Sunday, January 19, 2014

We live on different planets: The World of the New York Times is not the world of the average American

I live in fly-over country and can't get home delivery of the New York Times. Nevertheless, I get the Sunday Times  delivered to my home; and I can pick up a copy of the weekday issues at Benny's Car Wash on Perkins Road. I try to read it every day as part of my effort to stay informed about world events.

Lately, however, I have begun to suspect that the New York Times writers and I don't live on the same planet.  And today's issue heightened by suspicion.  Here are some stories that make me shake my head.

First, I read Frank Bruni's op ed essay excoriating the state of Texas for keeping an unborn baby alive even though its mother is brain dead, the victim of a pulmonary embolism.  The woman's husband and parents want the pregnancy terminated, but doctors say they are bound by law to bring the pregnancy to term.

As Bruni himself said, there are no happy outcomes to this sad scenario, but Bruni says Texas is devaluing the lives of the baby's father and it grandparents by not snuffing out the baby's life.

I'm sorry, but I just don't get it. I think most husbands would want the baby to live in this situation and so would most grandparents.  I think it is unfortunate that they apparently find the baby inconvenient.  But to say that the state of Texas and the doctors in charge of this unborn baby's care are cruel is nonsense.

Let's move on.  Today's Sunday Review section contained two--count-em two--positive articles about legalized gambling.  Moises Velasquez-Manoff  wrote a piece on Indian casinos in which she compared casino distributions for Native American families to a mother nurturing her child  Yeah, right.  Ms. Velasquez-Manoff should spend some time strolling around the nation's casinos. She will see a lot of stressed-out, chain smoking elderly people pumping cash into slot machines--cash that most of them don't have to spare. Do those people looked nurtured?

And then there is an article by Greg Grandin, a professor at the New York University (where students graduate with the highest average student-loan debt in the country).  Grandin analyzed an obscure Melville novel that Barack Obama once read and somehow linked it with contemporary American racism, Sarah Palin, Rand Paul, and the Tea Party.  Wonder what it costs NYU students to take a course from this guy?

Then we have an essay by Sam Polk, a wealthy former financier who claims to have been addicted to making money.  He was dissatisfied, he confessed when he only got a  bonus of $3.6 million.  Hey, fellah. Dorothy Day's got a cure for that addiction. Read Matthew 25.

And finally we have an op ed essay by Thomas Friedman, who urges President Obama to tell Americans in his next State of the Union speech that American kids are not doing as well in school as kids in other countries because American parents aren't demanding that their children be challenged more in the classroom.  OK, we get it.  The American education crisis is the parents' fault.

After pondering all this, I felt like I was reading news from a parallel universe--a world in which I do not live.  Some people might point out that the New York Times is not meant to be read by people like me and that I should stick to reading the Farmer's Almanac.  And they may be right. Certainly, all the advertisements for luxury goods that appear in the Times' supplements are not aimed at people like me.

But here is the problem.  The  New York Times, the people who read the Times and the politicians that the Times adores (Barack Obama) are contemptuous of the people who live in fly-over country; but they want to dictate how these people live. They express outrage when state legislatures try to put reasonable restrictions on abortion or try to maintain marriage in the Judeo-Christian tradition.  They imply that politicians who speak for some of us are white supremacists. They show disdain for American values but they want people who hold those values to fight and die in foreign wars the Obama administration doesn't even believe in.

I do not write this from a partisan political perspective. I am no red-stater.  I have no more regard for Sarah Palin than the New York Times editorial board.  I write from the perspective of a person who believes that traditional American culture--what we might call middle-class culture or Judeo-Christian culture--is basically benign and healthy. And I am alarmed to see powerful political forces  show disdain for the traditional values that served this nation pretty well for over 200 years.

References

Thomas Friedman. Obama's Homework Assignment. New York Times, Sunday Review section p. 1.

Greg Grandin. Obama, Melville and the Tea Party. New York Times, Sunday Review section p. 6.

Sam Polk. For the Love of Money. New York Times, Sunday Review section p. 1.

Monica Velasquez-Manoff. When the Poor Get Cash. New York Times, Sunday Review section, p. 12.


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