I don't read Sammy's concerns about maintaining an appearance of
journalistic objectivity as racist. That seems to me to be the "you're
either with us or you're against us" attitude that has sadly characterized
public discourse from both sides of the political spectrum for the last
generation. What's more, if I'm not mistaken, he works for a journalistic
entity that has unabashedly -- and in my opinion, rightly -- made clear
that its own organizational values are anti-racism, anti-police brutality,
and anti-Trump. It's clearly important to him that his personal beliefs
remain separate from the conversation, and I think his wording shows
caution and hewing to professional objectivity, and not anything
approaching racism; we can't extrapolate anything about his own beliefs
from what he wrote.
However, I do disagree with Sammy that the topics that ARSC has made public
statements about are "political," or that because they're the subject of
current lawsuits it's inappropriate to prejudge them in the public arena.
Issues like systemic racism and police brutality transcend the label of
"political." They're issues of human rights, which is a realm of clear
right and wrong, even if it takes months and years (generations, centuries)
for the government and courts to reflect what's right in the laws. And as
we all know from the legal history of the United States, legality is not
always a competent arbiter of right and wrong. (Dred Scott, anyone?) Just
because George Floyd's murder is the subject of pending legal action
doesn't mean that the morality of what happened to him is in question; we
saw what happened, we can all judge for ourselves, and when evil is that
obvious, we don't need to wait for a legal decision in order to make our
positions as citizens known.
Organizations like ARSC are fully within their rights -- and, I believe,
within the bounds of what *is* right -- to speak out in favor of human
rights, if their leadership decides to do so. The organization is not
obligated to maintain an appearance of objectivity because one or more
members work in fields in which absolute neutrality is a virtue. It's the
individual members' obligation to decide whether the organization speaks
for them, and if they find that it doesn't, what they should do about it.
And remember, ARSC takes public stances on issues of copyright law; if
copyright law is important enough that we take a side, regardless of
pending litigation, surely human rights is too? And for those who think
that racism and the proverbial arc of justice have nothing to do with
recorded sound history...good lord. A look at just about any issue of the
ARSC Journal should make clear that that argument is ridiculous.