By Over the Mountain Democrats
Charles Dean’s “Racism” headline and lead in Wednesday’s paper is a textbook example of selective journalism. As a guest of Over the Mountain Democrats Tuesday night, Senator Vivian Davis Figures, Alabama Senate Minority Leader, spoke with a reasoned voice, passion for her convictions, humor and refreshing candor. Out of some 50 minutes of her informal conversation with the audience, Dean chose to focus on just a few minutes when she said the election of the first black President has helped Republicans gain dominance of state offices because Obama’s election triggered a backlash among many white Alabamians, an effect she attributed in part to racism.
Dean’s focus on her mention of “Racism” is faulty reporting on several levels. For starters, this is not news. The opinion that Obama has faced more partisan obstruction and vitriolic disrespect from Congress than any other Democratic president surfaced shortly after his election and is attributed to his race by many national media outlets. Whether you agree with it or not, it has been widely reported.
The context of Figures’ remarks make a difference in how they are perceived. This was not part of a pre-scripted speech built upon this one single idea but an honest response to a question from the audience. She was not waving the red flag of racism to inflame. It should also be noted Senator Figures was addressing an audience that was 80% white.
Dean’s singular emphasis is also a sin of omission. It wasn’t reported that debate on the far-reaching Accountability Act was restricted to 20 minutes by the Republican Majority Leader compared with almost a full day for open debate of the law to allow employees to carry guns to work. We didn’t learn from Dean’s piece the promise of Governor Bentley working with concerned Democrats to ensure that the photo ID requirement doesn’t prevent Alabama citizens from exercising their legal right to vote. We didn’t learn that Figures emphasized most of all everyone working together to improve Alabama.
“Racism” is a hot button, guaranteed to boost readership of a newspaper column, guaranteed to increase comments from anonymous postings. Relying on “Racism” to get a rise is lazy journalism. Dean, you’re better than that.
Board of Over the Mountain Democrats
Tony Parker, Vestavia
Robert Parker, Homewood
Linda Verin, Mt. Brook
Katherine Pearson, Forest Park