Terry Manning

Too many feed their brains rhetorical junk food


Every so often I receive letters (emails, actually) in response to my columns. I typically thank the authors for their opinion and taking the time to read what I wrote and share their response, but I won’t lie and say I hold them all in the same regard.

The supportive ones are typically short and sweet. Those are my favorites. Not because they agree with me but because they usually are so well written. The former newspaper editor in me appreciates the clean copy.

And then there are my critics. Ugh!

They tell me to leave the former president and his supporters alone. They dare me to defend Burn Loot Murder (their definition of the “BLM” acronym, known in accurate circles as standing for Black Lives Matter).

They call me a typical liberal loser, blah blah blah. That’s fine, but they just write so poorly. To them I say: Paragraphs aren’t just for progressives. Libtards don’t own logic. Patriots can – and should – use spellcheck!

These writers I least enjoy telling me what I should be watching and reading (instead of the New York Times or CNN) or whom I should be praising. South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott’s name has come up more than once. I do read the New York Times, and occasionally the Washington Post. I peruse the Savannah Morning News often enough to validate buying a subscription.

Here are some lesser-known names I follow:

Michael Harriot

The native of Hartsville, S.C., is a senior writer at The Root website, a contributing writer to The Amber Ruffin Show and a self-proclaimed “wypipologist.” The Root is unapologetically pro-Black and fearless in looking at American popular culture through the lens of its Black citizens. No one on their staff exemplifies that more than Harriot. His tongue is sharp, his analysis incisive and his research above reproach.

His work on The Root is always worth reading, and he has perfected the use of Twitter as a medium for longer-form storytelling. When he starts stringing together links to historical articles and data, what starts out looking like his personal opinion evolves into an indisputable argument in support of his original premise.

A recent article on the Root site, “Was Tim Scott Right When He Said ‘America Is Not a Racist Country’? An Investigation” is a perfect amalgamation of his approach.

Kirk Tuck

The professional photographer from Austin, Texas, has a wonderful blog, Visual Science Lab, where he writes about his work as a photographer, his opinions on gear and randomly peppered musings on other topics, including politics.

Unlike many photography-related sites, VSL is less about cameras than it is about photography. He writes about the impact of the pandemic on his business. The affection is palpable in the photos he shares of his wife and son.

The way Tuck describes the pleasures of simply walking and taking photos around downtown Austin is comforting. A bum left knee keeps me from doing the same as often as I would like, but his writing offers vicarious enjoyment.

John Pavlovitz

Pavlovitz, probably the best known of the names I’m including here, likely would be considered a unicorn by standard-issue conservatives. He is a liberal who is as far from “godless” as you can get, being pastor at a church in Wake Forest, N.C. His writings, including books and posts on Twitter and his personal website, support a Christianity that is decisively inclusive and “woke.”

Pavlovitz writes about police brutality, mental illness, white privilege, and other social issues from a perspective grounded upon his faith and interpretations of the Scriptures. He is both profound and prolific in writing about how Christians should advance acceptance of the LGBT community and immigrant populations.

In a post titled, “Let My People Vote: Why Voter Suppression is Unbiblical” he writes: “The book of Genesis tells us that each human being is a specific image-bearer of the Divine, uniquely reflecting the nature of God. Whenever someone silences another human being’s voice, they are silencing the very God within them.” Good stuff.

A quick review of this short list tells me 1) I respect writers who can make a strong argument, and 2) I need to get more women writers into my daily mix. I read women – Savannah’s Rana Cash, for one – but none so frequently their names came to mind as quickly as these men. I hope my critics are as willing to broaden and diversify the content they consume.

And to start using spellcheck. It’s still F7, right?

Terry E. Manning lives and works in Savannah, Ga. He is a Clemson graduate and worked for 20 years as a journalist. He can be reached at teemanning@gmail.com

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