Letter 2 America for April 5, 2021

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Dear America,

Like every other American who pays attention to the world around him, I am constantly assessing sources of information in order to ensure that the fact on which I base my opinions are unvarnished.  In that connection, I subscribe to the New York Times Friday through Sunday, Friday and Saturday being the most active news days.  This week, The Times published a synopsis of the Georgia election law changes that the Republican legislature in the state passed recently, which the Republican governor praised as enhancements of voting rights as opposed to the circumscription of them seen by those outside the state.  The Times has been part of the outcry over the changes, and in service of their editorial opinion, they printed the major provisions of the new voting laws along with expositions on them so as to ostensibly make clear the implications of those statutory provisions.  It's all somewhat obscure, but when I read the whole piece, I came away with a disconcerting conclusion: even The Times has to be scrutinized rather than believed without question.

There's no need to go through all of it here; if you're interested you can read the piece on the internet.  But while some of the provisions are absolutely intended to winnow voting rights in the more populous, Democratic, liberal areas of Georgia...in the cities, where most of the minority population lives in other words...some of the new voting law harkens back to when I first got to vote in the late sixties.  I was still a college student and you had only one day to vote back then, at least as far as I can remember.  Thus, all this fuss over extended voting is something of a revelation to me.  Mind you, I'm not against it for several reasons, not the least of which is that most people of voting age have to work or be away from home for one reason or another, thus rendering extended opportunities to vote, including early voting and absentee voting, not just desirable but a virtual necessity.  And as the income gap between those on the top of the economic heap and those on the bottom broadens, the availability of transportation to remote voting places diminishes for those most in need of the right to vote: those who have the least are in many respects the most politically disadvantaged, and thus the most in need of representation in the halls of political power.  That's why reducing the number of ballot boxes in the state and moving them into polling places that are presumably closed for most hours of the day is anti-democratic.  Similarly, prohibiting in a couple of ways the provision of water and food to those forced to stand on long lines for hours because state, county and local governments have provided so few polling places is suppressive, as is requiring the requirement of the provision of driver's license numbers from those requesting and casting absentee ballots.  But on the other hand, reducing the period during which one can vote from months to weeks doesn't seem unreasonable.  And though the use of deprivation of food and water to those on line is flagrantly inequitable, denying those who would do so the right to lobby for votes among those on line, in particular trying to bribe them with food and water is not unacceptable, at least to me.  Of course, prohibiting lobbying isn't synonymous with feeding and quenching thirst, and thus should have been accomplished in another way.

There's more to it, of course, and the law is quite extensive including both benign and malignant provisions, but the Times's adumbration of its provisions seems slanted to me, as has its coverage of some other things lately.  The Times seems eager to pillory Andrew Cuomo, for example, as I wrote recently.  And while I'm no fan of Donald Trump, some of the paper's analyses of what he did seemed, how shall I put it...tendentious.  Don't misunderstand me; I'm not accusing The Times of misreporting or slanting what it prints.  I'm just saying that the paper sometimes seemed to be soliciting a specific sentiment about things on which it reported over the recent past.

I still rely on the New York Times for facts, but I look at what they tell me critically.  I am not averse to fact checking the institution that I used to conceive to be the ultimate fact checker itself, which brings me to my point.  An old Marvin Gays song contains the lyric, "People believe half of what you see, son, and none of what you hear."  Of course that's hyperbole, but it bears heeding in this respect.  In carpentry, the rule is measure twice and cut once.  The same general principle applies to information.  Skepticism never hurt anyone.

Your friend,


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This page contains a single entry by Michael Wolf published on April 5, 2021 12:37 PM.

Letter 2 America for March 22, 2021 was the previous entry in this blog.

Letter 2 America for April 11, 2021 is the next entry in this blog.

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