Monday, March 13, 2017

One White and One Black Journalist Talking to One Black and One White Nationalist

Another compare and contrast exercise for Middlebury's students. Here we have a black reporter (Roland Martin) in a confrontational interview with a white nationalist (Richard Spencer), and a white reporter (Mike Wallace) in a more controlled but no less confrontational interview with a black nationalist (Louis Farrakhan). I don't care what you think of the views being expressed here, surely their expression is instructive.


Anonymous said...

In history's roster, in my view:

Mike Wallace and Louis Farrakhan, both of them, are A-level figures. Roland Martin and Richard Spencer, both of them, are not.

Thomas said...

I agree. I wonder if it's possible to find a good A-level version of black journalist on white nationalist. Isn't the hard part there finding an A-level white nationalist?

I'm going to regret saying this, but I have to give Spencer credit for style. It's an absurd (and some would say offensive) comparison, but the way he holds his besieged ground (in this and other interviews) reminds me of Malcolm X.

Anonymous said...

It is a challenge to name living white nationalists that are historical figures and not just pitiful and dangerous fools. Duke, Murray, and Trump are more the former than the latter, but I could be wrong.

Why or how does Spencer's style in that interview remind you of Malcolm X? rather than X's protege, Farrakhan?

Thomas said...

I find Spencer to more authentic, perhaps more sincere. As I find Malcolm X to be more authentic than Farrakhan.

I think the commonality lies in the way they face the interviewer's contempt with a sort of ironic respect. I think Farrakhan is less self-aware and therefore less ironic.

Anonymous said...

I don't know much about Spencer - I can understand your perspective from sampling the one interview that you linked to. I agree that all of them face the contempt with ironic respect. That characteristic is often missing in spirited debates, and for me, that is a serious loss for all. I sometimes preface my vocal commentary with, "Look, I could take either side of this debate happily, but for the sake of argument I will oppose your point of view now ..."

I learned a couple things from skimming the SPLC link above. According to it, both Shockley (Nobel for transistor) and Hardin (Tragedy of the Commons) were openly racist. They're both dead, so they cannot be interviewed by an A-level black journalist today. Maybe you could find such an interview with one of those two in the historical record? Actually, except for the dramatic visual effect, I don't see the relevance of the journalist's skin color but more their ideas that they bring to the interview. But if you are looking for such an interview, how about search for Wallace's A-level colleagues from "60 Minutes" Ed Bradley or Bill Whitaker?