The Washington Post’s coverage of civil rights issues has been marred by the pronounced bias of its reporter covering that beat, Darryl Fears, more times that I have been able to write about, and I have written about his coverage more times than I have time to cite here. (But for starters, see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)
He has written, for example (here), that one cannot believe in civil rights and oppose affirmative action; that what minorities in the United States have in common is that they are victims (here); and that Gerald Reynolds, current chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, “is an outspoken opponent of race-based college admission policies for minorities, even though before the civil rights movement, colleges commonly discriminated against African Americans and other minorities by not allowing them in.” [here, Emphasis added]. In other words, Reynolds opposes racial preferences in the present even though racial preferences existed in the past. Imagine that.
In an article over this past weekend, however, Fears and his editors committed a travesty on any decent understanding of civil rights that arguably goes far beyond anything he’s written before. (HatTip to Hans Bader)
In “Civil Rights Groups Seeing Gradual End of Their Era,” Fears chronicled the declining members, resources, and influence of the old (and getting older) civil rights organizations — the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the National Urban League, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE has sunk so low that its “most charismatic liberal leader, James Farmer, resigned and was replaced by a conservative”), the NAACP, and the Nation of Islam.
Yes, you read that correctly — the Nation of Islam, which Fears discusses as though it were just another “civil rights group” in its twilight years!
In Chicago, the Nation of Islam struggles as its ailing leader, Louis Farrakhan, recovers from an illness. The group declined to discuss its membership numbers, but it has been speculated that they are far lower than they were in the 1960s.
Civil rights executives, who tend to be older, are stuck in time….
Louis Farrakhan, a “civil rights executive”? Who knew?
Perhaps because he covers the race beat, Fears seems to see race everywhere. In 2004, after the Administration was finally able to dislodge Mary Frances Berry from her tenacious hold on the chairmanship of the Civil Rights Commission, Fears wrote:
But after Berry, the liberal chairman, who is black, and Reynoso, the liberal vice chairman, who is Latino, stepped down Tuesday, the composition of the commission changed. President Bush appointed a black Republican, Gerald A. Reynolds, to replace Berry as chairman, and another black Republican, Ashley L. Taylor, to replace Reynoso as a member. Abigail Thernstrom, an independent who is conservative and white, became the new vice chairman.
Let me conclude here by quoting a comment I made then (here):
What is the relevance of race and ethnicity to “the composition” of the Commission if a black and a Hispanic are replaced by two blacks? It is surely relevant that liberals are being replaced by conservatives, but why do race and ethnicity always have to be brought to center stage?
Fears takes such pains to point out everyone’s race and ethnicity that you’d think he’d insist the Post identify him not as a “Washington Post Staff Writer” but as a “Washington Post Black Staff Writer.”