Why Won’t the Examiner Admit Its Mistake?

August 25th, 2010 at 2:14 pm | 13 Comments |

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My two recent posts about Islam vs. Radical Islam have precipitated much commentary, clinic some of it laudatory and some of it denunciatory. For now, I’d like to address Mark Tapscott’s indignant response.

Tapscott is the editorial page editor of the Washington Examiner. He complains that when I criticized their editorial headline — “Muslims, not Americans are religious bigots” — I ignored the substantive content of their actual editorial.

But so what?! I wasn’t criticizing the editorial; I was criticizing the headline. And the headline is, quite clearly, bigoted and, therefore, objectionable. It says that Muslim Americans are not authentically American. It says that they stand apart from their fellow countrymen — that they are somehow inherently distinct and alien.

We all make mistakes. Why can’t the Washington Examiner just admit that they made a mistake? Why, instead, must Tapscott get angry, defensive and indignant?

Unfortunately, Tapscott’s defense of his mistake compounds his original sin. He argues that the content of the editorial somehow excuses the headline. The Examiner’s point, he contends,

was clearly that, compared to Americans, who are the most religiously tolerant people on Earth, Muslims in majority-Muslim nations are all too often religious bigots: because they practice, as a matter of law and faith, lethal persecution of all who choose to believe differently.

There is, of course, a strong element of truth in what Tapscott is saying. Religious bigotry and persecution are, indeed, all too common in Islamic countries.

However, we should be careful not to exaggerate and stereotype. Because in truth, the overwhelming majority of Muslims — and certainly the overwhelming majority of Muslim Americans — are not engaged in religious persecution and Jihad, or war against the West. In fact, most Muslims — and certainly most Muslim Americans — are moderate and peace-loving people.

Tapscott says I “trashed” the Examiner in order to curry favor with the liberal media elite. You see, by “professing to be conservative” and then “trash[ing] the genuine article,” I advance my career.

This is silly and ridiculous, as anyone who knows me can attest. I’ve always spoken my mind, written what I think, and called them as I see them. And I’ve done this sometimes to my great professional detriment.

Why, just this week, my relationship with David Horowitz’s NewsReal Blog ended because I spoke my mind in contradistinction to the party line as promulgated by NewsReal’s editor, David Swindle.

Tapscott also objects to this (second) sentence:

But Muslims, apparently, are fair game. They can be written off as the alien “other,” and no one seems to care.

He writes:

Ah, nice touch there at the end, Guardiano, mentioning ‘the other,’ and thus aligning yourself with the basic liberal smear that conservatives are just a bunch of narrow-minded paranoids who fear anybody and everybody who is ‘different.’

Tapscott is right: The Left does smear conservatives in this way. That’s why I devoted the first part of my piece to condemning left-wing McCarthyism. “Too often,” I wrote,

the charge of ‘racism’ and ‘bigotry’ is a manifestly false allegation designed to shut down political debate and silence legitimate opposition to liberal policies such as ‘affirmative action.’ But unfortunately, when it comes to Islam, many conservatives are at risk of conforming to the left-wing stereotype.

Rather than haughtily refuse to acknowledge error — why not fix mistakes and defeat liberal slurs the best way: by refusing to act in ways that support them?

You can follow John Guardiano on Twitter: @JohnRGuardiano

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13 Comments so far ↓

  • DeepSouthPopulist

    You are right that headline was outrageous.

  • balconesfault

    Heh – you’re asking a Conservative Media Outlet to publicly admit to a mistake, rather than digging in their heels?

    Good luck with that.

    I suspect they won’t admit this mistake because they don’t want to set a precedent.

  • Shawn Summers

    Well done John, the Examiner’s charge of trying to curry favor with the “liberal media” is ridiculous to anyone who’s ever read a single one of your articles. Tapscott was out of line.

  • heap

    why? because to folks in this position, another pundit taking aim at them is attention. attention they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

    so much of conservative punditry any more could be more easily compared to Howard Stern c. the mid 90s than almost anything else. who cares what it is you’re actually saying as long as it’s outrageous enough to get attention?

  • ktward

    Tapscott says I “trashed” the Examiner in order to curry favor with the liberal media elite.

    Yeah, John. You’ve always been such a royal kiss-up to the Librul media elites.

    Meanwhile, back on earth– I’m curious:
    If Swindle & Tapscott are going to vociferously accuse you of traitorous favor-currying blah blah blah, you’d think they might offer, in their keen collective insight, some reasonably supported explanation of your motivation.

    Every crime has a motivation behind it, and you have certainly committed a crime, John. And evidently paid the punitive price for it at your NRB execution.

    What’s your motivation for your treachery, according to these dudes?

    I don’t expect any response, natch.
    Typically, I’d just chalk up their absurd notions to crazed ideology (with a pungent hint of personality disorder) and be on my way.

    But overall, their bizarre positions and reasonings — your op-ed treachery notwithstanding — are only the tip of the enormous iceberg of reflexive insanity that is rending– and sinking — today’s GOP.

  • Slide

    Ok, that is now 3 articles in a row by John that I’ve agreed with. I’ve scheduled an appointment with my doctor. – the peanut gallery

  • easton

    Too funny, the second straight post in which I absolutely agree with Guardiano.

    I also agree with balcone, but will include some liberals with some conservatives about people who dig in their heels and always refuse to admit to a mistake. It is childish.

    Myself, I predicted yesterday that Murkowski would win by 20 points and thought the Noah article trumpeting a “close” election was just a piece to draw in eyeballs. My mistake was not the prediction, I know f-all about Alaskan politics, but in my cynicism towards Noah’s motivations in writing the piece.

    I only have one criticism of this piece and it has to do with logic: Rather than haughtily refuse to acknowledge error — why not fix mistakes and defeat liberal slurs the best way: by refusing to act in ways that support them?

    If you act in bad ways, then liberals are not in fact slurring anyone.

    Maybe it should be: why not fix mistakes and not validate as true what would otherwise be liberal slurs.

    Or something. Hey, I ain’t getting paid to write this.

  • easton

    slide, is it 3 now? Oh my God, maybe Guardiano has gone all soft and squishy.

  • John Guardiano

    Easton, you write:

    Oh, my God, maybe Guardiano has gone all soft and squishy.

    My response:

    Never! : )


  • PracticalGirl

    “Tapscott says I “trashed” the Examiner in order to curry favor with the liberal media elite.”

    For goodness sake. Doesn’t Tapscott know the only liberals you’re trying to curry favor with are on the Frum Forum? :)

    “It says that Muslim Americans are not authentically American.”

    Makes you wish Muhammad Ali were well enough to kick this writer’s ass.

    See, John, The Peanut Gallery can be warriors, too, when the cause is just. Hang in there. You’ve struck a real nerve with the Moonies.

  • jakester

    “Why Won’t the Examiner Admit Its Mistake?”
    Because it is a conservative opinion blog that thrives on controversy and hype?

  • freedomrings

    DeepSouthPopulist: respect to you. You argue your views fiercely, but you can also admit when your side is wrong.

  • more5600

    Aren’t most fundamentalist evangelical religions bigoted by nature, if one believes that followers of all other faiths are not only mistaken but hell bound wouldn’t that be considered bigoted, and therefore a headline of “Evangelical Christians, not Americans are religious bigots” equally plausible.