It’s the oldest, most manipulative game in the world of rhetoric.
- Find something an opponent of yours said, wrote or did that, taken by itself, could be seen as embarassing.
- Carefully pare away anything that’d give the casual consumer any idea of the context of the original saying.
- Splash it out there as big and bad as you can.
- Make sure it splatters all over anyone or anything associated with your victim.
It’s a good way to get people who already agree with you to really really agree with you; boy, are your opponents icky!
Of course, it’s not all that honest. But then, it’s rarely about presenting an honest appraisal of something or someone one disagrees with.
Oh, it happened again; a local leftyblogger made a really, really ugly insinuation about one of the local conservative ‘sphere’s stalwarts.
Let’s walk through it from the top.
Find Something Embarassing
Jeff Fecke, writing at his own blog and at lefty coagublog “Alas A Blog”, writes:
On July 1, over at Minnesota righty superblog True North (”Pointing Minnesota in the Right Direction”), Kevin Ecker decided to use his time to highlight an anti-immigration rally in Austin, Minnesota:
Political activism at it’s [sic] best is honest grassroots efforts by people finally fed up with lying politicians who decide to do something about an issue rather than just complain.
Kevin, like a lot of conservatives, is opposed to illegal immigration. Unlike most liberals, he distinguishes between legal and illegal immigration – which is a lot more nuance than a lot of the left will credit, as they need to keep the bloody shirt aloft.
Now, remember – in the graf above, Ecker notes that “political activism at its best” is the stuff of the grassroots activist, the one who does it for the love of his/her cause.
Kevin found one of them, and quoted him:
Basically Austin is a town that the residents feel has been devastated by illegal immigration, and a lone resident, Sam Johnson, finally got fed up. He organized the first rally despite being up against professionally organized counter protests by the likes of La Raza, Centro Campesino and various Marxist organizations bussed in from the cities.
And if that’s where we stop – if that’s all you know – then so far so good!
But it’s there that the problems begin. Sam Johnson was surely out-front on the immigration issue; unfortunately, he’s out-front on something else. Something Fecke apparently learned about (albeit four months after the fact):
Sam Johnson, honest American, just doing the best he can to make our country free of “illegal immigration.” Or, you know, any immigration. Because this is Sam Johnson:
In case you’re wondering — and I doubt you are, but some people might not be able to view the picture — yes, that’s a guy wearing a neo-Nazi uniform. Because Sam Johnson isn’t just a hard-working white American who’s fed-up with illegal immigration. He’s a neo-Nazi, the head of the National Socialist Movement Southeast Minnesota. He is one of the most vile individuals in my state, and he’s a guy who the world will be better off without.
I’m not personally as ready to demand anyone’s death as Fecke seems to be – but the fact remains, Johnson is an unsavory character – or is at least a guy with some beliefs most people actively shun.
Strip Away All Context
And Johnson deserves some shunning:
Sally Jo Sorensen of the outstanding (sic) Bluestem Prairie blog actually interviewed Johnson (one hopes she took a long, hot shower afterward) [Stop objectifying women! – Ed.]; you should really read all of part one and bookmark the site for the next two installments, but here’s a brief excerpt:
“Minorities should not be citizens,” Johnson said, “only 100 percent true white Americans.” He outlined his vision of a nation in which all people of color would be stripped of their citizenship, no matter how long their families had lived in the United States, and moved to communities that would be strictly delineated according to race.
People of African descent would live with other people of African descent, Latinos with Latinos, Asians with Asians, American Indians with American Indians, and “real Americans” with other “real Americans. “Real American” and non-citizen status would be determined be having had family living in the country for five generations or 50-70 years.
And it goes on. It’s pretty putrid stuff. (And some liberal will no doubt chime in “Putrid? That’s the most you can say about Nazis?” Look – my anscestors, most likely like yours, spent the best years of their lives bombing, shelling, shooting and bayonetting the Nazis back into their caves. I’ve gotten anti-semitic death threats; I’ve interviewed, and shredded, Holocaust revisionists. Question my Nazi-slagging pedigree at your own risk – preferably to my face). Read it if you want; Fecke and “Blue Stem Prairie” list it at some length.
But what actually happened?
This is the guy that True North — a blog that has included Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.; PowerLine’s Scott Johnson; and David Strom, the head of the Minnesota Taxpayers League as contributors — decided to back. A neo-Nazi.
It’s a a lie. Quoting someone on an issue, even approvingly, without knowing anything about his background, is not an “endorsement”.
Kevin Ecker, by way of endorsing grassroots activism on an issue that matters to him, latched onto the actions of Sam Johnson, of whose political affiliations he had no knowledge.
No, I mean no knowledge. Because I did what Fecke should have done before accusing someone of being in cahoots with Nazis; gotten his side of it.
Here’s what Ecker said, in an email to me shortly after this “story” “broke”:
No I did not know he was a Neo-Nazi and if I had I wouldn’t have run it. I thought he was a small time illegal immigration activist. I’m not inclined to assume the worst in people, so the thought that he was a Neo-Nazi never occurred. And googling a name like “” seemed an act of futility. My posting was NOT an endorsement, but rather simply a notification of a illegal immigration rally, something I’ve posted dozens of times before, for BOTH sides of the issue.
Of course, if you’ve written a blog for any length of time, you’ve probably done this – quoted someone without knowing the deeper context.
But if you’re smart, you haven’t take that factoid – a mistaken compliment paid to someone who doens’t deserve it – and expanded it into a group smear of everyone you disagree with.
What Fecke has done (to deafening, echoing applause in his comment section) is taken that error, stripped it of context, and…
Splash It Out There, Big And Bad And Far And Wide
…applied it willy-nilly to a shopping list of Big Bad People Jeff Fecke disagrees with. True North? Michele Bachmann? Scott Johnson (who, I should point out, is Jewish, not that the Minnesota left considers bad taste especially declasse when referring to Big Bad Conservatives)?
Of course, the conclusion was written long ago – long before Kevin Ecker started his blog:
But that shouldn’t be surprising — the Republican party has deliberately chosen to throw its lot in with the most extreme elements of the hard-core, fascist-and-no-that’s-not-hyperbole, racist right. It is disgusting. It is despicable.
Well, no. It’d be charitable to call it “hyperbole”; indeed, it’s worse; it’s the kind of dehumanizing, stereotyped approach to all dissent that managed to find six degrees of separation between anyone you disagree with and the ugliest depravities you can imagine. It’d be like holding every Democrat today accountable for the Holodomor because of the historic links between the DFL and the Comintern. At the very least it’s an attempt to make it virtually impossible to stay with an argument on a run-of-the-mill domestic issue; to discuss illegal immigration, you have to not only carry on the argument, but also fight against the whole “Nazi” thing.
Which may strike one as the perfect argument, in an Alinskiite sense, but doesn’t help much when it comes to running a civil society.
Someone tell Fecke.
Make Sure It Splatters
Of course, Fecke – and the mass of demented bobbleheads in both of his comment sections – couldn’t let it go at defaming Kevin Ecker. He had to apply it like rhetorical birdshot, splotching it all over every target of opportunity in the regional right; he tries to infer that every workadaddy, hugamommy conservative that has problems with unfettered illegal immigration is part and party to the Nuremberg Laws, the Warsaw Ghetto and Majdanek.
We’ve been through this before, of course; it was two years ago the local leftysphere hopped up and down and vented their outrage on cue over the “Dirt Worshipping Heathens” “scandal”. Of course, that episode was a little different – there was actual intent involved, although not the intent that Karl Bremer imputed to Tracy Eberly’s piece. But with context carefully and misleadingly excised, Bremer went on to slag the entire “Minnesota Organization of Bloggers” (notwithstanding the fact that the MOB has no, none, zero, zip editorial input, much less control, over any of its member blogs. We drink. That’s it). But that doesn’t matter; in the Alinskiite world of the leftyblogger, actual meaning is of no value.
Anyway – unless…
- …Ecker actually meant to endorse a Nazi. Any Nazi. And…
- …if Rep. Bachmann, Scott Johnson, the editors and contributors to True North and/or anyone involved with the project endorsed any part of Naziism, and…
- …any part of current mainstream Republican thought shares anything (beyond the level of the “Hyperbolic Rant”) with actual Naziism, as opposed to the “everyone we disagree with is a Nazi whether they actually goosestep or not” sense of the term…
…then it’s really just defamation, guilt by association, and group slander.
Which, thankfully, is wearing thin with real people.
I invite Mr. Fecke’s response.
UPDATE: From an email:
“It sure would be interesting to comb through Fecke’s archives looking for approving references to people who turned out to be scumbags, wouldn’t it?”
I don’t really care for “gotcha” blogging. But if you do, by all means, have at it!