Like you, I woke to news of an interview that Dan Carden of The Times did with Indiana Sen. Mike Braun (R). Here's how Indy Star summed it up:
In a press call Tuesday, Sen. Mike Braun said the U.S. Supreme Court was incorrect in legalizing interracial marriage in a landmark case in 1967, and that the decision should have been left to the states.
I've interviewed Braun. I know some of his friends. I have never seen a hint of racism. He is not a racist. So before going on the air, I watched the interview.
I still had to open the show by joking how exciting it would be to break the law by kissing my wife good night. At 60, it would add spice. But after a while it would just be illegal, like smoking weed. As you and I expected, Braun later retracted. He said that he was confused by the line of questioning and that he was sorry.
I condemn racism in any form, at all levels and by any states, entities, or individuals...
Good job, Mike. Way to listen to your staff.
"Unlike the mayor of Hammond or Trump, the good Senator knows how to listen to his staff. He has apologized. Is that the sign of a leader... or something else?"
Then the calls came in.
"I think it's what he really thinks and that when he said it, he didn't think it would be such a big deal."
"That's what happens when entitled white men get old - their real feelings slip out. This guy's out of touch. His career's ruined."
Finally, the discussion turned, thankfully, to why interracial marriage was illegal in America until 1967 (Loving vs. Virginia). I asked a black man, Ron Matlock, why we outlawed interracial marriage in the first place.
"Because they thought we were inferior - three-fifths of a man."
I didn't know where I wanted the discussion to go. I just knew that I wanted it to go. "Here's the question - should Indiana have the right to outlaw interracial marriage if we want to?"
No one called.
"I'm gonna ask the question again - should it be Indiana's right to decide if interracial marriage should be allowed or not? I'm gonna sit in silence til someone calls and answers." I sat silent for 20 seconds or so. But I had a song in my head - Comes a Time by Neil Young. "Better yet, I'm gonna sing until someone calls and answers... and I'm gonna get a cup of coffee."
I wear a wireless mike. I walk all over heating up coffee, grabbing a newspaper, opening the front door. I can do all of this while talking... or singing.
You and I, we were captured
We took our souls and we flew away...
I walked to the coffee pot, refreshed my cup, sang even louder.
Oh, this old world keeps spinnin' 'round
It's a wonder, tall trees ain't layin' down
There comes a time
When I returned to three cameras, a dozen lights, a big TV and an "On Air" sign, there were six names on the board. "Hello, you're on the air. What's your answer?"
Opinions flowed, mostly incredulous. A couple of men defended the comments, asserting that states should have the right to decide just about everything, including abortion.
"I'll give you that there are good arguments on both sides of the abortion issue," I said. "And there are good arguments on if it should be a state's right to choose.
"But are some things so universal that they should be nationalized - such as black, brown and white people can marry each other?"
The two men would not answer the question. I asked it several different ways from several different angles. "I don't know. I'm not a legal scholar." Or - "I'll have to give it some thought."
I respect their opinion, which is essentially what? I'm not sure. Normally assertive, decisive men turn limp and Charlie Brown like when asked a simple question about whether black and white people should be allowed to marry each other.
This is morning talk in the middle of America.... I went on to an interview with Indiana attorney general Todd Rokita, a friend of my little sister. All of us went to St. Thomas More and Munster High School. Rokita then went to Wabash College and, like a lot of former Region rats, stayed downstate. You think the biggest thing we import to Indianapolis is tax dollars? Think again. It's talent. You have all these universities surrounding Indiana-no-place. The best and brightest wind up living after college in Broad Ripple stumbling from bar to bar. After a while, they buy starter castles in Carmel.
Our biggest import? Expats from Illinois.
Rokita took time to:
1. Express displeasure that Gov. Eric Holcomb vetoed the transgender bill which made it illegal for a person born as a boy to compete in girl's sports. Holcomb basically said it was a solution in search of a problem, that there was only one case in Indiana and that the IHSAA seemed to be handling it fine.
2. Relate a theory that Democrats push for higher taxes to keep disciples dependent cradle to grave.
3. Tap dance around my question on if he's gonna run for governor or not.
After pleasantries, Rokita went to a Kiwanis breakfast and Steve Letnich came in to the studio. He's the former Purdue quarterback who is now COO of a steel company. He said prices have skyrocketed, putting a damper on construction projects. Go to JEDtv if you want to watch Steve.
I don't know why I wrote a summary of my radio day. Maybe it's to illustrate how different we are at WJOB. Everybody talks, everybody listens. Believe me, I wish I could swallow a dogma. That would make things easier. When you plug into one side or the other, you get a roadmap on how to respond to almost any stimuli. It saves energy. Just do what your side says you should... then get some sleep.
This has never been me. I have rarely joined anything... except a cooperative where women would sometimes walk around topless and you could play naked tetherball on the roof. I also joined a 60-and-over softball team last year. But I won't do that again. I pegged a few guys from centerfield, but now I can barely lift my right arm above my head. My shoulder's shot. That's what I get for joining ANYTHING.
What I like to do is what I already do. I talked my ass off on the radio, had coffee with Dan McNeil (who also has a wrecked shoulder), had lunch with my daughter and Dave Ryan, the head of the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. Then I came back to the studios at Purdue and hung out with an engineer down the hall who built a robot that can pick tomatoes. I'm not kidding. On the way home, I stopped at my sister's and pushed my 15-year-old nephew around. Alexis brought home Butterfingers and we ate chicken salad sandwiches for dinner.
This is my life. Throw in raking some leaves and writing a way-too-long blog, and you get the picture. I'll wake up, hopefully, in the morning and either ride my bike or drive my 23-year-old car to some of the most high-tech local media studios in America. DeJuan Marrero from Gary will show up with a hot coffee from McDonald's, and Lucie Ashmore from Ireland will have the studio prepped for me to walk in and start talking. It's a good life. I know that. I appreciate that. And I hope like hell that it lasts, that Vladimir Putin doesn't push a button and blow it all up.