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Enlarge this image U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, July 16, 2019. Oliver Contreras/Getty Images hide caption toggle caption Oliver Contreras/Getty Images Editor's note: NPR this week has described the language in President Trump's tweets about a group of Democratic congresswomen as "racist." Keith Woods, NPR's vice president for newsroom training and diversity, argues that journalists should not be using the term "racist" to describe the president's tweets. He explains why below. Once again, the president of the United States has used the sniper tower of Twitter to take aim at immigration, race relations and common decency. And once again, journalists are daring their profession to boldly call bigotry what it is: bigotry. Enough of the vacuous "racially charged," "racially loaded," "racially insensitive" evasions, they say. It's racist, and we should just call it that. I understand the moral outrage behind wanting to slap this particular label on this particular president and his many incendiary utterances, but I disagree. Journalism may not have come honorably to the conclusion that dispassionate distance is a virtue. But that's the fragile line that separates the profession from the rancid, institution-debasing cesspool that is today's politics. It is precisely because journalism is given to warm-spit phrases like "racially insensitive" and "racially charged" that we should not be in the business of moral labeling in the first place. Who decides where the line is that the president crossed? The headline writer working today who thinks it's "insensitive" or the one tomorrow who thinks it's "racist?" Were we to use my moral standards, the line for calling people and words racist in this country would have been crossed decades ago. But that's not what journalists do. We report and interview and attribute. I am not a journalism purist. I came into the profession 40 years ago to tear down the spurious notion of objectivity used to protects a legacy of sexism, xenophobia and white supremacy. The better ideals of truth telling, accountability, fairness, etc., are what give journalism its power, while the notion of "objectivity" has been used to obscure and excuse the insidious biases we do battle with today. I've been an informed consumer of the media since my days as a paperboy. I read the Times-Picayune as I delivered it, and the distorted view it offered of black and poor New Orleans told me all I needed to know about "objectivity." We have come miles since then as a profession. But why should I trust that we're all on the same page with our labels now? Weren't last week's tweets racist? Or last year's? Weren't some misogynistic? Vulgar? Homophobic? Sexist? The language of my judgment is generous, and they are my opinion, and they belong in the space reserved for opinions. What's at stake is journalism's embattled claim to be the source of credible news grounded in the kind of deep, fair reporting that exposes injustice and holds powerful people to account. It may be satisfying to call the president's words, or the president himself, racist, given the attacks tweeted from his bully app and so often aimed at our profession. But at what cost? It's already nearly impossible to separate actual journalism from the argumentative noise on the cable networks that dominate so much of public perception. There are already too many journalists dancing day and night on the line that once separated fact and judgment. When that line is finally obliterated and we sink into the cesspool beckoning us to its depths, this historically flawed, imperfect tool for revealing and routing racism will look and sound indistinguishable from the noise and become just as irrelevant. On Sunday, the president wrote this: "So interesting to see 'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came." His words mirror those of avowed racists and xenophobes that date back to the birth of this country. Was that [...]
Wed, Jul 17, 2019
Source: Headlines -NPR Category: TOP NEWS
Enlarge this image Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, then 91, works in his office at the Supreme Court on Sept. 28, 2011. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption toggle caption J. Scott Applewhite/AP Retired Justice John Paul Stevens, whose Supreme Court opinions transformed many areas of American law during his 34 year tenure, died at the age of 99 in in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., of complications following a stroke he suffered Monday. Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed Stevens' death in a statement from the Supreme Court. "A son of the Midwest heartland and a veteran of World War II, Justice Stevens devoted his long life to public service, including 35 years on the Supreme Court," Roberts said in the statement. "He brought to our bench an inimitable blend of kindness, humility, wisdom, and independence. His unrelenting commitment to justice has left us a better nation. We extend our deepest condolences to his children Elizabeth and Susan, and to his extended family." The court's statement noted that "he passed away peacefully with his daughters by his side." Often called a judge's judge, Stevens was something of a throwback to a less rancorous era, when, as one writer put it, law and politics were a noble pursuit, not a blood sport. The quintessential Midwesterner, Stevens was born in Chicago and educated at Northwestern and the University of Chicago. In the Windy City, he earned a reputation as a brilliant lawyer and later appeals court judge. In 1975, President Gerald Ford appointed him to the U.S. Supreme Court. The nomination drew instant praise from Democrats and Republicans alike, and Stevens, wearing his trademark bow tie, was confirmed in a remarkable three weeks. 'Accident of history' Given his lack of political ties, Stevens' rise was, to some extent, a fluke according to his onetime law clerk, Clifford Sloan. "It was an accident of history," Sloan said, adding, "The stars lined up in a way that could not have been possible before that precise moment, and probably could not have been possible after that precise moment." A brand new president, Gerald Ford, suddenly had a Supreme Court vacancy to fill, and with the country still reeling from the Watergate scandal, the name of the game was to pick someone of unassailable credentials and no political connections. Ford assigned his attorney general, Edward Levi, a man also chosen for his lack of political ties, to do the screening. And Levi, the onetime dean of the University of Chicago Law School, quickly fixed his eye on Stevens, a lifelong Republican with no record of political or judicial activism. John Paul Stevens, then 55, talks to reporters in Chicago on Nov. 28, 1975, after being nominated by President Gerald Ford to the U.S. Supreme Court. Fred Jewell/AP hide caption toggle caption Fred Jewell/AP Once on the court, Stevens quickly earned a reputation for quality work, and for independence. [...]
Wed, Jul 17, 2019
Source: Headlines -NPR Category: TOP NEWS
Enlarge this image Adolf Eichmann standing in a glass booth, flanked by guards, in the Jerusalem courtroom during his trial in 1961 for war crimes committed during World War II. AP hide caption toggle caption AP The fake license plates, forged passports and concealed surveillance camera were locked away in the musty archives of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency for 50 years. Now they are touring the U.S. in a traveling exhibition about the Mossad's legendary capture of Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann. But one object crucial to the mission's success is not on display: the needle used to inject a sedative into Eichmann's arm before he was smuggled onto a plane back to Israel to stand trial. The story of the needle is also the story of Dr. Yonah Elian, a renowned Israeli anesthesiologist recruited for the Eichmann mission to administer the sedative, who hid the needle in a drawer most of his life and refused to come out of the shadows — even as the other Israelis on the mission were crowned national heroes. The fake identification card prepared for Dr. Yonah Elian to take part in the Mossad operation to apprehend Adolf Eichmann in Argentina. The Mossad team posed as El Al flight crew members. Courtesy of Operation Finale Exhibit hide caption toggle caption Courtesy of Operation Finale Exhibit "Many times, I asked him, 'Dad, why won't you talk about this? What's so secret?' " said Danny Elian, the doctor's son, who spent years seeking answers. The doctor's tale, and the secret he kept, have only come to light in recent years. But Eichmann's story is well known. Dubbed an "architect" of the Holocaust, Eichmann oversaw the deportation of Jews to their deaths. He escaped to Argentina after the war. In 1960, Mossad agents tracked him down, captured him, held him in a safe house, then dressed him in an Israeli flight crew uniform and sneaked him past Argentinian airport authorities onto a plane headed back to Israel. Dr. Elian, known among his colleagues as something of a medical magician for his expertise in safely sedating babies, injected just the right dose of sedative to pass Eichmann off to Buenos Aires airport authorities as a sick crew member. "That's why the doctor was with him. He needed to keep him like a puppet," said former Mossad agent Avner Avraham, who curated the Mossad's exhibit, "Operation Finale: The Capture & Trial of Adolf Eichmann," now on display at the Holocaust Museum Houston. "My father was always impressed with the doctor," said Amram Aharoni, the son of the late Zvi Aharoni, one of the Mossad spies in the squad. "How could he control Eichmann in a way that on one hand, he wasn't really conscious, he was like a little zombie, but on the other hand, he was still awake and still responding to certain orders?" Eichmann was brought to Jerusalem for a trial that was broadcast around [...]
Tue, Jul 16, 2019
Source: Headlines -NPR Category: TOP NEWS