Thomasville Times Enterprise

January 27, 2014

GUEST OPINION: Paper should leave out race references

Susan Hehn

— Jan. 21 was Martin Luther King Jr. Day,  a day when we, as a nation, celebrate the life and work of a man who, because of his Christian beliefs, is best known for his nonviolent means of advancing civil rights in America.

Today, I was reading our local newspaper, the Thomasville Times-Enterprise.  I will admit that I do not read our paper every day, but on that day I read it thoroughly. Before today, I have said to myself  “I should write the the editor about this or that,” but today I felt it necessary to actually do so.

 I am very disappointed in the Times-Enterprise for publishing articles and statements that promote racial discrimination and narrow minded thinking.

The first article was titled “$50,000 pot haul intercepted.”  At first, this seemed to be a very straightforward report of the arrest of suspects who were transporting marijuana through Thomas County.  When I reached the end of the article, the author paraphrased our narcotics/vice commander, saying that “Hispanics who have relatives and/or others who live and work in the United States help transport illegal drugs...,” and then quoted him saying, “And it is not only Hispanics.”

I do appreciate the commander trying to clarify his statement, but it seems to me that most of the damage is already done by the author including those statements in the first place. Was there not a better way to end that article than singling out a group of people and placing blame on them because they are Hispanic?

The second article was titled “OK to feel sorry.” This author begins his article by relating the story of Tom Robinson, a character in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird (published in 1960) being questioned about his motives for helping a white woman and he responded by saying “he felt sorry for her.” The reaction in the novel was “how dare a black man feel sorry for a white woman.”

The author of the article then goes on to say that, because of the civil rights movement that he, as a black American, is free to feel sorry for guilty or timid white people.  He continues to encourage the “white vs. black” mentality using examples of whether or not the media chooses to have a “field day” over grossly inaccurate statements based on race.  The last statement in this article was this:  “The bottom line is I'm glad the day has come when I can freely feel sorry for whites, who have come to bite their tongue when it comes to criticism of blacks.” 

My thoughts on this? Does publishing this kind of article in our newspaper by this columnist help or hinder the great strides we are making toward being the kind of nation that Dr. King dreamed of? Should our local newspaper, which has great influence in the community, choose to publish authors who continually encourage Americans to think in “white vs. black” terms? I say not. We should be bigger than that.

And then there is Rant and Rave. Our Times-Enterprise says that “statements that are libelous or slanderous are subject to editing.” I wonder what standard is used to determine this?  The final rant on Jan. 21 suggested that our president of the United States could be “coaching” jihadists. What kind of reasoning does publishing something like this promote? Is this how the Times-Enterprise wants our small part of this great nation to think? Disagreeing with our president is one thing, but accusing him of coaching jihadists is irrational.

I recently talked with someone who might move to Thomasville.  I wish I could tell them that we are an example of the dream that Dr. King described in his famous speech:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

My hope is that the Times-Enterprise will be more selective and take more caution in choosing the articles and rants it publishes. We need news articles that do not promote the concept of judging people by the color of our skin or our origin of descent but rather articles that encourage us to think broadly and evaluate each other by the content of our character.