City Paper is not for tourists
Did Pamela Margoshes (“A Member of the WOL Family,” 12/13) start to read Kurt Vonnegut’s Mother Night, in which the protagonist realizes that pretending to be a Nazi propagandist and actually being a Nazi propagandist are morally equivalent, and put the book down halfway? Does Washington City Paper accept any article simply because it might be controversial?
Her article is awful on so many levels that I don’t have space to go into it. To laugh dimly in the face of bigoted radio broadcasts certainly is an original take for an article, but what is the point? She seems to think that her being Jewish excuses her and WOL, but this is just an (almost) comic extension of the “some of my best friends are Jewish” argument. Her assertion that “blacks and Jews are constituted from lots of the same deep emotional ‘stuff’” is nice, maybe even true. But how does it fit into an argument that asserts that racist broadcasts are amusing?
Margoshes is right about one thing—white folks should hear black voices, and should hear radical black voices. But WOL’s programming isn’t radical, it’s bigoted, and we ought to know the difference.
There are two defenses I can imagine for City Paper printing this and other articles like it (such as the unbelievable article on D.C.’s frigid “bitches”) (“Bitch Hunt,” 10/25). First, you might be going for a sort of “anything goes” journalistic vibe that makes people like Hunter Thompson fun to read—moral repugnance becomes so exaggerated and oppressive that it’s funny. None of your writers can pull that off.
Second, maybe you think that ultimately it just doesn’t matter. But words do matter, and a newspaper that doesn’t think they do might as well not exist.