Hell broke loose on February 16th when Harvard President Lawrence Summers spoke at a faculty conference dealing with the issue of the underrepresentation of women in tenured positions in science and engineering at top universities and research institutions. Summers suggested several reasons why there aren't more women in the fields of science and math.
The following day, Summers told the Boston Globe, "Research in behavioral genetics is showing that things people previously attributed to socialisation weren't due to socialisation after all."
Many people, primarily feminists and liberals, took that to mean that women are inferior to men. There was no discussion on the research in behavioral genetics. There was also no discussion of what Summers actually said about socialization.
Instead, there were countless talking heads appearing on TV and they were hysterical. Suddenly the media was awash with opinions regarding what Summers said.
Liberals called for Summers head. Without addressing what he said, the pundits led the public to believe that Summers said that women are sub-human idiots incapable of learning math or science. The conservatives dismissed Summer's detractors as hormonal feminazis who serve to prove that Harvard is a bastion of political correctness run amok.
Less than a month before the media was flooded with the silly debate over the remarks of Lawrence Summers, the media was obsessed with the remarks of a professor at the University of Colorado. It seems that three years earlier, Professor Ward Churchill wrote about the victims of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.
Churchill wrote: If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I’d really be interested in hearing about it.
While Churchill paints the the inhabitants of the towers with a broad brush and may be a little over the top, he does make a point. The point being that those who worked to politically, militarily and economically exploit Muslim nations - and thus provoked retaliation - got what they deserved.
The conservative pundits became hysterical once they found out what Churchill had written. Outraged conservatives, seething with righteous indignation, called for Churchill's head. They led the public to believe that Churchill had called the innocent victims of 9/11 a bunch of nazis who deserved to die. Few liberals came to Churchill's defense.
Ward Churchill issued the following statement in his own defense:
I am not a "defender" of the September 11 attacks, but simply pointing out that if U.S. foreign policy results in massive death and destruction abroad, we cannot feign innocence when some of that destruction is returned. I have never said that people "should" engage in armed attacks on the United States, but that such attacks are a natural and unavoidable consequence of unlawful U.S. policy.
Churchill's explanation did not calm the conservatives. Of course, the neoconservatives who claim to be conservatives believe that America does no wrong. They are in denial of America's role in the 1953 coup in Iran, the propping up of brutal dictators in the Mideast, and the billions spent on military assistance to Israel.
The conservative pundits never addressed any of the issues brought up by Churchill, ignoring the possibility that radical Islamists were provoked by American foreign policy. The talking heads never bothered to discuss exactly who Adolph Eichmann was and what he was all about. So, the media hysteria lasted until the Summers controversy arose - or perhaps it was the Michael Jackson case.
But, at the end of the day (to use a phrase that pundits must use whenever they opine), who cares what these guys say? These men have relatively little influence and hold no power over the vast majority of Americans. Partisans pretending to be outraged over the remarks of academics is not news.
Perhaps these men raised issues that are worthy of a public discussion, but there was no real discussion. The mainstream media didn't even widely report what the men actually said or provide any background on the issues raised.
America doesn't need a national debate over whether Ward Churchill hates America or whether Lawrence Summers thinks women are dumb. The chattering class chose to not discuss whether foreign policy provokes terrorism or why more women don't choose careers in math and science. Instead, they chose to entertain their audience with political melodrama.
We are told that because of the 24/7 news cycle and the growth of the cable news industry, we must suffer through tons of crap - over and over. The fact is that most news of any consequence is ignored while consumers of media are given infotainment provided by partisan hacks who regurgitate canned spin.
The Social Security issue is an example of how media does no reporting but merely allows partisans to deliver the routine spin. The Republicans tell us that Bush's plan to "allow" us (as if Bush is our master) to invest a small portion of our own earnings in government approved investment vehicles will solve the Social Security "crisis".
The Republican propagandists are never asked how Bush's plan will save Social Security. It is never mentioned that a far more serious crisis exists with Medicare. The Democrat propagandists claim there is no Social Security crisis. They claim that the program has plenty of money and will be solvent for years to come. Nobody bothers to mention that the Social Security "trust fund" is filled with IOU's to be paid out of general revenue.
The well-groomed talking heads never mention that when FICA taxes are less than the benefits that must be paid, income taxes will have to be increased or Congress will have to cut spending on other things. The only other alternative is to inflate the money supply and pay benefits with nearly worthless dollars or borrow more money (if they can find a willing lender).
The number one question that so-called journalists will never ever ask is: By what Constitutional authority can the federal government force Americans to participate in the Social Security program or the Medicare program?
The next time you see the paid think tank experts and the partisan pundits yelling at each other while a talking head with a $200 hairdo referees, ask yourself what the purpose of the tirade is.
The real purpose may be to distract you from thinking about issues that matter. Chances are the political entertainers you see on TV are not discussing the systemic economic problems of America or the radical plan to reshape the Mideast using military means.
So, let the college presidents and professors talk. Let the political hacks talk and talk and talk. Who cares what they say? They are not entertaining or enlightening me. They are wasting my time.
This article contributed by Tom Blanton of Richmond, Virginia.