Many people objected to a favorable article on Trump, forcing the Tennessean editor David Plazas to respond:
The Tennessean editorial cannot accomplish its mission if we choose to practice blanket censorship of any view favorable to Donald Trump.
Ryan Moore’s guest column, “Why I proudly wear my Make America Great Again hat,” has stirred passionate debate about whether this type of opinion merits an audience and a platform on The Tennessean.
By this type of opinion, I mean one that is pro-Donald Trump and, to people who consider the MAGA hat a provocative symbol, a view that promotes and normalizes white supremacy and white nationalism.
The latter stems from the view that since President Trump has made offensive statements about Muslims and Mexicans, among others, the hat, which he popularized during this 2016 presidential campaign, carries with it the weight of those words.
As an opinion and engagement editor, I am deeply aware of this perspective.
I have also become aware, through our Civility Tennessee campaign and by traveling Tennessee last year during the statewide elections, that many Tennesseans who voted for Trump — who beat his opponent Hillary Clinton in the state by a 2-to-1 margin — feel they are not being heard or fairly treated by mainstream media organizations.
The Tennessean editorial board’s missions calls upon us to defend the First Amendment, give voice to the voiceless, stand for civility and welcome diverse viewpoints.
We cannot accomplish this mission if we choose to practice blanket censorship of any view that might be favorable to the president.
As a columnist, I have called on state lawmakers to denounce white nationalism and white supremacy and I criticized the Williamson County Republican Party for including a racist meme that mocked Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Our opinion columns should not be limited to views that mirror mine or agree with me.
In the past, critics have made accusations that we practice “both-sides-ism” where we give equal weight to any two sides or have asked hypothetical questions, for example, if we would publish views by people who promote genocide or racial violence.
On the former, that is not it. The goal is to create a public space for people to introduce and debate difficult ideas in the news and issues of the day.
On the latter, no, because it is simply abhorrent.
But Moore did not do that.
Moore told me he wrote his piece after seeing a cartoon from the Louisville Courier-Journal assigning racist intent to MAGA hats.
Cartoonist Marc Murphy drew it after the recent confrontation between Covington Catholic High School students, who were wearing MAGA hats, and a Native American elder.
The cartoonist’s homepage, courier-journal.com/opinion
The wording on the hat reads: “It isn’t just a hat. It’s a symbol. It means I support xenophobia and deny science. It says I don’t know or care about constitutional norms or the role America plays in a hard world. I support a man who acts like a criminal, a traitor and a racist. But I don’t care.”
Moore, who resides in Washington state but remotely works for a nonprofit based in Middle Tennessee, felt his voice would not be heard in his own state because of residents’ liberal tendencies.
He wanted to explain how he views the hat and how his politics have changed over time. He wanted to have his say.
That naturally opened the door for people to have a right to respond in kind.
They, too, should be heard.
Thanks for your allowing freedom of speech, Gannett. I know it’s a bizarre concept that people would disagree with your ideology.