Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world ... would do this, it would change the earth. - William Faulkner
My dad used to say to me “believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.” While it sounded a bit extreme, I’ve since discovered the essence of Dad’s point. Whether then or now, we live in a society consumed by headlines and soundbites, both of which are almost always intended to overhype a story rather than leading to reports of honest substance. There is a mountain of examples where what we thought we were going to be told turned out to be something either far different, wildly sensational or both. Happens often in national, mass media circles and far more often on social sites. Yet, most folks walk away believing what they just read or heard as the truth. Despite what side of the political aisle I may sit, the three years of Trump’s so-called collusion with Russia is but one example. Don’t ever doubt that a single headline can influence people for all sorts of ulterior motives, truth be damned.
On May 5, Shelley Luther, the now popular Dallas salon owner was arrested and thrown in jail. Two days later, the very politicians who put into effect the orders Ms. Luther defied, came to the rescue, and as a result became part of the circus. At first glance, Ms. Luther was worthy of the accolades being given her. The courage embedded in countless headlines and news reports gave most people the sense that she was, indeed, a woman fighting for the lives of her employees and family. The seeming heroics of a small business owner willing to publicly shame the government by defying unlawful, overreaching mandates were, literally and figuratively, the talk of the town … and nation. Appearances on national talk shows, interviews given to a variety of political pundits and the stampede of reporters desperate to be more sensational labeled Ms. Luther the newest American icon. Even still, in that first glance, it seemed to me to be a little odd and a bit shallow with respect to the soundbites and headlines describing the whole thing. There had to be more to the story, I told myself.
Notwithstanding what are certain to be not-so-friendly reactions, I am suspicious of Ms. Luther and the performance of the cast of characters in this circus. As a small business owner, I understand the edge on which we teeter these days but, like many, will stand firm against the governor of this state or any other when it comes to decisions that are not a governor’s to make. Matter of fact, when I hear any politician tell anyone that they “can” or “can’t” do this or that, I feel a measure of anger I’d rather not feel. No politician has the right to tell citizens what they can or can’t do and the more they try, the more fed up I get ... and so should you. That’s why I felt compelled to look deeper into what was happening in Dallas. And, on closer inspection, as is often the case, I discovered that there’s far more than meets the eye and you should know it. I believe once you do, you’ll become aware of what’s really going on here.
On April 23, Shelley Luther’s GoFundMe campaign was launched via the help of a group called “Woke Patriots.” That was one day before Luther defied Abbott’s orders and opened her salon. According to Texas Monthly, the GoFundMe campaign generated in excess of $500,000, some of which was used toward Luther’s mortgage. As if half a million wasn’t enough, Luther also received $18,000 in a Payroll Protection Program loan from the federal government two days before the start of her trial. Add to that the $7,000 Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he was paying for the fines levied against Luther and the total amount of money this newfound “patriot” received is more than $525,000. With that in mind, from where I sit, it’s fair to believe that Shelley Luther used every tool she could find to be something more, or less actually, than a patriot standing against government forces. Something is wrong here and the rest of us ought to be smarter than we’ve been in understanding what it is. Patriotism is not about money nor is it a synonym for fame. Truth is, jumping off a ledge isn’t hard when there’s a net to catch you.
And, if this weren’t enough, there is more.
Consider Hero Syndrome – not something you hear about every day but a real affliction that happens across the country more than we think. Most often, the manifestation of it can be found in the stories of people committing arson solely for the purpose of showing up to “heroically” put out the fire … they started. That said, consider then the idiocy of how Luther’s arrest and jail sentence were handled. Gov. Abbott, and those around him, put into place orders that originally said salon owners specifically were not allowed to open until May 18. The governor then changed the date salons could open to last Friday, May 8. Fast forward to Luther’s actions. The governor of this great state, a man I’ve supported for a long time, shows up to ridicule a judge who followed the orders he, the governor, put in place. That’s right, Abbott appears on the scene to ridicule the consequences of his orders as he publicly stands with the person who defied them. That’s called Hero Syndrome. It’s also baffling, especially coming from a guy like Abbott. Adding to the chaos were Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s self-promoting displays of phony rescue.
I am a lifelong conservative and part-time political junkie. Admittedly, part of being a political junkie includes my interest in understanding the actions of politicians across the spectrum of American politics. Most of what I’ve experienced has taught me that the average politician is inherently attracted to anything that brings him or her attention – positive attention. Problem is, what some politicians often think of as behaviors that elicit positive attention, many in the world see as dishonest, greedy and selfish behaviors. Such is how I see the circus surrounding Shelley Luther. From Ms. Luther to the governor and his sidekicks to the national media to those who immediately anointed Luther as a true American hero, this four ring performance should be seen for what it is – a circus of misrepresentation, politics, money and the insatiable desire for fame.
All told, my sweet dad was right.
Scott Brooks is the Publisher of the Waxahachie Sun and may be reached at 972-316-7712 or firstname.lastname@example.org.