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Digital Age great, but...
by Jake Highton
Apr 03, 2010 | 566 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The wonders of the Digital Age are astonishing to this child of the pre-TV era. 

For example, I have a shelf full of poetry books at home, anthologies or volumes by individual poets. Occasionally my collection doesn’t have the poem I want. 

So, I make a Google search, say, of Robert Burns’ “To a Louse.” Within seconds my computer copier spits out the entire poem, including that wonderful line: “To see oursels as ithers see us!” 

Amazing. But what disturbs me as a Man of the Left is that the “miracles” of the Digital Age will not make this backward nation one whit more progressive. America will remain mired in backwardness. 

Nor will America ever become a civilized country. Racism and ignorance run too deep among the crazies of the Right. 

Look no farther than the epithets hurled recently at congressmen: “nigger” and “faggot.” Another black congressman was spit on. 

As for the angry outcry from the white loonies, “Take our country back,” it is impossible. By 2012 America will “belong” to Asians, Latinos and blacks. Whites will be a minority. 

Abhorrent Glenn Beck  

Glenn Beck, the vile Fox pundit, has urged Christians to quit their churches if they hear preaching about social concerns or economic justice. If the parishioners are not hearing such messages, they are not hearing Christ’s message. 

Mike Peters, editorial cartoonist for the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, got to the heart of the matter as cartoonists often do. He pictured Jesus returning as Glenn Beck. 

In the first panel, Jesus says: “Don’t heal the sick. That’s socialism.” In the second: “Don’t shelter the homeless. That’s communism.” Third: “Don’t feed the hungry. That’s nazism.” 

Fortunately, the First Amendment protects Beck’s ignorant speech. His outrageousness, though, is cunning. He knows that the more farfetched his statements, the wider his audience. 

Swiss boobish, too 

 News headline: Swiss voters ban minarets. It shows that the Swiss voters en masse are often as boobish as American voters. 

Democrats exult 

In re the recently enacted health bill: The trouble with the dishwater Democrats is that they are delighted with one-eighth of a loaf.

Democrats duck  

When the chairmanship of the important House Ways and Means Committee became vacant, the seniority system called for Rep. Pete Stark of Alameda County, Calif. to get the gavel. 

Stark, a magnificent progressive Democrat for 37 years, caused a great thundering from the right over his ascendancy. Among his political sins was pointing out that the Republicans were the real enemy in America and that former President George W. Bush was unconcerned about death and destruction in Iraq. 

After Stark yielded his rightful place so the Democrats would have a more malleable gavel wielder, John Nichols of The Nation rightly wrote: 

“Heaven forbid that the Democratic Party would place a boisterous battler for economic and social justice, peace and equality, in one of Washington’s most powerful positions.”  

The hip Hipp 

 Travus Hipp, Tribune columnist, is keenly aware of a longstanding problem with TV: It entertains rather than enlightens. 

Michael Ruppert published a book entitled “Crossing the Rubicon,” a withering indictment of U.S. policies about oil and energy control in the Middle East spearheaded by U.S. military might. 

The book was either trashed by the establishment media or not reviewed. So Hipp made an astute observation: “This is a world where authors of books on aroma therapy get interviewed every week on every TV channel.”  

Editor lacks class 

One of the most prominent political journalists in Nevada, Steve Sebelius, has no class. 

I sent an e-mail to Sebelius, editor of CityLife of Las Vegas, complaining that the body type of his publication had shrunk terribly. 

I suggested he might save space by cutting superflous large headlines over opinion pieces like “SLANT COLUMN” and “COFFEE&OUTRAGE.” I added that he consider eliminating unnecessary pictures of columnists. 

He did not reply. (I am hardly a crank. I am a professional colleague. I have told him and written in my column that CityLife is the best public affairs newspaper in Nevada.) 

What a contrast to a really important guy, Red Smith, sports writer extraordinaire of yesteryear. I was sports editor of my college newspaper at Penn State during the 1952-53 school year. During the football season we ran weekly forecasts of the winners by staffers. 

Each week we had a guest “swami,” a prominent professional, to give his prognostications. One week I invited Smith to take part. 

He missed the deadline but soon replied graciously that he was out of town on assignment. I have never forgotten that incredible kindness by an Important Man to a Kid Nobody. 

Jake Highton teaches journalism at the university of Nevada, Reno. He can be reached at jake@unr.edu.
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