ESPN host Stephen A. Smith recently weighed in on Jack Del Rio’s comments describing the riot on January 6th at the U.S. Capitol as a “dust up,” claiming the coach can’t understand the violent Black Lives Matter riots that occurred in the wake of George Floyd’s death because he’s white.
Del Rio found himself facing heat from the media after he questioned why the riot at the Capitol was receiving so much attention compared to the numerous riots that burned many cities down.
He wrote on Twitter, “Would love to understand ‘the whole story ‘ about why the summer of riots, looting, burning and the destruction of personal property is never discussed but this is ??? #CommonSense”
While addressing this tweet and others, he told the media, “I just asked a simple question. Let’s get right down to it. What did I ask? A simple question. Why are we not looking into those things if we’re gonna talk about it? Why are we not looking into those things?”
“Because it’s kind of hard for me to say I can realistically look at it,” he continued. “I see the images on TV, people’s livelihoods are being destroyed, businesses are being burned down — no problem.”
“And then we have a dust up at the Capitol. Nothing burned down,” he noted. “And we’re going to make that a major deal. I just think it’s kind of two standards. And if we apply the same standard and we’re going to be reasonable with each other let’s have a discussion. That’s all it was. Let’s have a discussion. We’re Americans, let’s talk it through. I’m for us, you know? Having a great opportunity to have a fulfilled life.”
“Like I said every way which way I can when I’m here it’s about love and respect. I love my guys. I respect my guys. But I also love the fact that I’m an American and that means I’m free to express myself and I’m not afraid to do that,” he concluded.
Del Rio would then eventually apologize for describing the riot on January 6th as a dust up.
He tweeted, “I made comments earlier today in referencing the attack that took place on the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021. Referencing that situation as a dust-up was irresponsible and negligent and I am sorry.”
However, he did stand by his comments condemning the BLM riots, “I stand by my comments condemning violence in communities across the country. I say that while also expressing my support as American citizen for peaceful protest in our country.”
“I have fully supported all peaceful protests in America. I love, respect, and support all my fellow coaches, players, and staff that I work with and respect their views and opinions,” he concluded.
Del Rio would eventually delete his Twitter account and be fined $100,000 by Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera.
Smith appeared on ESPN’s First Take program to react to Del Rio’s comments.
First, he told ESPN analyst and Super Bowl champion Ryan Clark, “I’m in accordance with you in terms of his level of insensitivity. Particularly as it pertains to the George Floyd killing and the things that emanated from that.”
“I certainly am glad that he apologized for the ignorant statement that he made in terms of calling the insurrection per say at the US Capitol a dust up. Highly inappropriate. Highly insensitive. Highly ridiculous. And Jack Del Rio should be embarrassed that those words came out of his mouth,” he added.
Later in his discussion, Smith said, “He’s whiiiite. He’s not black. And there’s an awful lot of white people that cannot in any way identify with the plight that African Americans feel physically, emotionally, spiritually, subliminally, the list goes on and on and on.”
“When are we going to stop expecting them to do that? We have to get to a point where we look at a Jack Del Rio and what he said and actually be gratified that there was someone willing to be open about their ignorance,” he posited.
Smith continued, “Guess why? Jack Del Rio shouldn’t be vilified. He shouldn’t be somebody that’s excoriated, that nobody wants to talk to him again. You know what black people should be able to do? They should be willing to walk right up to Jack Del Rio, ‘Hey, how you doing? Let’s have a conversation about what you said. Let me use this as an opportunity to educate you.'”
“Because if we are going to have any hope towards making this world a better place, making somebody cower, and hide, and muzzle themselves, and never feeling free to speak up only disguises what they are feeling, which harbors and harnesses their ignorance,” he declared. “Therefore they walk around feeling ignorant, being oblivious to the kind of things that plague them and us and our society and none of us get any better.”
Smith then asserted, “But when he was willing to be open, I found nothing offensive about what he said. I thought it was ignorant. I thought it was ill-informed. I thought it was foolish for him to think that. But I appreciated the fact that he was honest to say that we are all Americans, let’s have a conversation. He didn’t say something, go hide, not want to talk to people. He actually invited a conversation.”
The ESPN host continued, “So let’s have the conversation because this nation is never going to recover from the divisiveness that has plagued us, from the politicians that continue to feed that divisiveness that plagues us all while they sit up on Capitol Hill being indentured servants to lobbyists at our expense. We are never going to get better as a society if everybody gets to duck, and weave, and hide because they are afraid of the shrapnel of criticism that’s coming their way.”
While Smith believes he can try and educate Jack Del Rio and believes the coach is the ignorant one, it seems that it’s actually Smith who might be ignorant.
OutKick founder Clay Travis provided an easy to understand infographic that compares the Black Lives Matter riots to the January 6th riot.
Regardless, Smith’s suggestion of having a conversation is a good one. Silencing someone doesn’t change their position. However, having a conversation doesn’t necessarily guarantee someone’s position is going to change.
Nevertheless, Smith’s grandstanding doesn’t change the fact that the Black Lives Matter riots in 2020 saw numerous black business owners have their livelihoods demolished in the looting as this report from ABC 7 Chicago below makes abundantly clear. And it wasn’t just livelihoods, some even lost their lives as Travis’ tweet above points out.