The Corner

Great Moments in Journalism

Last Sunday, I published in this blog a letter from a reader, calling it “unusual and thought-provoking” — which it was. The reader said he was struck by a couple of stories in the national news. First, some jerks at a rally used a racial epithet. Second, a 16-year-old kid was busted for making a racial comment over a Wal-Mart PA system. The reader said, 

That these things are even remotely newsworthy leads me to one conclusion: Racism in America is dead. We had slavery, then we had Jim Crow — and now we have the occasional public utterance of a bad word. Real racism has been reduced to de minimis levels, while charges of racism seem to increase. I’ll vote for the first politician with the brass to say that “racism” should be dropped from our national dialogue. We’re a good nation, among the least racist on earth . . .

Well, this got a lot of people upset — very upset, and I will be writing about this, and other race-related matters, in the next National Review. But I wanted to mention something that has come to my attention just now: On his MSNBC show on Monday night, Keith Olbermann quoted from the reader’s letter. The quoted remarks were printed on the screen, and under them was written “Jay Nordlinger, National Review.” Go here for the clip. The letter is quoted at about the 5-minute mark.

When I want to say something myself, I will — I spend most of my professional life doing that. But occasionally, I like to quote letters, particularly in the Corner. That same day, in that same half-hour, I published a letter decrying “the lies and bad behavior of the Republicans.”

After he quoted the letter on race, Olbermann said to his guest, Congressman James E. Clyburn (D., S.C.), “Do people say this you suppose because they’ve never been personally the victims of racism? Do they say it to reassure racists that they’re not really racist?”

Does someone who thinks and talks like that actually have a television talk show? Great, just great.

Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune wrote a column attacking the letter on race. He was aware it was a reader letter — but he referred to its contents as “the Nordlinger thesis.”

At any rate, I will have more to say about this in our forthcoming issue. In the meantime, read and view the media skeptically. But you do that already, don’t you?


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