The Today Show
February 9, 2000 9:16 AM   Subscribe

The Today Show really pisses me off. They never have links to the stories I want to pull up (like the head of the KKK in Jackson saying "why is everyone so bigoted and full of hate when it comes to *us* trying to preserve our heritage"), but they do have stories like Allowances, sleepovers and street crossing... Is your child ready to take that next step?     Regarding the KKK piece, the story was about a Missouri Legislator planning to introduce a bill to rename a section of road "Rosa Parks Highway" in response to the KKK's participation in the Adopt-a-Highway program. While it seems pretty obvious to me that the KKK would just move to another section of road, I was a) offended by the comments of the KKK spokesman, and b) irritated by the State Legislator's lack of preparation for the interview. Why didn't he directly respond to the accusation of hate and bigotry? Why didn't he have facts on hand about the 'heritage' that the KKK was trying to preserve? Why didn't he have information about it's past and present activities and mission? Why didn't he point out that membership in the KKK is in and of itself sufficient to get you booked on the Jerry Springer Show? These things always bug me, because it's clear that groups like the KKK do quite a bit of preparation in fact distortion and spin control, but the Voices of Reason seldom do any prep work at all.
posted by CrazyUncleJoe (3 comments total)
Having spent some time as an activist in an "anti-hate" organization a few years ago, I have a bit of insight into this particular issue.

We were always told that we should never sink to the level of our opponent during public debate; in general, the fringe elements do a perfectly fine job of making themselves look like fools. They rarely need any help from the Voices of Reason with shooting themselves in the foot.

Unfortunately, the coarsening of American culture has made it increasingly difficult for Joe Public to seperate the wheat from the chaff. If the response to someone you hate on the Jerry Springer show is to toss a chair at them, a lesser response seems ineffective.

I didn't see the interview in question, so I can't comment on it, but perhaps the State representative assumed that people would see the inherent absurdity in the KKK's points. If you've grown up with images of crosses burning on lawns and seeing photos of grown men hiding their identity behind white sheets, hearing a representative of that organization whine about discrimination and repressed heritage hardly lends the KKK any cachet with the majority of the American public.

Alternate viewpoint: Perhaps there's something about that legislator's constituency that you didn't know about. Appearing unprepared, especially if next year is an election year for him, might have been his best chance of staying in office. After dealing with the political engine for too many years, it's something worth thinking about.

posted by antc at 9:34 AM on February 9, 2000

I don't think it was an election issue, since he did say "we don't want our state associated with the KKK" and "I don't know Mr. <KKK Representative>, and I have no desire to know him." IMO, he came of sounding like he was saying "you're bad" rhetorically, and without factual backing. The KKK guy, on the other hand, sounded reasonable and intelligent. He never mentioned race loyalty or mud people or any white-separatist buzzwords, he simply said "We're just trying to preserve our heritage. Why are people so bigoted and hateful about us trying to do that? We're just cleaning up a section of road as a matter of civic pride." Meanwhile, he managed to get his website address plugged. I'm just suggesting that an identification of nonfactual representations, or a brief overview of the "kkk heritage" would have made the VoR side seem more intelligent/responsive. I'm certainly not suggesting chair-throwing.
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 10:10 AM on February 9, 2000

Aw, but chair throwing on the Today show might be fun. :-)

Thanks for the clarification. A misbehaving cockatiel made me forget to add this sentence to the top of my last post:

I'm glad I'm not the only one annoyed by this.
posted by antc at 10:55 AM on February 9, 2000

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