Notable & Quotable: Sept. 20, 2017

Posted

In "The Great ESPN Pile-On," The Wall Street Journal's Jason Gay writes, "Another controversy has the sports network fending off accusations of bias - and the anger of the president."

The latest uproar concerns the "SportsCenter" anchor Jemele Hill, who last week responded to an antagonist on Twitter - the internet's cathedral to thoughtful, nuanced dialogue - by describing President Trump as a "white supremacist." Hill's comment set off a blaze of outrage, culminating in White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders describing it as a "fireable offense."

This is how America rolls in 2017. We howl about things that people type on the internet, chase each other around with virtual chain saws and then demand their jobs. It's like we're all working for some blood-lusting human resources department. Ending someone's career is the frothy apotheosis of the internet rage machine. I'd argue it's a new national pastime.

On Friday morning, President Trump himself weighed in via Twitter, chastising the network and demanding an apology: "ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming.) People are dumping it in RECORD numbers. Apologize for untruth!"

(I love that the president is throwing a Roone Arledge-style jab at ESPN's "bad programming" - is he disappointed with "Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable?" Does he think, as I do, that the average "Monday Night Football" game kind of stinks?)

By the week's end, ESPN's leadership weighed in - company president John Skipper sent a memo admonishing his staff to refrain from "inflammatory or personal" commentary. "In light of recent events, we need to remind ourselves that we are a journalistic organization and that we should not do anything that undermines that position," Skipper wrote.

- - -

John Judis writing in the October issue of the New Republic:

The U.S. census makes a critical assumption that undermines its predictions of a majority-nonwhite country. It projects that the same percentage of people who currently identify themselves as "Latino" or "Asian" will continue to claim those identities in future generations. ... History shows that as ethnic groups assimilate into American culture, they increasingly identify themselves as "white." ... In the 2010 Census, 53 percent of Latinos identified as "white," as did more than half of Asian Americans of mixed parentage. ...

Unless ethnic identification is defined in purely racial - and racist - terms, the census projections are straight-out wrong and profoundly misleading. So is the assumption that Asians and Latinos will continue to vote at an overwhelming clip for Democrats. This view, which underpins the whole idea of a "new American majority," ignores the diversity that already prevails among voters lumped together as "Latino" or "Asian." Cuban-Americans in Miami vote very differently from Mexican-Americans in Los Angeles; immigrants from Japan or Vietnam come from starkly different cultures than those from South Korea or China.

- - -

In "A Confederacy of Dunces," The Wall Street Journal's William McGhurn writes, "Mayor Bill de Blasio goes hunting for 'hate' on New York City property."

Spare a thought for poor Bill de Blasio. As cities across the South are shedding their Confederate memorials faster than you can say Stonewall Jackson, what New York's mayor wouldn't give for a larger-than-life Robert E. Lee bronze in full "Gone With the Wind" glory that he could order taken down.

Instead, he had to content himself with the announcement, days after last month's deadly protest in Charlottesville, that the violence there had led him to order a 90-day review of "all symbols of hate on city property."

Alas for the mayor, the Confederate pickings in his Yankee city are slim. The president of Bronx Community College found busts of Jackson and Lee and removed them. The Episcopalians took down two plaques commemorating a maple tree that Lee planted outside a now-closed church when he was stationed at Brooklyn's Fort Hamilton in the 1840s. The tree itself lives, despite its Confederate roots.

But it was left to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to embrace the full absurdity of the moment when it declared that a mosaic at a Times Square subway stop is not in fact meant to be a Confederate flag - but will be altered anyway because it too closely resembles one.

Polls show most Americans oppose the removal of Confederate memorials, at least by mobs or politicians winking at them. Even so, the vandals are ascendant. In recent days Francis Scott Key joined a list of statuesque notables, from Joan of Arc to Wall Street's Charging Bull, that have been toppled or otherwise despoiled.

Mr. de Blasio is hardly the only pol to grandstand here. But as mayor of the nation's largest city - and America's self-styled progressive-in-chief - his eagerness helps illuminate why these hunts for hate hold such an attraction for the Democratic left.

Notable & Quotable is compiled by Graham Osteen. Contact him at graham@theitem.com.