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Commentary & Opinion

Things That Cannot Be Denied

There is no better reason to support WAMC than the turmoil that surrounds this country as you read this. No matter what you may think of the current president, there are some things that cannot be denied. The first is that he has declared war on the free press in this country. The New York Times is the “failing New York Times” and the press in general is the “enemy of the people.” It’s right out of Henrik Ibsen. As Casey Stengel, the great Yankee and Mets manager put it, “You could look it up.” The second is that early in his campaign, Trump made it clear that at least one anti-Trump demonstrator at one of his early rallies should be led out and beaten up and that he, Trump, would pay for the beater-upper’s defense. This is exactly the kind of thing that we saw during the rise of Nazi Germany. Then, when people do whatever they can to put a stop to this type of bullying and Trump sanctioned violence, Trump and his minions argue that they are the offended. Think of a second grader turning to his teacher and whining, “Teacher, Tommy hit me.” 

That there is an element of racism in all of this cannot be denied. When Representative Maxine Waters suggested that it was appropriate to publicly resist all that appears above, she was roundly denounced by Trump and, pathetically, by the Democratic congressional leadership. None of what I have written here is a matter of opinion. It is fact and it emphasizes why a robust press, a robust WAMC, is so needed at this moment. When we look back at emerging dictatorships and totalitarian regimes, we see that it has always gone this way. When we ask why no one did anything at the time, it always turns out to be a lack of courage. This a time when persons of courage, both Republicans and Democrats, need to stand up for the real patriotism; not the phony America First stuff but the humanist values that have made this country so great. 

This means that our staff must continue to tell the story accurately and fairly. The amazing Ian Pickus, our young, energetic and brilliant news director, makes sure that we do it right. He would never dream of putting any political litmus test on a bureau chief’s copy. Perhaps that’s why we keep winning award after award and there is no more space on our walls for any more testimonials. 

When we thought up the concept of the Roundtable and the panel that occupies the first hour and a half of the program, the idea was to make the program as interactive as possible. That meant reading as many of your letters as we could. We get hundreds of letters each day and obviously we can’t read them all. We always try to read as representative a sample as possible so we ask you to keep them short and to the point. Many of you poke fun at this or that political figure but the ones we want make the points that illustrate where parts of the population are on any issue. 

I recently had a letter from someone who accused me of purposely not reading his letters. I wrote back and said that the show’s excellent producer, Sarah Laduke, actually chose the letters and all I did was to try to get them read. I asked for an apology and, to the letter writer’s credit, I got one. 

So, dear friends, as Mario Cuomo used to tell me, Carpe Diem or seize the day. As long as you carry on, so will we. Of course it goes without saying that we love you. 

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