There is nothing the progressive media loves more than dismantling a narrative. And the story of Michael Oher, the retired NFL left tackle who was the subject of the book and movie “The Blind Side,” is the perfect opportunity. 

Oher, who is Black, is suing the Tuohys, the white couple who took him in when he was living on the streets. He claims that he only recently discovered that 20 years ago, the Tuohys arranged a conservatorship for him, rather than formally adopt him — or that he only recently realized the difference. There are a lot of holes in this story, such as why did it take so long to figure this out, and why does his own memoir, published more than a decade ago, explain why he agreed to a conservatorship?

Regardless, Oher’s lawyers say that the Tuohys took advantage of him, and now he wants the money he says they earned on his story from the book and movie.

I don’t have any particular insight into this story except to say it is hardly uncommon for professional athletes to blow through their earnings and find that even after having made more than $20 million (as Oher has) they have nothing left by the time they retire. (If anything, I would have hoped the Tuohys would have persuaded Oher to invest half of his earnings in mutual funds to save for the future — but one could only imagine the outcry if they were still managing his money at the age of 37.)

It is also not uncommon for ambulance-chasing lawyers to approach people and say they have a plan for getting them what they’re “owed.” 

But the facts don’t stop commenters who can’t stand any feel-good story about transracial adoption or interracial marriage or racial integration. Comments like “‘The Blind Side’ may be the worst white savior movie ever” from MSNBC have been pretty typical. Elizabeth Spiers’ recent op ed in The New York Times, “I Have a Pretty Good Idea Why Michael Oher Is Angry,” argues that Oher’s relationship with the Tuohys is nothing less than “white supremacy.” A headline in The Los Angeles Times said, “In Hollywood, the ‘white savior’ won’t go quietly.”

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What the Tuohy family attorney said about Michael Oher’s petition

But it’s not just the race angle that pundits are salivating at the opportunity to spotlight. It’s also the idea of adoption. Spiers, who is a white adoptee, says that she resents the fact that “I am often told that I am lucky, that I got a ‘second chance’ and that I should be grateful my adopted parents took me in.” In fact, she says, “people who say these things are often well intentioned, but what they’re saying is patronizing and wrong.”

In her recent book, “You Should Be Grateful,” Angela Tucker writes that people think of adoption as “a simple recipe.” She writes, “A family with extra love and resources meets a child in need of both. What’s not to love about this?” And much of the book is an explanation of how adoption is not that simple and is difficult for everyone involved. 

Anyone who thinks about adoption for more than five minutes probably comes to this realization too. But there is such a strong inclination by progressives against any kind of happy ending in this context that all of the writing and all of the media coverage must focus on the negatives. Even Tucker, who is Black, ultimately acknowledges that the white family who adopted her “fearlessly understood and named the paradox that they were so happy I’d joined their family and also longed for a world in which (her biological mother) Deborah could have kept me.”

But, of course, people like this are portrayed as the exception. We are told again and again that it is all but impossible for good people with good intentions to improve the lives of others. When I say the media love to dismantle a narrative, I don’t just mean they want to present a story that defies conventional wisdom. That’s true of a lot of good journalism. Rather, they want to destroy what they see as naïve ideas audiences might have about the possibility of happy endings or inspirational stories. 

Others have commented on how so much of children’s literature and young adult literature these days is downright apocalyptic. Books about racial discrimination and suicide and violence and oppression are fed to schoolchildren with the idea of teaching them that this is what life is like, that we are somehow leveling with them, finally being honest about the world. 

And that is the theme of these pieces about Oher or about adoption more generally: we can at last tell the truth about how terrible it all is, about the “white savior complex,” about the trauma that adoptees feel. But the thing about inspirational stories — even if they occasionally lack nuance — is that they can inspire people. And if you find yourself in a world that is as terrible as the one that some progressives believe we live in, wouldn’t you want to show people what is possible?

Naomi Schaefer Riley is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Deseret News contributor and the author of “No Way to Treat a Child: How the Foster Care System, Family Courts, and Racial Activists Are Wrecking Young Lives,” among other books.