The Self-Fulfilling Perception

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):

  1. A “perception” exists that the Tea Party is at least partly motivated by racism.
  2. There is no doubt whatsoever that the sign was racist.
  3. 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”.

My response:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. Could it be because the industry that creates these “perceptions” is selective about the “perceptions” it chooses to create and propagate?
  4. If not, why?

I’ll welcome any actual answers.

18 thoughts on “The Self-Fulfilling Perception

  1. You can find racists at a DNC convention. In the SEIU. In the AFL/CIO. At MSNBC. In the Congressional Black Caucus.
    Bob is a self-righteous douche.

  2. And don’t forget about the progressive who twice drew a swastika on Norm Coleman’s head (a picture of Norm on a billboard) in St Paul.

  3. Mitch, I’ve read your back & forth with Collins in the comments section of his smear-piece.
    You are too defensive. Collins is the one practicing poor journalism, He was not at the rally, he is attempting to smear an entire group of people on the basis of one sign that offended his delicate sensibilities. It’s not the job of anyone to to allow speech based on what might offend Collins. This is America, fer God’s sake. He’s a hack journalist.
    Any discussion with him should begin with a demand that he withdraw his scurrilous, baseless accusation.

  4. OF COURSE they are selective about the “perceptions” that they create and propagate. And this tells us something about them:

    1. They are more concerned with political gamesmanship than with racial justice/harmony.
    2. They are unconcerned with truth.
    3. They are happy to libel/slander people with whom they disagree.

    It reflects poorly on Collins that he would participate in this. Perhaps he does so out of a real sense of abhorring racism. Fine. But that feather in his cap is outdone by his willingness to sow racial discord, trample on truth, and libel/slander his fellow citizens.

  5. Mr Collins would agree completely with the following quote:

    “If there is an ‘overabundance’ of an idea in the absence of direct
    governmental action — which there well might be when compared with
    some ideal state of public debate — then action disfavoring that idea
    might ‘un-skew,’ rather than skew, public discourse.”

  6. Isn’t that what the latest SCOTUS nominee Kagan said? Boy I can’t wait for the hearings.

  7. Ben, yeah its a quote from this paper:
    http://www.scotusblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Private-Speech-Public-Purpose.pdf

    one of her few published pieces that give any clue as to her legal philosophy. Essentially she makes a case for “the fairness doctrine” and prior restraint in order to produce equal outcomes for all in the marketplace of ideas.
    The prior restraint part is the part Mr Collins is hot for, since he essentially insists that in order for the Tea Party advocates to exercise their “free speech” they first should be vetted by appropriate gatekeepers.

  8. I’ll make the same point I did before. The Left believes it can pre-empt debate on issues by playing the racists-at-work card. So an unverified storm of N-words as congressmen cross a street is supposed to negate the concerns of the protestors who exercised their rights of free speech and didn’t use any potty words, racial slurs, throw rocks or firebombs. A guy like Bob Collins wants us to believe it, but that only exposes the shallowness of his thinking and his fear to engage on the real issue: an out of control government which refuses to rein in taxation and spending. I’d be happy if he would try to defend bailouts, stimulus spending etc, but he just wants to live in 1962 and pretend that the KKK is running the Tea Party. One guy holds a sign that insults the President (and that has never happened before) and he wants the protest to halt in its tracks to purge the alleged racist. The fact that we even honor his ridiculous assertion is a testament to the true greatness of America and its Constitution. Unfortunately, he’d just as soon be selective about it and condemn those who demonstrate in opposition to his choice for president while reserving the right to support clamorous reaction to leaders he dislikes.

  9. If Collins think that it is the duty of his fellow citizens to read his mind, find out what displeases him, and then enforce his edicts about what is and what is not permitted signage at political events he should move to Collinsland, ‘cuz we can’t & won’t do that in America.

  10. This is ominous, Mitch.

    I grew to like Rush because he said what I was thinking only better than I could say it. He didn’t tell me what to think, he validated what I already thought by showing I wasn’t the only one who thought it, and that there was a coherent, logical basis for my opinion, even if I couldn’t express it myself.

    Now you’re doing it.

    It really IS a vast, right-wing conspiracy!

  11. no he’s not, he’s a good guy…

    Then why doesn’t this outstanding gentlemen defend his honor and answer Mitch’s questions?

  12. I wonder what Bob would have to say about this exchange between a UCSD student and David Horowitz.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fSvyv0urTE&feature=player_embedded

    She mentions that the MSA is sponsoring Hitler Youth Week ( I really hope that her comment was just a twisted joke) and at the end seems to come out in favor of another holocaust.

    At nearly every lefty protest we can find pictures of people wearing Che shirts, Communist themed books for sale, Anti Jewish propaganda and signs and International Answer. Are we to assume that all lefty protesters support Communism and the extermination of the Jews?

    Bob Collins, look around at the signs at lefty protests. Don’t follow the MSM meme and maybe report on the ill mannered signs at protests you support. Or do what you say you want us to do. Demand that the anarchists go home and don’t accept no for an answer.

  13. Pingback: MPR: Pounding That Wedge For All It’s Worth | Shot in the Dark

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