I don’t know Anthony Federico, the ESPN editor who lost his job after coming up with the now-infamous “Chink in the Armor” headline about Jeremy Lin. I wish him no ill will of any kind, and I respect his desire to clear the air after the firestorm his ill-conceived headline incited. I do not, however, have to like the way he went about it, and I like even less that members of the media are calling it “powerful” and “moving.”
Here’s what I have a problem with:
Actions speak louder than words. My words may have hurt people in that moment but my actions have always helped people. If those who vilify me would take a deeper look at my life they would see that I am the exact opposite of how some are portraying me.
They would see that on the day of the incident I got a call from a friend – who happens to be homeless – and rushed to his aid. He was collapsed on the side of the road due to exposure and hunger. They would see how I picked him up and got him a hotel room and fed him. They would see I used my vacation time last year to volunteer in the orphanages of Haiti. They would see how I ‘adopted’ an elderly Alzheimer’s patient and visited him every week for a year. They would see that every winter I organize a coat drive for those less fortunate in New Haven. They would see how I raised $10,000 for a friend in need when his kids were born four months premature. They would see how I have worked in soup kitchens and convalescent homes since I was a kid. They would see my actions speak louder than my words. They would see that these acts were not done for my glory, but for God’s. They would see that each day I live and will continue to live a life of joy and service.
There is something distasteful about listing your charity work as a defense when your colossal public fuck-up offends millions of people and costs you your job. It demeans the act of volunteerism — as if those hours dedicated to a good cause were just going on your emergency resume, placed behind glass that reads BREAK IN CASE OF RACIAL SLUR. (“Hey everybody, sorry about saying ‘faggot,’ but I did rescue a litter of kittens from the kill shelter last year!”) It strips the altruism from an act of kindness, and that depresses the shit out of me.
I have no desire to make or keep Federico a villain, for he isn’t. He’s a person who made a stupid mistake, who committed a fireable offense (and yes: on-air talent has been excused for worse; that doesn’t mean others should be excused for the same behavior. Life is, was, and will continue to be unfair). I’m merely saying that, given the overwhelmingly positive response to his TwitLonger apology, he shouldn’t be praised any more than he’s been vilified. We’re all human. We do good things. We make mistakes. We apologize and move on.
I have nothing but admiration for Federico’s dedication to Haitian orphanages, Alzheimer’s, his homeless friends, premature babies, and premature homeless albino orphaned babies of endangered species, but I can’t help but wondering: if Federico’s as dedicated to God’s glory as he says he is, why is he so concerned with people judging him? I thought only God could do that.