AlterNet reposted a piece from the ambiguously lame due Mark Ames and Yasha Levine about Radley Balko, a libertarian who now focuses mostly on justice/prison/police reform. Ames and Levine wanted to inform unsuspecting social justice advocates who might nod their heads to a lot of Balko’s work on the militarized police that he in fact is not ideologically pure. Balko pushed back on the mindlessness of the Left who focused on ‘stand your ground’ in the Zimmerman case and he’s a small government libertarian all the way down to his desire to revamp Social Security. In other words, he’s Satan.
Mini-McCarthyites Ames and Levine couldn’t grasp the possibility that someone who opposes the police state as strongly as Balko does might also not think that Zimmerman was a murderer (which Ames/Levine repeatedly call Zimmerman in their piece, completely disregarding the jury which not only returned ‘not guilty’ on murder but also on the lesser manslaughter charge – Russia must have made a really strong impression on these two).
The entire piece and all of the cherry-picked grievances Ames and Levine have with Balko stem from his past work under the Koch umbrella. That relationship is what sticks most in their craw. And to extend that pain to readers, they added context in the form of loose assertions of classism and racism. Ames/Levin jump on Balko’s position on the Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal. “Later in 2003, Balko blamed the Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal at the New York Times on affirmative action,” wrote Ames/Levine.
Balko wrote at the time:
“Nearly everything about the Blair case came about because of affirmative action, or at least from the entitlement mindset that comes with support for affirmative action.”
“What’s unfortunate — and what I’m loathe to admit — was my reaction when, a couple of days later, I saw [Jayson Blair’s] picture. ‘He’s black,’ I said as a foul thought emerged from the darker corners of my thinking: ‘probably an affirmative action case.’
“As it turns out, my first, more shameful conclusion was correct. Race had everything to do with this story — and not because bigoted people chose to exploit Blair to further some hateful agenda. Rather, it’s because open-minded, well-intentioned people used Blair’s race to put him in a position he wasn’t professionally prepared for. And in so doing, those open-minded people lent a bit of ammunition and a small sense of validation not just to hate mongers, but to those pestering, nagging thoughts about things black and white like the one that occurred to me when I first saw Jayson Blair’s picture.”
“Balko’s disturbing views on race were not confined to his opposition to affirmative action,” wrote Ames/Levine who went on to point out that, holy shit, Radley Balko once linked to American Renaissance.
Ames and Levine cast aspersions on Balko’s opinion on the Blair fiasco but never actually looked to see if affirmative action did actually help cause it.
The strongly liberal Hendrick Herzberg wrote an essay shortly after the Blair affair and showed from within the belly of the New York Times beast that affirmative action had a strong connection to Blair and his faulty reporting which was done mostly on the Beltway sniper case. Herzberg wrote that the Blair incident was the first “deliberate journalistic misconduct on such a scale” at a major newspaper since Janet Cooke bamboozled the Washington Post in 1981. As Herzberg noted, Cooke was also black. Herzberg wrote of Blair:
And, like the Post, the Times is a socially liberal institution, owned by a public-spirited family sensitive to the imperative of racial justice. The role of race in the present fiasco is anything but clear. But the first instinct of the Time’s executives was to deny absolutely that it had played any role whatsoever. That was absurd. At the meeting, according to the Times, [New York Times executive director] Raines said, “I believe in aggressively providing hiring and career opportunities for minorities.” A moment later, he added, “Does that mean I personally favored Jayson? Not consciously. But you have a right to ask if I, as a white man from Alabama, with those convictions, gave him one more chance too many by not stopping his appointment to the sniper team. When I look into my heart for the truth of that, the answer is yes.”
So there’s that.