoy the season of sharing and caring just like everyone else.
So who, I ask you, phony Santa, is the laughingstock now? I don't blame you for not attaching your name to such shameful drivel and acting as if your regrettable hate speaks for the neighborhood.
Today, the Lakewood community has become more closely knit than before this incident, having named the army of inflatables "Solidarity Santas."
As a result of what the Kennedys endured at the pen of an intolerant person, I'm adding ignorance and bigotry to my official list of those things that cause me great offense.
Now go out into the world and treat everyone you meet exactly like you want them to treat you.
Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at [email protected]