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Bruce Bialosky

Willful Ignorance

The Beautiful Wife forwarded a column by Walter Williams, a professor of economics at George Mason University, to a liberal friend of hers. Other than being an economist for half a century and having written ten books, Williams is a Black man who lived through poverty and real racism while growing up in Philadelphia. The ensuing incident tells a large part of the reason why we have the divide in our country. Then it gets worse.

Dr. Williams was not schooling people in this column about the misguided support of the current movement in America that is justifying release of criminals prematurely from jails, looting and rioting in the name of George Floyd and de-policing our cities. He could easily school them on that. What he wrote about in this column was the plight of “the poor” in America.

The column wrote about the fact that people below the poverty line have a better life in America than most middle-class in Europe and certainly have larger living quarters than the Europeans.

He told about all the material things they have like TVs, microwaves, smartphones, dishwashers, etc. I know a lot about what Mr. Williams wrote because I wrote a column on the same subject a few years back. Neither one of us were making things up – contriving things. This is information drawn directly from census figures. This is not information the census people contrived. This is information provided to the census by the people living below our poverty line themselves. As Williams points out, the well-being of these people does not address public subsidies like food stamps, rent subsidies or Medicaid. This should be non-controversial information. People should feel good that the less fortunate among us for the most part are not suffering.

One person it was sent to refused to read it. Another said she read the first paragraph and thought it was a parody. This is not a new reaction. While a center/right-of-center person reads multiple sources form the Left daily because the vast media is basically that, even when you try to provide some other info to the Left they are unwilling to read or hear a contrarian viewpoint. The BW had lunch with these same people and in the discussion she brought up shovel-ready projects. The women had never heard the term. These are college educated women who spout their political views on social media regularly. It is willful ignorance.

I am not blaming them or the people one encounters daily who bathe in their “unawareness.” It is the fault of the sources they read. Just last week there was a senatorial hearing in Washington with Rod Rosenstein as the star witness. The first alert I received about the testimony came from the National Review. That never happens. I waited for the ones from the NYT, WaPo, Politico, The Hill, Axios, etc. They never came. The hearing never existed with its revelations from Rosenstein. The next morning none of them mentioned the hearing. Not even The Dispatch which was formed by people who used to be legitimate members of the press. If the testimony harmed Trump or Republicans, rest assured it would have flooded the airwaves.

If the people who rely on these sources are not even exposed to news how do you expect them to know. Obviously, they are prisoners of a deficient press with an agenda. Then matters got even worse.

You may have heard there was a dustup because U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) wrote an opinion piece that was published by the NYT. The subject was about the Insurrection Act and the possible use of the act by President Trump. This act has been implemented many times since it was passed in 1807. Go to Wikipedia and look at the list. Because it was Trump telling Governors that unless they got control of the looting, burning and rioting going on in their states, if he would invoke the act they stated fascism would descend upon our country. Even irresponsible former military leaders who had abdicated their leadership to Ben Rhodes jumped in and criticized Trump. What no one has mentioned is that since Trump lectured the Governors on their responsibility to their citizens the criminals have been abated and the real protestors have been freed to display their first amendment rights.

Cotton’s column was not his first in the NYT. They know this guy could be President someday; he is currently a U.S. Senator. That gives them cachet. Despite the fact that the editor lied after a further time and said he had not read the column before publishing, it went through a vigorous editing process with it going back and forth between the NYT and Cotton. The final copy was approved and then published. That is when hell descended upon earth.

The readers of the NYT cancelled their subscriptions in droves. James Bennet, opinion editor, felt he needed to defend his publishing the piece which in itself is a mystery. Isn’t that their job? Even he stated that. “We published Cotton’s argument in part because we’ve committed to Times readers to provide a debate on important questions like this. It would undermine the integrity and independence of The New York Times if we only published views that editors like me agreed with, and it would betray what I think of as our fundamental purpose — not to tell you what to think, but to help you think for yourself.”

That was until the next paragraph in his explanation where he began to backtrack. “But that probably just sounds platitudinous, particularly at a fragile moment like this in our national life. And it doesn’t address specific concerns about our publishing this piece.” By the next day he was in full-throated abdication of his first amendment obligations and denied he actually read the column before publication. Bennet apparently watched the Rosenstein hearings and adopted the complete ignorance defense.

David Brooks who writes for the NYT stated he was in favor of publishing the Cotton piece. He said he enjoyed reading pieces with which he does not agree because it makes him think. That is what we used to have as an ideal. Not anymore. Michele Goldberg wrote a column entitled Tom Cotton’s Fascist Op-Ed. Did you notice she was advocating fascistic suppression of free speech and freedom of the press while calling another person a fascist?

The worse reaction came from another NYT columnist, Bari Weiss, though she was just explaining the situation. She wrote “The old guard (that would be editors like the 54-year-old Bennet) lives by a set of principles we can broadly call civil libertarianism. They assumed they shared that worldview with the young people they hired who called themselves liberals and progressives. But it was an incorrect assumption. “The new guard has a different worldview,” “one articulated by [authors] Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff. They call it ‘safetyism,’ in which the right of people to feel emotionally and psychologically safe trumps what were previously considered core liberal values, like free speech.”

You can bet that every one of these people in the newsroom who were in open revolt are graduates of a prestigious journalism school. They are what we have been calling “snowflakes.” They are being minted by our educational system to disregard our most precious rights that defend our freedom. They work at our most highly regarded publications and in 10 years they will be running them.

People often flippantly state we live in dangerous times. This is dangerous folks. Do you think the newsrooms at WaPo, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, LA Times, etc., are stocked with people any different than the people rending their clothing and forcing their editors to back down from defense of our essential protections?

Yes, many people are willfully ignorant. We cannot blame them when our “free” press is no longer free and advocates keeping their readers ignorant for their own safety. And these people call Trump dangerous.