Broadcast luminary Dan Rather shared political insight and personal memoirs at the “Evening with Dan Rather” event put on by Tacoma Arts Live. Rather, a lifelong journalist, is well known for his time spent as a CBS Evening News anchor from the 1980s to the early 2000s, as well as his work on the TV broadcast “60 Minutes.” From his decades of experience, Rather truly holds a unique perspective and historical outlook on the current state of our country — which he bestowed upon Tacoma residents this month.
Set in the historic Pantages Theater in Downtown Tacoma, Rather moved the audience as he shared a plethora of anecdotes and political commentary that addressed the current political turmoil that the U.S. is currently facing. While the majority of the night revolved around topics of unity among different divisions, Rather spent some time raising questions about our presidential administration, commenting that “where the law ends, tyranny begins.” He began the night by sharing his views on President Donald Trump’s various lawsuits, stating that we must hold all people accountable for their actions.
Rather also discussed the importance of unity, compelling the audience to focus their attention on the similarities amongst racial, political and socioeconomic backgrounds — citing the ideologies of Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.
“We cannot let us ourselves be distracted from our common humanity by the forces seeking to exploit our divisions for their own cynical, political and economic gain,” Rather said. “In all the sanitized rewritings about Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy and often downplayed, is that at the end of King’s life he was speaking forcefully about the struggles of people of all races in the face of economic injustice. King understood how race was a division bestowed by the powerful to suppress the powerless.”
Rather went on to discuss how many of the divisions within America are upheld because people are not put in scenarios where they must work, converse with and accept people who are different from them. To combat this, Rather suggests that mandatory service be enacted.
“We must give young people the opportunity to interact with people unlike themselves, and I believe two years of mandatory public service is necessary,” Rather said.
While seemingly full of enlightenment, Rather’s viewpoint on racial divides in America comes off as a bit watered down. While unity and acceptance are pillars of a just and thriving society, too much focus was put on how all Americans are the same. By not acknowledging the deep injustices and inequality many groups still experience, the audience is painted an unrealistic picture of the current state of America. To help conduct positive discourse about racial divisions, these differences must be dissected and, at the very least, acknowledged. Rather presents a great starting point, but perhaps in an effort to make racial divides more palatable to a predominantly white audience, he left out many key factors pertaining to the racial divide.
Although it, at times, lacked depth, “An Evening with Dan Rather” proposed many heartfelt and good natured ideas on how to cope with the harsh political times. He truly helped contextualize current events and provide a peek into his lifetime career in journalism. Rather did what he does best — sharing his commentary and wisdom with audiences about the many happenings in America and beyond, leaving them feeling hopeful for the fate of our country.
Alex is studying sustainable urban development. She loves going to events around Tacoma and telling people about them. Her goal is to use her degree to make cities more sustainable.