29 April, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

When the going gets tough, the wingnuts get rabid:

Keith Olbermann, on Countdown last night, brought the whammy down on the wingnut talking heads at Fox (and the rest of the conservative media as well) for their ongoing attempts to blame immigrants for the spread of the swine flu from Mexico:

Well, yes, you are a racist. Exactly how does that apply, though, to the people who the Centers for Disease Control confirmed actually carried the Swine Flu from Mexico to the U.S., a group of Catholic school students from New York City, who spent Spring Break in Cancun. Uncontrolled Catholic immigration, open borders for private school kids reckless?

Anyway, unswayed by the facts, the Republican echo chamber tried to stir the American melting pot with a classic recipe of hate and fear.


Tom Allison at Media Matters put together a first-round look at some of the ugliness:

-- Savage declaring that Mexicans "are a perfect mule -- perfect mules for bringing this virus into America."

-- Michelle Malkin warning that the pandemic was the product of "uncontrolled immigration."

-- Beck warning that the pandemic will create a crush of people trying to flee north across our border.

And that's just scratching the surface. As Eric Ward at Imagine 2050 observes, some of the nativist right's more inflammatory figures were saying even uglier things.

I'm sure they are. Their minds just aren't equipped to treat other people as human beings, or deal with facts vs. their frothing fanatic fantasies.

In case you think they're just running scared because of the swine flu, and feel moved to give them the benefit of the doubt, you might want to observe that this is merely standard operating procedure:

I've read quite a few columns from Byron York over the years, first during his tenure at the National Review, and more recently as the chief political correspondent for the Washington Examiner. I've seen plenty of commentary I strongly disagree with, but none has offended me quite as much as his latest column.

On his 100th day in office, Barack Obama enjoys high job approval ratings, no matter what poll you consult. But if a new survey by the New York Times is accurate, the president and some of his policies are significantly less popular with white Americans than with black Americans, and his sky-high ratings among African-Americans make some of his positions appear a bit more popular overall than they actually are. [emphasis added]


The problem, of course, is that damn phrase "than they actually are." York argues that we can see polls gauging public opinion, but if we want to really understand the popularity of the president's positions, and not be fooled by "appearances," then we have to exclude black people.

There's really no other credible way to read this. York effectively argues that black people shouldn't count. We can look at polls measuring the attitudes of Americans, but if we want to see the truth -- appreciate the numbers as "they actually are" -- then it's best if we focus our attention on white people, and only white people.

See, nothing to do with swine flu. Just the usual knee-jerk racism, xenophobia, and inflated sense of their own worth.

And in another example, check out our Con lawmakers, incensed over the idea that gay people might be worthy of protection from hate crimes:

The right wing, unsurprisingly, is up in arms over extending protection to victims of anti-gay crimes. Led by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), House Republicans took to the floor last night to warn that the bill would impose "tyranny," create a "Big Brother" government, and end religious freedom:

REP MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN): I feel that this hate crime legislation could be considered the very definition of tyranny.

REP. GRESHMAN BARRET (R-SC): This bill would inhibit religious freedom in our society -- a scary thought.

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): You think a pregnant mother does not deserve the protection of a homosexual? You think a military member doesn't deserve the protection of a transvestite?

REP. STEVE KING (R-IA): I, Mr. Speaker, oppose and I defy the logic of the people that would advocate for such legislation the very idea we could divine what goes on in the heads of people when they commit crimes.


Apparently unbeknownst to House Republicans, a federal hate crimes law already exists: Passed in 1968, it allowed federal investigation and prosecution of hate crimes based on race, religion, and national origin. The new law would simply add sexual orientation and gender identity to the protected groups, and allow local governments to get needed resources from the federal government for investigations and prosecutions.
It got so bad that one Rep. Virginia Foxx, actually called Matthew Shepard's murder a hoax:

As the House of Representatives debates an expansion of hate crimes legislation, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) has taken the rhetoric to a new level, claiming that those who say Matthew Shepard was murdered in Wyoming for being gay are perpetrating a "hoax" on the American people.

"I also would like to point out that there was a bill -- the hate crimes bill that's called the Matthew Shepard bill is named after a very unfortunate incident that happened where a young man was killed, but we know that that young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery. It wasn't because he was gay. This -- the bill was named for him, hate crimes bill was named for him, but it's really a hoax that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills," said Foxx.

A Foxx spokesman didn't immediately return a call. The Matthew Shepard "hoax" notion is a popular meme on right-wing blogs.

There's disgusting, and then there's despicable. They've crossed the threshhold on both.

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