Do actions still speak louder than words?

Ellen Pompeo, the actress from “Grey’s Anatomy,” was watching the debates. She weighed in with her thoughts on Twitter. She quote-tweeted a post from Bloomberg that read “an emerging trend in this debate: Kamala Harris very clearly only wants to debate Joe Biden.” She retweeted it with a post that said, “Because she’s overconfident and believes he is her only competition.”

Now, with a little critical thinking and a knowledge of the previous debates, it would be easy to catch Pompeo’s drift as meaning Harris so thoroughly won her first debate – it wasn’t even really close – she didn’t spend enough time on how she might have to defend herself against other candidates. How do you think Twitter reacted? They called Pompeo’s statement racist and didn’t really mince words.

That’s only a fragment of how people overreacted, but it’s really symptomatic of a large problem in public discourse. When people are racist (“why don’t they go back … from which they came”), certainly call it racist. But if you’ve only just read or heard a statement and draw a line from possibly innocuous to racist from your personal perception, you should really try to put it into context.

Taking shots at Baltimore, where the murder rate is second in the country, homeless people sleep in tourist areas and huge buildings are boarded up across the city – it’s a low blow, but it isn’t racist just because Rep. Elijah Cummings is black and happened to be the target of Trump’s Baltimore jab.

We find it far more alarming that President Donald Trump acts with flattery or compliance with Kim Jong Un’s actions. Or that despite the fact Trump has defended undocumented immigrant detention as an inherited Obama policy, has still not acted to reunite children with their parents. That could be fixed with an executive order.

You don’t have to put up with Trump. You can vote him out. We have even more control over how we respond to things. Knee-jerk reactions and the frontier justice of public shaming will only make people afraid of talking. If you’re afraid to talk, you don’t ask questions. If you don’t ask questions, you stay ignorant.