I don’t usually watch news programs on TV so I have no idea who this Mark Halperin guy is or why he thinks Obama is a dick. But I see that he’s been suspended by MSNBC for it.
Am I the only one who doesn’t think this is a big deal? Why did MSNBC suspend him? Oh sure, I know all the “reasons.” I just happen to think they’re bullshit. I think MSNBC are the ones who are dicks here. Quick, suspend me from the Internet!!!
You know what this all reminds me of? A conversation I once had with my father that I’ll probably never forget. First, a little background. We immigrated to the U.S. from Kiev in 1989. Among the reasons I had been given for why we did this was that we wanted to escape the oppressive anti-Semitism of the Soviet regime. However, I was already beginning to understand that prejudices exist everywhere no matter what the general ethos of a nation is. So once day I asked my Dad if he thought anti-Semitism was worse here in the U.S. or back in the USSR.
“It’s worse here,” he said to my amazement.
“But, but… what do you mean??” I sputtered. I was sure he was joking.
“It’s worse here,” he went on “because here it’s hidden, it’s all below the surface. In the Soviet Union, it was official policy. You knew you would be discriminated against as a Jew so you always knew where you stood. It was out in the open. No one was afraid to mention it. Here in the U.S., you never know how someone feels about you being Jewish and you never know if they’re treating you fairly or not. You can only guess.”
To this day, I grasp exactly what he meant even though I still can’t find myself to agree completely. After all, was it better in South Africa under apartheid? That was also official policy. Was it better in the U.S. when we had slavery? That was official too.
But I hope you can see that we don’t have to understand my Dad’s outlook literally. What we can instead take away from it is that any sort of bias or prejudice is better to have out in the open than roiling beneath the surface. For a journalist or anyone else engaged in shaping people’s opinions with their work, the impetus should be all the stronger. Maybe “dick” wasn’t a great choice of words. But you have to admit it communicated Halperin’s sentiments about the president perfectly in that moment. And if this is a man who’s professionally responsible for reporting on national affairs, wouldn’t you rather know how he really feels? I know I would. And I bet my Dad would too.