Published on: December 8, 2016
This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either ... they are similar, but not exactly the same. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.
I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
"There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all." - "Hamlet," Act 5, Scene 2
As much as this is going to annoy some MNB readers, I am going to come back to politics. But not for the sake of politics. In fact, I think there is a very good business reason to do so ...
Let's move past the whole Breitbart vs. Kellogg's debate. I think we've spent plenty of time on that ... not necessarily enough, but plenty. I'm happy to say that the vast majority of emails I've gotten on this story, and my support of the Kellogg's decision to pull its ads from the controversial alt-right Breitbart site, have agreed with my position and Kellogg's. There have been a few that have not, with some folks apparently feeling that Kellogg's is part of a left wing cabal by US corporations to drive the country inexorably toward liberalism and progressivism. I'm not sure if I find this more amusing or absurd, but we can talk about that another time.
And I certainly don't want to get drawn into the debate as to whether our democracy is on the path to being a kakistocracy. Some will say yes, some will say no. Some will say that such a debate paints the situation with way too broad a brush. I say that it is not a debate for here and now.
Today, I'd like to draw your attention to something else. A few somethings else, in fact ... because I've been doing this a long time, and I think there's a trend.
I'm talking about what happened recently at a Michaels arts and craft store in Chicago, when a woman started berating African Americans on the staff - and even other customers who used their smartphones to record the temper tantrum - for what she called discrimination against her because she was white. It apparently started with the availability of a reusable bag, but it quickly went out of control as she started shouting about having voted for Trump, that this was really why she was being discriminated against, and that, by the way, Trump won.
At a Miami Starbucks, a man who felt the wait for his latte was taking too long blamed it on anti-white discrimination by the baristas ... and once again, on the fact that he voted for Trump.
And then there was the guy who starting yelling at passengers on a Delta flight, apparently emboldened by the fact that his presidential candidate - Trump - won. "Donald Trump is your president, every goddamn one of you," he said. "If you don't like it, too bad." (The bad news is he wasn't kicked off the flight. The good news is that he's been banned by Delta for life.)
Now, to be fair, these are isolated incidents. Except that at a certain point, they're not. They keep happening.
I wrote earlier this week that it seems like more and more stories on MNB seem like they have to be placed in a political context ... not because I'm necessarily taking sides - and I certainly won't take the same side every time - but because at this particular moment, nerves are exposed, emotions are raw, and we're seeing the collision of a lot of attitudes and opinions. Sometimes, it can be a violent collision.
That's what happened in Washington, DC, last weekend when a North Carolina man went into a pizza parlor called Comet Ping Pong and fired a weapon - all because, he said, he was self-investigating a report on the internet that Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman, John Podesta, were running a child sex ring out of Comet's basement. That report, of course, was just one of fake news stories that flooded the internet during the election, inflaming a lot of people and no doubt swaying people's votes on both sides of the aisle. Let's be clear - this report was a load of crap, and the people who originated it, and then spread it via Twitter or Facebook or other social media venues are reprehensible. In this case, it could've cost somebody their life.
(This is not some marginal DC neighborhood by the way ... not that it matters. Comet is a popular place in DC. It is across the street from a respected bookstore called Politics & Prose. And it is an area where Michael Sansolo finds himself on a regular basis.)
But here's the business reason for talking about such things. The employee who is the next person to be berated may work for you. The employee who has to deal with disruptive customers may work for you. The business that gets targeted in the next flurry of fake news stories may be yours.
It doesn't matter if the person causing the disturbance or dragging you into an unwanted circumstance is disturbed or unhinged. If it happens - or when it happens - it'll be not just on the regular news in your community. It'll be online and all over social media. There may well be video on YouTube. And you will be front and center in what is turning into a political and cultural morass. (It is too fetid to call it a debate.)
Are you ready?
Are you preparing your people, the ones who are the front lines, to deal with such people and situations? Are you developing an infrastructure within your organizations to respond when things go bad? Are you ready to move quickly and assuredly?
I may be wrong, but I don't things are going to get better or calmer anytime soon. I think the battle between people who think they are being disenfranchised from the American dream and those who feel that they have been disenfranchised by the American dream and that this is their time to get it back, is just beginning. There may be more heat than light, but the potential is for everybody to get burned.
Are you ready?
You better be. Because readiness is all.
That's what is on my mind this morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: