By Don Frost
CHALK UP another victory for the Thought Police. The San Antonio City Council has unanimously ruled – without evidence – that the term “Chinese Flu,” “Wuhan Virus,” or variations thereon is racist and has encouraged citizens to report anyone uttering such words “to the proper authorities for investigation.” Sen. Ted Cruz observed that the council was “behaving like a Lefty college faculty lounge.”
No penalties for such “crimes” were specified. Perhaps, taking a page from George Orwell’s prophetic novel “1984,” violators of Thought Police edicts would have their heads strapped in a cage with a ravenous rat.
IT IS AN AXIOM in the news business: “If it bleeds, it leads.” Editors in the print and electronic media interpret that to mean that any news that gets readers or viewers excited will lead the broadcast or get the biggest headline on page one. What gets folks worked up today? The China Virus, of course. Some people are downright terrified and small wonder.
Make no mistake: The pandemic is serious business. The virus is killing people all over the world. Even if you get it and survive, you will have gone through hell. Doctors in Italy have begun noticing that survivors of the virus exhibit symptoms weeks and even months after they have been declared free of the disease. Some feel as if their bones are broken; they may have permanent kidney damage; they can’t climb stairs without panting; and they may experience general aches, upset stomach, and chronic fatigue. So taking precautions to avoid getting the infection yourself and possibly passing it on to others is beyond prudent; it’s smart. And try though some might, this pandemic is a health issue, not a political issue.
But does it merit near hysterical headlines? It does not. Like this banner headline on a recent Chicago Tribune front page: “Illinois virus death toll hits new high.” That could be, literally, a daily story, a daily headline. In states as populous as Illinois a China Flu death-a-day is practically a given; a routine story and “new highs” are to be expected. But it bleeds, so it leads.
Virtually every day purveyors of news dig up some impeccable source to warn of some new danger from the virus. Just when people were growing hopeful that a vaccine was on the horizon, an infectious disease wizard was ferreted out to say a vaccine might never be found. That bleeds, so it leads.
You don’t have to be a former denizen of news rooms such as I to know that assignment editors are telling their reporters, “Get out there and dig me up stories about someone’s tragic death; a heart-broken family; someone who can’t visit a dying grandmother. Come on, people! Break the reader’s (or viewer’s) heart.” If it bleeds, it leads.
And, as expected from Day One, those same assignment editors are telling their reporters to find “experts” – not just Democrats – eager to bash President Trump for his handling of the pandemic.
Businesses boast how concerned they are; how they’re pulling with us to defeat the virus; how they admire doctors, nurses, and first responders. “We’re all in this together” is a by-now clichéd theme. What these sappy institutional ads are saying is, “Dig us. See how concerned we are. Aren’t we wonderful? Remember that when you spend your money.” They’re also helping to keep the fear alive.
AOL scatters half a dozen places throughout its site to “click here to get the latest update on the coronavirus.” It’s as though radio, TV, and newspapers don’t keep us informed. Even the Illinois State Lottery Commission has a “click here for virus information.” Good grief! Who goes to a lottery website to learn the latest on a pandemic?
Most pathetic of all is the politicians. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D., Ill.) invited me via robo-call to participate in a “town hall phone meeting” to discuss the pandemic. (I declined.) And a state representative issued a similar invitation. (I declined.) Of course state governors get the best exposure of all with daily TV appearances, putting on their most concerned look while telling us what they’re doing about the pandemic. But the real message is, “See how concerned I am? Aren’t you glad I’m governor? Remember this come election day.”
ABORTION IS IN the news again with the “deathbed confession” of Norma McCovey, the real name of “Roe” in the Supreme Court case of Roe vs. Wade that legalized abortion in America. Her story is being told in a TV documentary in which she says both sides of the abortion issue – pro and con – paid her to champion their view and instructed her on how to get their message across.
In all the McCovey stories we are reminded yet again on which side of this still controversial issue “impartial” journalists are. They are uniformly for abortion. The giveaway is their liberal use of the term “the abortion rights issue.” The truly impartial phrase would be “the abortion issue.” But all media insist it has to be “the abortion rights issue.” Sure sounds like a vote in favor of continued legalization. The Supreme Court ruled abortion was a legal right, but it did not – could not – rule that it was no longer controversial.
How do the reporters refer to the other side of the controversy? They’re labeled “those opposed to abortion rights.” What sort of monster opposes another person’s “rights”? Sometimes these evil creatures are depicted as part of the sinister-sounding “anti-abortion rights movement.” And they are never, ever referred to in the manner they prefer, as the “right to life movement.”
ESPN PRODUCED a wonderful documentary called “The Last Dance,” an entertaining and enlightening look at the Chicago Bulls teams of the 1990s. It was, of course, focused mainly on Michael Jordan, the GOAT, the greatest of all time; the man who – more than any other player – made the Bulls the dominant team during that period. Basketball certainly is a team sport, but no one would suggest the Bulls would have won six championships without Jordan.
Time and again throughout the 10-hour series the narrative turned to how Jordan became great; how he was driven to be the best; how determined he was to succeed, to win. It wasn’t just lavish praise that reporters, teammates, and coaches heaped on him. The documentary showed him doing what it took to be great. It was a lesson all youngsters across America would do well to heed: With hard work and determination, you CAN accomplish, you CAN succeed.
It was a beautiful thing. Jordan was presented as just a man – a human being and nothing else – who did great things in his profession. It was a universal message that required no qualifier.
Then Barack Obama commented in Episode 10. He felt there was a very important qualifier that all of the dozens of talking heads never mentioned throughout the 10-hour series: The color of Jordan’s skin. As far as the series producers were concerned, Jordan was simply a man and a superb athlete. Obama set them straight:
“Michael Jordan,” he said, “helped to create a different way in which people thought about the Black Tribe athlete.” (Apparently Jackie Robinson’s breaking of the color barrier in professional baseball didn’t count – or perhaps Obama thought no one noticed that.)
Of course he didn’t literally say “Black Tribe.” Obama always goes with the P.C. term, “African-American,” when he means Black Tribe. For some reason Obama seems to make everything a racial issue. He calls it “celebrating diversity” (separate but equal?), but it’s really just divisive. As far as our ex-president is concerned the important message in the ESPN series was not that Jordan is a man whose character made him the greatest; it’s that he’s a black man.
Tribalism seems to be an Obama family article of faith. Michelle recently chided a gathering of black women for the failure of “our people” to turn out in sufficient numbers to elect Hillary Clinton in 2016. “Our People.” Could there be a more insulting – more racist – way of dismissing other “tribes”; other Americans?
On Aug. 28, 1963, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. A key line in that famous speech was this: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
His dream throughout the civil rights movement echoed that sentiment; that one day America would be a color blind society. The producers of “The Last Dance” agreed. Apparently the Obamas disagree. To Barack, Jordan should not be judged on his character, but on the color of his skin. To Michelle, tribal affiliation should determine how one votes.
Don Frost blogs at www.commonsense931.wordpress.com.