Good Luck

August 23rd, 2019

earl watt mugL&T Publisher Earl Watt


Some of us lean to the right, others to the left, and there are even some who find themselves in No Man’s Land trying to straddle the fence. They usually say something like, “I’m fiscally conservative but socially liberal.”

Sounds nice but has no real home in politics. It’s difficult to be socially liberal, wanting to have a large number of programs run by the government, and then claim to be fiscally conservative, leaving these social programs unfunded.

Conservatives tend to be a group that invites more dissension and more flexibility. 

And there are times among conservatives that we have differences of opinion.

Larry Phillips has done a good job explaining his position on hyphenated Americans, and I encourage you to read it.

Larry and I agree on a great many things, and the unity of the American people is one of them.

He also knows that we have followed Associated Press style for decades here at the paper, but that doesn’t necessarily mean in goose-step fashion.

When Larry was the managing editor, we always had a copy of the AP Stylebook handy, because we wanted to keep the professionalism of the newspaper at its highest. That commitment has resulted in a lot of awards over the years. Both Larry and I have been recognized for our opinion columns, and we have been fortunate to finish first and second some years (Because of my modesty, I won’t say who was first and who was second).

Larry was a stickler as an editor about using the AP Stylebook, and that tenacity kept our paper consistent for many reporters over the years, and that is the really purpose of having a style book.

But, like I said, that didn’t mean we took the AP’s advice on every political term that came down the pike.

One example Larry already shared referred to calling illegal immigrants undocumented workers.

We disagreed with AP, and our consistent style was to stay with illegal immigrant.

Writing should neither garner sympathy nor unfairly ridicule. It should simply state the fact. If someone is here without documentation, they are here illegally. Calling them undocumented doesn’t change the fact.

When it comes to racial differences, Larry and I differ somewhat.

I don’t believe in grouping Americans in any way — not by nationality and not by the color of their skin.

But if we are going to refer to any specific group based on those differences, we have to have some phrase that works.

I am not fond of the terms African American or Black. Whenever we refer to our differences we highlight them, and I believe in the American cultural experience, which includes a little of everything from the entire planet. That’s who we are.

With no good choice between them, I replaced Larry’s references of Black with African American simply because that is what AP Style prefers, and, again, I favor consistency when all other variables are equal.

To me, they are interchangeable, but for Larry, that subtle difference strikes a deeper chord. That’s why I had no problem changing the online version back to Black instead of African American.

I have also asked some local members of the African American community over the years which they prefer, and sometimes they have a preference, but most times they seem to not care either way.

Larry and I are both staunch defenders of free speech, but neither one of us would allow any reference to any group of people that would be derogatory or racist based on the color of their skin.

For me it’s a minor nuance, for Larry it’s a matter of principle, and we simply disagree.

But we remain friends with mutual respect. And it doesn’t mean either one of us is more or less of a conservative than the other.

It simply means we looked at the same set of circumstances and arrived at different conclusions, something two people of good conscience can do.

And guess what, not only can two conservatives do that, but any two people can. We aren’t all clones, and we don’t all think the same. And we have to be able to show mutual respect to those who disagree.

The next time you disagree with someone, try to overlook the difference and still respect the person. I’ll bet you will find out you have more in common than you think. And even if you don’t, it doesn’t make you wrong or right, it simply makes you different, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Pick your language/Elige su idioma

Lib Coalition-learn & play