Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 25, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

BAIT AND SWITCH....Glenn Reynolds links today to a Fox News piece about a student writer at Oregon State who was fired for writing a racially insensitive column. Fox suggests there's a "double standard" at work.

Maybe. Fox claims that David Williams, who is white, was fired for writing, "I think blacks should be more careful in deciding whom they choose to support. They need to grow beyond the automatic reaction of defending someone because he or she shares the same skin color and is in a dilemma."

They chose to highlight that paragraph because it's similar to plagiarized from, actually a paragraph written by Pulitzer-Prize winning African-American columnist Leonard Pitts a few weeks ago. Hey, nobody at OSU protested his column. What gives?

The problem is that Williams wrote more than just that one paragraph. How about this instead?

One would think that with the strong presence of talented blacks in government, sports and entertainment, this minority base would have a slew of noble and moral leaders. However, especially as of late, this has not been the case.

[Robert Kelly and OJ Simpson are hauled out as examples.]

My point, however, is this: There is a lack of morality in the black community because African American leaders, whether Jesse Jackson or the NAACP, choose to rally around minorities who seem to have little quality characteristics about them.

Personally, I'd fire the guy just for being a crappy writer. However, even taking into account the hypersensitive atmosphere common at universities, it's also egregiously ignorant and insensitive.

Is it a firing offense for a 20-year-old kid? Reasonable people can disagree, and the campus groups who protested the column apparently weren't asking for Williams to be fired in any case. (Pitts agrees. He thinks Williams mostly displayed ignorance, not racism.) But there's not much question that Fox pulled a bait-and-switch, deliberately leaving the genuinely offensive portion of the column out of their report. Maybe somebody on their staff needs to be fired.

Or more likely given a medal for race baiting above and beyond the call of duty.

Kevin Drum 10:58 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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