Politics

Jonathan Capehart and Leon H. Wolf: 2015 ‘Yglesias Award’ Nominees

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor

Andrew Sullivan’s now defunct blog The Dish used to award something called The Yglesias Award. It was “for writers, politicians, columnists or pundits who actually criticize their own side, make enemies among political allies, and generally risk something for the sake of saying what they believe.”

In the spirit of Sullivan’s award, and because he is no longer blogging, I would like to take it upon myself to nominate two deserving writers for this honor: The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart and RedState.com’s Leon H. Wolf.

Both men deserve credit for their writing on the Ferguson DOJ Report.

Let’s begin with Capehart, an African-American liberal columnist whom I consider a friend. Capehart calls his March 16 column, ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ was built on a lie, “The hardest piece I ever had to write.” After reading the Justice Department report, he concluded that “Brown never surrendered with his hands up, and Wilson was justified in shooting Brown.” Capehart then goes on to offer solid advice that should be applicable to activists on both sides of the political spectrum: “[W]e must never allow ourselves to march under the banner of a false narrative on behalf of someone who would otherwise offend our sense of right and wrong.”

Now let’s turn to Leon H. Wolf, a white conservative blogger for RedState.com. If Capehart’s column is a concession that liberals were too eager to believe the “Hands up, don’t shoot” story, Wolf’s March 15 post, “Many Conservatives are Blowing it on the Ferguson DOJ Report,” is a concession that conservatives were too eager to reflexively trust the police. He suggests conservatives aren’t adequately concerned about the “appalling and breathtaking” conduct of the Ferguson Police Department, writing: “No conservative on earth should feel comfortable with the way the Ferguson PD has been operating for years, even according to their own documents.”

For eschewing tribalism and embracing truth and justice, both men deserve our respect today. If we had more of this — people on both sides of the aisle with the courage to stand up and challenge their own reader base — we would all be better off. In my book, they’re both winners.