Letter: Nikitas column distorted facts

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To the editor:

While it depressed me to see Steven Nikitas' breathtakingly inane and offensive "Here's the Solution for Black America" in the Berkshire Eagle, I knew I could count on fellow readers to take Mr. Nikitas to task. But Kevin Moran's defense of the Eagle's decision to publish also needs an answer.

Moran says that the piece ran because the Eagle has agreed to publish conservative opinions from the Berkshire Country Republican Association. But these pieces are not paid advertising, so they should be subject to Eagle editorial standards.

Yes, the Eagle should publish unpopular opinions. But, just as political culture in general seems to have forgotten that there is a substantive difference between opinion — "I think President Obama is wrong on Iran," and non-fact — "President Obama was born in Kenya" — so it seems has the Eagle.

Nikitas' opinion may earn a place in our paper, but his non-facts should not. I'm thinking in particular of that fictional elderly black person nostalgic for the pre-Civil Rights era that was such a heaven for black Americans. Or his contention that black Americans don't go to church anymore.

Given the overwhelming whiteness of Berkshire County and the Berkshire Eagle staff, I believe the newspaper should take care to "check its privilege," as they say, when publishing pieces dealing with race. Are there any black editorial staff with input into the contents of the op-ed page? If not, when presented with racially derogatory material, does The Eagle have any mechanism for reflection and discussion before publishing? Was any thought given to offering equal space to a countervailing view by a black community leader, given the tone and content of the column? Perhaps Moran can answer those questions in a future column.

Susan Phillips Windsor

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