Free-flowing, open-minded political and philosophical debate is great until someone or something they like is gored, then, the principles -and principals- are tossed overboard.
Strangely enough, that's the Miami Herald's longstanding M.O., too, as I've regularly opined from this perch.
The Washington Post
Negative review of Malcolm X bio is rejected
By David Montgomery,
Thursday, April 14, 8:19 PM
A blistering review of historian Manning Marable’s best-selling new biography of Malcolm X was rejected this week by TheRoot.com, a daily online magazine devoted to African American perspectives whose editor in chief, Henry Louis Gates Jr., is an admirer of Marable’s work.Read the rest of the article at:
" 'Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention’ is an abomination,” wrote reviewer Karl Evanzz. “It is a cavalcade of innuendo and logical fallacy, and is largely reinvented from previous works on the subject.”
Evanzz, a former Washington Post news researcher and author of a book on Malcolm X’s assassination, continued in that vein for more than 2,000 words.
As of 1 a.m. Saturday morning, a little more than 27 hours after it was first put on the the WaPo's website, guess how many other media outlets have deigned to even mention the controversy over a book review of a book on Malcolm X?
Well, there's the Washington Post and there's mediabistro.com and...
Two if you count mediabistro's précis of the WaPo story.
That's the whole list!
Of course, in some ways, if you want to take the long view, it's weird to even talk about book reviews in a place like South Florida, given that for so long, the Miami Herald has been a shadow of what it once was in the 1970's with regard to serious literary criticism.
Back when I was a teenager attending JFK Jr. High and then North Miami Beach Senior High, I was a big fan of Jonathan Yardley's work, before he fled to the comfy confines of The Beltway, Baltimore and the WaPo.
There, he continued to write so many memorable things about culture, sports, Charm City, and the interplay of ideas, media and pop culture that he earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1981 while I was up at IU, where I read the WaPo down in the basement floor of the IU Library, where it and all the interesting out-of-town and foreign newspapers and magazines were kept, and where the A/C was always 'just right.'
Once I moved to the D.C. area myself, he was, of course, among the handful of reporters, columnists and critics that my friends and I routinely discussed at some point when we got together, since many of us cut his essays from the newspaper and discussed the ideas in them amongst ourselves, whether out in the bleachers at Camden Yards or while walking around Georgetown or Old Town Alexandria, doing something on The Mall, or eating somewhere between Baltimore and Charlottesville.
Those high-minded and often lengthy talks amongst my smart, clever and well-informed friends, back when the newspapers were forever writing about 'salons,' are one of the things that I miss most about being in South Florida, which is perhaps why I over-do things a bit in my lengthy emails hereabouts.
Though almost everyone I know down here is much less busy than my friends up there, the ones down here all think they have less time to get together, which I suspect is why it's harder to make friends for some people once they move down here -people here are just more easily distracted, but not actually busier doing something.
Plus, well, everything percolating in the rest of the country, whether good or bad, always seemed so much more tangible when I lived in Washington.
"A" because it was, but "B," because I knew so many people from elsewhere who had reason to fly around a lot more than is the case here, and share what they saw with us upon their return.
Here, now, I'm constantly reminded of the parallels between how far away from reality and the honest discussion of ideas I sensed South Florida was when I was growing-up down here before cable TV, and my new reality.
Before there was an Internet, or should I say, before I first had my first email account, Hotmail, about 15 years ago, once my best friend Shannon left D.C. for Japan, I routinely made multiple copies of the columnists that I liked most over at the Kinko's in Georgetown or Capitol Hill, and then walked over to the nearby Post Office and sent them out in my frequent letters to friends around the country.
My initial Distribution List!
C-SPAN: 1992 lecture at the American Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C.
Francis Fukuyama challenges his former professor, Samuel P. Huntington, about Fundamentals of The Clash of Civilizations.
(Seriously, does anyone even STILL read that Herald section they call Tropical Life anymore? The very place where serious discussion of big ideas about South Florida's future should be taking place, with plenty of give and take, given the feeble Herald Op-Ed page. It's terrible!!!)
Not that the Herald's output then was ever great, but it was at least pretty good, most of the time, and was both well-intentioned and aiming for something higher than merely placating the locals who rubbed shoulders with the Knight-Ridder execs downtown.
More recently, though, it has been the sort of place where serious books that run counter to the upside-down world of the Miami Herald's past and present Editorial Board, seem NOT to get reviewed, even when they are national best-sellers and the subject of multiple TV chat shows and news magazine profiles.
The best example of this since I returned to South Florida would have to be Samuel P. Huntington and his The Clash of Civilizations, a book of sufficient importance and original thought as to be discussed regularly among serious public policy players, and referenced over-and-over again in myriad essays appearing in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy and the New York Review of Books, to name but three
But not one review or unbiased article about that book ever appeared in the Miami Herald that could explain why the book struck a chord and was so popular with so many Americans.
I know this with certainty because I not only was constantly on the search for such an article or essay, but at various times when I noticed this intentional avoidance taking place, checked and then double-checked the Herald's own archives.
Then after having gained that recon, I had Herald reporters I knew triple-check, using internal Herald search methods I couldn't employ.
In each case, to their credit, these Herald reporters grudgingly confirmed what I already knew:
that it appeared that the Herald's management seemed to be going out of its way to make sure the Huntington book -and their like- was never mentioned in a neutral or positive way in print.
(I recounted this story to great effect as a guest at a forum on U.S. immigration policy and demographics in Coral Gables at the University of Miami's Bank United Center a few years ago.
Recalling it now makes me think that in the near future, I need to share some of the thoughts of the invited panelists here, as well as my pointed retorts attacking many of the very naive and self-serving comments expressed by some of the pro-amnesty panelists, inc. a prominent 'Usual Suspect' of the Herald, Cheryl Little of FIAC. http://www.fiacfla.org/
Those comments delighted many in the crowd, who came up to me after the event and told me how pleased they were that someone had thrown cold-water on those absurd falsehoods being spread as if they were true, and some even admitted that they had wondered about some of the same things for years, too.
I told 'em that they should start a blog, too, and add their own voice to the rule of reason and logic.)
Locally, the findings of those books (and their authors) are/were continually publicly vilified by the Herald's Latin America-centric columnists, who didn't like them because they directly challenged -head-on- their self-evident rose-colored views of Latin America.
Turns out that most Americans, but esp. those NOT living near large centers of Hispanics, DIDN'T agree with the Herald's apologists for any and all things Latin American, a perspective that still exists at the newspaper and which is just as intellectually dishonest as it ever was, resting as it does on a house of cards.
Upcoming HBB posts
Due to some time constraints caused by some family health matters I've had to deal with for a while, some posts in draft on some of these matters, the Herald's invisible coverage of Broward County and fixation on all things Latin America, esp. illegal immigration and efforts in Washington Tallahassee to enact policies and laws that are more in line with what the vast majority of Americans and Floridians want -NOT amnesty- have not yet been posted.
There's one post in particular about what the Herald completely ignored about Obama's trip to Brazil that will both surprise you, and yet, surprise you not at all, since the articles in the paper that appeared on that trip read like they were written by Obama staffers.
That'll also include pieces on the Herald's longstanding Patricia Mazzei problem, a problem for the paper's readers which shows absolutely no sign of ending, even while she's writing up in Tallahassee. With Mazzei, there's simply so much evidence that proves my point, my problem has been selecting which of several dozen articles she's written to choose from that highlight her unsatisfactory and one-sided reporting of "news."
Many of you readers in South Florida have even written me back that you have remembered these examples of hers as well, after I brought them to your attention again via emails.
There will also be a piece on the recent completely unsatisfactory performance of the paper's sports section on one of the most important sports weekends of the year, something which I discussed already with many of you out there in the blogosphere via email.
Yes, the photos will tell the story, and what pathetic stories they will tell.
Likely, this week.