Sunday, October 30, 2011

Shut Him Up!

Color of Change wants you to petition MSNBC "to demand that you fire Pat Buchanan immediately." It argues "Pat Buchanan has the right to express his views, but he's not entitled to a platform that lets him broadcast bigotry and hate to millions."

Neither Pat Buchanan or anyone else has a First Amendment right to a platform on MSNBC, though the concession that someone we disagree with may express his views, but not in a public forum, is no prescription for a vigorous political debate or dynamic democracy.

Linking to the plea of Color of Change (and that in turn to its petition) for immediate dismissal of Buchanan, Nicole Belle argues that MSNBC has ended its relationship with Markos Moulitsas, Keith Olbermann, and David Shuster while continuing to offer Buchanan's punditry "despite a rather bewildering portfolio of racist, sexist and just plain hateful statements."

Buchanan long has held an unfortunate preference for white, Christian (preferably Roman Catholic) males, though neither Belle nor Color of Change, tellingly, wastes much time identifying their target's bias against women and finds it unnecessary to charge him with anti-Semitism. Color of Change does, however, accuse Buchanan of believing "people of color" (presumably, blacks, though the vagueness may be strategic) are genetically inferior to Caucasians. One wonders: are hIspanics and Asians "people of color?" And would they answer to the label?

It shouldn't be necessary to point out that constructive debate in a democratic republic presupposes that individuals with noxious views not be fired or intimidated, but confronted by arguments demolishing their own. Ironically, Belle, besides citing Moulitsas, Olbermann, and Shuster, knocks MSNBC also for terminating Cenk Uygur "for being too tough on Republicans."

Well, yes, Uygur- graduate of Columbia Law, Wharton, and the finest high school in the U.S.A.- was very tough on Republicans. Uygur, who holds a law degree and had some journalistic experience before being hired by MSNBC, was not reluctant to call the President out when facts warranted. By contrast, Sharpton's professional qualifications were meager and, an informal adviser to the President, Sharpton has become Obama's toady.

Further, Sharpton has been prone to anti-white, anti-Korean (people of color?), and anti-Semitic behavior- not in the recent past but, unlike in the case of Buchanan, behavior and not mere analysis or advocacy. More recently, during the previous presidential election cycle, Reverend Sharpton exhibited regrettable anti-Mormon prejudice, though apparently he does not regret it.

Thankfully, and properly, the right has not called for Al Sharpton's dismissal from MSNBC. The left, for its part, should resist the temptation to meet intolerance with intolerance.

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