To the editor:
So reading the Daily Howler today, as I do almost every day, I learned that lots of people owe an apology to Louis Klemp. Some people in the media also owe an apology to Leavenworth County.
One rule I think that decent people should follow is that they should show other people the same consideration that they would like to receive themselves. Mr. Klemp has not gotten that consideration. If somebody says something that seems to make no sense or is unclear, you should ask for clarification. You’d want other people to do that in response to things you say, wouldn’t you? What you should not do, and what some in the media love to do, is assume they know what you said and give it the worst possible interpretation.
For example “we are the master race” must mean “white people are the master race.” How do we know that? We know that because of the race of the person who said it and because the Nazis were white.
At least that seems to be the “logic” of Newsweek and Don Lemon and crew of CNN. Of all the things that happened in that week, Newsweek decided that Mr. Klemp’s comment was newsworthy. So did Don Lemon. I might note some hypocrisy here. I wondered if Newsweek had reported on Sarah Jeong. She became known for making racist comments on Twitter. Certainly that would be considered news. The only thing I found was a comment from 2012 where Newsweek wrote that “Sarah is smarter than us.” Don Lemon also made some racist remarks of his own a few weeks ago.
Of course, to some, the racism of Don and Sarah does not count because they were only racist toward white men. There’s no standard like a double standard. Neither Don nor Sarah have been forced to resign.
Over the years, the Daily Howler has noted how people in the media seem to adopt a “script” and they all follow the script. One thing certain parts of the media seem to do is to search the land far and wide for stories that will fit some script that they want to sell to the public. In this case the script is “white racists are a serious problem in America.” So they are on a hunt to try to find something racist said or done by a white person so they can show it to the whole country and make a federal case about it.
None of this is meant to justify either racists or racist comments. However, in a country where there are an average of 40 homicides a day, is a comment, even the most racist one possible, really the biggest story in the nation? Yes, homicides are reported locally, but they do not become national stories unless they fit a narrative.
Then there’s the question of whether the comment was really racist. In this case, a little examination would show that it is not, even though it seems to be on the surface. The word “we” is an unclear word. What does it mean? If I’d say to my friend “we should go bowling” then that is probably not a statement about white people. If I say to Don Lemon “we are sick of coastal elites looking down from their high horse at the people of the Midwest,” that would also not be considered a statement about white people. What if I say to Don Lemon that “we are the master race.” Does that mean white people? What if Don is left-handed?
I happen to be partially left-handed. That means I notice my fellow lefties. Yesterday I happened to be helping a kid with her homework. I noticed she is left-handed. I might easily have commented on it. What if my standing joke was to claim that left-handed people are the master race? Clearly if I say to a fellow lefty that “we are the master race” that would mean “you and I” and not “me and the mouse in my pocket” or “me and my fellow white people.”
It’s not really very hard to see that that statement was not a white supremacist statement. I think it is sad that a fake news story from a national source will cause us to attack one of our neighbors before we understand what was said. Instead, we are quick to assume the worst about somebody, perhaps somebody who has annoyed us in the past. We who did that should be ashamed of ourselves. Not as ashamed as Don Lemon or Newsweek who spread the fake story, but ashamed enough to make amends.