The rhetoric of Leonard Pitts

Kellie Bowen, Staff Writer

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Last week, Pulitzer Prize-winning-journalist, Leonard Pitts Jr. gave an ominous speech of hopelessness, looking to the future, and the battle of American society.

Firstly, I think that Pitts’ analysis he made about how racism “ended” several times throughout history was a wonderful observation. I was also intrigued by the statement of not believing in the “permanence of progress.” But to what extent? Have we not progressed since the Civil War?

As for his recent column that addresses the current administration, I found it rather hypocritical to ask for love and peace, when all this letter is doing is bullying and adding to the social divide. My roommate had a question for me to ask Leonard Pitts as he was not able to attend the speech:

“A lot of people are worried about the division in the country right now. In your letter to the president, you call his administration ‘the fourth Reich.’ How are we going to heal the deep divide in this country when you imply that Trump’s supporters are Nazi collaborators? Is that the hyperbolic language we need to help the situation or further inflame tensions?”

I couldn’t help but ask the same question while I was reading the letter.

Furthermore, Pitts said that this is “not a fight of ideology, it’s not a fight between liberal and conservative.” I strongly disagree with this.

All I see on social media, news media and opinion articles is “this is why the left/right is better than the right/left!” There are political debates between liberals and conservatives in my comment feeds all the time.

Then he goes on to say that this is a fight about reason and decency. Sheer hypocrisy. “Furry orange head,” “the Fourth Reich,” “If you were a smart guy with unimpeachable integrity and a good heart,” are all far from this “reason and decency” he mentioned at his speech.

He loosely quoted Politico “and other sources” about Trump being shocked about how much power he actually has. He probably had the common misconception most Americans have: thinking that the president has so much power that he can provide “simple” things with a wave of his hand- like health care- and dictate what kind of health care everyone gets. (Even after the Obama administration, health care is still in shambles.)

Hell, only a quarter of Americans can name all three branches of government, according to Lisa Manheim, a University of Washington assistant law professor.

For those who want big government, at what point does it turn into fascism? When big government doesn’t give the people what they want?

Pitts went on to say that he “has no hope to offer.” So melodramatic. No hope? That’s about as bad as Michelle Obama saying there’s no hope! Asking for Trump to not do well as president is like asking the pilot of the plane we’re all on, not to fly!

I fear “we the people,” not our new president. Opinion-ism is probably the newest form of prejudice.

When one of the audience members asked Pitts how to treat her sister who voted for Trump, I was surprised that Pitts didn’t advise her to, “Treat her like your sister! Share the love!” He’d rather not know whether his right-leaning friend voted for Trump, because he fears that discussion will ruin their friendship. If you are truly friends with someone, mere opinions are something that ought to be overlooked.

My friend’s family told her not to tell people she voted for Trump, because they were afraid the environment of a liberal arts college would threaten or gang up on her. To be discriminated for an opinion is a new beast entirely. And the fact that half of the audience members probably went to Pitts for advice like he’s some kind of political guru just further verifies my thoughts that they only side.

 

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1 Comment

One Response to “The rhetoric of Leonard Pitts”

  1. A Concerned Linfield Student on March 7th, 2017 9:51 pm

    Dear Kellie Bowen:

    If you are going to criticize a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, a man who built his entire 20+ year career on political essay writing, you better not be making very easy-to-fix grammatical errors.
    These are my favorites:
    “I think that Pitts’ the analysis Pitts’ made…” (1st paragraph)
    “And the fact that half of the audience members probably went to Pitts for advice like he’s some kind of political guru just further verifies my thoughts that they only side.” (Last sentence. From where did you get this information about ‘half of the audience members’?)

    Beyond this, I’m left wondering if we saw the same speech. Or even live in the same country.
    It’s not hyperbole to say that there have been bomb threats to Jewish community centers all over this country. It’s not hyperbole to say white supremacists support Trump, as evidence by the support of known KKK Grand Wizard, David Duke. It’s not hyperbole to say that Nazis are Trump supporters, when there have been self-proclaimed Neo-Nazis saluting Trump the same way that they saluted Hitler.

    Are you at all aware of what facts are? Politico, while being a left-leaning newspaper, is a highly reputable source.

    You know, I just have to wonder if you thought about why two Black people might be saying that they have “no hope to offer”. Could it be because this country keeps killing Black people because they exist? Black boys like Trayvon Martin especially? (typically over 300 a year, as reported by the FBI) Or is it because white supremacists celebrated when Trump got into office?

    Do you know what classic fascist moves are in a society? It’s often declaring the press enemy of the people, and limiting the press that has access to the governing body. Trump did both of those things in the last month. Kept the CNN and The New York Times from the White House Press Briefing.

    I have many friends that I share differing opinions with. These opinions are usually something like “ I like coffee and you like tea”. I even have conservative friends. That being said, I don’t have white supremacist friends. Or friends that think gay people should die.

    Arguably, the most terrifying thing you wrote was “I fear ‘we the people’, not our new president.” The United States Constitution begins with “We the People, of the United States of America, In order to create a more perfect union…”. “We the People” is the founding of this country. “We the People” strive to make this country the best on Earth, and “We the People” are currently not doing as well as we could. “We the People” cast 3 million more votes for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump. “We the People” have a whole range of skin tones, abilities, sexualities, genders, religions, and a whole host of diverse experiences, and all “We the People” want are basic fucking rights. Like healthcare, and yet this is something debated in this country. Whether or not trans people have a right to exist in a public space is also up for debate, in the form of bathroom bills.

    I appreciate that you are trying to be neutral. That being said, I’m going to give you a quote by Desmond Tutu: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”.

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The rhetoric of Leonard Pitts