People are outraged that Barack Obama shook Raoul Castro’s hand.
People are outraged that he posed for a selfie with two other world leaders.
People are outraged that Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner objects to lowering the flag for Nelson Mandela.
People are outraged that Ted Cruz walked out of Castro’s homily to the late African president and freedom fighter.
People are outraged that Mandela memorial service organizers used a fake sign language interpreter, waving his hands in meaningless gibberish.
OK, that last one deserves a little outrage, especially if you’re deaf and somehow don’t have closed captioning on your TV. But as for the rest, take it down a notch, America.
Obama didn’t French kiss Castro on the lips. He didn’t Snapchat a naked photo of himself to Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt. Sensenbrenner didn’t climb up the flagpole at the Capitol and personally re-raise the American flag, and Cruz didn’t punch Castro on the way out the door.
Let’s keep things in perspective.
A handshake isn’t an official warming of relations between America and Cuba, although that’s long overdue. It was a polite and appropriate gesture at a non-political event like a memorial service. As for Obama’s selfie, even the photographer who took it explained:
"All around me in the stadium, South Africans were dancing, singing and laughing to honor their departed leader. It was more like a carnival atmosphere, not at all morbid. The ceremony had already gone on for two hours and would last another two. The atmosphere was totally relaxed – I didn't see anything shocking in my viewfinder, President of the U.S. or not. We are in Africa."
And as for flags, whether you raise them, lower them or burn them, they’re just fabric symbols. Sensenbrenner has every right to his opinion about whether Old Glory should only be lowered for Americans, although he should be reminded of his 2003 push to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Pope John Paul II.
Cruz, too, could’ve left his grandstanding for a more appropriate time to walk out on Castro, like at a U.N. speech (where it would be commonplace). Walking out on a homily isn’t especially classy, but it’s only a big deal if you make it one.
That example aside, let’s all chill a little and focus our holiday spirits on the good Mandela did, not on the sideshow that his death has become.
If you want to honor Mandela’s life, please do it without the outrage. The fake sign language guy is pretty outrageous, though:
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.