A few months ago, football player Reggie Bush posted some photos on Instagram that equated the situation in Ferguson, Missouri with the narrative of the Palestinian people.
The decision to not indict policeman Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown exhibits, in my opinion, how racist America still is today. On the contrary, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, in the words of the Anti-Defamation League’s National Director, Abraham Foxman, “a political dispute based on claims to land.” The official statement by the ADL went on, “by conflating the death of Michael Brown with the conflict in the Middle East, Reggie Bush demonstrates a severe lack of understanding of both issues. He should stick to football.”
In response to the condemnation of his comments, Reggie Bush said, among other things, “I chose to take a stance on this issue because I’d rather have an opinion than sit back and be quiet and say nothing at all!”
Let’s be clear. Reggie Bush wrote, “…I’d rather have an opinion than sit back and be quiet and say nothing at all!” Here, Bush exhibits an obsessive need to have an opinion purely for the sake of seeming worldly, knowledgeable, and empathetic. This attitude is one that pervades high school and college campuses nationwide.
Being opinionated is not the mark of maturity. The mark of maturity is standing back, researching, reaching out to all sides of an argument, thinking, and researching some more. Then, and only then, is an opinion worthwhile. Because having an opinion for opinion’s sake, without having done the proper research, is damaging.
Writing “from Palestine to Ferguson” on social media takes minimal effort yet delivers to many the satisfaction that they are cultured, that they are empathetic to peoples around the world and that they, unlike their uneducated peers, have not been living under a rock.
It takes time, effort, passion, and chutzpah to form an opinion that is truly fact-based. It may be less satisfactory at first, but it proves far more rewarding in the long-run.
So, to all students who genuinely seek to learn, please be careful and do not form reckless opinions about conflicts that are already very misunderstood.