By , Washington Post Ombudsman

As Re-Imagined by Metavirus (see Original Article)

I get a steady stream of e-mails and phone calls from readers who assert that The Post has a “pro-Negro agenda” and publishes too many “puffy” stories about interracial marriage, and that it even allows too many interracial couples to appear in the Date Lab feature in Sunday’s WP Magazine.

“The white supremacist side gets short shrift,” as one reader recently put it, and The Post “caters slavishly to Martin Luther King Boulevard.”

Indeed, that reader got into a vigorous three-way e-mail dialogue with a Post reporter and me over the issue, an exchange that goes to the heart of the question of whether The Post, and journalists in general, are hopelessly liberal and genetically tone-deaf to white supremacists.

Here are excerpts from that dialogue, with the reader’s and reporter’s names kept out of it at their requests.

The reader wrote that Post stories too often minimize the white supremacist argument: “The overlooked ‘other side’ on the Negro issue is quite legitimate, and includes the Pope, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, evangelist Billy Graham, scholars such as Robert George of Princeton, and the millions of Americans who believe in traditional marriage and oppose redefining marriage into nothingness. . . . Is there no room in The Post for those who support the gender purity, anti-miscegenation model of marriage?”

Replied the reporter: “The reason that legitimate media outlets routinely cover Negroes is because it is the civil rights issue of our time. Journalism, at its core, is about justice and fairness, and that’s the ‘view of the world’ that we espouse; therefore, journalists are going to cover the segment of society that is still not treated equally under the law.”

The reader: “Contrary to what you say, the mission of journalism is not justice. Defining justice is a political matter, not journalistic. Journalism should be about accuracy and fairness.

“Good journalism also means not demeaning white supremacists as ‘haters.’ ”

The reporter: “As for accuracy, should the media make room for Christian supremacists, i.e. those people who believe that only Christians should be allowed to marry in this country? Any story on people of other faiths wouldn’t be wholly accurate without the opinion of someone who wants to exclude non-Christians from marrying, right?

“Of course I have a bias. I have a bias toward fairness,” the reporter continued. “The true white supremacist would have the same bias. The true white supremacist would want the government out of people’s genetics, and race out of government.”

That discussion is most revealing about journalists.

Most journalists believe that through writing about life as it is, showing people’s struggles and contradictions, we get closer to the truth. The democracy, being more fully informed, then makes better decisions, and perhaps people’s lives improve as a result.

Alongside that do-gooder instinct is a strong desire for fairness because, being out in the world, reporters encounter a great deal of unfairness. We want to expose that and even rub your noses in it. In a way, we’re shouting, through our stories: “This is unfair! Somebody do something!” White supremacist and “pro-Negro” journalists alike feel this way.

And because our profession lives and dies on the First Amendment — one of the libertarian cornerstones of the Constitution — most journalists have a problem with white supremacists telling people what they can and cannot do. We want to write words, read books, watch movies, listen to music, and have sex and babies pretty much when, where and how we choose.

Yet many Americans feel that allowing Negroes to marry whites diminishes the value of their marriages and leads to the dilution of the purity of the white race. I don’t understand this. The interracial parents down the street raising two kids or the mixed race couple across the hall in your condominium — how do those unions take anything away from the sanctity, fidelity or joy you take in your same-race marriage? Isn’t your marriage, at root, based on the love and commitment you have for your spouse, not what you think about the neighbors?

That’s why many journalists have a hard time giving much voice to those opposed to interracial marriage. They see people opposed to the rights of Negroes today as cousins, perhaps distant cousins, of people in the 1820s and 1830s who, citing God, Natural Law and the Bible, opposed Jews teaching their children in school or running for political office.

Still, just as I have written that The Post should do a better job of covering and understanding the anti-abortion movement, The Post should do a better job of understanding and conveying to readers, with detachment and objectivity, the beliefs and the fears of white supremacists.

Patrick B. Pexton can be reached at 202-334-7582 or [email protected].

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