To hear Leftists in social media tell it, a nation of racists is really upset that a black female musician named Lizzo was allowed to play a few notes on Founding Father James Madison’s crystal flute. Lucky for us all, that is simply not the case. Unfortunately though, we may have just as big a problem with the divisive rhetoric and tactics come from the Left.
I do not want to write an article about Lizzo playing James Madison’s flute. I don’t care about Lizzo or flutes, though I am a fan of James Madison’s writings and I greatly appreciate his contribution to our country. In a sense, this article is not about Lizzo or flutes other than the fact they are part of the situation that provided the impetus for the real story. The real story is in the reaction to the reaction, or should I say the likely manufactured controversy being propagated for ideological and political purposes.
If you are not familiar with the story, the flute in question is made of crystal and is over 200 years old. The flute’s custodians from the Library of Congress allowed Lizzo to play the flute at one of her shows. Dressed in a rather skimpy leotard, she took possession of the historic flute on stage. “It’s crystal. It’s like playing out of a wine glass, b****, so be patient,” Lizzo said to the audience. She blew a few notes, made some odd facial expressions, and “twerked” while playing it. The audience cheered and she handed the flute back to its custodian. “B****! I just twerked and played James Madison’s crystal flute from 1800’s,” she exclaimed. Below is the video of the incident in question.
In other words, the usual.
People, especially celebrities, have been doing things others thought inappropriate and indicative of societal decline probably all throughout human history. Some people agree and shake their heads in disgust, others call them prudes and shrug their shoulders at the supposedly unacceptable actions. The story would usually end here.
Commentators, mostly on the Left, began to respond beyond the traditional “Conservatives are prudes, lighten up” reaction. They saw racism in the criticism. They saw sexism in the criticism. They saw bigotry in the criticism. But what many of them really saw was an opportunity to exploit the situation to create a boogeyman out of their enemies and propagandize their base for ideological and political reasons.
When Martin Luther King Jr remarked about judging people not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character, he was touching on a universal moral truth that applies to all of us. A big part of judging a person’s character is that which manifests in their actions. The moral law requires us to recognize the equal worth and dignity of all the members of the mutual moral community (rational beings). Doing this means we would judge people equally by their actions as well, not give people passes for being of a certain race or sex. If you survey the reaction to this event, the vast majority of the reaction to the Lizzo incident was not based on her race or sex in any way, but the content of her actions. We have countless examples of the same types of people reacting to antics by people of all races and both sexes and we should logically conclude such criticism is not limited to any one group. On the other hand, the Leftists that are defending Lizzo by making baseless accusations against her critics by calling them racists, sexists, and bigots are directly guilty of that which they are supposedly opposing. If it is true they are deliberately doing this to create division as a means of achieving their desired ends, then they are using people and disrespecting their equal worth and dignity to do it. If they are simply mistaken they are still acting irresponsibly. This is not in keeping with MLK Jr’s words or in accord with the universal moral law.
There appears to be a deliberate effort to muddy the waters regarding discussion of this topic. The video posted above is the video to which Lizzo’s critics were responding. This is the video in which she conducted the actions in question. Is it inappropriate? I think so to an extent, but I’m not inclined to make a big deal out of it. I also give her a lot of credit for trying to frame history as “cool” in the minds of her audience. But there have been other videos created showing Lizzo playing flutes, including the crystal flute, in which she is not acting in a manner consistent with the controversial acts. After the controversy, these videos began to circulate by influencers and Leftist-oriented social media accounts presented as if they were the videos that sparked the controversy. Of course, given there is nothing objectively controversial in these videos, anyone that watches them thinking they are the source of the controversy is going to conclude that the criticism is unwarranted and will be more likely to buy the line that racism, sexism, and bigotry are the reasons for their disapproval. As per usual, if one tries to explain that this switch has occurred and is confusing the issue, name calling will begin, comments will be removed, and bans from the page issued. It is not necessary for one to agree with the Lizzo criticism in order to understand that it is wrong to try to divert attention away from the specific issue at hand and place it on general circumstances.
As an isolated incident, this is rather inconsequential. But if the maxim of this act is universalized and applied in more and more situations, it becomes a big problem for our society and our country. America is built on the equality principle and universal objectively-derived morality. Division along arbitrary physical lines like race contradicts this and threatens our unity. This is a defining characteristic of Leftist ideologies however, so Leftists have motive to try to erode the social fabric as a means to eroding the Founding American structures and principles that stand in their way as they pursue their agenda.
Some people believe that if we want to save America from decline into Leftism, we must focus our attention on the big issues and regard situations like this as a distraction. But we must keep an eye on the little things too because they tend to infect minds slowly and over time this can present big changes and big problems. We can regard this as another front in the ever-raging “culture war,” and people that recognize a duty to uphold objective and just moral principles must never yield in these battles.
What might be a more virtuous way to respond to these types of incidents from both sides? We must gather all the information, identify the relevant factors, listen to each side’s argument, and match it up to objectively-derived principles. We must not make unwarranted assumptions. We must check our biases and understand other perspectives. We must not refrain from expressing disagreement but remember to be tolerant of other viewpoints, beliefs, and practices, especially those that do not infringe upon the rights of others. Most of all, we ought to have common sense, not overreact, and refrain from falling for propaganda that leads to whatever this is: