The permissible spectrum of opinion in major newspapers seems to be narrowing. In July 1995, USA Today fired its only progressive columnist, Barbara Reynolds. Now the Washington Post has unceremoniously dumped its one consistent voice for peace and justice, Colman McCarthy, who has written for the paper since the late ’60s.
Like Reynolds, McCarthy represented a perspective little heard in mainstream media: that of the religious left. (If anything, it’s even more silenced than the secular left.) He had a vastly different set of concerns from the typical Washington Post columnist. “What should be the moral purpose of writing,” McCarthy wrote in his farewell column, “if not to embrace ideals that can help fulfill the one possibility we all yearn for, the peaceable society? Peace is the result of love and if love were easy, we’d all be good at it.”
This is a language that meant little to the Washington Post‘s editors, who are preoccupied with the question of who’s up and who’s down in the capital’s power struggles. “We agreed that the column had run its course,” Post managing editor Robert Kaiser told FAIR associate Norman Solomon. So who on the paper’s opinion staff will speak for the constituencies that McCarthy consistently represented: the hungry, the homeless, the powerless?
In his last column, McCarthy quoted Martin Luther King: “Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism and injustice.” That spirit, which infused McCarthy’s writing, is sorely lacking in most establishment journalism. At the Post, it’s in danger of disappearing entirely.
To voice your concerns about Colman McCarthy’s dismissal, contact managing editor Robert Kaiser at the Washington Post, 1150 15th Street N.W., Washington, DC, 20071-0070(phone: 202-334-7513; fax: 202-496-3936). Please send copies of your correspondence with the media to FAIR.