Charles M. Blow and Integrity
Allah does not love that evil should be noised abroad in public speech, except where injustice has been done; for Allah is He who hears and knows all things.
The Qur'an, Surah 4, 147
Subtle. Urbane. Serious. Down home wise. Cool. Alert. Smooth. Old School humorous. Rational. These adjectives came to mind as I listened to Charles M. Blow speak at a "Conversation in Color" (Tulane University, January 16, 2017) with Dr. Kara Tucina Olidge, Executive Director of the Amistad Research Center. Anyone who has read Blow's op-eds in the New York Times is aware he does not suffer fools. Nor does he cheapen himself with the kind of correctness that provides absolution for the fake fuckery of neo-fascism. His integrity is refreshing.
In principle, all forms of human culture, in its full global and historical diversity, are accessible to the identity of every human being on the planet.
The fact that he was speaking on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day about his life, the functions of contemporary journalism, and the Zeitgeist did not inspire me to have nostalgic visions of struggles for civil and human rights since the founding of the United States of America. It inspired me to silently applaud his integrity as he spoke about why the moral virtue of resistance ought to be complemented by affirmative acts, about the rightness of his saying that Americans should cease evading the obvious: empires rise and crumble. I agree with him that we should create blueprints for moral argument and allow hatred (evil, vulgarity, barbarism or whatever) to hang itself. Blow's rhetoric was affirmative, sobering and ethical.
Your integrity is more important than having commerce with correctness.
J. W. Ward, Jr.
I did disagree with Blow that what circulates on Twitter and in other social networks is news, although he has legitimate, professional reasons for believing trash talk is news. In my opinion, universal trash talk is only one symptom of the malaise that the news should interrogate, analyze, and interpret for readers who don't have the means or the luxury of fact-checking 24/7/365. As the designs of American neo-fascism become more transparent after January 20, 2017, it is possible for journalists who have integrity to take steps to make print journalism great again, to restore confidence in standards. I treasure the conclusion of Blow's op-ed "John's Gospel of Trump's Illegitimacy" ( NYT, January 16, 2017, page A21): Mr. Trump, I join John Lewis in asserting with full confidence and clear conscience that I, too, don't see you as a legitimate president. Your presidency is illegitimate insofar as outside interference in an election violates our standards and principles. You will wear that scarlet "I" on your tan chest for as long as you sit in the White House. But agreeing with Lewis and Blow is the easy way out. And I am obligated, for the sake of my own integrity, to do more radical work by performing acts of affirmation.
Jerry W. Ward, Jr. January 17, 2017