Friday, September 30, 2005

The news of late / on race & entitlement

You'll recall in a previous post that I expected the investigation of New Orleans' city officials to find nothing good.

"I think it may be fair at this point to say that the governments of New
Orleans and Louisiana will be found utterly incompetent at best, and
irreversibly corrupt at worst."

With the recent resignation of the New Orleans Chief of Police and a probe into allegations of looting by NOPD officers, I think it's now fair to say that he doesn't want to stick around to be drilled by the press about his department's handling of post-hurricane security. The reality may be worse. If they suspect more severe - even criminal - repercussions as a result of their negligence, it's likely that more of those in positions of responsibility may take a similar exit.

On another note, I'm sometimes forced to watch "Dr. Phil" in the mornings on videotape - my wife owns the remote before work, and she catches up on a few shows each A.M. I at least appreciate that he finds very tactful ways to give very confused people a reality check, and am comforted that his views and advice are consistent with (or better than) my own opinions on a given subject.

The last show of which I saw a part, was on the topic of race. One of his guests was a black man that was perceived by his black friends as "too white". There were some humorous bits of video to establish both sides of the argument, but the thing that stood out was the guest's comments on Affirmative Action. I don't have the exact the exact quote, but he was very much opposed to the premise on which Affirmative Action is based. He said (paraphrasing) "I want to be advanced based on my merits."

I had written - and had lost - a very eloquent dissertation entitled "Mourning the Death of the American Meritocracy". It was inspired by weeks of headscratching and frustration with the overall lack of accountability and presence of an entitlement mindset in America.

In the wake of that exercise, this man's words struck a chord of hope with me - that despite his friend's allegation that you become a democrat based on the color of your skin, there are people of all backgrounds who still believe that the entitlement society is an inherently evil thing.

I no more believe that the crime and drug problem in this country is linked to race than I believe one's ability to succeed is based on it. There are statistics galore that paint the American drug problem as a predominantly caucasian issue (for instance, 80% or more of users aren't black).

However, if your only news sources are broadcast television and the local paper, it's easy to believe that black people are the main problem with crime & drugs, and that white people control the world.

This type of journalism is certainly sensational, but it does a terrible disservice to the American citizenry. It's not complete. It's often unfair. It seems to always favor the angle over the truth, because it's more interesting that way (pay attention to the Tom DeLay developments and see if you feel the same).

On the whole, American journalists hold themselves to standards for entertainment value instead of standards for integrity (legitimacy, accuracy, and fairness). I, for one, think it should be the other way around.

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