Saturday, March 28, 2015

Signs of the Times

I rarely read the Los Angeles Times anymore. This is so for two reasons: first, the articles, by and large, are poorly written; and, second, the left-wing bias of the newspaper is so pervasive that I simply do not believe what is written there. However, I often have breakfast at a local cafe, and since I am incapable of sitting idly under any circumstances, I sometimes read whatever sections of the Times are left behind on the table. This morning, as I looked over the front page, I was struck by two things: that, as I said in a previous posting, there was no mention either of the Hillary Clinton email scandal or the Bergdahl desertion charges; and a massive front-page article on a recent Orange County election.

In this article, entitled "When mail-in votes go absentee," the reporters discuss in detail the race for Orange County supervisor. The favorite in this contest was a Hispanic career Democrat politician, Lou Correa, who, the writers tells us, should "easily have carried the race." But to their shock (though apparently not to that of the voters), a "little-known Vietnamese Republican" won. Now, what I want to point out about this article is the following: Though the Democrat candidate's name appears in both the sub-head and in the first sentence, the name of the winner does not appear on the front page at all. We have to go to the eighth paragraph, on page A-14, to learn that the newly elected OC supervisor is Andrew Do. 

The Times is, apparently, stunned that a well-known Democrat did not win in a heavily Democrat district, and they point out rather breathlessly that this "political earthquake" shows that "Republicans can still win," if enough people turn out to vote. Why this should be an earth-shaking revelation to the Times' political staff is mysterious. Asians voted in significantly larger numbers than Hispanics, they report, and so Mr. Do won. Nothing is said of any other kind of voter; only those in these two ethnic groups, though neither block was large enough to elect either candidate. And, as I said, the winning candidate's name is buried deep in the article; yet, surely, it is the fact that Mr. Do won and not that Mr. Correa lost, that is important. Except to the Times

There are several very disturbing implications to this article, and to this kind of biased reporting, for anyone who cares about the integrity of the press and of the electoral system.

The first, of course, is the implied lament that an Asian voting block was instrumental in defeating a Latino one. If this sort of thing becomes epidemic, the Times seems to be saying, what will happen to the state's Democrat majority, which is heavily supported by Hispanics? Who are these Asian upstarts who are threatening to overturn the Dems' carefully crafted coalition of white liberals, Latinos, blacks and unions? 

Now, if you want to argue that it is not the fact that a Republican won because more people turned out to vote for him, but that only one ethnic group of voters put him over the top, then you will be guilty of the same kind of bigotry of which liberals always accuse those who disagree with them. You say Obama’s policies have failed? You are a racist. You say Hillary Clinton lacks the integrity to be president? You are a sexist. You question gay marriage? You are a bigot. You have moral reservations about abortion? You are waging war on women.

Yet here we have the Times decrying the fact that Asian voters defeated a Latino candidate. Why is the Times even focusing on the race of the candidates? Because, being liberals, they always see race in everything. They are practicing the opposite of what Dr. King urged us to do: Judge a person by the content of his character, not the color of his skin. Is it just possible that Mr. Do, his ethnic origin aside, was a better candidate than Mr. Correa? The Times does not know or care to know. The only thing that concerns them is the ethnicity of the two candidates, and they conclude that only an upheaval of seismic proportions could have elected a Republican Asian over a Democrat Hispanic. This, surely, is racist.

Now, let us consider the fact that the winning candidate’s name is buried deep in the article. Clearly, the Times is not interested in who he is or even the fact that he won. Only that a prominent Latino Democrat lost concerns them. In this way, the winner and the loser are reversed. Mr. Correa gets front-page coverage, and we have to search for Mr. Do’s name thirteen pages on. This, I think, pretty clearly indicates the liberal bias of the Times, not in its editorial writing, but in its reporting. Mr. Do pulls off a significant victory for Asians in Orange County, and we have to go to page 14 to learn who he is. You would think that the Times might celebrate this fact, but all that matters to their reporters is that a Democrat darling has been defeated. The implication here is that if these activist Asians, who tend to be conservative, were ever truly to get together, they might just change the face of California politics. For my own part, I hope they do.

Now, this article was only one of two in the Times I read recently which gave me pause. The other, titled "Afghan mob sets woman on fire for alleged Koran burning," concerned the horrific murder of a young Afghan woman who was slaughtered by a mob, aided by police, after she was accused of having burned a Koran in public. She was first beaten and kicked almost to death, and then her body was set on fire. The spectacle is too terrible to be imagined, and I read the story only reluctantly. As I have written in another post: This is the twenty-first century, not the twelfth.

Apparently the townspeople knew this young woman, and some at least knew that she had a history of mental illness. Though anyone might know that you would have to be crazy to burn a Koran in public in any Muslim country. Yet that did not stop them from flying into a collective fit of religious hysteria, and murdering the poor creature in public, which, apparently, they thought a lesser crime than hers. They are wrong, of course: Korans can be replaced; people cannot.

Then, two thirds of the way through the article, the reporters make this extraordinary observation: “…Afghan and foreign health professionals believe that a large proportion of the Afghan population suffers from some sort of psychological trauma after three decades of conflict.” Apart from the fact that the writers do not name any of these professionals, the question is: Why did they even raise this point? Was it an attempt to explain, rationalize, or even justify the horrible killing? I cannot help but feel that this is so; otherwise, why bring it up, gratuitously, at all?

Which leads me to wonder, would any writer be taken seriously if he reminded us that the German people were suffering from decades of deprivation and humiliation after World War I as a way of excusing the horrors of Nazism? Would a reporter have been permitted to publish the idea that centuries of oppression by Russian autocrats somehow rationalize the tens of millions of deaths in the Gulag? Would any American journalist even think of writing that the crushing loss of the Confederacy and the North’s Reconstruction excesses justified lynching?

And yet here we have the Los Angeles Times publishing on the first page of its "The World" section the suggestion that this pathetic woman’s brutal murder ought to be understood in terms of some vague concept of the Afghan population’s post-traumatic stress disorder. For my own part, I do not want to think about the Times’ ideological reasons for making this shameful suggestion, any more than I want to contemplate that poor woman’s horrible death at the hands of her countrymen, who claimed to be defending a faith that ought to have cherished and protected her.