Of Bryant Gumbel, Jeff Jacoby and Liberal Double-Standards

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Someone
tell me what’s wrong with this picture. On the one hand, a Jeff
Jacoby, conservative columnist for the doctrinaire liberal Boston
Globe, publishes a column on the Declaration of Independence,
and is rewarded with four months of involuntary vacation time without
pay for "serious journalistic misconduct." On the other,
a Bryant Gumbel, host of CBS’ The Early Show, is caught on
camera referring to a Christian guest on his program as "a
f****** idiot." And nothing whatsoever happens.

Jacoby’s
column was published on July 3. By the time the week was out, he
was gone from his position as editorial writer at the Boston
Globe after a six-year tenure as that paper’s sole conservative
writer. The Gumbel incident happened the preceding Friday, June
30. Gumbel had been interviewing Robert Knight of the Family Research
Council and apparently thought the equipment was turned off. It
wasn’t. So where is the outcry over Gumbel’s casual obscenity directed
toward a representative of the leading faith in the United States?
Aside from the complaint being lodged by the Family Research Council
itself against Gumbel with the Federal Communications Commission,
there hasn’t been one. Not a peep. There have been no calls for
Gumbel’s ouster, no calls for his suspension.

This
differential treatment illustrates the double-standard by which
doctrinaire liberals operate. Gumbel exemplifies secularist doctrinaire
liberalism. As one of the darlings of the media elite, he plays
by those rules. One of these is: have no fear of bashing Christians.
What of tolerance? Great idea, but let’s not take it to extremes.
These are only Christians, after all.

Jacoby’s
topic was the fate of many of the signers of the Declaration of
Independence…

Whoa!
Hold the bus right there. Today, the Declaration of Independence
itself is on the verge of being blacked out by the cultural left.
It is easy to see why. After all, the Declaration of Independence
is immersed in a definite political philosophy. The core of this
philosophy is that individuals have natural, inalienable rights
that come from God. Among these are rights to life, liberty, and
property (the term that preceded pursuit of happiness). The
roles of a strictly limited government – its only roles
– are to protect these rights, punish those who infringe on
them according to a specific code of laws, and protect our borders.
The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, not because
hunters have a right to shoot birds but because an armed citizenry
is the best preventive measure against the tyrannical mentality
in government. If this mentality rises anyway, the people have the
right to alter or abolish it – or to secede from it –
and form a new government that is obedient to their ideals. Not
all of these are in the Declaration of Independence word for word,
of course; but once one accepts the central premise of the document,
that individuals have natural rights, the rest follows logically.

I
hardly need point out that doctrinaire liberal ideology is almost
180 degrees different on every point. Liberals see rights as coming
not from God but from the state. They don’t believe in property
rights. They don’t trust the marketplace, and will target a company
whose products and wealth stand out from the herd (witness the treatment
of Microsoft). Their trust in the machinations of the state is evident
in everything they say about "gun control." As for a right
of secession… what liberals have to say about this last – when they
address the subject at all – is as unprintable as Bryant Gumbel’s comment
about Robert Knight. Suffice it to say, today’s apologists for central-statism
see the secession question as having been resolved in 1865. This
amounts to saying that the question was settled by force, not by
reason or negotiation or compromise. To the extent they would call
their position the right one, what they are really committing
themselves to is nothing less than might makes right.

The
Declaration of Independence, however, was a declaration of the secession
of 13 colonies from the British Empire and the beginning of a new
type of government: "a republic," in Benjamin Franklin’s
words, "if you can keep it." The Framers realized that
freedom isn’t free. It must be won from tyrants, frequently on battlefields,
and often requires tremendous sacrifices. And then it must be maintained
from those in our midst who hunger after power. Many of those who
signed the Declaration of Independence suffered terribly, sometimes
going from extremely well-off to dying as paupers.

For
writing about this last in detail, Jeff Jacoby was all but fired
on a ludicrous, trumped up charge of "serious journalistic
misconduct."

Journalistic
misconduct? I wonder what one is supposed to call Bryant Gumbel’s
gaffe.

Jacoby
had not spelled out what is obvious to anyone with functioning brain
cells, that he was hardly the first to write about the fates of
those who signed the Declaration of Independence. He was invited
to resign, and told that if he chooses to return after his four-month
"vacation" it means a "serious rethink" of his
column.

Serious
rethink?

Sounds
to me (and others who have written about this incident on the Web – better
slip that in somewhere!) like the liberals who run the Globe
saw a golden opportunity to rid themselves of someone who has been
a thorn in their sides for over six years. Doctrinaire liberals
make token gestures by allowing a "token conservative"
into one of their olympian estates, but sooner or later the person
is called onto the carpet and punished severely for actually expressing
a consistent conservative position.

I
submit that Jacoby was sent packing because he thinks for himself,
and in so doing, became a threat to those in power at the Globe.
Thought, you see, does not bow to power, and it certainly doesn’t
kowtow to political correctness. It can’t accept an ideology of
might makes right. This is why doctrinaire liberals and the
politically correct can’t stand it.

And
this indicates what is ahead for us. There are two mindsets in this
country on collision course. One is the residual belief in the political
philosophy of the signers of the Declaration of Independence: individual
freedoms, property rights including the right to own guns, freedom
of transaction, freedom of association, freedom of expression including
the right to profess one’s faith in a Higher Power openly and publicly.
It finds expression in gunowners’ rights movements, in the fast-growing
homeschooling movement and in independent colleges which refuse
all Federal Government dollars (e.g., Hillsdale College). That this
philosophy has survived successive assaults by Progressives, New
Dealers, Marxists, Maoists, New Leftists, all the way up through
the years of the Clinton-Gore-Reno Regime, is a testimony to its
enormous strength. Given today’s situation, it is now finding expression
in neosecessionist stirrings such as those to be found in the Southern
Party and the League of the South. Independence movements also exist
in Hawaii, Alaska, and in other parts of the continental U.S.

The
other: what we call doctrinaire liberalism and political correctness,
the ideology of might makes right. Consider the political
philosophy of Thrasymachus, the cynical Sophist of Plato’s Republic.
For Thrasymachus, justice is merely the advantage of the stronger.
There’s the philosophical root of the liberal double-standard: one
set of rules for those in power, another for dissidents. This last
is what doctrinaire liberalism, for all its talk of "tolerance"
and of "social justice," comes down to. We see the double-standard
manifested every time a campaign of professional and personal destruction
is visited upon a John Rocker who steps on politically correct shibboleths
while a Bryant Gumbel is allowed to direct casual obscenities toward
Christians. We see it when a Jeff Jacoby writes about the signers
of the Declaration of Independence and is told to clean out his
office.

The
two philosophies cannot co-exist indefinitely. Sooner or later we
will have to decide: freedom or serfdom? Free speech or political
correctness? The philosophy of the Declaration of Independence,
or the authoritarianism of the Clinton-Gore-Reno Regime and the
thought police? Eventually, we may see open clashes between these
two, as leftists grow increasingly brazen and militant. Before the
dirt settles, we may find ourselves having to make the same kinds
of sacrifices the signers of the Declaration of Independence had
to make. Those Jeff Jacoby wrote about lost much more than a job.
But most would quickly add that their sacrifices for the cause of
liberty were worth it.

Of
course, doctrinaire liberals in power in places like CBS and the
Boston Globe could prove me wrong. All the former would have
to do is suspend Bryant Gumbel without pay for four months, followed
by a "serious rethink" of his attitude toward guests on
his show. All the latter would have to do is unconditionally reinstate
Jeff Jacoby. Needless to say, I’m not holding my breath.

July
15, 2000

Steven
Yates
is the author of Civil
Wrongs: What Went Wrong With Affirmative Action
(San Francisco:
ICS Press, 1994) and numerous articles and reviews. He lives and
freelance writes in Columbia, South Carolina.

Steven
Yates Archives

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