The Failure of a Lifetime

Way back when, I really truly believed that my generation would, by and large, eliminate racism from the long list of the world’s ills.

Frank Rich, in his Sunday New York Times column, used “Mad Men” as a jumping off point to illustrate what a Pollyanna pipe dream that was.

It’s worth a read if you have a few minutes.


About Gerry

I've been covering Connecticut news and sports since 1974. I know, I don't look that old.
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6 Responses to The Failure of a Lifetime

  1. I read Rich’s column. A couple of things struck me. He did admit that the country has made epic progress re race issue since the early 60s. And he says the ” steps back ” taken have largely been taken since Nov. 2008. Maybe that HUGE step,i.e. Obama’s election, was bound to result in many small steps in the opposite direction. Kind of like a Wall Street market correction.

    We’re never, ever going to eliminate racism here. But I’m not too worried that we’re headed back to the days when the Mad Men were enjoying their 3 martini lunches ( and coming up with ads that have become classics. ” Think Small, ” and ” Lemon ” for example.

  2. James says:

    Gerry – Thanks for referencing the article. I hadn’t read it before your comment. Two thoughts came to me as I read the article – One, progress is never easy, it always moves in fits and starts. The important point here is that American society is moving in the right direction. And Two, the affair la Sherrod points out several things about the current state of journalism (print and electronic) in this country.

    There continues to be a belief (even among so-called professional journalists, who should know better) that the camera doesn’t lie. In fact, this was never true, and photographers have been manipulating images since the earliest photos. Modern digital media has just made it easier to accomplish.

    However, the really sad thing is that speed has replaced accuracy when it comes to reporting. And unfortunately, the only thing that will change this trend is for a reversal or limitation on the ruling in New York Times v. Sullivan.

    In that case the Supreme Court said that a statement must have been published knowing it to be false or with reckless disregard to its truth in order for the media to be found libel. This blanket protection has exempted newspapers and other news organizations from liability when they got it wrong. While there have been abuses, I believe that most people would agree that our society has benefitted from a free and open news publication.

    However, when we have any number of news organizations that either post, publish or otherwise quote from a video posted by a known manipulator, without independent vetting, I would argue that this is a clear case of reckless disregard of the truth.

    Although the topic of Ms Sherrod’s discussion was race, what happened afterwards has more to do with poor journalism than racism, IMO. Having said that, I continue to find it ironic that even after electing an African-American as President, it is politically incorrect to even raise the topic of race in a public setting.

    In the end I suppose this comes down to a glass half empty/half full kind of view. I take as a very positive sign that the white couple who’s situation caused Ms. Sherrod to look at her actions & beliefs, were the very same people who came to her rescue when she was being pilloried by everyone from the media to the Whitehouse.

    As a society that believes in freedom of speech, we will alway have the hate mongers among us. But as long as most of us are people of good will, who will stand up in our own ways when the situation requires, the hate mongers will have their 15 minutes in the limelight, and then pass on.

  3. Gerry says:

    As always, thank you both for your thoughtful comments.

  4. Dee says:

    It’s not a simple as just bad journalism. That bad journalism ignites the flame in the hearts of people – even people I love. It takes them back to a simpler time when, unfortunately, segregation was prevalent. This twisted reporting subliminally links the two themes – simple times and segregation. It’s sad and hard to listen to – especially in the kitchens of people I love and respect.

  5. Li'l Em-Kel says:

    James, it isn’t the camera that’s lying. It’s the reporter.

    And Dee, you’re right. It isn’t as simple as bad journalism. It’s deliberate, agenda-driven manipulation (and sometimes invention) of news that’s the problem.

    But, more to Gerry’s point: we’ll have racism as long as we have races; we’ll have sexism as long as we have sexes; and we’ll have classism as long as we have classes. In fact, we’ll have -isms as long as we have prefixes to tack on to them.

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