There used to be a time when a black man was criticized harshly for his supposed propensity to avoid cracking open a book. That’s why it’s a sad and pathetic day when a black man gets ganged up on and beaten down for actually reading.

Flamboyant football personality Chad Ochocinco was on the receiving end of Twitter rage when he read conservative kook Glenn Beck’s book, Broke, and then tweeted about it. Some folks were so enraged that they un-followed him and blasted the Cincinnati Bengal receiver on their way out.

This is what Ochocinco opined about after digesting parts of Beck’s book:

Gotten through 3 chapters in @glennbeck book and so far everything he’s said is either common or his opinion based off research.” … I don’t agree with a lot of this s— but nonetheless its interesting reading the views n opinions from what I’d like to call the other side.”

Seems like harmless conjecture to me. However, this innocuous statement by Ochocinco was the match that seemingly set off all kind of fireworks from his followers, and some even discarded the reality show star into the cyberspace wastebasket.

“Unfollowing [you] after two years because you’re a Beck fan. Disgraceful and disappointing,” one former fan said.

OK. First of all, this person, and the others who agree with him or her, illustrates a lack of basic reading comprehension skills. That’s a product of NOT reading enough. If Ochocinco said, “I don’t agree with a lot of his s—” and follows that up with calling Beck a member of “the other side,” then that means that Ochocinco is not a Beck fan.

It is not a crime for a black person to read Beck’s book. In fact, it would behoove some of us to pick up similar books periodically and learn what conservatives believe. Malcolm X once said that we cannot fully know what our position is until you learn the other side’s position. Just because you read a conservative’s book or tune into Fox News and listen to Bill O’Reilly does not equate to advocating what they espouse.

How in the world can you possibly mount an effective offensive against the other side and expect to defeat them if you don’t know the other side’s strategies? It would be sheer lunacy to fight a war and not know where the enemy lies.

Ochocinco later tweeted Beck:

“Kind sir I’ve seemed 2 have pissed off a lot of my fans by purchasing your [book]. Gonna read it while flying n see why [they’re] mad.”

I’m glad that Ochocinco is reading Beck’s book. I’m glad that he’s reading at all. Too many of us are in trouble because we DON’T read. And while I think about it, I also am going to read Beck’s book. And I hope more blacks read conservative books. We don’t need to read books that confirm what our position is. We already know what we like and what we believe in. We need to learn positions of people who think differently from us. That’s the only way we will be able to engage our counterparts in intelligent discourse and debate.

terry shropshire

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