Well, I finally got around to seeing The Blind Side. For those unfamiliar with the movie, it retells the true story of Michael Oher, a profoundly disadvantaged black boy who ended up as a scholarship student at a Christian academy in Memphis. Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, parents at the school, stumbled across him, and eventually took him into their home and family. With the Tuohy family’s help, he graduated from high school, went to Ole Miss on a football scholarship, and was eventually a first round NFL draft pick. You can read his story in the New York Times article that served as the basis for the movie.
I have to say here and now that I really dislike most new movies that I see. I find them boring, and the values usually offend me. My husband is resigned to the fact that there’s a 90% likelihood that I’ll walk out on any movie within the first 10 minutes. But I sat and watched The Blind Side to the end, including the credits. It’s that rare story of good people doing good things. With the exception of a single jerky football player and the drug dealers from Michael’s old neighborhood, the movie shows people motivated to do well for a child who was truly lost in the system.
As many of you already know, the movie makes no bones about the Christian values driving those who got involved in Oher’s life. A Christian academy took Michael in (admittedly with something of an eye to his football potential), and Leigh Anne explicitly viewed her acts through the lens of Christian charity. While the movie doesn’t preach Christian doctrine, it does say something rare in Hollywood movies: Christians are good people and they are not bigots, even Southern Christians.
Others who have seen the movie (SPOILER ALERT) have noted that Hollywood did manage to get in a few anti-Republican digs, but they were minimal. When Leigh Ann, frustrated with an endless line at a government office asks the rude, gum-chewing clerk who’s in charge, the clerk points to a picture of George Bush. Anyone who isn’t half dead realizes, of course, that the United States President is not directly in charge of the lackadaisical behavior at a Memphis government office. Leigh Ann just ignores the foolish dig and powers on ahead.
The biggest “political” moment in the movie comes when Miss Sue, a private tutor played by Kathy Bates, makes a confession to Leigh Ann during her job interview: She’s a Democrat.
I think the movie-makers were trying to show that it’s scary, and that one needs to be secretive, in order to be a Democrat in Republican country. Leigh Ann’s response, however, was pitch-perfect, and I know this because I was a Democrat in Southern Republican country. She looks blank (“why would someone make a big deal about this confession?”), mutters a polite word, and moves on. No diatribes, no insults. It’s very real, and it says something about both Democratic expectations and Republican realities. (SPOILER ALERT OVER.)
Even though I saw the movie a couple of days ago, I was thinking of it today because of Stuart Schwartz’s article about the fear and loathing the mainstream sports media feels towards Tim Tebow. (Don Quixote, who knows his sports, read the article and he says that, while Schwartz misunderstands some of the jabs as being aimed at Tebow’s faith rather than his slightly goofy football, the gist of the article is correct.) Here’s a flavor of what Schwartz has to say about the media’s approach to an overtly Christian NFL player (hyperlinks omitted):
Get accused twice of rape (Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh), repeatedly abuse your wife (Michael Pittman, Tampa Bay), regularly strangle and drown hapless dogs (Michael Vick, Atlanta)? Ah, well, boys will be boys, it is society’s fault — and besides, women and dogs don’t wear Super Bowl rings. But pray, work with the poor, and refuse to engage in casual sex — there’s something seriously wrong with you. Or, as one Sports Illustrated writer put it, you are a certified “wackdo.”
With rare exception (Denver Post columnist Woody Paige predicted stardom, maintaining that murder and mayhem are not the only qualifications for NFL success), the journalists have delighted in disparaging the Tebows as too “Christiany,” a journalistic synonym for “fascist.” You know, the kind of people whose vocal love for Jesus conjures up thoughts of a “Nazi rally,” as the largest Boston sports radio station described a family gathering.
Positively un-NFL, so much so that one front-office executive announced to Yahoo Sports that “I don’t want any part of him” and his nutty views. Yahoo Sports columnist Les Carpenter, reacting to this, noted that Tebow, “known for his goodness[,] has actually drawn a more visceral reaction [from the NFL and sports journalism establishment] than those players who are at their core, truly bad.”
But Tebow continues being Tebow. He responds with good-natured humor to a jeering press that accuses him of being a virgin with a simple statement: “Yes, I am.” And he goes on to explain the importance of commitment and marriage and ends with noting the discomfort in the room: “I think y’all are stunned right now.”
…To which Pro Sports Daily responded “Don’t be shocked if some of these guys want to take him out and kill the legend that is Tim Tebow.” NCAA Football Fanhouse expressed dismay that “the most popular player in SEC history is saving himself for marriage.” “Unbelievable” when he can have any girl he wants.
What is wrong with this guy? The Washington Post brought in professional atheist Richard Dawkins to reassure its readers that the NFL has nothing to fear. Too many hits from the blind side did not produce this “dummy.”
There is something very wrong with a milieu that routinely excuses violence and vice, and that is genuinely frightened of goodness, the same goodness that saw Michael Oher rescued from an abysmal vacuum of poverty and neglect.
You know that I like matching things up. I look for articles and stories that provide stark contrasts or that reinforce each other. Here, we have two stories about faith. One about its power, and the other about the fear it inspires.
I’m not a person of faith. I think it would be wonderful and comforting to believe in God, but I don’t.
I’m also not a fool. I don’t disc0unt the notion of God, because there is too much that neither I, nor anyone else, can explain or understand. To deny God’s existence is so audacious an act, I would basically be arrogating God-like status for myself. My cautious view, lying in a gray zone that encompasses atheism and agnosticism is, as I often say to the children, that something preceded the Big Bang.
Mostly, though, regardless of my personal religious views, I’m someone who likes American Christians (by which I mean those people who worship God, not those who worship liberalism as shaped through PC churches that periodically make a nominal nod in the Bible’s direction). In my experience — and I lived in the American South when I was a Jewish atheist Democrat — American Christians are truly good people.
Yeah, sure there are the Sunday Christians who practice fraud on Monday, and there are the ones who are racists or antisemites, but that’s not the face of the vast majority of American Christians. Their faces are the same face that the Tuohys and the Tebows show: hard-working, committed to traditional morality, generous with hearts and homes, and deeply aware of the value of life. This last — this reverence for life — is not just focused on the abortion issue. Instead, it manifests itself as a generalized belief that ordinary people are worthy. People aren’t cogs, or PC labels, but individuals, imbued with a spirit that deserves respect.
I think it is this respect for the individual that is so frightening to the liberal establishment. Individualism and Big Government are antithetical. As, England, my favorite socialist example, shows, once Big Government takes over the functions individuals once served (as parents, employers, caregivers, etc.), hard-work, morality, and generosity fly out the door. You end up with a country that veers wildly between excessively tight control (those kumquats had better be the right size) and complete anarchy (as demonstrated by England’s soaring alcoholism, assault, murder, child abuse, SDT, and illegitimate children statistics).
Worse, those countries that have moved beyond England into hard-core Communism demonstrate that, once the collective is transcendent, the individual has no value at all. Even as government benefits are being showered on the collective (free homes, free health care, free whatever), the individual is being sent to gulags and concentration camps.
I know that I’ve traveled a long way from a surprisingly sweet and good Hollywood movie to the gas chambers, but it is a continuum. As the media’s relentless attacks on Tebow’s fierce individualism show, the Left fully understands that people like Tebow and the Tuohys undermine the hegemony it seeks. And as ordinary Americans need to understand, the utopian hegemony the media imagines will arise when the Tebows are gone, is in reality a totalitarian world devoid of all human kindness.