losing (the) balance (of fairness)

When in Washington, DC, I almost never drive. In and around my Capitol Hill church and office, I can walk nearly everywhere. When having to go farther afield, I usually use the Metro subway system.

In Spartanburg, SC, I need a car to get anywhere, for nothing is close on foot (unless I was a marathoner, which I’m not!).

As a devotee of my Uncle Randol’s counsel – “If I only read things that agree with my views how can I learn anything else?” – when riding about I oft listen to the local conservative news radio station.

This past Thursday, a commentator played a snippet of a Hillary Rodham Clinton address during which she focused on the early August shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the ensuing racially-charged protests and violence. Noting that it was the fifty-first anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, Clinton, aiming at the societal issues underneath the tragedy, said, “We can’t ignore the inequities (faced by African Americans) that persist in our justice system,” urging all Americans to continue to labor to bring alive King’s dream.

For a moment, the commentator fell silent. Then, with an incredulous tone, he characterized Clinton’s message as bland, guffawing at the prospects of “eight years of speeches like this” should the sad prospect of a “HRC presidential election and re-election come to pass.” Further, he wondered why Clinton and the great body of “liberal others” did not challenge “the ills within the (meaning, black) culture”, citing the “symptoms” of high percentages of single parent families, the absence of father/male figures in the lives of young black men, and the dropout rates among school-aged black children.

I believe that I understand that every element of the media – newspapers and websites, reporters and commentators, pundits and op-ed writers – has a slant, a perspective, one that generally falls somewhere on the conservative-liberal continuum, and that there is an audience for each point on that scale, and that it pays (figuratively and literally) to play to one’s audience.

However, this life in this world is bountifully complex – always and in all things. For this commentator (or for anyone) to speak of “the ills within (any) culture” with little apparent and no announced awareness of the undeniable impact on the individual (whether culture or person) of the always wider world of systemic forces of nature and nurture, function and dysfunction demonstrated to me an absence of balance, a loss of fairness, and more, an ignorance that grated on my ears and vexed my soul.unbalanced stones

My reaction was immediate and visceral. As tolerant as I can be (as I am) of counter points of view, I turned the radio off.

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4 thoughts on “losing (the) balance (of fairness)

  1. Ah, humanity! As an outsider, I always try to educate myself and learn from other people. I am currently reading a humorous and witty book called “How to be black” by Baratunde Thurston who was educated at Sidwell Friends School (where I happen to teach Spanish at that prestigious institution during summer camps). I never met him in person and I saw his book in the school library while working this summer. Raised by a pro-black, Pan-African single mother in the 80s Washington DC he tells his story with wisdom and expertise. It is helping me to see things from his cultural point of view and cultural connections to black experience that are unknown to me. As he says: he is very open to anyone interested in simply “how to be”. In my modest opinion, sometimes we tend to see the worst of each other when dealing with different groups without acting as a force for change, so the attitudes and behaviors may not change, and the bad stereotypes prevail.

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    • My dear Pablo, long ago I recognized that we are kindred spirits, especially in regard to our desire to explore and learn from others and our perspective that difference is not a bad thing. I’ll have to look up Thurston’s book. No doubt, given what you have written about it, I will find much that resonates within me concerning my life and experience. Love and peace, always

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  2. Ummm, I’m happy to say I didn’t hear that commentator’s remarks Paul. I’m shaking my head as I read your account of the report on Hillary Clinton’s remarks. I would probably have done exactly as you did and turned the radio off!

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  3. Yes, again, as much as I consider myself tolerant – even welcoming – of alternate points of view, I found the commentator’s remarks lacking in breadth of scope of understanding and, in tone, needlessly dismissive.

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