Monday, April 19, 2010

Man Bites Dog: Honest Reporting From WaPo on Tea Parties

And the title is where the snark will end. It was refreshing in the extreme to see this editorial by the Washington Post's Robert McCartney on his personal investigation of a Tea Party rally.
I went to the "tea party" rally at the Washington Monument on Thursday to check out just how reactionary and potentially violent the movement truly was. 
Answer: Not very. 
Based on what I saw and heard, tea party members are not seething, ready-to-explode racists, as some liberal commentators have caricatured them. 
Some are extremists and bigots, sure. The crowd was almost entirely white. I differ strenuously with the protesters on about 95 percent of the issues. 
Nevertheless, on the whole, they struck me as passionate conservatives dedicated to working within the system rather than dangerous militia types or a revival of the Ku Klux Klan. 
Although shrinking government is their primary goal, many conceded that the country should keep Medicare and even Social Security. None was clamoring for civil disobedience, much less armed revolt.
Clearly, the author has differences with the Tea Partiers. This is not a problem; dialog on the issues does not require complete agreement (that's why they call it 'dialog!'). What is most edifying about this piece is how it openly looks at the degree to which the worst stereotypes put forth about the movement hold up to scrutiny. McCartney shows the ability to disagree with the Tea Partiers on the issues without the need to marginalize and misrepresent them. Instead, he went and found out for himself. He talked to people. He questioned them on the issues, but he also soaked up their vibe. Then he reported honestly on what he found, without shady selective emphases or narrative-supporting innuendo.

Not much more to say on this: it was just nice to see a journalist in the MSM do his job with the integrity and forthrightness which enables his readers to engage in genuinely critical thinking. He does not take it upon himself to villanize or slander, in order to preemptively foreclose on people's access to the variables which will guide their thinking on the matter, just because he might not like some of the conclusions to which they might come.  We could do with quite a bit more of this. Please do read the whole thing.

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