There are a few different ways to view and, more importantly, react to the opinions of an outsider who doesn’t really know what he’s talking about when it comes to the state of Utah and the majority of people who live here.
In this particular case, that outsider is Vernon Maxwell, the former NBA player who was an odd dude when he competed against the Jazz back in his day, and who, apparently, is still odd.
That conclusion is easy to draw, the danger easy to see, when you interpret the tweet he sent out on Monday and consider the ramifications of that message.
After responding to the tragic scenario in Atlanta that occurred last week, the horrific shootings of eight people, six of whom were women of Asian descent, Maxwell tweeted: “Stop the hate on Asians, continue to hate Utah instead.” He added a smiley face.
Maxwell has criticized Utah and repeatedly written and sent off tweets disparaging the entire state, picking out certain things that have happened here and assigning widespread attitudes of racial bias and racist thought. Some of his lean stems back to when he played against the Jazz, facing the wrath of rabid fans who he says yelled racist insults at him.
As for reactions, these are them:
• Completely ignore Maxwell, who was a loose cannon as a player and remains so as a retired player. I once sat court side and watched the man warm up in preparation for a playoff game or a playoff practice, I do not recall which it was. But he was isolated on the floor shooting while talking to himself, screaming at himself, as though he were engaging in an unknown two-person argument by himself, Vernon on the one side, Mad Max on the other. If the interaction actually had been between two people, I would have been moved to call security to intervene. It was one of the strangest routines I have ever witnessed.
Who thinks it a good idea to pay any kind of mind to someone like that?
• Get angry and protest heartily against his suggestion, and respond with a different sort of suggestion that the man seek adequate counseling.
It’s one thing to ridicule a state or to make claims against its residents. It’s another to call for masses of individuals to stop hating one group of people and start hating another, especially after a tragedy the likes of what happened in Atlanta, with those innocents being shot and killed. Stop hating like that and start hating like this. No, Max. No.
That’s not humorous in any way. Smiley face? Hate punctuated by violence is never appropriate, and advocating for it to end, and then begin again somewhere else is … sick and pathetic.
Get help, Vernon.
• Learn lessons from Maxwell’s approach, misguided though it is.
I do not know whether some Jazz fans hurled racist language or imagery at Maxwell when he played against the Jazz. If anyone did, shame on them and shame on any fans seated nearby within earshot of what was being said without telling those doing the yelling to sit down, shut up or get out, informing security about the exchanges, at a minimum.
If any of that actually happened at the arena, never let it happen again. Not once. Not ever. Not even a whisper. The Jazz as an organization have stated they will not allow any of it. Neither should anyone else.
Moreover, stop any such thought processes in any setting, by anyone, anywhere, even if it on occasion rattles around in your own brain, left over from the way you were raised or waywardly influenced. Exorcise it. Leave it behind, now and forever.
Take another route, not the one Maxwell suggests, trading hate for hate. Not even trading hate for hate on Maxwell himself. Send hate, in all its forms, packing, on a one-way street, and slam the door on it when it’s gone. Make what Maxwell’s been tweeting at Utah so ridiculous that nobody in their right mind can or will believe it.
Folks here, myself included with maybe you and you and you, have had differences of opinion between us about politics and policies, about the best ways to lead and govern and solve problems facing our community, our state, our nation.
But racism should and must be eradicated.
Better to continue doing so first here than anywhere. Make it happen. Make it real. Make it absolute.
Make what the man who wants to be funny — smiley face — in a sick and twisted way, throwing all Utahns into the same basket, make what Vernon Maxwell says and tweets about this place, so ludicrous that everyone here and elsewhere will laugh at the odd, funny man, not throw accusations in concert with him.
That’s something that can be done, right here in Utah. Right now. Right?
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 2-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.