Righteous indignation about Scott Pelley’s parting words have fallen on my ears as though I am deaf, because I believe his comments were on target. Leaving his anchor role after six years on the job, he apparently felt free to say:
“It’s time to ask whether the attack on the United States Congress, yesterday, was foreseeable, predictable and, to some degree, self-inflicted. Too many leaders, and political commentators, who set an example for us to follow, have led us into an abyss of violent rhetoric which, it should be no surprise, has led to violence. Yesterday was not the first time. … At a lunch for reporters, President Trump was asked whether he worried that language would incite violence. His pause indicated it had never crossed his mind. Then he said, “No, that doesn’t worry me.” As children we’re taught, “Words will never hurt me.” But when you think about it, violence almost always begins with words. In “Twitter world,” we’ve come to believe that our first thought is our best thought. It’s past time for all of us — presidents, politicians, reporters, citizens, all of us — to pause to think again.”
At the time Pelley made his remarks, we weren’t aware that Otto Warmbier, held captive in North Korea, for 735 days had died. On June 20, President Trump tweeted, “While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried,” and later said, “It’s a total disgrace what happened to Otto.” It is a disgrace—so, yes let’s remember Otto—but let’s not forget the other three detainees in North Korea.
Some in the media questioned if that tweet was a declaration of war on North Korea, as Eric Levitz’s demoralizing and disconcerting headline, “Did Trump Just Declare War on a Nuclear-Weapons State Over Twitter?” infers.
North Korea has fired 16 missiles in 10 tests so far this year. Kim Jong Un seems intent on pushing the war envelope, while President Trump tweets. We should know by now that President Trump’s tweets are exactly what Pelley described as, “we’ve come to believe that our first thought is our best thought.” We say to ourselves, “surely the president wouldn’t declare war in a tweet!” Probably not. But what does Kim Jong Un think? And what does Trump think of the missile tests?
Added to this political circus, we have former U. S. professional basketball player, Dennis Rodman traveling to North Korea in his usual flamboyant style, singing Happy Birthday to Kim Jong Un, and bowing to him.
So now, what was it that Scott Pelley said at the end of his farewell speech? Oh, I remember, “It’s past time for all of us — presidents, politicians, reporters, citizens, all of us — to pause to think again.”
Surely, between Trump’s provocative tweets, Kim Jong Un’s unconscionable missile threats, and Dennis Rodman’s foolish, egocentric, grandstanding trips to North Korea, we should all agree that Scott Pelley spoke the truth.
What are your thoughts?
Shouldn’t we all spend a bit more time pausing and thinking before saying and taking action?
Until next time …