Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Few Lessons in Safe Logic

Here, another in a long series of lessons in safe logic. Namely, thou shalt not resort to hyperbole when an accurate portrayal of the facts deserves to be told. I've seen evidence of similar histrionics in the prose of many members of the mainstream media and from both the right and left. No one side is any more or any less guilty of said offense, only that either side uses a different mechanism in going about it.

First, an event from our racist past.

In 1956, popular Black entertainer Nat King Cole played in front of a sold-out, adoring crowd at Birmingham, Alabama's Boutwell Auditorium. While in the middle of a song, a group of three extreme racists made an ill-advised invasion of the stage and managed to awkwardly topple Cole from his piano bench. Their efforts might have been more fruitful had not they been almost immediately intercepted by several white police officers who quickly took charge of the situation. A fourth man who had participated in plotting the event was later arrested in connection with the crime. All four were eventually tried and and convicted.

However, subsequent accounts often refer to this event as "Cole attacked on stage by white mob". I hardly think three people constitute much of a mob. The event is shocking enough on its own and thus there's no need to distort the truth. Many of the violent events of the Civil Rights Movement are shockingly brutal enough on their own without the need to resort to hyperbole. In attempting to use a broad brush to paint an account of our past, the mainstream media often sensationalizes situations like these.

Furthermore, an eyewitness account of the event recently provided by a Mr. Jim Felts, who was in the auditorium at the time, states that, in his words, "this phrase [white mob] is a gross misrepresentation at best, and leads the reader to infer that that a large part of the audience participated in, or approved of the attack."

He continues to say "it is safe to say the white audience would have happily lynched the four idiots who attacked an entertainer [they] loved". After all, the crowd of several thousand, most of whom were white, had paid almost one day's wagers to see Cole, who was at that time one of the most popular artists in the nation.

He concludes by saying that "The [media]...constantly bemoans "code words" and hyperbole that inflames racial attitudes. If I were a black person reading about this "white mob" attacking a black entertainer, I would surely react different than if I read about four racists who committed this idiotic crime".

Second, an account from everyone's favorite right-wing curmudgeon, Cal Thomas.

I read Mr. Thomas' often smarmy invective out of a desire to see how what the other side is thinking. Case in point, Faux News has been currently jumping up and down reporting how, yet again, Christianity is under attack. When asked to produce evidence of it, they refer to the recent church incident in Colorado, where gunman Mathew Murray's stated objective in killing members of the New Life Church were to punish Christians for their role in creating most of the problems of the world.

Thomas writes, "Does that qualify as a 'hate crime'? Probably not, as such designations are usually given only to "oppressed minorities."

The logic in these statements, if one can call them that, is two fold.

1. It assumes that all liberals have secret desires to destroy Christianity by violent methods and that the religion at a whole is under attack.

Let's back up a bit here. This a man who, if facts of the case serve me correctly, came OUT of the community itself. He's hardly some outside invader. Murray was clearly a very troubled soul and his statements ought to be taken as the ramblings of someone with severe mental illness. It frankly troubles me the line of thought that says that the ramblings of the disturbed somehow are indicative of the viewpoints one's opposition as a whole.

2. Justice is some commodity that is rapidly becoming the sole domain of protected minorities. Either that, or there's some sort of base inequality in the justice system that does not extend equal protection to Christians and violent attacks upon them.

However, incidents like this fly in the face of that sort of logic.

Muslim helps Jews attacked on NYC Subway.

The supreme irony of course is that a *gasp* Muslim intervening on behalf of Jew serves as a far better example of upholding the Christmas spirit then any so-called believer. This is the same Christmas currently under attack, if one believes the rhetoric.

Your humble narrator identifies as Christian, but he also identifies as a free-thinker. He feels that faith, spirituality, and religion as a whole ought to evolve with the times. Furthermore, he is made uncomfortable when anyone attempts to take religion, any religion, and use it as a rhetorical ace-in-the-hole. I'm remind of that in particular when I consider the so-called religious litmus test one must apparently pass in order to secure the GOP's nomination for President in 2008.

No comments: