Smart people saying smart things (8.30)

Glenn Greenwald, “Jorge Ramos Commits Journalism, Gets Immediately Attacked by Journalists”

The notion that journalists must be beacons of opinion-free, passion-devoid, staid, impotent neutrality is an extremely new one, the byproduct of the increasing corporatization of American journalism. That’s not hard to understand: One of the supreme values of large corporations is fear of offending anyone, particularly those in power, since that’s bad for business. The way that conflict-avoiding value is infused into the media outlets that these corporations own is to inculcate their journalists that their primary duty is to avoid offending anyone, especially those who wield power, which above all means never taking a clear position about anything, instead just serving as a mindless, uncritical vessel for “both sides,” what NYU Journalism Professor Jay Rosen has dubbed “the view from nowhere.” Whatever else that is, it is most certainly not a universal or long-standing principle of how journalism should be conducted.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., “Family Planning: A Special and Urgent Concern”

Screen shot 2015-08-29 at 5.44.32 PMThere is a striking kinship between our movement and Margaret Sanger’s early efforts. She, like we, saw the horrifying conditions of ghetto life. Like we, she knew that all of society is poisoned by cancerous slums. Like we, she was a direct actionist — a nonviolent resister. She was willing to accept scorn and abuse until the truth she saw was revealed to the millions. At the turn of the century she went into the slums and set up a birth control clinic, and for this deed she went to jail because she was violating an unjust law. Yet the years have justified her actions. She launched a movement which is obeying a higher law to preserve human life under humane conditions. Margaret Sanger had to commit what was then called a crime in order to enrich humanity, and today we honor her courage and vision; for without them there would have been no beginning. Our sure beginning in the struggle for equality by nonviolent direct action may not have been so resolute without the tradition established by Margaret Sanger and people like her. Negroes have no mere academic nor ordinary interest in family planning. They have a special and urgent concern.

 Jeet Heer, “Donald Trump Is Not a Populist. He’s the Voice of Aggrieved Privilege.”

The word populist causes too much confusion when used to describe movements like McCarthyism, the Tea Party, or Trumpism. These are not mass movements of the people hoping to make a more democratic society. Rather they are political factions of authoritarian bigotry, backed by the rich, and designed to protect aggrieved privilege. Trump is best described not as a populist but as an authoritarian bigot, a quality best seen in his callous response to the news that two men evoked his name when they beat up a homeless Mexican man. “I will say that people who are following me are very passionate,” he said. “They love this country and they want this country to be great again.”

Sarah Posner, “How Donald Trump Has Exposed Rifts in the Religious Right”

Trump is the first Republican presidential candidate in the post-Reagan era to pin his campaign on a macho, chest-beating, self-aggrandizing view of what America is without invoking either his own salvation testimony or a paean to America as a Christian nation. For Trump, America is Trumpnation, not a Christian nation. What’s appealing to Christian nation diehards is often not the notion of America as a pious nation, but rather the affirmation that America is strong, brave, or just generally the best. For Trump, America risks not being the best anymore not because of the decline of religion (typically the heart of Christian nation ideology), but because of the rise of immigration.

Eric Foner, “Struggle and Progress”

This is a pseudo-politics, a psycho-politics, that says people ought to be loving each other. That’s not what politics is, people loving each other. It’s people acting together, even if they don’t love each other, for a common purpose. If you’re going out to a labor picket line, are they all loving each other, the people on that picket line? Probably not. But they have a common self-interest that they’re pursuing.

Then they say, “It didn’t succeed. They abolished slavery, but racism is permanent, and another form of slavery came in.” Of course, terrible injustice came in. But it wasn’t slavery. I think that’s a very cynical view of social change — that if you don’t get utopia nothing has happened.

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