Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Spooky Right

Before I saw it, I was reeling.

Rick Esenberg and others were pummeling me on Rick’s post and the comments. I was "lathered up", a "poor student of history", a purveyor of "vituperation", "the angriest white man in Milwaukee" (really!). I need to "take instruction", says the oh-so-presumptuous visiting assistant professor of law, who generally takes his instruction from the likes of fellow Federalist Society members, the WMC and others in the right-wing, business-side legal community. In the comments, I am "seriously unhinged", not to be "dealt with", not worthy of a discussion that would include intellectual heavyweights like George Mitchell and Dad29.

As I drafted a comment that maintained my vituperous facade, I was crumbling inside to think that I had not met the lofty standards of the nut-right Milwaukee commentariat. I was searching my soul – assuming I had one – wondering how I could question the assignation of leftist characteristics to Nazis, white supremacists and anti-choice murderers. My failure to see the obvious evil in Al Gore’s movie, the threats in (Sen.) Al Franken’s comedy routines, the depravity of Michael Moore’s documentaries – it was all too much for me. Of course! I see my folly now! Looking around the house to make sure no one else was paying attention, I turned to The O’Reilly Factor to begin my long-delayed re-education.

Then I saw this:

As the story goes, an executive assistant for the Republican caucus chair of the Tennessee State Senate circulated an e-mail with a .jpeg attachment of apparent great hilarity. Titled "Historical Keepsake Photo", the file was a compilation of images of every U.S. president. And there, in the 44th spot, instead of Barack Obama, was a racist image of a black face with spook eyes. The staffer who sent it out to at least 20 people around the statehouse "only felt bad about sending it to the wrong list of people".

You can bet that, since she didn’t claim to create it, this thing has been in thousands of willing e-mail boxes before it got to her, and was never disclosed. Why? Because the extent of hate, racial and otherwise, for President Obama lies barely under the surface in certain segments of our society. Those in the right-wing media know this and stoke the fires of anger by stirring the pot, every hour of every day. Their intentions are political – they hope to win with irrational hatred what they cannot by political argument. But the more immediate results of the dehumanization of the "enemy" and the taunting by the wing-nuts for the powerless to strike out are things like the murder of Dr. Tiller and the Holocaust Museum murder.

And, let’s not forget the comments on my own blog that I highlighted in a post earlier this week, relating to violence against the President himself:

Please SOMEBODY take Doyle and the Obomination out. A Clear MAJORITY of this country will cheer when that happens.

someone please shoot the nigger and his wife in the head!!! PLEASE ANYONE?

LMAO, his mellon will be split open with a assassins bullet sooner rather than later is my bet

Where is that crazy lone gunmen when we need one, that is hope and change I look forward to

I suppose Esenberg would try to excuse the racist photo and the cheering for the President’s assassination as the work of possibly leftist sentiments. Perhaps thinks he could dig up something from a Democratic staffer somewhere that is as blatantly racist (he’d be wrong) or find similarly offensive assassination encouragement, perhaps during the Bush disaster (he can't).

More likely, Rick would try to pooh-pooh the sources of the e-mail from the Republican staffer and the comments on my site as of insufficient status to matter, clearly not representative of clear Republican "thought". Perhaps not. But these are the targets of the mainstream right-wing mouthpieces that so foul our political discourse. These are the people they neither reject or discourage.

You’d think that after a few assassination shout-outs, some racist e-mails, a couple of murders and whatever else lurks beneath the dark underbelly of right-wing hate, a respectable guy like Esenberg might want to encourage the people on his side to take a pill and chill, maybe take a step back. Instead, he is the Apologist, making excuses for the worst of it, blaming it on a leftist perspective that doesn’t exist and trying to say that our side does the same, and worse.

Like the great Professor Kingsfield in The Paper Chase, Esenberg seeks to shroud me as so much insignificant piffle. "But the stone stupid enthusiasm for the idea that people like me encourage hate and murder has gotten to me," muses the professor in his comments. "It's made me question whether talking to these people is worthwhile." Yes, the ivory tower of Marquette University is no place for such uncomfortable thoughts. Let us put it out of our mind as we prepare for the next inevitable example of right-wing violence and racist hatred by repeating our mantra:

Not Our Fault....Not Our Fault...

6 comments:

Clutch said...

the extent of hate, racial and otherwise, for President Obama lies barely under the surface in certain segments of our society. Those in the right-wing media know this and stoke the fires of anger by stirring the pot, every hour of every day.

I just argued on Shark and Shepherd that you have not made this claim a general one about conservatives, nor even about everyone in the right-wing media. It was true of your previous post, I think. It would be good if it were true of this one too.

John Foust said...

Apart from leakage like this pass-along email, I'm not sure what sort of evidence people are hoping for. We can no longer expect those who have actual anti-Jewish or racist beliefs to publicize them without fear of opprobrium. People speak freely only when the believe they're in the company of like-minded folks. This isn't the first racist pass-along email and it won't be the last. In my experience, this sort of email is very, very popular among retirees with too much time on their hands.

For that matter, secrecy is the norm for any extremists like animal rights activists who plan bombing and sabotage. This legislative aide believed the recipients would laugh. So far, Sen. Black doesn't think this was a fireable offense. The picture was made by someone else and was probably passed-along in email for months before it fell into this situation.

The two earliest versions I found with the title "historical keepsake photo" date to May 22. (The other is here.) Considering the predominance of eagles, flags, and eagles draped in flags on these two sites, I'll go out on a limb and say they were conservative, not liberal. And look at the subtle logic at the About page. Does this paint all conservatives as racist? Of course not.

Rick Esenberg said...

I have better things to do than scour the internet to see how many Democratic idiots I can find so that we can argue about whether there are more Republican idiots. But, off the top of my head, I seem to recall there was a movie made about the assassination of Bush and an op-ed in the Guardian called for it. "Where is a lone nut when we need him" or words to that effect. I already mentioned Randi Rhodes.

As for racism, how about the "blackface" caricature of Michael Steele or the staffer for Ben Cardin who presented devouring the competition (Steele) by eating oreo cookies? How about Bill Maher and others telling jokes about Bobby Jindal referencing "Apu" and "7-11."

Mike Plaisted said...

Clutch, thanks for your comments here and there and for the opportunity to clarify that I was never talking about Rick. Or McIlheran, for that matter, who has tried to join the right-wing pity-party by saying we are calling them all Nazis, which is ridiculous.

I do think it is interesting to see how Rick keeps digging deeper into the hole he's dug for himself by claiming that for every right-wing outrage, there is similar one on the left (see his comment, above). There is nothing on the left to compare with the racist viral e-mail proudly distributed by the still-employed staffer of a Republican State Senate leader in Tennessee.

And I think John is right-on in pointing out that we don't know the half of what is happening in the dark corners of the right wing.

Rick still refuses to address this paranoid phenomenon or the obvious difference between a one-time comment by a lefty and a 24/7 campaign on talk radio and elsewhere, designed to dehumanize and deligitimize Obama. His so's-your-old-man approach to his side's problem of enabling violent fruitcakes makes it seem that he doesn't so much mind the racist e-mail or the racist threats of assasination on my comments (he has no such problem in the comments on his blog). I don't think that the case, but why he can't bring himself to say so is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

Mike, you should try and respond to Rick in a direct way (like he has done)as opposed to ignoring his points and continuing with your rant.

Sean said...

Remember everybody, if you call yourself a liberal, or have a "D" next to your name, you never say racist things (especially compared to those republicans), think racist thoughts, make inappropriate comments about the opposition, engage in demagoguery or blah, blah blah. This "your side is always wrong, racist, misogynistic, homophobic and the like, and our side is always right" is not only annoying, but it's downright WRONG.

Also, Rick's mentioning of "the "blackface" caricature of Michael Steele or the staffer for Ben Cardin who presented devouring the competition (Steele) by eating oreo cookies? How about Bill Maher and others telling jokes about Bobby Jindal referencing "Apu" and "7-11."" was in response to YOUR challenge: "Perhaps thinks he could dig up something from a Democratic staffer somewhere that is as blatantly racist (he’d be wrong) or find similarly offensive assassination encouragement, perhaps during the Bush disaster (he can't)." He can’t!?!?!? Guess he did!

On a side note I started reading your blog several months ago, and subsequently stopped, hoping that the visceral, inaccurate messages written in many of your posts would get better as people commented, intellectually and competently (except for the idiots you referenced in this post, amongst others I've seen), but now that I've come back to see if anything has changed, it's apparent that not only hasn't it changed, but it's equivalent to the same people you claim to be repulsed by.