There are many worthy nominees for the craziest moment in the current cultural turmoil, but the controversy over tweets by actor Terry Crews deserves to be high on the list.
In one of his offending tweets, Crews said on July 4:
Are all white people bad?
Are all black people good?
Knowing this reality- I stand on my decision to unite with good people, no matter the race, creed or ideology.
Given the number of threats against this decision-
I also decide to die on this hill.
— terry crews (@terrycrews) July 4, 2020
It wasn’t long ago when such a sentiment would have been considered not just uncontroversial but admirable and fundamentally American.
Crews has been a serial offender, repeatedly expressing an affinity for people of all races and creeds and warning against racialism of any kind:
If you are a child of God, you are my brother and sister. I have family of every race, creed and ideology.
— terry crews (@terrycrews) June 30, 2020
After that missive, the activist Amanda Seales called Crews, unironically, “an enemy of the people”:
This is unintellectual and irresponsible. You are developing into an enemy of the people. Ignorance will be your downfall.
— Amanda Seales 🇬🇩✊🏾 △⃒⃘ (@amandaseales) June 30, 2020
The writer Kellee Nicole Terrell said:
You truly are worthless to us. White people can have you, especially since you love doing their work for them
— Kellee Nicole Terrell (@kelleent) June 30, 2020
The creator of Luke Cage responded:
Terry, what's going on, man? I know you're better than this, and Twitter isn't the space for the conversation. Holler at me. Inbox me. I'm concerned, brother. Blacklivesmatter isn't supremacy: it's common righteous sense. It's respect. it's love.
— Cheo Hodari Coker (@cheo_coker) June 30, 2020
What rabbit hole have we fallen into that expressing a view of humanity consistent with Christian teachings (Crews is a strong believer) and with the Declaration of Independence is taken to be a sign of mental imbalance?
The Crews July 4 tweet about joining with anyone of good will of any race was so radioactive that Don Lemon had the America’s Got Talent host on the other night for the purpose of giving him a high-handed scolding.
Lemon greeted Crews by saying, “Terry, man, you stepped in it.”
Yes, what terrible gaffe was Crews going to commit next? Say that he loves his neighbor as himself? Profess his belief that all men are created equal? Express a hope that all God’s children will one day be able to join hands and sing, “Free at last”?
It’s Crews’s worry that “black lives matter” will become “black lives better” that’s particularly triggering to his critics. With Lemon, he explained his tweet as a warning that there are militant forces in Black Lives Matter and a warning against a “dangerous self-righteousness” that views black people who want to work with whites as Uncle Toms.
He and Lemon went back and forth about whether Black Lives Matters is extreme, and when Crews brought up black children getting killed by violent criminals, Lemon asked, “What does that have to do with equality, though?”
Of course, if we care about racial disparities, the disproportionate chance that blacks will be the victims of violent crime should matter.
Lemon didn’t want to hear it. He said that Black Lives Matter is just about police brutality, and when Crews correctly pointed out the organization has other priorities, Lemon immediately reversed the field and said, “I know that. I agree.”
The segment ended amiably enough, but Crews was on defense the entire time.
It’s not as though Crews hasn’t been passionate about the George Floyd case. He recorded a heartfelt video in the immediate aftermath saying how crushed he was, that Floyd looked like him, and that he easily could have been the one with a police officer’s knee on his neck.
But he rejects “group think” and insists, “Equality is the truth. Like it or not, we are all in this together.”
That’s enough to make him a target. He responded a while back to those who say his views will destroy him:
Let me tell you the first thing I would do when I “lose it all” like so many have predicted.
I’d take Rebecca and we find a nice grassy field to pitch our tent so we’re safe.
— terry crews (@terrycrews) July 1, 2020
It’s a symptom of the insanity of our times that such a man — sincere, well-meaning, and brave — is now well on his way in certain quarters to becoming a hate figure.