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Thursday, October 06, 2022

Opinion | Herschel Walker’s Son Is No Hero - The New York Times

Herschel Walker’s Son Is No Hero

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"This week, Herschel Walker’s 23-year-old son, Christian Walker, took a starring role in the elder Walker’s Georgia Senate campaign — to burn it to the ground.

Christian published a blistering rant on social media, condemning Herschel for his lies after The Daily Beast published a report claiming that Herschel — who supports a complete ban on abortions with no exceptions — had not only urged a woman he was dating in 2009 to get an abortion, but paid for it.

As a gentlemanly hypocrite, Herschel also sent her a “get well” card with a steaming cup of tea on the front — how apropos in retrospect — and signed with the message, “Pray you are feeling better,” according to The Daily Beast.

Walker, of course, has denied this account. His lawyer told The Daily Beast the report is a “false story” and that he’s being targeted because he’s a Black conservative.

No, sir. The verb you may be looking for is not “targeted,” it’s “exposed.”

I have no way to independently verify The Daily Beast’s reporting, but Christian appears to believe it.

In a message posted on social media after The Daily Beast’s story was published, Christian said:

“The abortion card drops yesterday. It’s literally his handwriting in the card, they say they have receipts, whatever. He gets on Twitter, he lies about it. OK, I’m done. Done! Everything has been a lie.”

Yes, it has all been a lie. Even before The Daily Beast’s report, Herschel Walker’s entire candidacy was a back-patting product of Donald Trump’s binary, friends-or-enemies approach to Blackness. Trump handpicked him to run because he was the anti-Colin Kaepernick: a Black football player who wouldn’t resist but acquiesce, one who wouldn’t campaign for Black lives but against them, one who wasn’t articulate and principled but unintelligible and fraudulent.

Herschel spoke at the Republican National Convention during the summer of 2020, as Trump continued a more than three-year war against kneeling players “disrespecting” the flag and the national anthem. Herschel said in his R.N.C. speech:

“Growing up in the Deep South, I’ve seen racism up close. I know what it is and it isn’t Donald Trump. Just because someone loves and respect the flag, our national anthem, and our country doesn’t mean they don’t care about social justice. I care about all of those things. So does Donald Trump. He shows how much he cares about social justice in the Black community through his actions, and his actions speaks louder than stickers or slogans on a jersey.”

Herschel helped give cover for Trump’s racism in the heat of his re-election bid, so Trump rewarded him by supporting him for Senate.

Of course, Trump issued a statement defending Herschel from the abortion claims, saying Herschel had “properly denied the charges” and that he had “no doubt” Herschel was “correct.”

But Christian adds an interesting wrinkle in this narrative. He seems angry. And hurt.

In his video, Christian spoke directly to the right:

“And so, for the right to say I’m being suspicious for saying, ‘Hey, I’m done with the lies,’ when you all have been calling me saying, ‘Is this true about your dad? Ah, we’re not going to win Georgia.’ [unintelligible] That’s been you. You have no idea what I’ve been through in my life. You have no idea what me and my mom have survived. We could have ended this on Day 1.”

Of course, Christian is a complicated character, and that’s being charitable. More accurately, he’s come across as a nasty piece of work.

He is an election denier who opposes Black Lives Matter (he has called it a “terrorist organization” and “the K.K.K. in blackface”), as well as gay pride (even though, as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, “Walker has said he is not gay but is attracted to ‘big, strong, muscular men.’”). He is also anti-body positivity (He said on Instagram, “I’m tired of all these models who look like they’ve never seen a treadmill in their life”), anti-feminist (he said on Instagram, “Maybe men aren’t trash, and maybe you feminists should shave your armpit hair”), and he rages against Covid protocols (as he said when complaining about Covid restrictions, “I don’t care about your grandma, at all. I don’t.”).

As someone who is Black and queer, allow me to borrow from that vernacular, and say in a tone dripping with disdain: “Child, please.”

Christian says he could have stopped Herschel’s campaign from the beginning. But he didn’t. And neither was he passively disengaged. He was an active participant in the fraud. He knew when his father launched his campaign whatever Herschel had put him and his mom through, and he still actively supported him on social media and even sold campaign merchandise.

Maybe, as he said on Tuesday, the lies just became too much for him as new revelations came to light. But to me his comments reveal some striking situational ethics on Christian’s part. He’s not opposed to lying, he’s just opposed to lying that personally affects him.

He was perfectly OK with Trump’s lies. He even seemed to have bought into the lie of a stolen election and even the fake electors scheme, saying after the election:

“The electors might have cast their vote today. They’re not counted until Jan. 6, when Congress meets. And for your information, seven states sent their GOP electors to vote for Trump today: Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico. This preserves President Trump’s right to remedy the fraud with his own electors.”

In fact, on the day of the 2020 elections, Christian posted a picture of him with Trump and wrote in the caption, “I’m so proud to know you and cherish my families relationship.” (I assume he meant to write about cherishing his family’s relationship with Trump.)

In December, Christian spoke at a campaign event for his father held at Mar-a-Lago, and captioned his post about it, “Just a casual Wednesday with Uncle Don.”

If Christian was truly offended by lies, he would have rejected Uncle Don long before he rejected his own father. And that’s not all. Christian revealed the root of his objection at the end of his social media rant: “Me, my mom, as we’re chased down by the media, terrorized, all these different things. People are questioning my authenticity. I’m done.”

Herschel’s conduct, understandably, has touched Christian’s life for years, but Christian only spoke out with this kind of fervor after people started to questionhim — and doubt his authenticity.

Listen, I’ll accept help from anyone willing to prevent the abomination of Herschel Walker being elected a senator from Georgia. And I’m not discounting any pain that Christian might feel.

I am saying, though, that victims can also be villains. I am saying that one person’s trauma can spur another’s cruelties. I am saying that having a hard life doesn’t give you the right to make life harder for others. I am saying that the idiom remains true: Hurt people hurt people.

Christian Walker is young. He has a lot of living to do. But he’s an adult. And if he’s old enough to act in ways that harm others, he is old enough to be called out for it.

He has existed up to this point largely as an internet provocateur in a social media market that can reward self-aggrandizement with self-enrichment and social capital. He was all in. He threw flames like a pyromaniac.

Now, he wants credit for calling out a sham campaign that he had participated in. But there are no laurels for him. He is a lot of things, but a hero isn’t one of them."

Opinion | Herschel Walker’s Son Is No Hero - The New York Times

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