Member Rara Avis
Ignoring John's free-from-his-own-opinion tangent, I see two important themes running through this thread.
First, I find it remarkable how little respect is accorded the field of journalism. In a way, I think this relates to the central theme here, because I believe that lack of respect is a reflection of disagreeing viewpoints. If someone writes something with which we disagree, we label them propagandists. If someone writes something we think shouldn't be emphasized, we label them partisans. What our pipTalk writers seem to be forgetting, something writers of all people should never forget, is that ANY expression of substance is inevitably going to be biased. Yea, journalists, and certainly the media structures they inhabit, are biased. So, too, are poets, painters, actors, musicians and dancers.
The surprise to me isn't that people think journalists they dislike are biased. The surprise, rather, is that they appear to think the ones they do like are any less biased.
The second theme, the more direct one, of course, is a definition of what constitutes a good American.
George Washington was a traitor and terrorist, but was arguably a good American. Some would argue, quite persuasively I think, that Robert E. Lee was also a good American. Then and now, I think the context of the adjective gives meaning.
I think Brad's point centers on short-term "good" versus long-term "good." If one vocally disagrees with current policies, that might well be labeled "not good." Of course, that means Washington was not a good American. Lee, however, might still qualify as he and countless others tried to maintain the State's Rights foundation upon which the Constitution was founded, even as Lincoln and others followed a new path towards increased Federal power and influence. Gee, maybe that makes John Wilkes Booth a good American?
My point, of course, is that we can't define "good" by short-term values. Bringing tears to your child's eyes is a short-term effect and doesn't define your value as a parent, especially if you're telling them they can't do something important to them because they didn't do their chores. It's called discipline, and in the long-term, we all know it's a good thing for parents to do. Similarly, trying to change American policies through non-violent means can't define your value as an American.
The most significant difference between Susan B. Anthony and Jane Fonda, after all, certainly wasn't how vocal and disagreeable they could be.