Tuesday, February 19, 2008

fatimah ali wrote what?

Every now and then, you come across something so mystifying stupid, something so jarringly short-sighted and foolish, you have to read it two or three times just to make sure you saw what you just saw. Take Fatimah Ali's column in today's Philadelphia Daily News. At the conclusion of a breathless, finger-wagging piece on our foul-mouthed cultural decline, a take that would be castigated as prudish were it authored by some Bible-banging moralist like Pat Roberston or Gary Bauer, Ali writes:
Have you noticed the increase in one-sided conservative talk-radio hosts? This is dangerous for our precious democracy. We must never forget that one of Hitler's first moves was to take over the radio airwaves in Germany before launching his Nazi empire.
Come again? The thrust of Ali's column takes aim at the deregulation of the airwaves, which she says has resulted in a marked increase in cultural filth. Very well. But rub your eyes and read that last paragraph again, then ask yourself how she can somehow segue into equating talk radio with Hitler's eventual rise. It's mind-numbingly idiotic. Deregulation, as I understand it, refers to allowing market forces to better determine what might be broadcast, with less interference from government. Right-wing talk radio -- whatever one's opinion of it may be -- is a product of market forces, not some government edict vis a vis Hitler. There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- to prevent a liberal from setting up shop behind a microphone a spouting off about anything and everything. The reason this hasn't exactly caught on, of course, is because not enough people care to listen and not enough advertisers care to sponsor it. Besides, in an age in which information of all kinds, from one end of the political spectrum to the other, is so readily available via the Internet, is there really a reason to fear some looming leviathan of American Nazism? Only, it seems, on whatever planet from which Fatimah Ali has filed her column.

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