Sometimes the Minority Voice Just Keeps Quiet

There is an article on Yahoo News right now that is ridiculous. It opens with this: “When the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition plays host to nine Republican White House hopefuls [in Iowa] this weekend, the conservative Christian group will simply be pursuing its stated mission to ‘take back our state and country’." Now, there’s nothing wrong with quoting directly, but whoever interviewed the speaker here did not ask this person any obvious questions, which that statement is begging for. Such questions might include: Take it back from whom? Where was it taken? Faith in what? Freedom for whom? Is this code for “push those fags back in the closet where they belong”? (I say this because the issue of gay marriage was mentioned as a key issue multiple times in the less than 600-word article.) I wanted the interviewer to interview the group’s representatives, not just document its party line.

With that in mind, I did some of my own investigative journalism. The interview was conducted by a woman named Luciana Lopez, and I can’t help but wonder what her thoughts were as she spoke to these coalition members. Actually, her personal politics are successfully veiled from the public, which I discovered by reading her Twitter feed from the last four months. The only hints about her personal preferences are that she likes Tom Hanks and has experienced discrimination based on her Hispanic name and appearance. Here’s a tip: If someone writes articles for credible news outlets like Reuters IN ENGLISH, it’s a safe bet that they speak English. You don’t ask the people named Anderson if they need a Norwegian translator so don’t ask people named Lopez if they need a Spanish translator. By the way, both of those names are among the top 40 most common surnames in the U.S. so, yes, that is an apples-to-apples comparison.

Anyway, Luciana Lopez appears to be a credible news reporter attempting to do her job with this interview thing while (at least on some level) being keenly aware of the fact that she was a non-white woman in a sea of conservative white men at a gathering of something called the “Faith & Freedom Coalition.” Whatever her personal thoughts and feelings on the politics of this group were, I am merely pointing out that she didn’t ask any pertinent follow-up questions about this group’s platform. The entire article goes back and forth between quotes of a bunch of white dudes (and one white lady named Connie) about “faith” and “freedom”, and I started to wonder if Lopez was being silent because she was simply biting her tongue so hard.  Also, she uses the words “scrum” and “bloc” unironically. (Or maybe it was ironic. They are strange adjectives that make their subjects sound weird.)

After some analysis of this news article, I began to wonder if Lopez was simply letting the speakers say whatever the heck they wanted because they sounded suspiciously like well-trained parrots. Or perhaps she fell asleep with her microphone recording? At any rate, the article ends with a former Iowa Republican Party chairman saying “faith and freedom folks, its title sort of discloses the content.” That it does, sir. That it does.

Unfortunately for him, it’s not the message he thinks.  The word faith is about belief in something. The problem, of course, is that he’s using it to mean the adherence to prescribed conservative Christian values that, if you don’t believe the way he does, you’re wrong and should be punished. (Not by God as his religious text might suggest, but by the government, under the control of people his group has purchased.) Further, the word freedom (which I’ve analyzed in these pages previously for being one of those notorious framing devices George Lakoff warned us about) implies the notion of rights and abilities guaranteed by legal language. Suggesting that this group will “take back” its freedom implies it’s been taken away at some point. Fine, except no one has taken away this group’s freedom. In reality, it is a religious group mucking about with politics. That’s actually frowned upon by, like the Constitution or something. Also, this coalition’s talking head sounds like he’s badly quoting dialogue from a Mel Gibson film. You know the one I mean.

In summation, if the name of your political organization sounds like an extremist group from a movie, you may want to reconsider how you interact with news media. The fact that they aren’t interrupting you with pesky questions does not indicate endorsement.