Thank you, Meg Farrell, for calling my attention to the fact that one of the five fatalities in the Capital Gazette massacre, Wendi Winters, was part of the Travalanche family. She’d written us a couple of years ago in response to Meg’s guest post about Will B. Johnstone, their mutual relative. Read her note in the comment section to this post here.
We’d already taken this latest horror personally, not only because we take all such events personally as crimes against humanity, but because this one targeted fellow journalists. Winters even covered local theatre and culture as part of her Annapolis beat, as I do for a local paper here in New York.
The President paid lip service in condemnation of such acts the other day, but anyone who has been paying attention knows that that was so much hot air. He has called the press “enemies of the people”, he belittles their work on a daily basis, and has as much as called for their eradication. And people he associates himself with frequently call for violence against journalists. And then some occurred. This is not a joke and this has never been a joke. I’ve cut ties with most people in my orbit who’ve expressed support for this car crash of a man and his policies, but there’s no way for me to eliminate them from my readership. And I know that some of them are out there not just because it makes logical sense for some people who love history and historical entertainment to have paleolithic political sensibilities but because some of them write to me from time to time (usually to protest my disclaimer about blackface — that’s a big tell right there about what kind of person you are). If you’re one of those people and you’re reading this now, I implore you to reflect on the tidal wave of harm to your fellow human beings this administration is poised to cause, and has already caused. It’s not a joke. It’s not a lie. It’s not “fake”. As someone who has worked in and around journalism for 20 years I tell you outright that the mainstream media is a field that employs thousands of people who pride themselves on their integrity, and who constantly self-police through competition. When they get it wrong they not only bust each other, but they bust themselves. I wish I could take every Fox News fan on a personal guided tour of the New York Times offices, for example, since they seem to regard it with the same sort of skepticism that cuckoos bring to the moon landing. But it’s not possible. All I can do is testify. I tell you this. I ask you to trust this institution, the Free Press, and the one that safeguards it, the U.S. Constitution, which has helped to keep us free for over two centuries.
I can’t make you stop hating people who aren’t like you, I guess, although that is a primary mission of my work, and something I try to give attention to every day. But I wish to God you could see that when you empower a tyrant and contribute to his culture of hatred and violence, he and his minions will not just be coming after the strangers you despise so much, but eventually you or someone you love. Don’t assume you are immune. No one is immune. And you are not powerless to prevent this from happening. You can do your part to stop it. And if you don’t, your finger may as well be on the trigger.