Of the numerous radio, television and newspaper interviews I’ve done, only three of them have been with what I would call center-left media outlets. None of them were pleasant. The first one was positive only because the host and her producer were genuinely nice people who tried to let me have my say, while the guests exemplified liberal arrogance and condescension at its most irritating. You could almost imagine them thinking, “there, there” as they patted me on my nappy head - I still had hair back then – and humored me as a poor and misguided black soul taken in by the white slave masters.
I wrote about the exasperating encounter and swore I’d never do an interview with a liberal media outlet again. I took cruel pleasure in the news, announced less than four months later, that Air America, the radio network that sponsored the show, had gone belly up.
My second encounter was more of an ambush. I went on a morning radio show out of Pittsburgh, one I had done before, to discuss the topic, “Mainstream media vs. the Tea Party.” The interview started out normally but quickly degenerated into a rant by the host about the racists in the Tea Party movement.
He then said that my participation in the movement made him question me and my attitude towards my own people, at which point I interrupted the interview and indignantly stated, “That was rude and completely uncalled for.”
He didn’t make an attempt to apologize, but ended the segment, after which his producer came on and was contrite about what had just happened. It didn’t matter to me; I fired off a note to my publicist immediately after I hung up:
…[T]hat interview today was an ambush. I particularly resented the host saying that since there is a fringe racist element at some Tea Party rallies, that makes him question me. That was an insult and totally uncalled for given the respect I accorded him and his point of view throughout the interview. I don't know if you can convey that message to them - the producer seemed very apologetic at the end - but I feel like I'm owed an apology. This man knows nothing of my heart, where I come from or why I believe what I do. He has no basis for implying I'm a self-loathing black man for being involved with a movement of everyday Americans who simply believe in self-governance and liberty.
Needless to say, I never did that show again, and I never got my apology, either.
Regrettably, I’d forgotten my pledge never to talk to these elitists again, and I recently accepted a booking on The Thom Hartmann Show. He is apparently the top liberal radio host in the country, which makes him number eight overall, since the first seven are all conservatives.
Anyway, he was intrigued by my article about the “adult baby” and my use of him as a metaphor for the arrested development of many Americans when it comes to making responsible decisions about entitlement programs, especially Medicare.
He was intrigued only to the extent that it gave him an opportunity to cast conservatives, Republicans and Tea Party people as evil people who want to throw grandma off the cliff in favor of rich people. I argued that it was irresponsible not to reform Medicare since it was going to run out of money in less than two decades. He dismissed that as alarmist talk that he’d heard often in the past but had never amounted to anything.
I thought, but didn’t say at the time because I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, “Does that mean I can dismiss climate change as alarmist talk because it’s been declared an imminent danger many times in the past without result?” I’m not too young to remember the cries back in the 1970s about global cooling and an imminent Ice Age. But I digress.
Not only did he dismiss the claims of Medicare’s impending insolvency, he said this issue was central to whether we intend for America to be a “we” versus “me” society. That’s where he ended the segment and thanked me for coming on the show. I lied and thanked him for having me – I wasn’t thankful in the least, as the note I sent to my publicist confirms:
OK, the interview's in the books. Counting prep time, that's about 45 minutes of my life I can't get back!
I saw later that he had tweeted a teaser about the show on Twitter and used that insipid “’we’ versus ‘me’ society” line again.
I tweeted back that it was unfair to millions of Americans like me, who give generously of our time, talent and treasure to feed, clothe, shelter and comfort our neighbors in need, to be labeled as a “me” society, simply because we believe government is a poor steward of our money – yes, Mr. Hartmann, our money, not yours or the government’s – and therefore demand discipline and courage to fix what they broke before it disappears altogether.
He didn’t respond.
I saw later that he used the same line in a television interview with Amanda Carey of the Daily Caller, who was simply too pleasant to challenge him on his insulting and inaccurate claim. As with my radio interview, he made sure to close out the segment with his pithy phrase so those would be the last words his audience heard.
His “we” versus “me” meme is a most deceptive form of propaganda, the false choice. The bloated, bureaucratic dinosaur called the federal government isn’t the only option for caring for others. It is certainly not the most efficient or effective, unless the objective is to keep people in poverty or dependence.
Compassion at gunpoint, which is what government taxation and spending represent, is not morally superior to the voluntary outpouring of love and help from individual citizens. If anything, modern liberals are reminiscent of the people who paid others to go fight for them in the Civil War.
The mindset that says to take what other people earn and “let government do it” frees you from the personal obligation of actually getting involved to help your neighbor, and it sanctions legal plunder through the force of the state, which from our founding was supposed to protect life, liberty and property, not be a threat to it.
The whole experience leaves me convinced that we are at an impasse here in this country, and a conflict of worldview and ideology is inevitable. Moreover, I won’t allow myself to be used as a prop for some liberal’s smug pronouncements of moral superiority again.