Saturday, April 28, 2007

Who would Jesus bash?

-- by Dave

Melissa at Shakesville brings a horrific case in Indiana to our attention:
Court documents show the suspects severely beat 35-year-old Aaron Hall, then dumped his body in a ditch. The victim's family now calls the murder a hate crime.

When Thomas Hall read court documents describing his brother's death, he was stunned. "It was a brutal crime against my brother and I feel this is a hate crime," said Thomas Hall. Police found Aaron Hall's badly beaten body hidden inside a garage on Sunday. Charged in connection with the murder were 19-year-old Garrett Gray, 18-year-old Coleman King and 21-year-old Robert Hendricks. Police made the arrests after receiving a tip from Garrett Gray's friend.

The tipster got a multi-media text message on his cell phone from the suspects. In the photo, Aaron Hall appeared with the suspects' arms around him. Hall had a swollen lip, a black eye, and appeared badly beaten.

Police say on April 12th, Hall and the three suspects were drinking at Gray's house. The suspects told police Hall grabbed Coleman King and questioned his sexuality. That set off the deadly beating.

"And they're saying what's why they killed him. Because he was gay. And he wasn't gay," said Thomas Hall. "I don't know any crime on the planet that deserves that type of punishment." Court papers show Gray and King brutally attacked, then photographed Hall. King hit him with his boots at least 75 times. The suspects told police they dragged Hall down the steps, loaded him into Robert Hendricks' truck, and dumped his body in a ditch. They say they went back two days later, and found Hall in a nearby field. That's when they tell police they wrapped the body in a tarp and hid it in Gray's garage.

As Melissa emphasizes:
This shit doesn't happen in a void.

Indeed it doesn't. It's happening in a context in which the leading figures of the religious right, empowered and seconded by movement conservatives, are constantly proclaiming that laws against hate crimes are a form of discrimination against their religious beliefs.

If you roll this argument around long enough, its underlying message comes down to this: Jesus wants you to bash fags. It becomes a form of permission -- permission transmitted to the people most likely to act on the suggestion.

Hate-crime laws are never about hate speech per se. They are only about acts that are already crimes. Now, certain acts of speech -- particularly threats and intimidation -- are the subject of criminal sanction already in the law, so if these crimes are committed with a racial, religious, or gay-bashing motive, then it is possible for some speech to be considered a hate crime.

But the core principle is this: The First Amendment has never covered criminal acts, because crimes are never a form of free speech. You can't kill someone and claim it was an act of political protest, at least not under Western law as we know it.

When fundamentalist fronts like the Traditional Values Coalition sends out fliers like the one above, and advances a similarly distorted and false line of propaganda against hate-crime laws, as Pam Spaulding just observed (crossposted at Pandagon), they're simultaneously sending a signal that bashing gays and lesbians is something that ought to be permissible under the law.

Certainly every aspect of the campaign is a gross distortion. Jesus never referenced homosexuality in his teachings, pro or con. Most importantly, no aspect of any hate-crime law, current or proposed, would prohibit people speaking out against homosexuality, particularly not in the context of religious belief. It may be actual hate speech, but hate speech is also protected speech under most circumstances.

Christian Americans talk a lot about preserving their freedoms. Now, over the centuries in America, more than a few of them have declared that the mere existence of other beliefs infringes on their freedom -- that is, their freedom to inflict violence and terror on the "unbelievers." Somewhat sensibly, however, the law has generally recognized that our freedoms do not include the right to take away others' freedoms at will.

And that is what hate crimes, in the end, are all about: Taking away the rights and freedom of our fellow citizens, denying them the right to participate in the community where they reside and forcing them to live as shadow citizens. People opposed to hate-crimes laws are, at rock bottom, profoundly anti-freedom.

Besides, I'm not all that certain Jesus would be opposed to hate-crimes laws. What was that he said about "the mote in your own eye" and "cast the first stone"?


Note: I've noticed the debate at the above-linked sites regarding hate crimes has invariably wandered into the standard disinformation being peddled. As something of an antidote, I'd like to offer these links for deeper background on hate crimes, the laws against them, and the rationale for those laws.

Letter to the L.A. Times

When hate hits home

Bigotry and freedom

Hate crimes: The big picture

Failing in the present

Should we repeal hate-crimes laws?

The GOP, gays, and hate crimes

Hate crimes, democracy, and freedom

Hate crimes: A response

Who needs hate-crime laws?

Friday, April 27, 2007

The death of parody

After I picked myself up off the floor and contained my gales of laughter, I briefly considered creating a parody of Michelle Malkin's bizarre performance as a cheerleader, but then I realized that (a) nobody really wants to see me in a cheer outfit, and (b) why parodize something that's already a complete parody of itself?

Really, as conservatives begin to see the doom of their looming irrelevance descending upon them, they're getting more and more frantic, further and further extreme, weirder and more absurd by the day. It's kind of pathetic, but it is also well deserved.

Now comes a report that Fox News picked up a parody story and ran it as news:
On Tuesday, Fox News morning show "Fox & Friends" aired at least eight segments on a purported "news" story that was actually a parody article written by a publication similar to The Onion.

The original news report also demonstrated the way Fox's audience of flying monkeys is trained to descend upon command:
Following the Fox broadcast, Levesque's office received dozens of angry phone calls and profanity-laced e-mails, made and sent by people all over the country, who charge the school district overreacted to what they believed from news reports to be a ham sandwich tossed at a Somali student. […]

"Fox has figured out, from the calls we've gotten, that they’ve made a big mistake," Wessler said.

"This is a wake-up call that the level of hate and anger, among a small population, is vibrant," he added.

Levesque said he was bothered not only that the parody took aim at a sensitive issue in Lewiston, but also that Fox and others reported the information as fact without checking. The national media, Levesque said, sees information posted online and "uses it as gospel."

Unless, of course, it is written by a dirty fucking hippie.

There's no further need for parody with the conservative movement. It's becoming one all of its own.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Conservative civility

-- by Dave

David Sirota asks a simple question: "Has the GOP officially gone insane?"

In the spirit of Atrios, there is a simple answer:

Simple answers to simple questions. But in this case, it's worth gawking at, just for the awful car-wreck quality of it all. The full video footage of the Montana House Speaker, Mike Lange, trying to rouse the Republican caucus troops by erupting in an obscene rant against Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer, can be seen here.

Here's a transcript of some of the rant:
Today's the day I'm pissed off, at that SOB on the second floor who thinks he’s gonna run this state like a dictator. So I want each and every one of you to get pissed off today, because your way of lifestyle is under threat.

... So my message to the governor is, 'Stick it up your ass.' That’s my message to him: 'Stick it up your ass!'

[Loud applause]

... He can veto every bill I have, I don't give a shit. Every bill.

What inspired this rant? Well, as Matt Singer explains, Schweitzer had simply engaged in some standard tit-for-tat horse trading in the hopes of breaking a budget standoff, and Lange had gone off on him afterwards, accusing him of attempting to "bribe" him:
I mean, let's be clear here -- the Governor asked if Lange would give the all-clear for a Dem bill in exchange for the all-clear on a GOP bill. That's horse-trading, negotiations, compromise. Call it whatever the Hell you want. It's not bribery. Bribery would be the Governor saying, "Hey, Mikey, we'll give you $10 and some gummy bears if you just go back and pass our agenda."

It's really not shocking to find out that this guy doesn't grasp the English language or ethics. That's been damn clear from early on. What's startling is that his team is rallying behind him.

Yes, that loud round of applause was not exactly evidence of conservatives' vaunted civility. Cursing bloggers scandalize them, but hey, nothing like a rousing pep talk from the coach, I guess.

What's well worth noting is that the key figure in all this, Lange (who, it should be noted, offered an apology the next day), represents an ugly hard-right turn for Republicans in Montana that has in fact led to their increasing disempowerment in the state. Lange was also, before this, considered the leading candidate to take on longtime incumbent Democratic Sen. Max Baucus.

Lange's hard-right, Limbaughesque approach to politics has led him to form some interesting alliances. Longtime readers here will recall the case of Rick Jore, the Flathead-area conservative legislator who left the GOP in 2000 and ran on the Constitution Party ticket. The Constitution Party, you'll also recall, is the ultraright home to many of Montana's militia faction, and the party most associated with the "Patriot" movement.

Well, last year Lange installed Jore, who is not even a Republican still, as chairman of the House Education Committee:
Republican leaders are giving the House Education Committee chairmanship to the Legislature's only third-party member, a Constitution Party lawmaker who opposes more money for public schools.

The rare appointment of a third-party member to chair a committee - especially in his first session after a six-year hiatus from politics - comes as the GOP courts Rick Jore and his swing vote. Republicans control the chamber by a slim 50-49 margin.

Jore said he never specifically asked for the chairmanship.

"Quite frankly, I was surprised," said Jore, a Ronan resident who served as a Republican legislator in the 1990s before switching parties.

Jore, who wants to abolish compulsory school attendance, promised to be "respectful of every viewpoint and all witnesses that come before" his committee.

... Republican leaders dismissed the criticism, saying the education community opposed Sales and other Republicans in elections.

"I don't recall the education community supporting the speaker, or myself either," said House Republican leader Mike Lange of Billings. "They didn't win. That's the bottom line. If they want to control the committee, my recommendation to them is to be better at campaigning than they were.

"We owe them no explanation whatsoever."

The Constitution Party platform seeks to abolish the federal Department of Education, and Jore is critical of education standards being set at the state level.

And as Singer previously noted, Lange evevn went so far to maintain his alliance with Jore as to proposed turning down $2 billion in federal money in order to gain his support for passing of the state's budget bills.

Lange also has an inimitable -- cough eliminationism cough -- debating style, as 4&20 blackbirds noted:
Furious after the Senate panel tabled his bill Wednesday, Lange stormed into Democratic leadership offices in both houses and threatened retaliatory action against Democratic bills in the House unless his bill is resurrected.

Senate President Pro Tempore Dan Harrington, D-Butte, said Lange came into his office Wednesday and said, "It's war. The bloodletting has started." Witnesses said he formed each hand into a pistol and pretended as if he were firing shots.

It would be comforting to say this could only happen in Montana. But it would not be true.

Soft-pedaling racism

-- by Dave

It really wasn't surprising, I suppose, that a progressive like Alexander Konetzki would eventually have to part ways with an employer like The American Conservative. Certainly, my experience over the years has been that ideological absolutism eventually destroys otherwise healthy personal and professional relationships, and that's clearly what happened in this case.

But what was really noteworthy about the incident was what the response to the incident from the right revealed about them, in stark outlines.

The Editors have a rundown, and it largely goes like this:
Well of course he left! He just couldn't take the conservatism!

Probably Russ Douthat epitomizes the response:
If you're not at least somewhat conservative, you probably shouldn’t go to work for a magazine called, um, The American Conservative. And if you do, you probably shouldn’t get all outraged and resign in protest when they turned out to be, um, conservative.

So does, um, conservative now also mean, um, racist?

Because the reason he left, as Konetzki explained in some detail, was that American Conservative chose to publish an almost nakedly racist screed by a writer widely regarded as someone skilled at selling a soft-pedaled version of racism with a phony academic veneer, and it did so with callous disregard for its factual truthfulness.

A couple of years ago Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting put together a report on Sailer (discussed in greater detail here) that placed him firmly in the center of the "academic" racists who have been prospering on the far right for the past decade:
As American Prospect Online found (12/7/04), a little research reveals Sailer as a leading promoter of racist pseudoscience. As a principal columnist on the white nationalist website, named for Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the "New World," Sailer (e.g., 2/23/03; 12/12/01) extols the work of academic racists who say Africans as a group are innately less intelligent than whites or Asians. He is also a staunch defender of the Pioneer Fund, a primary funder for such racist research (as well as of

On the rare occasion Sailer gives race a rest, it's usually to make some other mock-Darwinian argument, as when he ruled out the possibility of a gay gene, suggesting instead that homosexuality is a disease, possibly caused by a germ (, 8/17/03): "An infectious disease itself could cause homosexuality. It's probably not a venereal germ, but maybe an intestinal or respiratory germ."

Sailer also produced this noteworthy observation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina:
It also should have been expected that a large fraction of New Orleans's lower class blacks would not evacuate before a disaster. Many are too poor to own a car, or too untrustworthy to get a ride with neighbors, or too shortsighted to worry...

In contrast to New Orleans, there was only minimal looting after the horrendous 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan—because, when you get down to it, Japanese aren't blacks.

The American Conservative hit piece attempts to paint a portrait of Barack Obama as a black militant in the tradition of Huey Newton:
From adolescence onward, Obama wanted a race to belong to, a team whose accomplishments would reflect well upon him. Of course, it was unthinkable in his liberal white family to take pride in the achievements of his mother's race, so Obama gloried in being part of his absent father's race.

Obama was accepted into posh Occidental College in Los Angeles, which then had a black mayor, Tom Bradley. But Oxy wasn't black enough, so in search of a community to belong to, he transferred to Harlem ... well, to be precise, to that prestigious university on the edge of Harlem, Columbia. (A recurrent theme in Obama's career is Power to the People gestures and Ivy League results.)

The piece goes on endlessly in this mode. And as Konetzki tried to explain to his bosses at the magazine, in doing so it also violated basic editorial norms of factuality and accuracy:
But it was the Obama piece that revealed the office's political divisions to be unworkable. The weekend after Kara and Scott dismissed my objections to Sailer's essay, I read Dreams From My Father. I realized that, in addition to the racist associations he employs, Sailer frequently quotes Obama out of context and makes assertions about Obama's racial identity that the book flatly contradicts.

For example, Sailer relates an anecdote from the book in which Obama's white grandmother wants a ride to work because she had been threatened by a black panhandler while waiting for the bus the day before. Obama "is outraged -- at his grandparents," according to Sailer, who offers the story as further evidence of Obama's anger toward his white family. But in the book the situation is far more nuanced than Sailer lets on. In fact, it's Obama's grandfather who's outraged that his wife was scared because, in her words, "the fella was black." Obama describes these words as "a fist in my stomach." But he tells his grandfather that although his grandmother's attitude bothered him, "Toot's fears would ... pass and we should give her a ride in the meantime." Putting his hand on his grandfather's shoulder, he says it's all right, that he understands.

In a further attempt to document Obama's alleged black nationalism, Sailer claims that "The happy ending to Dreams is that Obama's hard-drinking half-brother Roy -- 'Actually, now we call him Abongo, his Luo name, for two years ago he decided to reassert his African heritage' -- converts to teetotaling Islam." Roy does do these things, but the book's happy ending is the wedding of Barack and Michelle, which brings Obama's black and white relatives together in celebration on Chicago's South Side -- a poignant symbol with which to end a story about "race and inheritance." Dreams is not at all about Obama's "rejection of his white maternal family in favor of his unknown black paternal family," as Sailer asserts. It's about the loving bond Obama forms with the African paternal family he never knew, and how that not only helps him discover who he is, but also allows him to reconcile the tension between black and white he'd always felt within himself.

I arrived at the office on Monday prepared to make these points and many more -- not as a progressive who admired Obama, but as an assistant editor responsible for fact-checking. I sent an e-mail to Kara requesting a meeting that was never answered. And when I went to her office with Obama's book in hand, asking again whether we could discuss things, she called across the hall to Scott, who said, "Yeah, look, Alexander, this matter has already been decided. The piece is being published as it is." I pointed out that I had read the book, and Sailer's characterization of Obama was factually incorrect. "I have too many other things to worry about," Scott said coldly. "Steve Sailer is a longtime friend of the magazine, and if you and he read a book differently, well, I'll take his reading over yours any day."

Konetzki, unsurprisingly, cleared out his desk that day. The abiding issue for him, as it would be for any serious journalist, was that not only was the magazine about to publish a profoundly nasty and racist hit piece, but that it was willing to publish brazenly false information in order to do so.

Konetzki discovered what so many of us have found over the years in dealing in good faith with movement conservatives: lying is not only something they blithely do for the sake of the "cause," but it is in fact an essential component of their behavior and agenda.

It's not a bug, it's a feature. Ideologues are always innately untrustworthy, but right-wing ideologues come predisposed for dispensing falsehoods. Eventually, those of us who might otherwise find common ground with them are forced to choose between these relationships and their own integrity. It's not a hard choice to make.

But in the process, we can also watch the spectacle of movement conservatives, all too willing to unmoor themselves in the name of their "cause," drifting off into a Sargassan sea of old-fashioned racial and ethnic bigotry. It isn't a pretty sight.

Something to chew on

-- by Dave

Eric Muller was kind enough to include me on his list of "Five Blogs That Make Me Think", after he was listed himself by Sally Greene.

I don't often participate in these "memes" (this one originated here), but this one struck me as a great way of shouting out some blogs that probably deserve more attention.

Now, there are a good number of blogs out there that make me think, and some of them are well known. Any list I'd compile along these lines would be incomplete without acknowledging that people like Digby and Glenn Greenwald help spur my own thoughts tremendously, as do some lesser-known but still prominent blogs like Mahablog, not to mention Is That Legal?, which under the rules of the meme can't be listed anyway.

But I'd like to point out five blogs that aren't so much in the spotlight, blogs that help provide grist for my daily mills, even though they may post as irregularly as I sometimes do:
Pacific Views: Natasha and Mary and their gang of irregulars have been blogging away for some years now, and I always find their takes intriguing and enlightening.

Emphasis Added: Rob Salkowitz is a Seattle guy, and he's often even more irregular than I about posting, but what he does post is of the highest quality. Rob consistently offers intriguing and useful frames of thought.

Creek Running North: Chris needs no introduction to many blog readers, but I'm always struck by the combination of terrific writing and sound judgment and keen insight at his blog. Always worth a stop.

A Chicken is Not Pillage: Wulfgar is a real Montana kind of fellow, which means his take on many issues can be complicated, but always reality-based.

archy: John McKay is one of my oldest friends -- we knew each other in elementary school -- and that may have a lot to do with why I trust his insight and judgment as much as I do. Certainly we think a lot alike. But John always has an interesting angle, and lots of interesting fresh material.

Now, I've always thought that it's important to not trap yourself in an echo chamber. So I do read a lot of conservative blogs, but they are all so comically reactionary and propagandistic that it is difficult to take any of them seriously. Over the years I've been reading them, only one has managed not to descend into the Pits of Dogmatism for anything more than an occasional dip: John Cole's Balloon Juice. John still occasionally writes churlish things about me, but that's OK; I still find him informative and refreshing. So he earns an honorable mention for this list.

UPDATE: Dunno how I missed this, but Ahistoricality also picked Orcinus, but for Sara's writing -- a kudo well earned.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My favorite all-star

-- by Dave

So the fine folks at Democracy for America are holding a vote to determine which candidate out there will be selected for DFA's first endorsement of the election cycle. Among the three finalists -- all of whom seem to be superb choices -- is Darcy Burner, who nearly unseated Republican Rep. Dave Reichert in 2006 in Washington's 8th CD, a seat held for several eternities by the GOP.

It might be enough, of course, that Burner is taking aim at unseating Reichert, whose marked incompetence is already something of an embarrassment to the state's congressional delegation. Moreover, Reichert is not only a Bushoid who votes the White House line almost robotically, but he's managed to groom a local media image as a "moderate" Republican while in fact embracing extremist policies.

But Burner not only ran a fairly smart and effective campaign in 2006, thereby establishing her political chops, she also has a clear idea how to win and is willing to put in the hard work to do it. Most of all, she is a clear-eyed and committed progressive to her roots, and possesses the kind of vision that will serve Democrats well.

I already was impressed by Burner during and after the 2006 race, and have had the good fortune to work with her closely in recent months on a nonpolitical media project (details of which will be eventually forthcoming). My vague impressions of her were sharpened a great deal in that time: Burner not only is smart as a whip and extraordinarily capable, she's also a deeply decent person with a great drive to make a difference.

As I say, I know very little about Charlie Brown and Eric Massa. But what I can say is that Darcy Burner very much deserves every vote she can muster on this; she would be a superb choice and an excellent example of how the netroots can change our politics.

Also, be sure to follow the results at Blog For America. Darcy's currently in second place, and voting closes tomorrow morning.

[Darcy is also one of the leading candidates at the Eschaton Act Blue site, for those wishing to chip in monetarily as well.]

On Hiatus

-- Sara

I've gotten a few e-mails from people wondering where I went. (It's lovely to know I've been missed.)

Life has intervened. Last week, I was at a conference; this week, I'm in the last throes of finals (and yes, that's the Cheneyesque defintion of "last throes," which means that they're coming at you faster and harder now). As a result, there's been too little time for the kind of reading, research, and contemplation that leads to thoughtful blogging.

I'll be back at Orcinus early next week, primed for a summer vacation full of new blogging journeys. See you then.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Not just for theaters

We long ago entered the Bizarro Universe that is Rush Limbaugh's version of reality, but it remains informative to observe it in action. For instance, take Limbaugh's proclamation that the Virginia Tech killer, Seung-Hui Cho, "had to be liberal."

Reasoning: Cho evidently hated rich kids, which in LimbaughLand is the purview only of liberals. Limbaugh evidently has never been much exposed to poor or working-class kids, many of whom are decidedly not liberal, and who also decidedly hate rich kids.

Moreover, if he was a liberal, he didn't much seem to care that many of the people he was murdering in cold blood were also liberals. As my commenter mjfgates points out:
Well, now I've heard about a heroic Muslim, a heroic Jew, and a couple of heroic liberal ivory-tower academics.

Haven't heard about any Rush Limbaugh fans, though. Funny.

Along the same lines was Newt Gingrich bloviating that liberals were to blame for the Virginia Tech shooting because of their invidious cultural influence. But then, as Cliff Schechter notes, Newt has something of a history of blaming every spectacular crime or ugly event on liberals.

Perhaps the most instructive of these was the time he blamed liberals for the Susan Smith affair -- you know, the case of the South Carolina woman who drowned her children in her car and tried to fob it off on a mysterious one-armed black man. At the time, Gingrich said, mere days before the 1994 election: "I think that the mother killing the two children in South Carolina vividly reminds every American how sick the society is getting and how much we need to change things. The only way you get change is to vote Republican."

As Norman Solomon observed a little later:
Journalists might also ask Gingrich about Smith's stepfather, Beverly Russell. Prior to the kids' disappearance, Russell was busily campaigning not for the depraved Democrats, but for Newt Gingrich and his minions. Russell was a Republican leader in South Carolina and local organizer of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition.

During the nine days that Susan Smith had the country hunting for a nonexistent black carjacker, Russell urged nationwide prayer for the two missing kids: "All we can do is pray. This is a nightmare."

A prominent businessman and stockbroker, Russell married Smith's mom after she divorced Smith's dad (who later committed suicide). From the age of six, Russell raised Susan Smith in an upper-middle-class, church-going home. Gingrich's campaign comments notwithstanding, the home was free of counterculture and welfare-state influences.

But Susan Smith attempted suicide at age 13, and at age 15 told authorities that her stepdad had been sexually molesting her for at least a year. Her mother helped talk her out of pursuing charges against Russell. (At age 18, she attempted suicide again.)

The child-abuse case against the well-connected businessman smells of a cover-up. It's not known exactly how long the molestation went on, because the case file mysteriously vanished. And Susan Smith was not even represented in court by a lawyer or guardian, as required for minors.

The social-service worker who investigated the molestation testified at the murder trial that although Russell admitted the abuse and agreed to seek counseling, she was "concerned" that law enforcement closed the case so quickly.

Whatever counseling Russell underwent had little impact. The murder trial revealed that he was still having sex with his stepdaughter as recently as two months before she killed her kids.

While nothing can begin to excuse the horrendous act of drowning children in a lake, it's clear that Susan Smith suffered far more trauma in her youth than any girl should have to endure.

And most of the trauma was inflicted -- not by McGovernik Democrats or welfare bureaucrats -- but by an abusive stepfather who publicly championed "family values" and "school prayer" as partisan Republican issues.

Ah, projection everywhere. You remember projection. It's a strategy -- a rather brilliant conservative-movement strategy to simultaneously attack liberals and to clear the playing field for whatever behavior you want to indulge:
Whether it's sexual improprieties, slander, treason, or unhinged behavior, it doesn't matter: if the right is jumping up and down accusing the left of it, you can bet they're busy engaging in it themselves by an exponential factor of a hundred.

... For a long time, I really believed that this was simply the right acting out on its own psychological predisposition. But as it's gathered volume and momentum -- especially as the right has avidly accused the left of the very thuggishness, both rhetorical and real, in which it is increasingly indulging -- a disturbing trend began to emerge:

What is particularly interesting about this kind of projection by conservatives is that it then (as the comments indicate) becomes a pretext for even further eliminationist rhetoric against liberals -- and eventually, for exactly the kind of "acting out" of rhetoric that Van Der Leun foresees from liberals.

In other words, for a number of the right's leading rhetoricians, the projection appears to be perfectly conscious: it is a strategy, designed to marginalize their opposition and open the field to nearly any behavior it chooses.

Shockingly (I know), Gingrich and Limbaugh aren't the only Republicans identifying liberals with the Virginia Tech killer. In fact, somehow, every little movement-cnservative frother out in the hinterlands began picking it up and running with it. Funny how that happens, too.

The most prominent of these was Melanie Morgan at KSFO, whose exploits transmitting hateful, violent, and eliminationist rhetoric over the public airwaves have already been duly noted.

Morgan, in a WorldNetDaily column [Note to Morgan: If you're hoping to establish some vestige of credibility, WND is not exactly the place to publish], took the liberals=Cho meme and turned it into the world's most inappropriate metaphor:
I have lived on the other side of the gun barrel pointed by Media Matters for America for the better part of three years, and I know what it feels like when a bunch of crackpots with keyboards pull the trigger, backed by millions upon millions of dollars in funding from George Soros.

I co-host "The Lee Rodgers & Melanie Morgan Show," a conservative news/talk program on KSFO 560 AM in San Francisco, every weekday morning for four hours. Liberals are disgusted that our conservative program is one of the most-listened to radio programs in the notoriously liberal San Francisco Bay Area. We've endured several vicious campaigns waged against us by liberal activists with the backing of Media Matters for America, as they worked ruthlessly to have us silenced.

Several times these left-wing free speech Nazi's have almost succeeded.

The transcripts and audio files of my comments have been excerpted, misrepresented and reconfigured to take statements out of context, reprinted with lies and distortions, and then disseminated to other liberal media outlets with fierce resolve.

The Democratic Party wants to silence us, and they use Media Matters for America to wage a war against us replete with character assassination, personal threats, lawsuits and efforts to have us fired or suspended.

I can live with being targeted by these "vile, despicable ankle-biters," as Bill O'Reilly calls Media Matters. In an odd way, the attacks against me have energized me to fight even harder for the conservative causes I believe in. One of those causes includes the right to bear arms, a right that had been denied to the students and professors at Virginia Tech University who were unable to defend themselves from a deranged murderer who took no notice of the school's status as a "Gun Free Zone."

But make no mistake – the campaign by Media Matters for America against Don Imus is part of their way to send a message to conservatives on the airwaves and in print: "We're comin' to get you. We got Imus. And we'll get you, too." It is a chilling threat to our free speech rights in this country.

Now, with their current crusade in support of the gun control lobby, Media Matters is targeting our Second Amendment rights as well.

Like that mentally unbalanced and angry gunman at Virginia Tech, they'll methodically march through the domiciles of the conservative movement, targeting the movement's leaders for career elimination – until and unless we stand up and fight back against their campaign of mayhem against conservative leaders and causes.

Now, in the good ol' days some editor would have gotten ahold of this column beforehand and explained to Morgan that making a metaphor comparing a murderous rampage, in which many people died and many more suffered, to a relatively mainstream organization's sedate, factual, accurate, and reasoned criticism of someone's work is, well, a bit over-the-top.

It is, in fact, in the very poorest of taste, because it trivializes the very real death, bloodshed, and suffering of Cho's victims, as if Morgan's discomfort and concern about being called to task for her own words and actions could somehow rise to the level of moral consequence as the horror that befell those innocent victims.

But there are no editors of note these days in publications like WND and other right-wing meme dispensaries. Certainly, as Media Matters itself notes, factuality has a long tradition of being not merely an afterthought but a purposeful stranger to Morgan's operation. Not only does MM have no connection, financial or otherwise, to George Soros, but Morgan has engaged in the lowest of smears against him:
Morgan has smeared Soros in the past, agreeing with co-host Lee Rodgers' assertion that Soros "apparently very cheerfully and willingly went to work for the Nazis" as a young boy, and adding that Soros did so to "further his own career." KSFO's program director announced in a subsequent show that Rodgers' and Morgan's comments about Soros "are not accurate, and KSFO regrets that they were broadcast."

Outsize, absurd, nonsensical and illogical metaphors are the hallmark of right-wing projection in action. Which leaves us only to deduce that, once again, the eliminationists are busy hankering for liberals' elimination and wishing they could be taken out by a brave and heroic John Derbyshire (as Bruce Willis).

Not that anything resembling real action is likely to emerge from this pathetic pack of fantasists, trapped in their own little Bizarro Universe. The problem, as always, is the poor kook they manage to eventually work up into another fine murderous froth. And then they'll find a way to blame it, as always, on liberals. Works every time.

We heart scapegoating

What's a predictable result of the nonstop wall-to-wall coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting rampage? Well, unsurprisingly, a lot of people are angry.

And with xenophobes like Peter Brimelow and VDare (Michelle Malkin's fave mag) taking the opportunity to exploit the tragedy for their own political agendas -- in this case, bashing Asian immigrants -- it isn't hard to figure out who people will take their anger out on: namely, innocent Koreans. After all, scapegoating is one of our favorite American pastimes.

Sure enough, down in Alabama, an Auburn student was assaulted by a pack of rednecks for the crime of being Asian:
Auburn police are investigating a campus assault last week that targeted an 18-year-old Auburn University student because he is Asian, according to the police report.

The man was standing outside Lane Residence Hall about 11:30 p.m. Thursday when he was attacked by four men, according to the report. The assault lasted for about two minutes and the victim suffered cuts to his lips, a swollen right cheek and a knot on the right side of his head.

The victim's cousin, a part-time graduate at Auburn, said he believes the attack was a reaction to last week's massacre at Virginia Tech which left 33 people dead. The gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, was Korean-American.

"During the attack, one of the assailants actually said it was because my cousin is Asian," said the cousin. He said both men are Korean. He asked their names not be used because he fears retaliation.

When Korean officials last week urged Americans not to take out their anger on other Korean nationals and immigrants, it wasn't clear that Korean-bashing crimes would follow, and many of us were hopeful that would not be the case. Obviously, it was -- and thus the chill felt by many foreign students here was, perhaps, for good reason.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A brief reminder

To Michelle Malkin:

When you bandy about the term "Reconquista," you are in fact regurgitating a phrase created by white supremacists in support of a thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory.

Oh, wait. I see you've been doing likewise on other fronts as well.

Ah well. Par for the course.

We have met the enemy ...

... and he is us. -- Pogo

Hey everyone. You heroic right-wing bloggers especially. I want you to meet a real hero.

This man's name is Waleed Shaalan, and he was one of the 32 victims of Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech gunman who seems to have provoked so much "well I woulda given him the ol' kung-foo fighting cuz these hands are fast as lightning" fantasizing on the parts of so many arnchair critics of the victims' response to the rampage. Not to mention, of course, the ongoing speculation that Cho might secretly be a Muslim engaging in that jihad that Michelle Malkin swears is gonna swoop down on us any day now.

The case of Waleed Shaalan offers them a little bit of a reality check. There weren't many heroes that day, but he was one of them. And oh yes: He's Muslim.
He was gunned down on Monday while he was studying in Norris Hall, but witnesses say he died a hero.

According to Randy Dymond, a civil engineering professor at Virginia Tech, Mr. Shaalan was in a classroom with another student when the gunman entered and opened fire.

Mr. Shaalan was badly wounded and lay beside the other student, who was not shot but played dead, as the gunman returned two times searching for signs of life. Just as the gunman noticed the student, Mr. Shaalan made a move to distract him, at which point he was shot a second time and died. The student believed that Mr. Shaalan purposefully distracted the shooter to save him, Mr. Dymond said.

Muslim Matters has plenty more, including an extended original post on the subject.

Mr. Shaalan's case serves as a potent antidote to the machismo from the blogospheric right, notably the execrable John Derbyshire and Mark Steyn, whose fantasies about their own comportment under the threat of gunfire are clearly constructed out of the whole cloth of their sturdy Doom skills and multiple Die Hard viewings, when the reality is that they, like nearly everyone else, would be finding a dark corner to hide in and thinking about their loved ones when the bullets started flying and people around them were being killed.

Yes, it is possible to be a hero in these situations, but the greatest likelihood is that if you do, you will die. Everyone who acted heroically at Virginia Tech died, including Mr. Shaalan. We have to honor them for their sacrifice and their bravery. But don't ask me to second-guess the people who chose to try to find a way to stay alive first.

His case is also a potent reminder to the Michelle Malkins and Debbie Schlussels and Glenn Becks out there, the hapless halfwits who see the Enemy in the "war on terror" as Muslims almost en masse, and are constantly on the lookout for campus "jihads" (remember, if you will, how Malkin pounced all over that Oklahoma suicide bomber as just such a case). They were drooling all over themselves the day of the massacre, posting constantly in the hope that the shooter would turn out to be Muslim, and were palpably disappointed when this clearly turned out not to be the case. (In Schlussel's case, it didn't even slow her down.)

The reality is that mass killers come in all shapes, races, and ethnicities, all driven by different demons. With examples ranging from the Amish schoolgirl killer to the Columbine shooters to Tim McVeigh and Buford Furrow to the Washington snipers to Al Qaeda, you'd think the public would understand by now that these outbreaks of murderousness aren't the product of whatever characteristics might be imparted by one's race or ethnicity or faith.

This is why demonizing Muslims, as is the American right's increasing wont, is such a misbegotten misconception of the reality we face. Mainstream Muslims are every bit as threatened by Al Qaeda as mainstream Christians are threatened by the Aryan Nations types of "Christians". Leaping to the assumption that they share much at all in the way of interests is simply a grotesque leap away from the real world.

Moreover, if we are to win against terrorists, we're going to need as many friends as we need, including the world's 1.4 billion Muslims. People like Waleed Shaalan. Because we should know that they, too, are fully capable of doing the right and heroic thing.

Unlike, in stark contrast, the multiple Yellow Elephants of the right. You'll notice that none of them has managed to recognize, discuss, or even mention his heroism so far.