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Posted in: Culture Wars & Censorship

Published on Jun 18, 2008 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Pajamas Media

Tim Russert, Bernard Goldberg and Me

Thinking For Yourself And Other Thought Crimes


Just as more and more information becomes seemingly available, we nevertheless seem to know less and less. Today, one has to know as much as a physician in order to make one's own personal medical decisions. One must possess an advanced degree in history, Middle East Studies, political science, or law, in order to be able to evaluate what newspapers print daily.

In addition, internet sites are not necessarily trustworthy. There are no clear, common standards, few sites take responsibility for mistakes or for outright lies, and even "mediated" venues are known both for biased reportage and for refusing to publish facts, or points of view which in any way depart from their approved ideology. Of course, ideologues on both sides of the aisle are usually quite happy to read material that they already "know" and with which they agree however much this places the rest of us at a great disadvantage.

In today's Wall Street Journal, Bernard Goldberg has a long piece about Tim Russert whom he claims was the only television journalist who dared interview Goldberg about his book "Bias." Goldberg had worked at CBS for 28 years and his book exposed the media's pervasive liberal bias. Goldberg now praises Russert for having understood that intellectual, ideological, and political diversity are crucial for both journalism and democracy.

Well, who's going to take his place? Who is ready to step right up and take on Russert's work? I (and many others) have had the same experience that Goldberg writes about but with an extra twist. My reasoned and passionate pro-America and pro-Israel stands led to my becoming almost persona non grata among most of my former friends and admirers on almost every liberal and left radio, television, newspaper, and internet magazine–and, because the conservative media liked and published what I was saying, the liberal and left media almost all refused to publish or interview me about my feminist/humanist critique of Islamic gender and religious apartheid.

Either you are for us or against us, there are no gray areas.

What we are experiencing is a crisis of individualism. People dare not speak their minds lest they offend their friends, relatives, employers, and political-social circles and since tempers are running very high on both sides of all the great ideological debates, one usually gets to hear only one side of a debate. Hearing more than that is treated as a thought crime.

This brings us closer to the very totalitarian culture that we pretend to abhor. It is crucial that people learn to become civilized towards and tolerant of differences–not just differences based on gender, class, skin-color, religion, or country of origin but differences of ideology, points of view, and "spin" on all the hot button issues.

And, we must judge, discriminate, discern the difference between barbarism and modernity, between fascism and freedom. We dare not remain multi-culturally tolerant of fascism or cannibalism.

While certain ideas may indeed be dangerous, it is even more dangerous to allow only one brand of truth to flourish.

Thus, in Tim Russert's memory, I challenge–no, I implore–my old friends on the liberal left to interview me about…(the forbidden) Stuff. Our lives depend upon our talking once more. And, also in Tim Russert's memory, I challenge my friends on the conservative right to interview me about…(the equally forbidden) Stuff.


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