Randy Alcorn

It made front page news this week when Jon Gruden, the $100 million coach of the Las Vegas Raiders and former longtime ESPN TV personality, resigned after The New York Times published selected excerpts from emails Gruden had sent to a friend a decade ago.

Those old emails revealed a number of disparaging remarks Gruden had made referring to women, homosexuals and blacks in professional football. The remarks were not made for public consumption, but thanks to the ever-vigilant inquisitors at The Times, Gruden’s sin of improper thought was ferreted out and exposed for all to see.

No one has yet come forward with any accusations or evidence that Gruden ever acted with malice, derision or discriminated against anyone based on anything other than their ability to do their jobs. His longtime colleague at ESPN, Mike Tirico, said that he never once heard Gruden use racist language or behave badly toward any minorities.

Gruden’s NFL coaching staff includes blacks. He recently praised one of his players, Carl Nassib, for having the courage to publicly state that he is gay. Nassib is a starter on the Raiders’ defensive line.

So, if Gruden harbors personal prejudices against certain categories of people, he doesn’t let that override recognizing their skill and qualifications. He’ll choose excellence over skin color, sexual preference or, I’d bet, gender. If there were a woman who could kick a football through the goal posts 90% of the time, even from 55 yards away, Gruden would want her on his team. “Just win, baby!”

Most observers agree that Gruden’s long, successful and lucrative career in football is now over — not for anything he really did to anyone, but for what he thought. He can’t expect to command the respect of a diverse locker room now that his private thoughts were made public.

If we all had the history of our personal thoughts revealed, how many of us would be any less subject to judgmental condemnation? How many rocks would be dropped to the ground, if only those who never had sinful thoughts could throw them?

Our nation is in the grips of the lunatic fringes of the political spectrum. The right-wingnuts will burn down constitutional democracy in an effort to impose their paranoid, regressive beliefs on the nation, while the woken left-loons seek to purify society by conducting an inquisition that burns at the stake of public opprobrium anyone they find to be guilty of incorrect thought.

The more prominent the target, the brighter the flames.

As a nation, we are losing all sense of proportion and common sense in the matter of race. Even the innocent use of a growing list of forbidden words can get the woke mob all worked up and perspiring with self-righteous outrage as they furiously gather firewood to immolate another impure thinker.

The hyper-sensitivity to perceived racism is evident in the Gruden case. In a private email, he made a decidedly nasty comment about the lips of DeMaurice Smith, the head of the NFL Players Association.

Like Smith, Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones, had magnificently generous lips, which became the frequent butt of rude jokes and unflattering comments. I don’t recall anyone losing a job for making those comments, but Jagger is white. Smith is black. Apparently, the assumption is that a caustic comment about physical attributes is racist if the subject isn’t white.

Gruden was also condemned for referring to homosexuals as “queers,” even though homosexuals themselves and most of the media freely use the acronym LGBTQ. The “Q” standing for “queer.” So, apparently it isn’t always what is said, but who says it that matters. That in itself is a form of unjust discrimination, is it not?

Predictably, the woke warriors quickly leveraged the Gruden exposé into a blanket indictment of the entire NFL for harboring ingrained racism. Their supporting evidence is that while 70% of NFL players are black, only 9% of head coaches are black.

The logic here is so obviously flawed that one can only question the intelligence or integrity of those employing it. An institution in which nearly three-quarters of the personnel are black, all of whom are highly paid, including the highest paid player in the league, Patrick Mahomes, is not practicing racism.

Whites account for 72% of the U.S. population but only 30% of NFL players. Blacks, meanwhile, are 12% of the population but make up 70% of NFL rosters.

If there is a racial disparity it isn’t among the coaching ranks, it’s among the players. The inequality of the latter is far greater. After all, just one additional black head coach gets their percentage to 12%, matching the black percentage of the general population.

Clearly, the NFL selects for excellence, not racial quotas.

Every NFL owner wants to have a winning team, and regardless of their personal thoughts on race, every one of them wants a coach and players who give them the best chance to win games — irrespective of ethnicity, sexual orientation or even gender.

There are only three black head coaches because there are more highly qualified coaches who happen not to be black. Just as 70% of the players are black because they are the superior athletes.

The sensitivity about race in America is understandable given the deplorable history of slavery and institutionalized racism in post-slavery America. It was and remains an evil legacy that still permeates too much of society. But that doesn’t justify the oppressive injustice of today’s political correctness crusaders. Injustice in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. It is perversity.

When Jimmy Carter was running for president, he admitted in a magazine interview that he had “committed adultery in my heart many times.” He had lustful thoughts about women, but more important, he never acted on them. He remained faithful to his wife.

The majority of American voters elected Carter in spite of that admission. They understood that how a person behaves, especially toward others, is the measure of that person’s character. Innocence or guilt are not determined by a person’s thoughts, but by a person’s actions.

Thinking about doing a crime is not a crime — but in the “great awokening,” anyone whose private thoughts are exposed can risk being stoned by the self-righteous mob.

While I suspect that the majority of Americans are not members or supporters of the lunatic fringes, I also suspect that many of them are indifferent to politics. They just want to survive with a decent standard of living and get on with their lives.

The fact that the lunatics can get away with attacking our nation’s capital to thwart democracy, or ruining the lives of anyone they target as being insufficiently politically pious, are consequences of that indifference.

We have let the lunacy go too far. None of us can afford to be indifferent about it. Both the wackos and the wokos are an existential threat to reason, livelihoods and civil liberties.

— Randy Alcorn is a Santa Barbara political observer. Contact him at randyaalcorn@gmail.com, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.