Recently I have been motivated to comment on articles appearing in the opinion section of the New York Times. I hope some of you will get in the habit of using this unique opportunity to have your say in a paper that has such a wide circulation. Usually my offerings are approved, although they have never been a Times pick or a reader’s pick yet. I think it takes time to build up an audience that likes (or hates) your voice. There are, I have noticed, a few things that will get your response rejected. Being too radical, or saying things that could be construed as trolling are unacceptable, as is resorting to any of the words on George Carlin’s list of words you can’t use on TV (or in the media). (Look it up; it must be on You Tube.) Here’s an example of a response I wrote last week, hopped up on the Kavanaugh hearings that was not accepted by the NYT.
“Everyone talks about tribalism as if it explains away all our political differences, but it does not. Why are the policies on the right so different from those on the left. As a lefty I cannot agree to stay silent while Republicans consent to an immigration policy that looks like a Nazi pogrom. I cannot agree to policies of limited government which are really just designed to take we the people out of American democracy and turn the United States of America into a collection of loosely affiliated states. I cannot forget that the Republicans refused to even give a hearing to Merrick Garland.
I am listening to Charles Grassley stand before the Senate and accuse Democrats of conspiracy, an opinion that relies only on GOP paranoia. They always believe the other side is doing what they would do. I thought the Democrats were fine. They were brave to support their constituents when they knew they were more likely to earn insults from their peers than accolades. Kavanaugh was, I believe coached and coached badly at the White House. I don’t think he has the maturity to serve on the highest court in the land.”
I wrote this as a response to a David Brooks article about the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing where he characterizes the way Americans responded as “tribalism”, a characterization which makes everyone’s motives look inauthentic, which they are not, at least for many of us. I guess I could have said that instead of what I actually said. Anyway this opinion was ruled unacceptable.
Today I responded to a Charles Blow article which I very much agreed with and my comments were judged acceptable. Mr. Blow argues that we are actually in a war, a war of parties, a war of ideologies, a war for the kind of future we will live in.
My comment on Charles Blow’s article in the NYT.
“I would say that the words Republicans like to use as a rallying cry are “limited government”. In a nation of 350+ million limited government as they define it is a ludicrous notion. It argues for defuse governance. It is somewhat equivalent to the fight after the Civil War about who governed local law enforcement. Getting the Federal government to back off gave angry Southerners who lost the war absolute power to terrorize those who they, even after the war, considered their property. Republicans want limited government so that the individual states can do as they please, sometimes about trivial stuff like teaching creationism in schools (or leaving Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller out of textbooks), sometimes about more important issues such as who controls women’s bodies or deregulation and more.
I wrote a book warning that we were already in this war before the 2016 election (way before). The US Republican Constitution: A Nonfiction Constitutional Thriller by N. L. Brisson. It speaks more to strategies than to motives. But it does make it clear that the goal of the GOP was to control all three branches of government”
So have at it and subscribe to a newspaper so you can effectively express your views and get a bigger readership for your passionately-held opinions.
You can also send articles to the editors of most newspapers but look up their editorial guidelines first. All media sources that I have consulted say they will only accept articles that have not been published elsewhere so you can’t recycle. You must write something new.
A Plea to Support Major Media Sources
The New York Times has changed since ownership changed, even though it stayed in the family. The NYT used to be solidly liberal. Now it is trying to be a bit of everything. In fact I see more right-leaning writers on the opinion page than ever since the paper decided to present all points of view. I am sorry for this change. I know that Republicans complain that too much of the media leans left, but they are so extreme that moderate Republicans appear to them to be leaning left. I see this editorial change on the opinion page as, in part, an attempt to escape the most scathing effects of Trump’s diatribes against mainstream media. Also some Republican writers have joined the opposition (sort of). But I’m thinking the real basis for this change is money. Papers, even digital papers, are finding it hard to support themselves, pay reporters and writers and keep going. Appealing to a wider readership brings in more income and helps a paper or online journal survive. You can’t contribute your thoughts unless you subscribe.
Whenever you can afford to, go behind that pay wall and subscribe to your favorite media sources. Democracy cannot survive unless our media survives. At the very least try to subscribe to the New York Times, and, if you can, add on the Washington Post and your local paper (unless like mine it has taken a turn to the right). I also like to read The Daily Beast, Salon, The Hill and need to add The Atlantic. I have managed to pay three subscription fees so far this year, but I may not always be able to do that. If I had to pick one source it would have been the New York Times, but since the editorial changes I am not so sure about that. However, the Times still has enough to keep me somewhat happy for now.
Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Tennesee Press Assoc.