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Once champions of free speech, today’s U.S. liberals favor censorship and thought control

By Matt Taibbi

Sometimes it seems life can’t get any worse in this country. Already in terror of a pandemic, Americans have lately been bombarded with images of grotesque state-sponsored violence, from the murder of George Floyd to countless scenes of police clubbing and brutalizing protesters.

Our president, Donald Trump, is a clown who makes a great reality-show villain but is uniquely toolless as the leader of a superpower nation. Watching him try to think through two society-imperiling crises is like waiting for a gerbil to solve Fermat’s theorem. Calls to “dominate” marchers and ad-libbed speculations about Floyd’s “great day” looking down from heaven at Trump’s crisis management and new unemployment numbers (“only” 21 million out of work!) were pure gasoline at a tinderbox moment. The man seems determined to talk us into civil war.

But police violence, and Trump’s daily assaults on the presidential competence standard, are only part of the disaster. On the other side of the political aisle, among self-described liberals, we’re watching an intellectual revolution. It feels liberating to say after years of tiptoeing around the fact, but the American left has lost its mind. It’s become a cowardly mob of upper-class social media addicts, Twitter Robespierres who move from discipline to discipline torching reputations and jobs with breathtaking casualness.

The leaders of this new movement are replacing traditional liberal beliefs about tolerance, free inquiry, and even racial harmony with ideas so toxic and unattractive that they eschew debate, moving straight to shaming, threats, and intimidation. They are counting on the guilt-ridden, self-flagellating nature of traditional American progressives, who will not stand up for themselves, and will walk to the Razor voluntarily.

They’ve conned organization after organization into empowering panels to search out thoughtcrime, and it’s established now that anything can be an offense, from a UCLA professor placed under investigation for reading Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” out loud to a data scientist fired from a research firm for — get this — retweeting an academic study suggesting nonviolent protests may be more politically effective than violent ones!

Now, this madness is coming for journalism. Beginning on Friday, June 5, a series of controversies rocked the media. By my count, at least eight news organizations dealt with internal uprisings (it was likely more). Most involved groups of reporters and staffers demanding the firing or reprimand of colleagues who’d made politically “problematic” editorial or social media decisions.

The New York Times, the Intercept, Vox, the Philadelphia Inquirier, Variety, and others saw challenges to management.

Probably the most disturbing story involved Intercept writer Lee Fang, one of a fast-shrinking number of young reporters actually skilled in investigative journalism. Fang’s work in the area of campaign finance especially has led to concrete impact, including a record fine to a conservative Super PAC: few young reporters have done more to combat corruption.

Yet Fang found himself denounced online as a racist, then hauled before H.R. His crime? During protests, he tweeted this interview with an African-American man named Maximum Fr, who described having two cousins murdered in the East Oakland neighborhood where he grew up. Saying his aunt is still not over those killings, Max asked:

I always question, why does a Black life matter only when a white man takes it?… Like, if a white man takes my life tonight, it’s going to be national news, but if a Black man takes my life, it might not even be spoken of… It’s stuff just like that that I just want in the mix.

Shortly after, a co-worker of Fang’s, Akela Lacy, wrote, “Tired of being made to deal continually with my co-worker @lhfang continuing to push black on black crime narratives after being repeatedly asked not to. This isn’t about me and him, it’s about institutional racism and using free speech to couch anti-blackness. I am so fucking tired.” She followed with, “Stop being racist Lee.”

The tweet received tens of thousands of likes and responses along the lines of, “Lee Fang has been like this for years, but the current moment only makes his anti-Blackness more glaring,” and “Lee Fang spouting racist bullshit it must be a day ending in day.” A significant number of Fang’s co-workers, nearly all white, as well as reporters from other major news organizations like the New York Times and MSNBC and political activists (one former Elizabeth Warren staffer tweeted, “Get him!”), issued likes and messages of support for the notion that Fang was a racist. Though he had support within the organization, no one among his co-workers was willing to say anything in his defense publicly.

Like many reporters, Fang has always viewed it as part of his job to ask questions in all directions. He’s written critically of political figures on the center-left, the left, and “obviously on the right,” and his reporting has inspired serious threats in the past. None of those past experiences were as terrifying as this blitz by would-be colleagues, which he described as “jarring,” “deeply isolating,” and “unique in my professional experience.”

To save his career, Fang had to craft a public apology for “insensitivity to the lived experience of others.” According to one friend of his, it’s been communicated to Fang that his continued employment at The Intercept is contingent upon avoiding comments that may upset colleagues. Lacy to her credit publicly thanked Fang for his statement and expressed willingness to have a conversation; unfortunately, the throng of Intercept co-workers who piled on her initial accusation did not join her in this.

I first met Lee Fang in 2014 and have never known him to be anything but kind, gracious, and easygoing. He also appears earnestly committed to making the world a better place through his work. It’s stunning that so many colleagues are comfortable using a word as extreme and villainous as racist to describe him.

Though he describes his upbringing as “solidly middle-class,” Fang grew up in a diverse community in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and attended public schools where he was frequently among the few non-African Americans in his class. As a teenager, he was witness to the murder of a young man outside his home by police who were never prosecuted, and also volunteered at a shelter for trafficked women, two of whom were murdered. If there’s an edge to Fang at all, it seems geared toward people in our business who grew up in affluent circumstances and might intellectualize topics that have personal meaning for him.

In the tweets that got him in trouble with Lacy and other co-workers, he questioned the logic of protesters attacking immigrant-owned businesses “with no connection to police brutality at all.” He also offered his opinion on Martin Luther King’s attitude toward violent protest (Fang’s take was that King did not support it; Lacy responded, “you know they killed him too right”). These are issues around which there is still considerable disagreement among self-described liberals, even among self-described leftists. Fang also commented, presciently as it turns out, that many reporters were “terrified of openly challenging the lefty conventional wisdom around riots.”

Lacy says she never intended for Fang to be “fired, ‘canceled,’ or deplatformed,” but appeared irritated by questions on the subject, which she says suggest, “there is more concern about naming racism than letting it persist.”

Max himself was stunned to find out that his comments on all this had created a Twitter firestorm. “I couldn’t believe they were coming for the man’s job over something I said,” he recounts. “It was not Lee’s opinion. It was my opinion.”

By phone, Max spoke of a responsibility he feels Black people have to speak out against all forms of violence, “precisely because we experience it the most.” He described being affected by the Floyd story, but also by the story of retired African-American police captain David Dorn, shot to death in recent protests in St. Louis. He also mentioned Tony Timpa, a white man whose 2016 asphyxiation by police was only uncovered last year. In body-camera footage, police are heard joking after Timpa passed out and stopped moving, “I don’t want to go to school! Five more minutes, Mom!”

“If it happens to anyone, it has to be called out,” Max says.

Max described discussions in which it was argued to him that bringing up these other incidents now is not helpful to the causes being articulated at the protests. He understands that point of view. He just disagrees.

“They say, there has to be the right time and a place to talk about that,” he says. “But my point is, when? I want to speak out now.” He pauses. “We’ve taken the narrative, and instead of being inclusive with it, we’ve become exclusive with it. Why?”

There were other incidents. The editors of Bon Apetit and Refinery29 both resigned amid accusations of toxic workplace culture. The editor of Variety, Claudia Eller, was placed on leave after calling a South Asian freelance writer “bitter” in a Twitter exchange about minority hiring at her company. The self-abasing apology (“I have tried to diversify our newsroom over the past seven years, but I HAVE NOT DONE ENOUGH”) was insufficient. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s editor, Stan Wischowski, was forced out after approving a headline, “Buildings matter, too.”

In the most discussed incident, Times editorial page editor James Bennet was ousted for green-lighting an anti-protest editorial by Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton entitled, “Send in the troops.”

I’m no fan of Cotton, but as was the case with Michael Moore’s documentary and many other controversial speech episodes, it’s not clear that many of the people angriest about the piece in question even read it. In classic Times fashion, the paper has already scrubbed a mistake they made misreporting what their own editorial said, in an article about Bennet’s ouster. Here’s how the piece by Marc Tracy read originally (emphasis mine):

James Bennet, the editorial page editor of The New York Times, has resigned after a controversy over an Op-Ed by a senator calling for military force against protesters in American cities.

Here’s how the piece reads now:

James Bennet resigned on Sunday from his job as the editorial page editor of The New York Times, days after the newspaper’s opinion section, which he oversaw, published a much-criticized Op-Ed by a United States senator calling for a military response to civic unrest in American cities.

Cotton did not call for “military force against protesters in American cities.” He spoke of a “show of force,” to rectify a situation a significant portion of the country saw as spiraling out of control. It’s an important distinction. Cotton was presenting one side of the most important question on the most important issue of a critically important day in American history.

As Cotton points out in the piece, he was advancing a view arguably held by a majority of the country. A Morning Consult poll showed 58% of Americans either strongly or somewhat supported the idea of “calling in the U.S. military to supplement city police forces.” That survey included 40% of self-described “liberals” and 37% of African-Americans. To declare a point of view held by that many people not only not worthy of discussion, but so toxic that publication of it without even necessarily agreeing requires dismissal, is a dramatic reversal for a newspaper that long cast itself as the national paper of record.

Incidentally, that same poll cited by Cotton showed that 73% of Americans described protecting property as “very important,” while an additional 16% considered it “somewhat important.” This means the Philadelphia Inquirer editor was fired for running a headline – “Buildings matter, too” – that the poll said expressed a view held by 89% of the population, including 64% of African-Americans.

(Would I have run the Inquirer headline? No. In the context of the moment, the use of the word “matter” especially sounds like the paper is equating “Black lives” and “buildings,” an odious and indefensible comparison. But why not just make this case in a rebuttal editorial? Make it a teaching moment? How can any editor operate knowing that airing opinions shared by a majority of readers might cost his or her job?)

The main thing accomplished by removing those types of editorials from newspapers — apart from scaring the hell out of editors — is to shield readers from knowledge of what a major segment of American society is thinking.

It also guarantees that opinion writers and editors alike will shape views to avoid upsetting colleagues, which means that instead of hearing what our differences are and how we might address those issues, newspaper readers will instead be presented with page after page of people professing to agree with one another. That’s not agitation, that’s misinformation.

The instinct to shield audiences from views or facts deemed politically uncomfortable has been in evidence since Trump became a national phenomenon. We saw it when reporters told audiences Hillary Clinton’s small crowds were a “wholly intentional” campaign decision. I listened to colleagues that summer of 2016 talk about ignoring poll results, or anecdotes about Hillary’s troubled campaign, on the grounds that doing otherwise might “help Trump” (or, worse, be perceived that way).

Even if you embrace a wholly politically utilitarian vision of the news media – I don’t, but let’s say – non-reporting of that “enthusiasm” story, or ignoring adverse poll results, didn’t help Hillary’s campaign. I’d argue it more likely accomplished the opposite, contributing to voter apathy by conveying the false impression that her victory was secure.

After the 2016 election, we began to see staff uprisings. In one case, publishers at the Nation faced a revolt – from the Editor on down – after articles by Aaron Mate and Patrick Lawrence questioning the evidentiary basis for Russiagate claims was run. Subsequent events, including the recent declassification of congressional testimony, revealed that Mate especially was right to point out that officials had no evidence for a Trump-Russia collusion case. It’s precisely because such unpopular views often turn out to be valid that we stress publishing and debating them in the press.

In a related incident, the New Yorker ran an article about Glenn Greenwald’s Russiagate skepticism that quoted that same Nation editor, Joan Walsh, who had edited Greenwald at Salon. She suggested to the New Yorker that Greenwald’s reservations were rooted in “disdain” for the Democratic Party, in part because of its closeness to Wall Street, but also because of the “ascendance of women and people of color.” The message was clear: even if you win a Pulitzer Prize, you can be accused of racism for deviating from approved narratives, even on questions that have nothing to do with race (the New Yorker piece also implied Greenwald’s intransigence on Russia was pathological and grounded in trauma from childhood).

In the case of Cotton, Times staffers protested on the grounds that “Running this puts Black @NYTimes staff in danger.” Bennet’s editorial decision was not merely ill-considered, but literally life-threatening (note pundits in the space of a few weeks have told us that protesting during lockdowns and not protesting during lockdowns are both literally lethal). The Times first attempted to rectify the situation by apologizing, adding a long Editor’s note to Cotton’s piece that read, as so many recent “apologies” have, like a note written by a hostage.

Editors begged forgiveness for not being more involved, for not thinking to urge Cotton to sound less like Cotton (“Editors should have offered suggestions”), and for allowing rhetoric that was “needlessly harsh and falls short of the thoughtful approach that advances useful debate.” That last line is sadly funny, in the context of an episode in which reporters were seeking to pre-empt a debate rather than have one at all; of course, no one got the joke, since a primary characteristic of the current political climate is a total absence of a sense of humor in any direction.

As many guessed, the “apology” was not enough, and Bennet was whacked a day later in a terse announcement.

His replacement, Kathleen Kingsbury, issued a staff directive essentially telling employees they now had a veto over anything that made them uncomfortable: “Anyone who sees any piece of Opinion journalism, headlines, social posts, photos — you name it — that gives you the slightest pause, please call or text me immediately.”

All these episodes sent a signal to everyone in a business already shedding jobs at an extraordinary rate that failure to toe certain editorial lines can and will result in the loss of your job. Perhaps additionally, you could face a public shaming campaign in which you will be denounced as a racist and rendered unemployable.

These tensions led to amazing contradictions in coverage. For all the extraordinary/inexplicable scenes of police viciousness in recent weeks — and there was a ton of it, ranging from police slashing tires in Minneapolis, to Buffalo officers knocking over an elderly man, to Philadelphia police attacking protesters — there were also 12 deaths in the first nine days of protests, only one at the hands of a police officer (involving a man who may or may not have been aiming a gun at police).

Looting in some communities has been so bad that people have been left without banks to cash checks, or pharmacies to fill prescriptions; business owners have been wiped out (“My life is gone,” commented one Philly store owner); a car dealership in San Leandro, California saw 74 cars stolen in a single night. It isn’t the whole story, but it’s demonstrably true that violence, arson, and rioting are occurring.

However, because it is politically untenable to discuss this in ways that do not suggest support, reporters have been twisting themselves into knots. We are seeing headlines previously imaginable only in The Onion, e.g., “27 police officers injured during largely peaceful anti-racism protests in London.”

Even people who try to keep up with protest goals find themselves denounced the moment they fail to submit to some new tenet of ever-evolving doctrine, via a surprisingly consistent stream of retorts: fuck you, shut up, send money, do better, check yourself, I’m tired and racist.

Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey, who argued for police reform and attempted to show solidarity with protesters in his city, was shouted down after he refused to commit to defunding the police. Protesters shouted “Get the fuck out!” at him, then chanted “Shame!” and threw refuse, Game of Thrones-style, as he skulked out of the gathering. Frey’s “shame” was refusing to endorse a position polls show 65% of Americans oppose, including 62% of Democrats, with just 15% of all people, and only 33% of African-Americans, in support.

Each passing day sees more scenes that recall something closer to cult religion than politics. White protesters in Floyd’s Houston hometown kneeling and praying to black residents for “forgiveness… for years and years of racism” are one thing, but what are we to make of white police in Cary, North Carolina, kneeling and washing the feet of Black pastors? What about Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer kneeling while dressed in “African kente cloth scarves”?

There is symbolism here that goes beyond frustration with police or even with racism: these are orgiastic, quasi-religious, and most of all, deeply weird scenes, and the press is too paralyzed to wonder at it. In a business where the first job requirement was once the willingness to ask tough questions, we’ve become afraid to ask obvious ones.

On CNN, Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender was asked a hypothetical question about a future without police: “What if in the middle of the night, my home is broken into? Who do I call?” When Bender, who is white, answered, “I know that comes from a place of privilege,” questions popped to mind. Does privilege mean one should let someone break into one’s home, or that one shouldn’t ask that hypothetical question? (I was genuinely confused). In any other situation, a media person pounces on a provocative response to dig out its meaning, but an increasingly long list of words and topics are deemed too dangerous to discuss.

The media in the last four years has devolved into a succession of moral manias. We are told the Most Important Thing Ever is happening for days or weeks at a time, until subjects are abruptly dropped and forgotten, but the tone of warlike emergency remains: from James Comey’s firing, to the deification of Robert Mueller, to the Brett Kavanaugh nomination, to the democracy-imperiling threat to intelligence “whistleblowers,” all those interminable months of Ukrainegate hearings (while Covid-19 advanced), to fury at the death wish of lockdown violators, to the sudden reversal on that same issue, etc.

It’s been learned in these episodes we may freely misreport reality, so long as the political goal is righteous. It was okay to publish the now-discredited Steele dossier, because Trump is scum. MSNBC could put Michael Avenatti on live TV to air a gang rape allegation without vetting, because who cared about Brett Kavanaugh – except press airing of that wild story ended up being a crucial factor in convincing key swing voter Maine Senator Susan Collins the anti-Kavanaugh campaign was a political hit job (the allegation illustrated, “why the presumption of innocence is so important,” she said). Reporters who were anxious to prevent Kavanaugh’s appointment, in other words, ended up helping it happen through overzealousness.

There were no press calls for self-audits after those episodes, just as there won’t be a few weeks from now if Covid-19 cases spike, or a few months from now if Donald Trump wins re-election successfully painting the Democrats as supporters of violent protest who want to abolish police. No: press activism is limited to denouncing and shaming colleagues for insufficient fealty to the cheap knockoff of bullying campus Marxism that passes for leftist thought these days.

The traditional view of the press was never based on some contrived, mathematical notion of “balance,” i.e. five paragraphs of Republicans for every five paragraphs of Democrats. The ideal instead was that we showed you everything we could see, good and bad, ugly and not, trusting that a better-informed public would make better decisions. This vision of media stressed accuracy, truth, and trust in the reader’s judgment as the routes to positive social change.

For all our infamous failings, journalists once had some toughness to them. We were supposed to be willing to go to jail for sources we might not even like, and fly off to war zones or disaster areas without question when editors asked. It was also once considered a virtue to flout the disapproval of colleagues to fight for stories we believed in (Watergate, for instance).

Today no one with a salary will stand up for colleagues like Lee Fang. Our brave truth-tellers make great shows of shaking fists at our parody president, but not one of them will talk honestly about the fear running through their own newsrooms. People depend on us to tell them what we see, not what we think. What good are we if we’re afraid to do it?
___________________

Matthew C. Taibbi is contributing editor at Rolling Stone, an author, journalist and podcaster. He has reported on politics, media, finance, and sports.

Credit: Taibbi Substack 

31 thoughts on “Once champions of free speech, today’s U.S. liberals favor censorship and thought control

  1. this is an interesting comment by itself but why did you post it on the cuencahighlife website?
    it really has nothing to do with ecuadorian or cuencan political developments but anly concerns domestic politics of the usa.

    1. Your questioning of the relevance of the article exemplifies part of the problem that Taibbi decries. Have there not been endless debates here over the propriety of lockdowns, masks, social distancing and curfews? Have the recent racial protests in the US not been echoed all over the globe?

      Does the political climate in the US — and the accurate reporting of that climate — affect only the US, or does it reach far beyond? For better or worse, what happens in the US has a great deal “to do with Ecuadorian or Cuencan political developments,” from the strength of the dollar to Venezuelan refugees to loans, aid and helpful or destructive foreign policy.

      Accurate, honest and unrestrained reporting of the news in the US is critical to understanding what is happening there. And as much as I wish it weren’t the case, what happens in the US has an overwhelming effect on what happens in Cuenca, in Ecuador and the rest of the world… at least for now. What the future holds as the American unipolar empire and its monopoly on the world’s reserve currency is challenged is a different story — and one that must also be reported accurately.

      1. Yup, a lot of financial chicanery is covered up with all these ‘new happenings’. And our old buddies at the IMF are calling on Ecuador to do some heavy ‘belt tightening’ while printing money nonstop..That kind of reporting can get you killed..

    2. Agreed Alex. For all the naysayers below, who will argue that this is a relevant article, what Alex is saying is that this is not the correct venue for such a political piece. Simply scroll down 4 inches to read Cuenca High Life’s stated mission: “to publish news, analysis and opinions about Cuenca, Ecuador and Latin America as well as features on Cuenca’s thriving expat community”… This article (and many others) meets none of those stated goals.

      1. Simple solution — don’t read it. Or alternatively, if you don’t like it and think there’s a market for nothing but local news, partner with Jeanne and start your own publication.

    3. Good point. There are a million outlets on the web for this sort of commentary, but very little concerning itself with the interests of expats living in Cuenca.

    4. Glad to see it here, and to see the comments! Would have probably missed it otherwise. And I think it is relevant since it´s what people are talking about most of the time nowadays.

  2. Mr. Taibbi: I wish you had not included this sentence, not because it offends me, but because it’s inaccurate:

    No: press activism is limited to denouncing and shaming colleagues for insufficient fealty to the cheap knockoff of bullying campus Marxism that passes for leftist thought these days.

    Clearly the bullying “left” you’re describing are not Marxist in any way; they can barely talk about economics or class, and have successfully stripped any considerations of such out of the fight against racism. Listening to them, you’d never know slavery was an economic institution motivated by the most heinous kinds of greed, or that the subsequent racism of the century and a half following the Emancipation Proclamation had anything to do with money or poverty.

  3. For every black man killed by a white cop, there are 18 white cops killed by a black man. Don’t ask me to find the source, I read it on the internet, so it must be true. CNN has been pounding the ” racist ” theme for 2 weeks without stopping. I think they are trying to inflame hatred and reactions from black Americans. Luckily, most black Americans can see through their B.S.

    1. That’s right you just read it on the internet, so it must be true…. you need to find a credible source before you post that… if 18 cops are getting killed to every one black man (handcuffed and choked to death, while being video recorded) the nation would be outraged.
      These protests are justified. I had en eye opening experience in Toronto, after a game in the change room, I was discussing a black man being shot multiple times after an officer asked him for his ID, when he reached for it the officer opened up on him killing him. As I was talking to the other player to my left, a fellow teammate, a black player, overheard the conversation, he interjected “it was his own fault” referring to the black man that was killed. I was dumbstruck, I asked how it could have possibly been his fault? He answered “every black man knows, if you get pulled over, you keep your hands at ten and two on the steering wheel, you look straight forward not to make eye contact, you speak when spoken to and you don’t reach for anything or make any sudden movements without first telling the officer what your about to do (I’m getting my ID from the glove box) and waiting for him to give his consent…. otherwise you’ll get shot!” It’s just a little different whenever I have the privilege of being given a ticket, It’s not a life threatening experience. That conversation changed the way I thought about “white privilege” and how lucky I was to be born white, I don’t take that for granted anymore… and I feel for those that fear for their lives when they get pulled over or questioned by police, especially the officers that read the internet and see that “for every black man killed by police, there are 18 officers killed by black men” without any firm backing to confirm the truth in a statement like that. Please don’t post this type of information without proper backing, it could get people killed.

      1. Mike.
        barkgrowbite.blogspot.com/2016/07/shootings-like-those-of-cops-in-dallas.html.
        This shows white cops 18.5 times more likely to be shot by a black man than a white cop shooting a black man. This is for what you asked, right? More unarmed whites were shot than unarmed blacks by police. And the kicker – for every unarmed black shot by a white cop, over 700 blacks were killed by other blacks. And I can prove it, too.
        For some reason, editing wants to eliminate part of the web site. After .com, one needs: /2016/07/shootings-like-those-of-cops-in-dallas.html

        1. Ok, let’s say blacks are killing blacks and white cops are getting shot by blacks. Is this a genetic problem or a societal issue? I’ve was born in Canada and moved to Detroit when I was seventeen, I escaped Detroit when I was 35 and moved to Toronto. Those places are very different, the way minorities are treated (if you are white and born in Canada, you are a minority in Toronto). While I lived in Detroit I personally witnessed blacks being beaten with bats, blacks being shot, gangs running wild and it was just normal life there…the police wouldn’t go to some of the areas, my friends used to say “the problem is solved, what do we need police for”? Repression was the order of the day, you ruled your area or you were pushed out of the way.. if you go to Toronto, when they develop an area, build condos, you are required to build a rental building right beside it. This builds a community that is inclusive and you don’t have this feeling of being trapped with no escape… I noticed the difference right away… people of colour are treated the same as everyone else. That’s why I was so surprised to hear the black hockey player state “it was his own fault”… I didn’t think there was this kind of profiling in Canada… I believe that’s why this protest is all over the world. That black teammate was an accountant and drove a nice car, dressed well and was very intelligent. For him to point out the protocol for a black man being pulled over and how fearful he was of this type of encounter just brought to the forefront. Could this fear be enough to shoot the officer, I don’t know I’m not in that position and that is my point. I would like to think not but like when I lived in Detroit, they used to say, what’s wrong with jail, they give you three meals a day cigarettes and a nice bed and I have to say, most of them there wouldn’t be certain of those basics on a daily basis…
          It’s good to bring these matters to light, maybe we can help to stop this cycle..

          1. I believe the point is that what we read and see in the news is in fact not nearly as common as other acts of violence killing people. However, that don’t sell. The corrupt, polarizing media need to widen that divide. Nobody is saying George Floyd should have been killed, it was deplorable ( I love that word ). What is objectionable however is how the media uses the situation to try to get people angry and out in the street tearing $hit up. Instead of calming the sitch down, they do their best to inflame it.

            1. Those people are out on the street because they can see the difference between how they are treated and how minorities are treated..

  4. Just this morning I emailed a Cambodian American friend in the US. “‘The land of the free and the home of the brave’ is an illusion.”

    1. Your email to your Cambodian American friend in the US would have been more accurate if you had said “The land of TV and the home of the slave”, and that is not an illusion.

  5. I am grateful for this article. It has both solid information and an informed opinion about the implications. As a liberal, I think it is important that we have a robust press. The incidents described are pathetic response to the “passion” of the day. We need reasoned views more now than ever.

  6. I was prepared for this to be a right wing article against liberals. Instead he brings up some good points that need to be addressed on the left if we are ever going to get over the hate-filled polarization of U.S. politics.

    I was tempted to call the subject “political correctness,” but that has become too squishy of a term to be useful. Sometimes PC is warranted and sometimes it goes to the extreme.

    The article could have been subtitled: “Why I’m a Mainstream Liberal/Progressive and not a Knee-Jerk, Far Left Liberal/Progressive.”

  7. This article made me think about what really is happening in the media and see that it is not politically correct to question why a protest needs to burn buildings like the Wendy restaurant, break windows, steal merchandise from the stores, steal most of the vehicles from the car dealership and watch them break the law right in front of our eyes as it is being broadcast in the news. The looters do not even appear to have any fear of being charged.

    There are so many good reasons to peacefully protest and the looting and damaging of property has become acceptable and it is NOT. We are not hearing who has been charged for these crimes but unfortunately we are hearing that it is justified which it is NOT.

    1. Wrong. See the complete Morning Consult survey in pdf format at https://www.google.com/url?q=https://assets.morningconsult.com/wp-uploads/2020/06/01181629/2005131_crosstabs_POLICE_RVs_FINAL_LM-1.pdf&sa=U&ved=2ahUKEwjdscnHgoXqAhUGRjABHRnDC6sQFjACegQIBxAB&usg=AOvVaw0q52YLSsw2h-LrNnI2u_84

      National Tracking Poll #2005131
      May 31 – June 01, 2020
      Crosstabulation Results

      For the results cited by Taibbi, see Table MC11_3 (it’s on page 195 of 373 pages)
      African Americans strongly support 17%
      African Americans somewhat support 20%

  8. while I find it hard to believe that “the left” would have a professor fired for quoting MLK jr, – it just doesn’t ring true for me – I mostly find my self agreeing with the author. I find more and more that people really don’t read or understand what has been written It is a pure example of functional illiteracy in the States. I do think that it is right to call out someone who is blatantly a misogynist or racist – just full of hate. if the NYT was openly supporting these views, well I wouldn’t be reading the NYT. There are unfortunately media outlets for that sort of opinion, and contrary to the author’s thoughts people who subscribe to those outlets are anything but bored. . Because of the huge misguided belief in absolute Freedom of Speech in the States, there really isn’t anything anyone can do. But a media outlet has, I think, a right to their own policies. it is just that when someone like Fang appears to have subtly written before about black-on-black issues ( I don’t know the truth of this) why would he and others be excoriated/fired at this time? This where I disagree with the author. .Change your policy, OK, and from now be more rigorous Just don’t blame your own journalists for your own ineptitude.

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