This Has To Happen Now

(One important way, then, for us to get out of this mess is for legitimate mainstream media outlets to quit reporting sides when there are no sides, especially when it comes to our immoral, authoritarian president and racism. An American fascist government would mean the end of any type of truthful reporting, anyway, unless it was underground. It’s a suicide pact if corporate news outlets want to report Trump’s unhinged remarks or racist hatred as sides unless they want to make their money following the propaganda model of Fox News.)

Donald Trump’s endorsement of white supremacy and Nazism this week has been covered on seemingly every conceivable angle by the media.

Today, The New York Times columnist Charles Blow weighed in with an excellent commentary exposing how silent white supremacy had created the “overlay” for the Neo-Nazis and other bigots who marched in Charlottesville over the weekend, which generated the violence that left counter protestor Heather Hoyer dead and several others injured.

Other major publications and news programs have also come out aggressively against Trump’s statements that there were “many sides” to the violence in that Virginia city and “both sides” were to blame. The “sides” argument is a false equivalence between the hatred of racists and fascists and those who want to stop the normalization of the hatred of racists and fascists.

Even today Trump tweeted about the beauty of Confederate monuments that some government entities have removed or might remove in the future. This is tweet code, a shout out, to his racist supporters. By the time this gets posted, who knows what else Trump will have tweeted or said or done to endorse fascism?

Blow makes a good point about the history of the Republican southern strategy dating back to President Richard Nixon that was built on the evil of racism and bigotry, especially among those white southerners who may have actually abhorred violence and were not necessarily hateful people. But many of those white southerners did feel and still do feel themselves superior because of the color of their skin. When Nixon courted the southern vote in the aftermath of the passing of the federal Civil Rights Bill, it was essentially a racist strategy built on white supremacy, Blow writes.

Yet as essential as it is to remember our history and condemn the Republicans there remains the important question over what we can do about it now, especially right now, with a mentally unstable president with a destructive agenda at the helm.

So we must come back to false equivalence and the mainstream media role in creating this monster. The rhetorical foundation of modern journalism—especially now with all the different talking heads on cable television—has ingrained this idea in our heads that any idea virtually no matter how repugnant or illogical is a “side” of an argument and each “side” has to be presented in equal measure to be fair to all “sides.”

Blow writes beautiful and righteous commentary, and I agree with him entirely, but the editors of The New York Times through the years have done as much as anyone to give Trump the authority and permission to use the “sides” argument. In fact, Trump is spitting it back in their faces. Racism is evil and pollutes everything it touches. It isn’t a side of an argument. There is no debate. There cannot be equivocation. Why can’t those last four sentences or some version of them appear in news stories?

One important way, then, for us to get out of this mess is for legitimate mainstream media outlets to quit reporting sides when there are no sides, especially when it comes to our immoral, authoritarian president and racism. An American fascist government would mean the end of any type of truthful reporting, anyway, unless it was underground. It’s a suicide pact if corporate news outlets want to report Trump’s unhinged remarks or racist hatred as sides unless they want to make their money following the propaganda model of Fox News.

Call it advocacy journalism or a liberal slant or, well, just basic survival. Let’s drop the pretense just like Blow argues we should drop the pretense about the roots of white supremacy. This has to happen now. Drop the pretense. Now.

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