One of the lingering questions about Chuck Hagel’s nomination to the Defense Department has been his failure to produce the texts of speeches he gave to various advocacy groups that had been requested by members of the Senate. One of them was a 2008 address given to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination League. When reporters from the Washington Free Beacon came calling to ask the ADC for a transcript or a tape, they were thrown out and accused of harassment by the group. Meanwhile they refused to make the material public. That caused some raised eyebrows especially after the Free Beacon unearthed evidence that Hagel had told an audience at Rutgers University that the U.S. State Department was taking its orders from the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
But today the ADC says it will make the tape of the speech public and assures Politico that there is nothing controversial in it. Hagel had better hope so since barring a last minute compromise in the Senate, it appears his nomination will be successfully filibustered raising the chances that Democrats will finally give up on this unsuitable candidacy.
But ADC isn’t satisfied with doing its part to help clear the name of a politician with a record of hostility to friends of Israel and opposition to being tough on Iran and Islamist terrorists. Abed Ayoub has gone further and claimed the hunt for the Hagel tape was “racist” and part of a campaign to “demonize” the Arab community. This is familiar territory for a group that has done its best to promote the myth of a post-9-11 backlash against American Muslims. But the attempt to divert both journalists and the Senate from the truth about Hagel’s troubling record shouldn’t succeed. Far from seeking to attack Arabs, those trying to unearth Hagel’s statements have revealed that it is President Obama’s nominee who is the one engaging in prejudicial stereotypes.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a leading figure in a tyrannical regime that has murdered untold numbers of his own people and which funds international terrorism that has claimed the lives of many Americans, including our soldiers in Iraq. He is a Holocaust denier and, like the government he fronts, is a font of vicious anti-Semitic invective that has repeatedly threatened to destroy the State of Israel. But, according to a Michigan congressman, Americans should mind their manners when speaking of him.
Republican Justin Amash is a second generation Palestinian-American and is apparently under the impression that any comparison of even one of the vilest figures on the international stage to a monkey is a sign of racism against Persians or perhaps prejudice against Muslims and Arabs. Amash lashed out at Senator John McCain today for a humorous tweet in which the Arizona senator made fun of Ahmadinejad’s stated desire to be the first Iranian in space. The Iranians made an unsubstantiated claim that they sent a monkey into space last week and when he heard Ahmadinejad’s comment, McCain, like many other Americans, couldn’t contain his mirth on his Twitter feed:
So Ahmadinejad wants to be first Iranian in space – wasn’t he just there last week? “Iran launches monkey into space” http://news.yahoo.com/iran-launches-monkey-space-showing-missile-progress-003037176.html
When he was told of criticism of his remark, the caustic McCain sent out another tweet:
Re: Iran space tweet – lighten up folks, can’t everyone take a joke?
But Amash doesn’t think taking Ahmadinejad’s name in vain is funny and tweeted the following:
Maybe you should wisen up & not make racist jokes.
Race is the third rail of American politics and any comment that smacks of hatred is abhorrent. But the attempt to depict Ahmadinejad as a victim of Western prejudice lacks credibility. The day that Americans can’t crack wise about a purveyor of hatred is one in which we not only have lost our sense of humor but also our moral compass.
There is a New York Times op-ed this morning that is somewhere beyond appalling. It is by Adolph L. Reed Jr., a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
Professor Reed writes about the appointment of Rep. Tim Scott to replace the retiring Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina. Scott, in Reed’s view, is essentially an Uncle Tom because he does not agree with the politics of most black Americans:
Last week, John Sununu lost his perch as one of the Mitt Romney campaign’s leading cable news talking head surrogates when he surmised that the reason former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed President Obama again this year is because both men are African-American. While, as I wrote, there were other, perhaps more compelling reasons for Powell to back the president, liberals seized on Sununu’s statement as evidence of Republican racism. The race theme resurfaced again yesterday when liberal blogger Andrew Sullivan said on ABC’s “This Week” that the potential return of Virginia and Florida to the Republican column this year (along with likely GOP pickup North Carolina that he failed to mention) would mean the revival of “the Confederacy.”
Sullivan’s rather simplistic thesis was quickly shot down by George Will who pointed out that it was more likely that the whites who voted for Obama in 2008 but who won’t this year are judging the president on his performance in office rather than having become racist in the last four years. That’s obvious, but the willingness to jump on Sununu and to start talking about the Confederacy is no accident. In an election in which the president seems to be losing independents, Democrats desperately need voters to think more about Barack Obama’s historic status as the first African-American president and less about the record that he can’t run on. The president’s difficult electoral predicament is not a function of prejudice but the fact that more Americans are looking beyond race rather than obsessing about it.
Many conservatives are boiling mad about the emergence of a videotape of a 2007 speech given by President Obama at Hampton University. In it, the president — then just a senator from Illinois running for the White House — engages in some disgraceful racial incitement. He claimed the Bush administration deliberately shortchanged Hurricane Katrina victims because of racism. He also lavishly praised Rev. Jeremiah Wright and said he was a mentor. For many Obama critics, this is one more smoking gun proving the president is every bit the radical who is comfortable lying about race and extolling those, like Wright, who hate America and promote conspiracy theories. Tucker Carlson, whose Daily Caller broke the story of the tape, is right to term Obama a shameless demagogue for having the gall to say that Republicans didn’t care as much about poor black hurricane survivors as they did about the families of the 9/11 victims.
But as bad as it is, anyone who thinks the tape will change any votes next month is dreaming. Candidates for president may be judged on their backgrounds but sitting presidents are judged on their records. Nor can we entirely blame the fact that this story got buried by the press. It is true, as Politico notes in a feature about the video, that the liberal mainstream media did not make a big deal about the remarks when they were reported early in 2008 much as they failed to hold Obama accountable for another statement made that year in which he derided Americans for “clinging to guns and religion.” But let’s also understand that the problem goes deeper than just the press.
Some Republicans may be shocked and confused that Democrats are seizing on any mention of welfare or immigration or any other legitimate political issue that can be described as racism. They shouldn’t be. Democrats have been howling about “coded language” and “dog whistles” all year, as well as making race-based complaints about voter ID laws. But lately they have become less subtle as Vice President Joe Biden’s threat that Republicans want to “put y’all back in chains” to a mostly black audience indicated. The hysteria on the left on this point has become particularly intense this week, as the Republican National Convention has served as a convenient target for commentators like MSNBC’s Chris Matthews who have become nearly unhinged trying to prove that Republicans are appealing to racism.
But if anyone is determined to keep race on the minds of Americans it is the Democrats. The obsessive search for hidden racism in Republican rhetoric isn’t merely because, as Mickey Kaus noted today on his blog, they “simply have race on the brain.” It’s because waving the bloody shirt of the fight against segregation is their only way of recapturing the magic of 2008, in which Americans took pride in voting for Barack Obama because doing so was a way to take part in a historic achievement. After four years of presidential futility, it’s not possible to make voters buy into another round of “hope and change.” But it is still possible to make independents and wavering Democrats think voting Republican will undo the progress that Obama’s election signaled.
You might think it would be more offensive for Mitt Romney to skip the NAACP convention entirely than to show up and give a respectful speech as he did yesterday — but you’d be wrong. (Well, actually you’d be half-right: the left probably would have accused Romney of racism either way.)
According to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, Romney outed himself as a race-baiter just by showing up at the NAACP. As this theory goes, Romney apparently knew that getting booed would send a subtle signal to racists that he was on their side (via Washington Examiner):
Speaking to TheGrio.com’s Goldie Taylor, O’Donnell said, “Tell me, Goldie, if I’m being too cynical, to think that the Romney campaign actually went in that room today with the hope of getting booed, at least three times, because they want the video of their candidate being booed by the NAACP to play in certain racist precincts where that will actually help them.”
Taylor agreed with O’Donnell’s assessment, adding Romney appeared “paternalistic” and criticized him for using a “derisive word” like “ObamaCare” to describe the President’s Affordable Health Care act.
Okay, but why would Romney even need to send some sort of clandestine signal to these “racist precincts” O’Donnell mentions? I assume that many of the people in these “racist precincts” possess eyes, and have already caught on to the fact that Obama is African-American and Romney is white. For racists, that choice would probably be self-explanatory. No need for any secret dog whistle there.
The almost hysterical reaction in the mainstream press to the revelation that one super PAC was planning to run ads about President Obama’s former pastor, the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was highly instructive. For two days, liberal newspapers like the New York Times and much of the rest of the chattering classes have been hyperventilating about something that not only had no connection to the campaign of Mitt Romney but which was specifically condemned by the candidate. And yet somehow we are told that this non-event changed the political narrative of the week and distracted Americans from thinking about the failing economy that is causing the president’s poll numbers to head south.
The alacrity with which the Obama campaign and their liberal cheerleaders seized on the Wright issue spoke volumes about the Democrats’ current weakness. The president’s chief problems revolve around the fact that the economy is so poor and his signature legislative accomplishment — ObamaCare — is deeply unpopular. Because he cannot run on his record, his path to victory in November must therefore involve a careful combination of calumnies against his opponent and attempts to change the subject from the nation’s fiscal health to the one that helped elect him in 2008: race. That is the only way to explain his campaign’s desperate attempt to leverage a marginal story into a major campaign issue.
As Alana noted earlier today, the Obama campaign went into overdrive to condemn a conservative super PAC for considering running an ad campaign that would concentrate on linking President Obama to his controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Liberal pundits are also doing their best to muster up outrage about the mere possibility that Wright’s name should be uttered in connection with the president. At TIME Magazine, Joe Klein refers to the planned ads as “really, really ugly.” At the New York Times, Andrew Rosenthal, calls it “race baiting.”
Both are right to call it bad politics. It is a foolish waste of resources that could be better used to remind voters of what a lousy president they’ve had for the last four years. Republicans need to cast the election as a referendum on Obama’s job performance. Personal attacks against Romney are going to be part of the president’s re-election effort. Copying that sort of thing is an unforced error on the part of conservatives. But pardon me if I find the faux outrage these writers are trying to gin up about the mention of Wright is utterly unconvincing.
Author Naomi Schaefer Riley was an ornament to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Brainstorm blog where she provided a keen dissenting voice pointing out the follies of modern academia. Riley, the author of the brilliant The Faculty Lounges … And Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get the College Education You Pay For, is a critic of the liberal orthodoxies of the American campus. She has earned the enmity of the sector’s establishment by pointing out the con games played by universities that have profited from the creation of sham disciplines and the way college faculties have insulated themselves by focusing largely on the publication of arcane academic papers filled with jargon that makes no sense to anyone outside of their narrow fields.
Having such a voice of reason at a publication like the Chronicle–which caters to the residents of those faculty lounges about which Riley has written–was an important and perhaps daring decision on the part of its editors. But apparently there is a limit to their willingness to allow anyone to speak the truth about the academic world. After Riley wrote a post pointing out the absurdity at the heart of a recent Chronicle feature that highlighted the “young guns” at Black Studies departments around the nation, the publication says “thousands” of its readers protested. Rather than stand by their writer, the Chronicle caved to criticism in the most abject manner possible. In a craven note to its readers, editor Liz McMillen claimed Riley’s post “did not meet the Chronicle’s basic editorial standards for reporting and fairness in opinion articles” and fired her. In shamefully throwing Riley under the bus, the Chronicle has not only done her an injustice. It has undermined, perhaps fatally, its credibility as a journal of thought as well as making it clear it will no longer countenance any dissent from academia’s wisdom on race and gender studies.
Race is the original sin of American history. To deny its influence on our society is as futile as it is illogical. Nevertheless, the attempt to cast President Obama’s re-election campaign as the focus of a racial backlash seems to be more about obfuscating the issues that are animating the vast majority of voters than providing any insight into public opinion.
Yet that is very much the conceit of a front-page feature in today’s New York Times titled, “Four Years Later, Race is Still Issue for Some Voters.” The Times’ sent a reporter to Steubenville, Ohio and beat the bushes to find some racists and found a few, though they seemed to come in some unlikely varieties. The piece failed to explain why if the president won this crucial swing state in 2008 he should be worried about the minority of voters who hold his skin color and ethnicity against him now. As should be apparent even to the Times editor who ordered up this tired attempt to revive the race canard against the Republicans, if the president’s hold on the state seems shaky — as polls say it is — it is clearly not because the portion of the electorate that is irredeemably prejudiced still won’t vote for him but because others who did (and therefore demonstrated their lack of racial bias) now judge his performance unsatisfactory.
Last time, the complaint was that Mitt Romney’s slogan was formerly used by the Ku Klux Klan – a claim that turned out to be complete fiction. Now Romney’s latest slogan is being criticized for supposedly promoting racial stereotypes. The phrase? “Obama Isn’t Working.” How anyone sees racism in that is beyond me, but Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher somehow managed:
When I first saw the banner this afternoon, the multiple meanings were clear: President Obama‘s policies aren’t working, the Obama presidency isn’t working, President Obama…isn’t working, as in, doing any work. That’s not a nice thing to say about any president, but like it or not, it becomes a more loaded accusation when leveled at our first black president.
Just to be sure it wasn’t just me, though, I asked several friends about the banner, and four out of four pointed out, unprompted, the stereotype of the “lazy,” “shiftless” black man. One of the people I called was cable news fixture Goldie Taylor, who, upon hearing my description of the banner, said “Are you kidding me? You have got to be kidding me.”
Late last week I heard from a theologian of liberal leanings, someone with whom I have been in (often friendly) correspondence for years. He wrote me to voice his objections to my recent “diatribes” against President Obama. That didn’t particularly surprise me. What did surprise me is how he framed his objections. He didn’t take issue with the facts I’ve presented or even my interpretation of the facts. Rather, his concerns were expressed this way:
When I read your constant barrages aimed at the first black president, I think to myself, “Doesn’t Pete, the devout Christian, understand what it took to get to this place? And where would Pete have been in the years of the freedom struggle that finally eventuated in some measure of equality for African-Americans and even a black president?” Isn’t there some way you can temper your attacks on Obama with this history in mind?
In the aftermath of the tragic killing of Trayvon Martin, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are attempting to use the dead 17-year-old to do what they have spent so much of their adult lives doing: dividing America over racial lines. So are some Members of Congress. President Obama’s words have certainly been more subtle and less polarizing than some others. Still Obama, having waded once before into a local law enforcement issue he chose to interpret through a racial lens (the 2009 arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates by a Cambridge police officer), decided he’d speak out on the Martin tragedy – even before the facts are all in and even before an arrest has been made. That is courting trouble. Newt Gingrich fired back with typical restraint, calling the president’s comments “disgraceful.”
MSNBC (among other news outlets) has been obsessing on the story. Film director Spike Lee re-tweeted the wrong address of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain who shot Martin, with the result being that an elderly couple in their 70s were forced to flee their home after receiving death threats (Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, liberal but often responsible, takes apart Spike Lee here). And the New Black Panther party has put out a bounty on Zimmerman and called for his capture “dead or alive.”
Democrats have been working overtime lately looking for an issue to excite their base in the same manner that Barack Obama’s symbolic candidacy and post-partisan promises of “hope” and “change” did in 2008. Some liberal pundits have sought to overcome this problem by branding their opponents with the unforgiveable sin of modern American culture: racism. That’s the motive behind the absurd “dog whistle” talk we’ve been hearing about any mention of entitlement spending and the creation of another generation of poor Americans dependent on welfare. Others are ignoring this convoluted and misleading argument and instead going directly for the throat by charging Republicans with attempting to prevent African-Americans from voting.
The main problem with this is there are no such efforts under way, and if there were, they would be both illegal and bad politics. But in order to pursue this fallacious charge, Democrats continually characterize efforts to ensure voting integrity as racist. Thus, in 2012 the requirement that a voter should present a picture ID at the polls is being treated as irrefutable evidence of skullduggery. That’s the conceit behind a disingenuous piece in the online version of the New York Times that doesn’t even bother trying to prove that voter ID is a racist plot. Harvard historian Alexander Keyssar simply assumes this is so, and then proceeds to put in a long history of attempt to suppress votes in this country. The problem with this article is not just his false assumption about voter ID but also his unconvincing attempt to conflate actual disenfranchisement with efforts by politicians to discourage supporters of their opponents from voting.
While Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 largely on the notion that he was a post-racial and post-partisan political figure, its rapidly becoming apparent that many Democrats are hoping he can be re-elected by smearing his opponents as racists. That’s the upshot of a feature in Politico today that takes note that many liberals are using the image of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer wagging her finger at the president during an airport confrontation as proof that Republicans are racially biased.
The idea that Brewer’s finger wagging was racist is beyond absurd. Their argument had nothing to do with race. Moreover, Obama has made a habit of lecturing and wagging his own finger at opponents while nose-to-nose with them. As Politico notes, Brewer was even criticized for noting that it was Obama who was attempting to intimidate her and that he was intolerant of criticism. But equally absurd is the idea that Obama has been subjected to more abuse than his predecessors or that Republicans are using “dog whistle” racist arguments to whip up sentiment against him. Having failed to govern effectively during his three-plus years in office, Obama can’t run on a record of success. So he must instead seek to demonize his opponents and, indeed, all critics, by trying to still their voices by making them fear they will be accused of the one political sin for which there is no forgiveness in contemporary Western society: racism.
New York Times editorialists, not exactly known for their racial sensitivity, have an especially offensive editorial this morning. The subject of the editorial is Newt Gingrich’s answer to Monday night’s debate question in which Gingrich defended the dignity and work ethic of minorities.
The editors say that “racial resentment” is behind the following statement of Gingrich’s: “The fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.” After disputing the word “put” but conceding that Gingrich’s numbers about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) were correct, the editors say this: “Non-Hispanic whites also far outnumber blacks receiving SNAP benefits.” That’s right–and this is more than just an example of what our own Max Boot likes to call the Times’ “self-refuting” editorials; it’s an admission that when someone says “food stamps” the Times hears “African-Americans.”
For decades, Pat Buchanan has maintained his perch as a mainstream political commentator, first on CNN and later on MSNBC. But according to the Washington Post, Buchanan may not return to the left-leaning cable network after his book tour ends. Though some on the right will blame his departure on the network’s decision to try to become the liberal answer to Fox News, it’s far more likely that what some see as the racist tone of his latest tome has finally brought Buchanan the comeuppance he has long deserved.
Though Buchanan engaged in anti-Semitic rhetoric more than 20 years ago during the first Gulf War and has promoted revisionist views of World War Two in which he trashed Winston Churchill and questioned America’s decision to fight the Nazis, defended Holocaust war criminals and favored appeasing Islamists, none of that was enough to drive him to the margins of American punditry, where he belongs. But after claiming blacks may be less intelligent than whites in his latest book Suicide of a Superpower, Buchanan may have committed an unforgivable sin in the eyes of his employers.
Eric Holder is a man who holds views that are both fairly radical and dangerous. Now under fire for his role in the so-called Fast and Furious gun-running operation, and given his overall (dismal) record, you might think Holder would sheepishly apologize for his incompetence or, at a minimum, remain silent. But you would be wrong.
Holder is instead reaching for the race card.
Here is what accusations of racism in America have come to. According to a column by Jonathan Capehart in this morning’s Washington Post, Rick Perry is “associated” with a hunting camp “widely known” as Niggerhead — he “had no problem” with it, you see — and that is “beyond troubling.” End of his candidacy. End of his respectability.
True, there is no evidence at all — none whatever — that Perry ever used the term, ever referred to the camp by it, ever spoke the word aloud, or ever did anything other than painting over the name and laying flat the rock on which it appeared. You might think the efforts to obscure the name suggest that Perry did have a problem with it. You’d be wrong. To be contaminated with racism, all Perry needs is to be “associated” with a name that doesn’t even appear on U.S. topographic maps.