Sunday, August 21, 2016


Perhaps the most classic example of a top politician making grand pronouncements with a complete abdication by the media on reporting the truth- until Edward R. Murrow's "See it Now" program unmasked Tail Gunner Joe McCarthy.

One of the major problems in our society is a general, pervasive, lack of knowledge of the people who comprise a large part of our electorate. Lack of knowledge of our history, of our laws, of science, of religion, of crime statistics, of the Constitution, you name it. And the media, by and large, no longer sees its role as making up for that lack by providing historical or scientific or statistical perspective to candidates or elected officials who make pronouncements (some of which are the opposite of true) about current events. So when a Ronald Reagan kicks off his 1980 Presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi with a call to the audience that: "I believe in States' Rights," it is incumbent on every news outlet reporting it to put in the proper context. That context being that the location Reagan chose was the location of the infamous murders of civil rights activists (trying to register black voters) James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, in 1964 by members of the Ku Klux Klan, including local Sheriff's Deputies.…. And that the phrase "States' Rights" wasn't just the code phrase for supporting slavery (no dog whistle there), but the actual justification for the continued legalization of slavery used by Southerners in Congress before 1860 and in support of Jim Crow segregation laws for the 100 years after the Civil War.

And in modern times, when considering why the Republican Party's incarnation in the latter half of the 20th century and the 21st century appeals to the racists, bigots, and xenophobes, you have to put it in the context of the passage and signing in July of 1964 of a landmark Civil Rights bill and the presidential election later that year between Barry Goldwater and Lyndon Johnson, so wonderfully portrayed in the HBO movie, "All the Way" starring Bryan Cranston as LBJ. The passage of that bill- non-controversial today- meant that Black people and women would have equal rights in employment, and that public accommodations (hotels, restaurants, etc.) could not refuse to seat people because of the color of their skin. And that year and that bill was the genesis for the 180 degree turnabout in the South of Southern Democrats, who left that party and joined the Party of Lincoln, which had originated as an anti-Slavery party in 1854. The election of their candidate in 1860 precipitated the Civil War, as the South (which voted Democratic) saw that election as the beginning of the end of slavery (you can look it up- it's even in the South Carolina legislature's Articles of Secession and in speeches given by Jefferson Davis).

So, the Republican Party, which in the 1860's passed the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments (Google them if you don't know what they are or what they did), is now the main impediment to the cause of civil rights in this country. They are now the party which passes voter ID bills in jurisdictions where there has never been a case of a person impersonating another voter to cast a vote in person at the polls (that only happens in absentee ballots), something so obviously intended to suppress black voters that courts (most recently in North Carolina) have struck down the more onerous bills. In 2012, one of their loose lipped brethren in my home state bragged about how that legislation would help elect Repbulican candidate Mitt Romney (obviously, by suppressing black, mostly Democratic leaning, votes:

"(CNN) – Pennsylvania Democrats are fuming over a comment made by a Republican state representative, who said a controversial voter identification law will help Mitt Romney carry Pennsylvania in November."…/pennsylvania-lawmak…/.

So when you read some of the crazier stuff said by one particular candidate, and the media just reports what he says without any context (except for The Daily Show, of course), then blame the ignorance of the voters and the cowardice of the highly paid media members.