Today’s Courier Herald Column:
Phillips Arena got a bit heated as the Hawks played Miami in Atlanta Thursday night. Two tough teams ground out a close game that took three overtime periods before the Heat emerged victorious. Atlanta’s competitiveness against the NBA’s Eastern Conference leaders was questionable before the game, and Hawks coach Larry Drew was demonstrating intensity standing courtside.
During the game, a foul occurred directly in front of the Hawks bench. The call appeared to be against the Hawks, despite Miami’s player being the clear violator. Drew was in position to get in the refs face, and the hand gestures and verbal response from the ref demonstrated Drew didn’t understand the call. It took drew a moment to calm down as he resumed coaching duties.
What he did next is something I can’t recall seeing in my limited NBA fan experience. Drew got the attention of the ref whom had just turned his attention to the opposite side of the court. When the ref turned, drew made gestures indicating he was sorry, mouthing “my bad”. The ref gave a bit of a smile with a “no problem” response as play resumed, tempers in check.
It’s unfortunately rare to see a blunt and clear apology these days. All of us make mistakes in judgment on a regular basis, yet admitting it is difficult. Expressing it is harder still. Apologizing to the wronged individual isn’t easy, but as Drew was well aware, he didn’t need the ref holding any hard feelings for his mistaken perceptions.
We’ve had a similar incident this week in Georgia’s corner of Presidential politics. Cobb County Representative Judy Manning gave an interview with the Marietta Daily Journal about volunteering in Iowa on behalf of Newt Gingrich. Regarding Mitt Romney, she said this:
“I think Mitt Romney is a nice man, but I’m afraid of his Mormon faith…It’s better than a Muslim. Of course, every time you look at the TV these days you find an ad on there telling us how normal they are. So why do they have to put ads on the TV just to convince us that they’re normal if they are normal?”
This statement is even more interesting when juxtaposed against her defense of Gingrich’s past personal failures, of which she said “But I think we’ve got so many people that are too interested in the personal lives of all of our elected officials that we can’t get past that to the point of who can do the job, and who can make the decisions, and who knows the politics involved, and who better than someone who has the experience.”
The thought process involved here is simply amazing. Manning doesn’t believe Gingrich should be penalized for his past personal life. On this we happen to agree. Yet Romney should be penalized for adhering to Religious beliefs which he has demonstrated by remaining committed to one wife, not smoking or drinking (except for that scandalous half of a beer he admits to have consumed once for Pete’s sake), and being an active and committed father. Punctuating her comments by adding that at least Romney isn’t a Muslim ensures followers of an entirely separate religion could be offended at no additional charge.
Manning was quick to apologize, taking to Facebook to say “I have made a terrible mistake with my reckless words.” That much is true. It was good to quickly acknowledge this. But then she chose to blame a seasoned reporter for manipulating her words and using “verbal judo” to make her choice for President to “appear to be motivated by Religion.” I also believe that she would be a Gingrich supporter regardless, as he formerly represented her County in Congress.
But her ranking of Mormons as somewhat below that of a reformed adulterer but above Muslims remains troublesome. Though she ended her statement with “I sincerely apologize to Mitt Romney and for offending people of Mormon faith”, Manning’s statement as a whole still seems to rely on the fault lying with a reporter. Muslims also remained starkly absent from her apology.
The game now continues, with the voting referees hopefully turning their attention to the election and the actual issues that are being addressed. For those social conservatives who want to harbor inner suspicions about Romney’s religion, they should probably hope values voters don’t score the candidates based on demonstrated merit. If they do, Romney would be the logical choice providing they could get over their prejudices or ignorance of Mormonism.