Now, whether we like to admit it or not, we all have biases. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Having a favorite sports team is a bias. If you aren't completely neutral about something, then you're necessarily biased for or against it.
I, for example, am not neutral about globalization. I am biased in favor of globalization. It's impossible for me not to be, because I believe that humankind is inevitably destined to live in peace, and that it won't happen until we start thinking of ourselves as world citizens. A lot of people think that's a crock, and that's fine. But at least you know where I'm coming from when I blog about global issues.
Every other person on the planet, and that necessarily includes everyone who works in the media, has biases, too. The U.S. press is, overall, liberally biased, and the pro-global outlook is more of a liberal theme than a conservative theme. That does tend to be a bad thing, because that bias can stand in the way of neutral reporting.
Good journalists can manage their biases, and they do. But remember what I said about them not being puppets. They're 100 percent human, which makes it extremely difficult to manage a bias with 100 percent effectiveness.
With that in mind, I invite you to scroll down through the reader comments under my aforementioned post. You'll see that, as is invariably the case when I write on this topic, the reader commentary is peppered not just with intolerance, but with hateful slurs, threats and personal attacks. Consider this reader's comment, for example:
Don Tennant, when the 40 million unemployed Americans finally wake up and realize that they will never again be able to afford to buy food, fuel, or clothing, they will do that which they should have done years ago: overthrow the federal government of the USA. Then, they shall round up all you Republican traitors who maximized your corporate profits by giving our jobs to the freaking immigrants. These unemployed, starving, American patriots shall give you traitors your long-overdue comeuppance: violent death.
You don't have to come across too many advocates for the overthrow of the U.S. government and the violent death of those on the other side of the debate to be inclined to paint the anti-H-1B movement with much too broad of a brush. That's unfortunate, but it's human nature. And let's not fool ourselves and suggest that this radical fringe element is too obscure to have gotten the attention of the media. Over the past year in my blog, reader commentary on the H-1B topic has been laced with this stuff-one single blog on a single, relatively small, website. Now, multiply that by the number of sites that discuss the H-1B issue, including all the sites that are many times larger and more widely read than this one, and you can see that the anti-H-1B argument is absolutely infested with this stuff.
So my hunch is that there's a lack of any inclination by the media to pay attention to developments that are supportive of a position that people like that advocate. In fact, prejudice likely comes into play, in that adverse opinions are formed without sufficient knowledge. It's not a legitimate excuse, but it's probably a fact of life that many in the media have formed an opinion of the anti-H-1B movement without really investigating the issues. But they simply have no interest in investigating arguments that are advanced by hate-mongers.
One of the saddest dimensions of all of this is the inexplicable unwillingness of the more moderate anti-H-1B voices to speak out against the hate-mongers. Last week I received an e-mail from a reader who's staunchly anti-H-1B, but who approaches the issue with moderation and without vilifying anyone. Here's an excerpt from that e-mail:
I wanted to respond privately to your blog. I have always agreed with you that we should be framing our argument (regarding the H-1b) much differently and certainly more respectfully. I think we can have honest and respectable debate, or at least we should. There are some people who are like poison to an issue. Fortunately, they are not seen as credible voices -- but they are still a negative force.
I have received any number of similar e-mails over the years, and for the life of me I can't understand why these people won't say in public what they say to me in private. They'll sit back and watch as the hate-mongers spew their poison and unleash their attacks, and never say a word. When the hateful slurs, threats and personal attacks are launched, why aren't they challenged? Where's the one decent human being who has the guts to respond to them directly in the public forum where their hatefulness is so maniacally spit out, and beat into their senseless heads that they're only hurting their own cause? I don't recall ever having seen one. Not one.
The moderate anti-H-1B voice needs to summon the courage to speak out directly and forcefully against those who poison the discussion-not just whisper disapproval behind closed doors. And we in the U.S. media need to suck it up, get off our butts and do our jobs. When the poison is drained and the media snaps out of its toxic stupor, then maybe something will be done about the H-1B problem.