DAVID PLOTZ, IN SALUTING WPFW’s management as “among the last true believers in intellectual engagement” (“Static Disrupters,” 11/19), hails their commitment to free speech by quoting incoming WPFW General Manager Phil Watson, who says, “You are going to get some harsh anti-white, anti-Semitic things on WPFW, but in the Freedom of Speech slot you are going to get people who are speaking because it is freedom of speech.”
Unfortunately, Plotz not only allows Watson’s simplistic lumping together of “anti-white” and “anti-Semitic” to go unchallenged, but he also doesn’t ask Watson why the station’s commitment to “free speech” and “the truth” doesn’t also include airing speeches by, say, noted African-American intellectual Henry Louis Gates condemning black anti-Semitism, or by Cornell West criticizing some of the excesses of black nationalism. Plotz states that “maintaining [a] range of black views…is one of Watson’s priorities,” but it sure doesn’t look that way to me. Plotz failed to ask Watson or Louis Farrakhan advocate and WPFW Community Advisory Board Chair Janis Hazel why the station doesn’t air speeches that could be perceived by some as anti-black or anti-Muslim. Also, if WPFW is so committed to free speech that it will air the senseless hatred offered by Frances Cress Welsing and Farrakhan, why doesn’t it also offer the senseless hatred articulated by the KKK and the American Nazi Party? If members of WPFW’s management are such strong advocates of the First Amendment, why not allow every extremist on the air?
The fact is, WPFW’s prior and current management is not truly committed to “intellectual engagement” and free speech. It is interested solely in espousing an ideological viewpoint that represents a very narrow portion of the African-American political spectrum. When WPFW widens coverage of that spectrum, and when it clears up the station’s organizational problems so eloquently described in the article, maybe I and others who have been enjoying WPFW’s wonderful jazz, blues, and world music programming for years will start donating money.