So yesterday, as Mr. Dillettante notes, Bob Collins of MPR (writing at “Gather.com”) and I got into a rhubarb over the interpretation and meaning of a sign he saw at Jason Lewis’ annual Tax Cut Rally last weekend, and the fact that it was displayed at all.
In his article on Gather, Collins posted the photo – of a sign that says “Tax Cuts: Even A Monkey Can Do It”, with some form of stylized hand-drawn chimpanzee in the middle. He also posted a link to a WaPo article that notes that the Tea Party is countering the “perception” of racism (shown in a series of polls that that while Tea Partiers overwhelmingly say that they are not motivated by racism, Democrats really really double-dog believe they are.
To summarize Collins’ point, between his article and the comment he left (and feel free to jump in if anyone thinks I’m summarizing unfairly):
- A “perception” exists that the Tea Party is at least partly motivated by racism.
- There is no doubt whatsoever that the sign was racist.
- If the presence of so much as one sign doesn’t prove the “perception” correct, the fact that nobody kicked him out of the rally does.
As Bob put it in one line, “the medium is the message”.
- Of course you can find racists at Tea Parties. No movement of several million people – especially one with absolutely no barriers to entry whatsoever – is going to be free of at least at thin film of bigots and idiots. You’ll find them at a “Prairie Home Companion” taping, for that matter.
- The odds are better than even that the person holding the sign was a ringer – a lefty like this very special young fella who gets his jollies presenting his opposition in the most loathsome possible light by providing a living caricature of it.
- Even if it wasn’t a ringer, to a big chunk of the population here in 92% white Minnesota, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar a monkey is just a monkey, more a symbol of simple-minded rote cognitive simplicity than a racist slur. Granted, one has to tread lightly around terms like that when an Afro-American is the subject, but I think Collins is at some risk of superimposing his own templates and prejudices onto the topic.
- This is not only Minnesota – the land of millions of Scandinavians who won’t return an undercooked egg to the kitchen for fear of raising a fuss, much less confront an offensive stranger – but a rally full of people who are inclined to be libertarians; who believe, as a matter of principle, that everyone, even the most depraved, as a right to free speech, and that indulging in stupid, bigoted speech reflects on them, not on oneself. (To say nothing of people, like me, who are pretty much oblivious to signs anyway). It’s whythe last Tea Party rally detailed a security group specifically to find, photograph and discredit such signs (which, in news that is completely unrelated, I’m sure, didn’t appear at that Tea Party rally).
- The “perception” exists because the Adminitration and the mainstream media – pardon the very deliberate redundancy – want it to exist. As the Media Research Center noted, the major-media’s coverage of the Tea Parties has been so consistently dismissive, slanted, biased and wrong that it’s very difficult to believe it’s not part of a concerted pattern; in other words, the “perception” exists because the mainstream media, and the administration it overwhelmingly supports, wants that perception to exist, no matter how it has to waterboard context and mangle fact to make it happen. Indeed; the mainstream media (as the MRC noted) devoted slavering coverage to the tiny fringe of racist and off-color signs at Tea Parties, but utterly ignored Pajamas Media’s successful effort to expose a large number of these “racists” as lefty ringers – but the drumbeat of stories and “infotainment” about the Tea Parties’ supposed “racism” didn’t take so much as a breath.
Or to put it in one line; “2+2=The Narrative, Winston”.
So I’d like to follow up the discussion with a few questions of my own.
- So after the Seattle WTO riots, the union roughing up the Young Republicans at the Minnesota State Fair and breaking into the state GOP campaign office in 2006, the conviction of a would-be firebomber in connection with the Republican National Convention in Saint Paul, the assault on a Tea Partier at Senator Carnahan’s office (with racial epithets, against a black man, no less), the Bill Sparkman suicide, the professor and out-of-control Obama supporter murdering her five colleagues, the Bush-deranged guy in Texas crashing his plane into an IRS office, the Pentagon Station shootings (by another BDS sufferer), and the violence and vandalism-prone immigration rallies, is there a “percpeption” that the American left is prone to meeting dissent with thuggish and violent behavior?
- If not – in other words, if a years-long pattern of thuggishness and violence doesn’t create every bit as much an “perception” as the selective display of some ignorant and racist (and likely spurious) signs – then why not?
- Could it be because the industry that creates these “perceptions” is selective about the “perceptions” it chooses to create and propagate?
- If not, why?
I’ll welcome any actual answers.