IN AN ACT of premeditated character assassination (all too common in our present political climate), African American columnist Jack E. White has profiled me as A Real, Live Bigot in Time magazine’s August 30th issue (p. 47). The Time hit piece is a response to my Salon column of August 16th, which Salon’s editors titled "Guns Don’t Kill Black People, Other Blacks Do." The article was a critique of an NAACP lawsuit against gun manufacturers designed to hold them responsible for the high rates of homicide in the African-American community.
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Obviously, to be labeled a "bigot," particularly in the wake of Buford Furrow’s rampage at a California Jewish Center, is a verbal sentence of death. Jack White’s column is a calculated attempt to prevent anyone from ever again listening to what I have to say, particularly on matters of race. It is also an effort to intimidate anyone in the future from engaging in a frank dialogue on race. The fact that White’s editors at Time would go along with a distortion of my record and life, as reckless as this, is an ominous sign not only for American journalism but for America’s ethnic mosaic as well.
In this situation, I need your help. My effectiveness as a spokesman on this, as on every other political issue, is at risk. This is a battle for my political reputation and thus my ability to function in the political arena. I need the most powerful support I can get and that can only come from you.
You are probably wondering about libel. This article is clearly libelous. Several attorneys have already confirmed this to me. But libel suits are very expensive and also perilous. A bad judge can ruin more than your whole day. Therefore, before seriously considering such a recourse, I would prefer to bring enough pressure to bear on Time’s editors in order that their journalistic consciences might kick in and produce an apology and retraction. Perhaps an appeal to common human decency would help.
I have therefore written a letter to the editors of Time, setting out the facts of my political values and commitments, and appealing to them to rectify what they have done. My appeal will have more chance to get a hearing with them if it is accompanied by supporting letters from people like you, who have followed my work and career.
My liberal editors at Salon, who have known me since the 1960s, are writing letters in my behalf to the editors of Time.
Please take time out today to write your own letter or e-mail expressing your outrage over this unconscionable attack. Send it to Time managing editor Walter Isaacson with copies to Time editor-in-chief Norman Pearlstine and Time editorial director Henry Muller. Ask them to print an apology and to correct the record. E-mail your friends and lists, acquainting them with the facts and asking them to do the same.
Time & Life Building
New York, NY 10020-1393
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
I also would urge you to send an email to David Talbot, the editor of Salon, thanking him and his managing editor, David Weir, for their support. You can reach them at:
firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
I am grateful for all the support you have given me in my past efforts—for your letters, your encouragement, and your contributions to our campaigns. I hope you will respond again for me in this critical matter.