Thursday, April 19, 2012

Rhetoric 101: "Die Pinko Scum!"

Background: Rep. Allen West (R-FL), has said that there are between 71 and 80 current U.S. Representatives who are members of the Communist Party.  They are all Democrats.  He has not named names.  Here's the Maddow Blog piece about this.

Here's the video of Rep. West:

...And The Conversation: 

[Ed. Note: Don't worry, you'll get used to this format.  This is going to be like sitting near Mandi and me (Emily) in the coffee shop, eavesdropping on our conversations.  One time we had a guy give up all pretense of actually using his computer because we are so fascinating.  But see here, no guilt!  We clearly WANT you to listen.]

Emily:  So, Mand, do you think the Republicans had Rep. West level this charge because he's black, or do you think he believes it?

Mandi:  Does Allen West believe that s***?  Republicans have been calling Democrats communists for a very long time.  Do they believe that s***?  My guess is, no, they do not believe that s***, and neither does he.  I'm not sure if being black gives you more cover for being publicly crazy, but apparently being a Republican gives you all kinds of cover for being publicly crazy.  It's like we hold Republicans to a lower standard of reasonableness than "normal" people.  Silly things like facts are of no object. "Some people believe that man went to the moon in 1969.  Other people believe that the moon is made of green cheese.  The truth is probably somewhere in the middle."  Well, no, it isn't, and it's time we stopped treating it like it is.

Emily:  Yeah, there is a definite callousness to the way Fox-Era Republicans treat the truth.  It's like they believe everything is relative, or at least malleable, if they need it to be.  Because I know that nobody who actually studied government could honestly conflate "communism" - which is about socialist ideas + totalitarianism - with even the most liberal of American Democrats (who at most liberal right now still believe in free trade and a whole bunch of capitalism - and no totalitarianism).  And it's even crazier to do that right now, when American Democrats have been chasing Republicans in their sprint to the right for about 30-or-so years.

So, this is a strategy.

I think being a black Republican gives West a bit of cover for saying things like this, because it's not just crazy, it's completely implausible and insulting to Democrats.  But I think white, male reporters are less likely to confront a black politician on that than a white one, for fear of seeming racist.  Like, do you think Michael Steele got called on his crazy all the time, or do you think he sometimes/to some extent got a pass?  Alan Keyes just gets ignored.

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