Recent columns on The Times and Democrat editorial page raise questions about fairness and human rights. Three far-right columns go beyond anything close to reasonable journalism.
On June 19 there was a super-bigoted piece by Ann Coulter. It portrays immigrants to this country as threats to what she regards as its fundamental values, claiming that immigrants are communists and anarchists.
As an example of how the United States government should respond to these supposed threats, she praises the brutal “Palmer Raids,” carried out by U.S. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer in 1919 and 1920 on suspected leftists (mostly Italian and Eastern European Jewish immigrants).
She differentiates such immigrant groups from native-born Americans of “Anglo-Saxon character.” She charges that “communist and anarchist groups,” involving “recent immigrants, community college professors, unbalanced women and fatherless soy boys” are behind the current unrest. (According to www.urbandicctionary.com, soy boys are “males who completely and utterly lack all necessary masculine qualities.”)
In fact the influence of communism has been declining around the world since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989. The People’s Republic of China remains a very oppressive state. But it is far less orthodoxly communist than it was several decades ago.
Instead the tendency in much of the world recently has been toward right-wing dictatorship, rather than left-wing. Nevertheless Coulter and others on the American far-right claim to perceive a Marxist/communist menace in American social movements in favor of racial and ethnic justice.
Anti-communist paranoia is even greater in two more recent columns published in the Times and Democrat. In the July 16 issue, Hou-Yin Chang centers on the current movement to remove statues of racism-linked figures in American history and to rename buildings and streets honoring such figures.
This movement in its current form stems from the murder on May 31 in Minneapolis of George Floyd. Instead of to Floyd, Chang links the movement to “Chinese Communist dictator Mao Tse-Tung” and the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. Chang also ties the movement to the New York Times’ “1619 Project,” which seeks to re-evaluate the role of slavery in American history. He objects to this re-evaluation and confuses it and other revisionist approaches to American history with the effort to take down statues and monuments.
He defends this country’s strongest pre-Civil War defender of slavery, John C. Calhoun. He praises the Confederacy for its “war innovation[s]” and Confederate General Robert E. Lee, without mentioning their effort to preserve the enslavement of African Americans. He claims, absurdly, that the main reason “the left” wants to remove statues of Calhoun and other proslavery figures is to make room for “new” leftist heroes.
Similar to Chang’s column in its point of view is one by Bill Connor, published in The Times and Democrat on July 23. Although Black people are among the most Christian Americans, Connor argues that the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, which has gained momentum since Floyd’s death, is “fueled by” an anti-Christian “Marxist ideology.” He links BLM to “increasing church attacks.”
A key part of Connor’s argument is that BLM cofounders Patrisse Cullors and Alician Garza “are ‘trained Marxists.’” But as PolitiFact (July 22, 2020) points out, Cullors’ and Garza’s background is not shared by the mass of BLM supporters. PolitiFact notes the goals indicated on the BLM website are not “expressly anti-capitalist” and that BLM “support for gender identity politics sets it apart from historic Marxism.”
Coulter, Chang and Connor certainly have a right to express their misguided views. But The Times and Democrat’s editors must remember that part of freedom of the press lies in the freedom to decide what is and is not suitable to publish.
Dr. Stanley Harrold recently retired from South Carolina State University, where he taught American history.
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