Opinion writing: “If you want a friend, get a dog”
I am grateful for the readership that I get in my opinion writing, and I appreciate those who support me and enjoy the column and recognize the importance of the angry haters, too. If I wanted a friend, I would go out and get a dog — I did. But what I want is a society where we hear all views and the public. makes up its own mind. I think the public is smart enough to cull every opinion and news report and decide for themselves what the truth is. I just add my 45 years of experience covering Chicagoland and world politics to the mix.
By Ray Hanania
Carol at the office emails me to tell me when readers say they love my column. The nicest thing about her is she doesn’t tell me when people complain.
I know being a columnist isn’t the most popular thing to be these days, especially as I watch a bunch of wags bail from their ivory perches at the Chicago Tribune or pontificate endlessly from the narrow interest perches of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Most had a great ride, pontificating with holier-than-thou attitudes, dissing on the same issues that could be dissed about them.
We’re all just human.
But I think of how lucky I am to be able to share my opinions with readers.
One of my old editors in the 1970s, H. Marlin Landwehr, reminded often me that the more hate mail I get, the more I was needed. If you want to be loved, editors would say, get a dog!
Remember back when we used to get mail in the mail box with a postage stamp on it? Those were the good old days when the Post Office mail delivery people really worked their buns off. It’s a different story today.
Mail barely makes it to our home. The mail is slow and unreliable, part of a bureaucracy that can’t be fixed. Our mail runs one to two weeks late. Just ask anyone who still has a mailbox.
I wasn’t one of the privileged journalists who got a job because their parent worked at a big city newspaper. I wrote letters every week to the local paper in the 1970s complaining about media bias.
Yes, back then, the media was very biased, although not as biased as they are today. Back then, I was complaining about the one-sided coverage of the Palestinians by columnist Alex Seith, who ran for Congress several times. Although I often skewered Seith in my ten-page long, hand-written letters that I delivered to Landwehr, it was never personal. I agreed with some of his politics and I disagreed with some, too.
That’s something we don’t tolerate today in our “all or nothing” world. People don’t want all the views any more. It’s 100 percent or nothing. And that’s why we always send up with nothing. I always thought that was an Arab World trait, but now realize the US today isn’t any better than the Arab World.
Landwehr got tired of re-typing my letters to run in the newspaper. Back then newspapers prided themselves on running other views points or opposing views. But in Landwehr’s case, he called me and offered me a job, maybe thinking it would save him the hassle of retying my rantings, or maybe to shut me up.
I went on to compile a long list of politicians who hated me and the column I wrote, “The Political Grapevine.” Amazingly, I ended up continuing as a writer and as a political consultant, with one foot on each side of the phony line other “journalists” claim exists. It doesn’t. Most journalists (that’s different from being an opinion columnist) today are more political than the politicians they slam.
Don’t worry about those journalists who lost their jobs. They are all making bank with pensions and corporate buyouts. A few of them will survive, like my friend John Kass, who launched his own website online. He’s unpopular with the purveyors of moral hypocrisy and political correctness.
I remember Kass, when none of the City Hall press corps would talk with him when Harold Washington was mayor. But as community journalist, I would often let him use my City Hall desk and phone to chase his stories down. Old, faded memories.
You can blame most of the other retiring journalists, and the ones who retired before them, for contributing to the sad fate of Chicago, where most of the media is focused at the expense of the suburbs. They gave us Lori Lightfoot, Chicago’s most incompetent and racist mayor, next only to Rahm Emanuel.
What’s the difference between Lightfoot’s racial views and those of her predecessors? Their views are just on opposite sides, mirror images of the same race politics.
Anyway, I thank all of you, those few who love me, and the legions who dislike me, including activists in the dysfunctional Arab American community. What a sad lot they are incapable of overcoming their anger and rage.
Anger empowers me as a writer. My mission is clear: Tell you what I think, knowing you hear enough of the “other side.”
I believe the public should hear ALL SIDES of an issue. I respect all of you and know you are all smart enough to come to your own conclusions. You don’t need the media to tell you what to think from their manipulated, one-sided writings.
I’m not going to tell you what to think, only give you my thoughts on what I think is right, what I think is hypocritical and what I think needs to change.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and political columnist. This column was originally published in the Southwest News Newspaper Group in the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers. For more information on Ray Hanania visit www.Hanania.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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