In the late 1800’s, after an explosion of immigration to the United States, a new metaphor started circulating — The Meting Pot. Referring to the fusion of different cultures, nationalities, backgrounds, and ethnicities, “The Melting Pot” became part of American culture in the early 1900’s. Although the metaphor intends to help create a national identity, many today see the phrase as antiquated and insulting. People want to keep their heritage, culture, traditions, and not be formed into a new being.
Personally, I like to look at the metaphor differently. I like to believe that the Melting Pot allows you to retain your uniqueness, but at the same time, not segregate you from the plate. Yes, the plate in this “Fred” metaphor is America.
With this extremely long winded introduction, even more so than usual, I want to talk about exclusion, labeling, classification, and Fox News. Wait, Fox News?
First, before all my friends and family start yelling… I do not watch Fox News. Also, I am not a Republican. I’m also not a Democrat (should you want to know). I am a registered voter classified (notice I must be classified) as NPA, or No Party Affiliation. You see, I like to vote for the candidate I like. Sometimes its a Republican. Sometimes a Democrat. And sometimes, it’s none of the above.
“But wait Fred,” you say, “didn’t you mention something about Fox News?”
Recently, the White House has been going to the mattresses† with Fox News. After describing Fox as “not a news network,” the White House through both spokespersons and the President, compared the channel to “talk radio” and well, just basically said they were not a news organization.
I don’t have a problem with this. Although I’d like to see the White House take a “higher stand,” I truly believe that Fox News is harsh on the President and if the President wants to criticize the channel, I honestly could care less. Again, I’d like to think that the White House would be above name-calling, but eso si que es (it is what it is).
But here’s the problem…
Kenneth Feinberg, Special Master for TARP Executive Compensation (aka the “Pay Czar”), provided a round of interviews recently and Fox News was excluded. If not for the actions of ABC, NBC, CBS (and others), Fox News would have effectively been blocked from the interview. The other networks, wisely, told the White House that this action was unacceptable and as CBS Correspondent Chip Reid stated, “All the networks said, that’s it, you’ve crossed the line.”
The White House initially denied blocking access, but in an even more unacceptable response stated through White House spokesman Josh Earnest, “This White House has demonstrated our willingness to exclude Fox News from newsmaking interviews, but yesterday we did not.”
Truly, this is a moment that makes me just want to say… What the Fuck?
I’m extremely glad that we’ve solved the war in Iraq, our economic issues, and have secured the health and wealth of our nation for the next generation. Oh wait, we haven’t? Then why the hell is our government wasting time with a stupid, name-calling, elementary-level war with Fox News?
The first amendment… The FIRST amendment of the constitution is very simple:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I don’t care if Fox News is biased. I truly think they are. But that’s not the point (I also think other networks can be biased, and I also don’t care). The point, simply, remains that Fox News retains the Freedom to say what they wish. They can speak to their heart’s content, as loudly as they wish, in any manner that they wish. If you don’t like what they say, change the channel. If you disagree, then you can either speak what you feel, argue with them directly, or ignore them.
But do not, do not, do not, DO NOT EVER EVER EVER attempt to stifle their speech. And not providing equal access, in my opinion, clearly attempts to stifle them. Plus, if the White House truly wishes to “exclude” certain members of the press from future “newsmaking” activity, then they should not be in control of our country. Any person that believes its acceptable to exclude members of the press from press activities (for reasons that they don’t like their message) should not be in charge of defending our constitution.
Let’s face it… The media today is a joke. When Michael Jackson died they went ape shit. Anderson Cooper had a feature on what happened to Bubbles the Monkey. And they did this for more than a week. If Fox News wants to criticize the President and the White House, I don’t care. If Anderson Cooper wants find out where Bubbles is living, I don’t care.
Sometimes I even find it entertaining. Heck, I like a good Oberlmann monologue, but I know that he’s biased. Everyone knows he’s biased. He even says he’s biased. And you know what? Olbermann doesn’t get excluded from the White House.
Fred, didn’t you make some comment about the Melting Pot?
I think when we label, we exclude. Saying the Fox News is the mouthpiece of the Republican Party labels them as non-Democratic. Red states. Blue states. Liberals. Democrats. Pro-gun. Pro-Bush. It never stops.
When we make statements like this, we are separating ourselves. Oh, he’s Pro-Bush and we’re not. If I say something critical of Obama, I’m labeled a Republican. Some people reading this right now will assume that I must be “Pro-Bush” because I would criticize the White House.
Those of us LUCKY enough to be living in the United States have the freedom to say and think what we want. We can criticize our government at will. Some of the greatest Americans practiced this freedom regularly.
Getting into this idea that we must classify people by politics, religion, race, region, or any other factor infuriates me. We are who we are. Take us or leave us.
Some of my greatest friends and I disagree on politics regularly. But I love them. They love me. We disagree, we love each other, and we, despite our differences, actively include ourselves in each others lives. That is how I chose to see the Melting Pot metaphor. Despite our differences, we remain a united group. And our differences only help make the group better.
I am a registered No Party Affiliation American, and I vote. I’m neither Democrat nor Republican. I was born in New York City and consider myself Floridian. I am who I am. You can label me however you want. You can hate me, dislike me, or feel anyway you want about me.
But if you try to take away my freedom or my rights, I will fight. And when I fight, I fight to win. I don’t like to fight. I’d rather you just change the channel.
† Going to the Mattresses. Godfather reference. If you don’t get it, please go watch the Godfather. I implore you. Please, please, please watch the Godfather over and over. Nothing bad can happen from this.