Nine black people were shot to death by a self-proclaimed racist in South Carolina because of the color of their skin, and the country is having a debate about whether or not the statehouse should continue flying the Confederate flag.
Let that sink in for a second.
The same flag that represents a time in our history when a huge portion of the country was fighting for the right to enslave African Americans is currently flying at a government building in the same state where these innocent people were gunned down.
Is there really a need to have a debate? Isn’t the answer supposed to be simple? Aren’t we supposed to have some level of sympathy or humanity in a time like this?
What happened in South Carolina triggered a question I’ve asked myself quite a bit recently: what is the real point of journalism?
As a typical idealistic student in journalism school, I truly believed that it was meant to inform people enough to be part of a democratic process or to lead to much-needed social reform. But the country is experiencing the exact opposite. We continue to devolve. We are one nation divided.
I see it in the unchecked power of the federal government, where our privacy and civil liberties continue to be compromised under the guise of national security, and little is being done to stop it.
I hear it when someone makes an asinine argument about how an unarmed black kid named Trayvon deserved to get shot by a wannabe neighborhood watchman because he had the audacity to walk through a gated community.
I read it in forums where people justify massive NFL players knocking out their fiancees with a single punch.
I feel it when I learn about the countless lives that have been taken or destroyed in story after story of gun violence, yet the idea of background checks riles people up as if we need them for survival in a zombie apocalypse.
There have been countless times where I’ve asked myself whether my career path means anything. There were opportunities where I could have made an insane amount of money at media outlets that just wanted me to regurgitate talking points producers wrote for me, but I decided to stay at The Young Turks to have the editorial freedom necessary to focus on issues that the country needs to learn about. I didn’t do that because I’m a control freak. I did it because I was naive enough to believe that speaking truth to power could have a positive impact on society. I wanted to make a difference. How silly. I can’t do that on my own. Nor can a single media outlet.
I don’t know what the answer is, or how to rehabilitate a country that has been sick with an unrelenting virus. What I do know is that the sensationalistic partisan garbage that’s being spewed in the mainstream media does more than earn television hosts millions of dollars. The propaganda has sunk in, and it has taken it’s toll. The question is, will Americans wake up and realize it’s no longer worth watching?