Friday, April 04, 2008

Falling down on the job

I know, there hasn't much here in recent weeks. Hard to keep people interested in a blog when there's no new content. I thank those of you who continue to check in!

Truth is, I'm working on a writing assignment that's keeping me pretty busy and focused off-line these days. This particular assignment has to be finished by the end of April, so you'll see more of me after this month. I hope to be able to tell you about said assignment a bit later this year.

In doing research for this item, I've read a lot of old newspaper articles from the 1940s, including columns by the Rush Limbaugh/Sean Hannity/Bill O'Reilly of the day, Drew Pearson. American University holds the archives for his syndicated column and radio show, the Washington Merry-Go-Round. In reading one column, I came across this incredibly offensive point:

"Dynamic Ed Stettinius, handsome Undersecretary of State, has just chalked up another victory in revamping the U.S. machinery of foreign affairs. Soon after Ed entered the placid, staid old Department of State, he succeeded in banishing the Negro messengers from tables outside the doors of prominent officials, relegating them to the men's lavatory. Afterward, Ed tackled another problem--State Department floors..."

So, let me get this straight... the man who would succeed Cordell Hull as Secretary of State under Roosevelt and Truman, help found the UN, and was a longtime friend of Liberian President William Tubman, moved the "Negro" messengers from the doorways of officials to the toilets at the State Department?!?

I need to research this. I don't necessarily trust Drew Pearson's columns because of the crap he wrote about the group my mom flew with in WWII. He helped whip up a misogynistic frenzy to bring around their downfall. That's unfortunate because Pearson was one of the few journalists who would later voice outrage at the evils of McCarthyism. (And McCarthy famously slapped or kneed Pearson in the groin in a public venue during that ugly period of our history.)

I hope this is another piece of BS, but now I want to know more. If it's true, it's another shameful piece of our historic puzzle. If it isn't, it's a mark against Pearson for wartime yellow journalism.

Either way, it distresses me. Move the black guys to the crapper. Yeah, that works.



I'll post as often as I can over the next three weeks, folks, but things will be a little thin this month.

Meanwhile, on a more pleasant point, enjoy this video from Crowded House - who, after 20+ years, I finally get to see in May. I am smiling an almost painful Cheshire Cat grin as I write this:

There is something very sweet and sad about this video, which contrasts such visual innocence with lyrics about Paul Heaton's suicide. Personally - and somehow appropriately for Paul - my favorite kid is the guy on the right going nuts on the conga. He makes me smile.

DC peeps: Crowded House is playing the 9:30 Club on May 2. Tickets are $45. It will be SO worth it!


Anonymous said...

Nice blockquote tag usage!

Anonymous said...

That is distressing, but not all that surprising for that era. This was the same time frame that saw America refuse to open its borders to fleeing European Jews. A period where black airmen at Tuskegee were used a guinea pigs. A war that should have been desegregated, but wasn't.

Sadly, there will always be bigoted, small-minded people in the world. The Limbaugh/Hannity/O'Reilly/Pearsons of the world are the rule, not the exception. What's even sadder is, many of our fellow citizens are just stupid enough and scared enough to believe every word that drops from their hate-infested mouths as truth.

Sending good writing vibes your way for your project! Can't wait to read it! :-)

Anonymous said...

It's been a while: I've been checking in occasionally, my own work has sorta gone mad.

Now it's time to put that right.

Again I see you handling important issues and now doing investigations (pob hidden before to me!).

I can't comment on the issues - but - I know your work, I know some of the substance from your intro, but, above all, I wish you the best of luck with this work.

These may be sparse times in this column - but - readers - I commend the author.