A New Dream for MLK Day: Reuniting America

We need more serenity in our lives. Enjoy this sunset over the Thames River in Connecticut.

Teetering on the brink of a new civil war, perhaps it is time to use the Dr. Martin Luther King jr. holiday to reflect on fulfilling his dream in a whole new way.

In his quest for equality, fairness and justice for all, Dr. King advocated for peace at every juncture of policy and protest.

I fix, restore and sell fountain pens for a living. I write stories to entertain people. I’m no politician. I intentionally avoid politics at all cost with regard to my business and this blog. BUT, I am heartbroken to see the nation I love falling apart. It is terrifying to see our capitol under siege. It is alien to have anything less than a peaceful transfer of power in Washington D.C. It is awful watching people whom I call friends so politically divided and letting their politics spoil their friendships.

As a guy who loves vintage pens, it should come as no surprise that I love reading about history. Among other projects, I’m working on a book about the original American Civil War. Plus, with a master’s degree in journalism, I have a fairly strong understanding about the machinations of modern media.

There is one common factor that I have observed in recent years that conservatives and liberals can agree on: the media is biased. How many times have you heard conservatives blame the liberal media…or liberals blame the conservative media? How many of our friends who are 50+ bemoan the fact we no longer have an Edward R. Murrow or Walter Cronkite that every American can trust to tell us the facts and only the facts in a news broadcast?

Why do we have so much media bias in our current time?

In 1949, the United States enacted a law known as “The Fairness Doctrine.” After having watched the rise of fascism in Europe and communism in Russia, American lawmakers wisely foresaw the new invention of television (and the older medium of radio) being used in horrible ways to subvert our democracy. As such, they enacted “The Fairness Doctrine.” Under this law, nobody who owned a broadcast license could promote one political ideology or party over another. If a channel or network wanted to feature a certain political opinion, it had to balance it out with the opposing view to give viewers a fair opportunity to consider both points of view and come up with their own opinions. Any channel or network that violated that balance would be punished by the Federal Communications Commission, which was nonpartisan and watched networks closely—enforcing the policy with vigor.

The policy remained in force until it was eliminated by Congress in 1987. Not surprisingly, we saw a sharp spike in opinion-based and biased broadcasting in the 1990s through today.

I propose that if we really want to heal our nation, then liberals and conservatives must come together to demand their lawmakers reinstate “The Fairness Doctrine.” No more liberal media. No more conservative media. No more lopsided political coverage. No more ideological brainwashing. News shows go back to broadcasting facts and only facts.

News shows might become more boring, but after watching violent insurrection on our streets, maybe boring would be a good change of pace on TV. 

This week marks the start of a new presidency and the start of a new cast of senators and representatives. Call or write your representatives and president this week and demand the restoration of “The Fairness Doctrine.” It won’t solve all of our nation’s problems, but it will go a long way to help lower the national temperature and restore bias-free broadcasting to our airwaves.

3 thoughts on “A New Dream for MLK Day: Reuniting America

  1. CMTN

    Hey Nathaniel, I liked this article and agree with it wholeheartedly, but I must point out that you fell prey to the common whitewashing trope of Rev. King’s preaching of nonviolence.

    He was not a pacifist. He was adamant that his nonviolence was a militant commitment to change.

    In a letter from Jail, he wrote: “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Klu Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice. Who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, ‘I agree with you and the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action.'”

    There are a lot of options out there, but healing won’t come from the mythical “unity” that so many are calling for. Nor will violence, but having that uncomfortable conversation with a stranger or loved one. Listening to their grievances, showing compassion, and trying to educate them.

    I do agree that talking head media needs to go away. Fox news perpetuated it, but in order to keep up, the others followed suit. One is still so, so far beyond the others in abject misinformation (the others tend to border on just beating the dead horse of a news story into a fine mist) but – and this is just my personal conjecture speaking – we need true conservatives back. Not republicans. Both parties are heavily faulted, but tensions will never go away as long as one of the political parties (not the constituents that voted for them, who are largely just as tolerant, friendly and loving as the rest) strives for nothing more or less than gaining as much power as possible, we can’t even begin to have those difficult conversations on a national scale that will bring about the betterment of the country for us all.

    Being held over on duty for 14 hours in my state’s capitol just in case the treasonous, seditionist terrorists’ had plans for my state too, I did not appreciate. And listening to one particular “news” (using that term with heavy, heavy airquotes) anchor watching the attempted coup on split screen – the mob screaming to hang the vice president, a literal gallows erected outside – and say “these just look like everyday, frustrated Americans. I don’t see the problem here,” and not “this is treason everybody. Punishable by up to 20 years in prison” really drives home our need for more individual critical thinking, social media habits to change, and news to stop being so partisan (or at least appear to be so partisan – all the networks have superbly neutral, moderating anchors)

    Anyways, it’s late. Off my soap box. You’re a great guy, Nathaniel. Like we spoke about last week – stay safe.


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