Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Hitler sympathizers

Hmmm. Gathering from what Bill O'Reilly said the other day on the Today Show:
These pin-heads running around going, "Get out of Iraq now" don't know what they are talking about. These are the same people before Hitler invaded in WWII that were saying, "He's not such a bad guy.' They don't get it.

... he could use a little history lesson.

After all, let's recall just who those sympathizers were -- namely, the captains of America's mainstream conservative right who led what was called the America First Committee:
The AFC had its origins in 1940, when a Yale law student named R. Douglas Stuart Jr. organized a petition on campus to build opposition to intervention in the European wars then reaching a high pitch. He found a sponsor in Robert E. Wood, chairman of the board at Sears, Roebuck -- then and now the quintessentially middle-American company. Wood and a group of fellow Chicago businessmen (including former diplomat William R. Castle, who had been a high-ranking Hoover Administration official, and whose work appeared in Japanese and German propaganda publications; and William Regnery, founder of Regnery Publishing ... yes, that Regnery Publishing ...) helped Stuart form plans for a large-scale organization, which led to the naming and formation of the America First Committee in August of that year.

The chief point of agitation for the America Firsters was FDR's loosening of the arms embargo to Europe -- particularly for Britain and France -- shortly after Hitler's invasion of Poland in September 1939 and the subsequent outbreak of war. In retrospect, of course, this not only helped pull the United States inexorably to war, it was the morally courageous -- and right -- thing to do. To have utterly abandoned Britain especially to the tender mercies of the Nazis would have been cowardice, and almost certainly would have wrought an unimaginable nightmare: complete and uncontested Nazi hegemony in Europe, a reign that may well have continued even to the present day. The idea that America First was in hindsight somehow "right" is both laughable and truly contemptible. Defenders of America First (including Patrick Buchanan) like to argue that Hitler's regime eventually would have collapsed under its own weight -- but the evidence they present for this is thin and quite unconvincing.

Nonetheless, in its origins at least, America First was in truth largely a mainstream response that was mostly isolationist, and not fascist, in nature. Its charter even specifically announced that Nazis, fascists and communists were not welcome.

But even in the beginning, there were warning signs: Among the first members of the committee were Henry Ford, who, as the publisher of the Protocols hoax-promoting text, The International Jew, was not only one of the foremost progenitors of anti-Semitism in America, but had an open and celebrated business and ideological connection with Hitler's war machine.

Also on that original national committee:

-- Avery Brundage, former Chairman of the American Olympic Games Committee when in Berlin 1936. Brundage's behavior in that episode had already earned its place in history as one of the low watermarks of cowardice and complicity in the Nazis' consolidation of their power.

-- Charles A. Lindbergh, the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic and a household name even still, was to become the leading spokesman for the America First Committee -- as well as a notable anti-Semite.

The arc of Lindbergh's career in this period mirrored that of the America First Committee itself -- beginning, to all appearances, as mainstream isolationists and pacifists, but then rapidly devolving into something more sinister. The first real warning sign came at a May 29, 1941 rally in Philadelphia with 16,000 in attendance, when many audience members gave a Nazi salute. Lindbergh, while demanding the overthrow of the FDR regime, asked the audience: "Are we going to let Jews run this country?"

However, that remark received relatively little play, especially compared to the national firestorm that erupted after Lindbergh, on Sept. 11, 1941, gave a speech in Des Moines that blamed Jews for dragging the nation toward war:

It is not difficult to understand why Jewish people desire the overthrow of Nazi Germany. The persecution they suffered in Germany would be sufficient to make bitter enemies of any race.

No person with a sense of the dignity of mankind can condone the persecution of the Jewish race in Germany. But no person of honesty and vision can look on their pro-war policy here today without seeing the dangers involved in such a policy both for us and for them. Instead of agitating for war, the Jewish groups in this country should be opposing it in every possible way for they will be among the first to feel its consequences.

Tolerance is a virtue that depends upon peace and strength. History shows that it cannot survive war and devastations. A few far-sighted Jewish people realize this and stand opposed to intervention. But the majority still do not.

Their greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government.

I am not attacking either the Jewish or the British people. Both races, I admire. But I am saying that the leaders of both the British and the Jewish races, for reasons which are as understandable from their viewpoint as they are inadvisable from ours, for reasons which are not American, wish to involve us in the war.

We cannot blame them for looking out for what they believe to be their own interests, but we also must look out for ours. We cannot allow the natural passions and prejudices of other peoples to lead our country to destruction.

Of course, in retrospect, it is clear that on the basis of Hitler's plans for the Jews alone, America would have been justified in entering in a war against Germany on purely moral grounds. Not that this actually happened; if anything, American officials were in reality congenitally slow on the uptake about what was happening to the Jews in Europe.

In any event, Lindbergh's Des Moines speech created a national uproar, because its rather naked anti-Semitism -- especially the suggestion that American Jews were unpatriotic -- made plain for the first time what the underpinnings of America First were in reality about. Lindbergh had already raised eyebrows by accepting in October 1938 the Service Cross of the German Eagle from Herman Goering for his service in advancing the cause of aviation; Lindbergh had in fact helped advise the Germans on organizing the Luftwaffe. After the Des Moines speech, however, Lindbergh's reputation was so tarnished that even his hometown of Little Falls, Minnesota, removed his name from its water tower.

The connection to the Nazi agenda had indeed been gradually revealing itself for some time. On Jan. 22, 1941, Dr. Joseph Paul Goebbels, Propaganda Minister for the Third Reich, made a short-wave radio broadcast that promoted the group, proclaiming: "The America First Committee is truly American and truly patriotic!"

Other America First spokesmen were likewise nakedly anti-Semitic. The most notorious of these was Father Charles Coughlin, the Protocols-promoting radio ranter with a weekly audience of millions, who continued to insist that Jews were trying to pull Americans into a war against "their own kind." In his magazine Social Justice, he wrote: "Stalin's idea to create world revolution and Hitler's so-called threat to seek world domination are not half as dangerous combined as is the proposal of the current British and American administrations to seize all raw materials in the world. Many people are beginning to wonder who they should fear most -- the Roosevelt-Churchill combination or the Hitler-Mussolini combination."

Another famous aviator -- Laura Ingalls, the first woman to fly solo across the American continent -- was also a noted America First figure. She was also a raving anti-Semite who, it turned out later, was fully in the pay of the Germans. Ingalls received funds from Baron Ulrich von Gienanth, head of the Gestapo in the U.S. (his title was Second Secretary of the German Embassy in Washington). She also worked with Hans Thomson, German Charge' d'Affaires and Fritz Weidemann, the German Consul in San Francisco. In 1942, Ingalls was arrested by the FBI for failing to register as an agent of the Nazis and was sentenced to two years in prison.

While all this was going on at the top, the troops of the America First movement were also becoming increasingly Nazified. Members of the German-American Bund -- which received large amounts of funding from the Nazi regime -- moved quietly into the chapters of the America First Committee. Other proto-fascists likewise swelled the ranks of America First: William Pelley’s Silver Shirts, Coughlin's Christian Front, the KKK, White Russian Fascists. All this infiltration by mid-1941 led the American Legion in California to declare that the entire fifth column in the U.S. had joined the America First movement.

Smaller opposition groups tried to counter their propaganda by drawing public attention to the underlying agenda. The most notable of these was "Friends of Democracy," which produced the "Nazi Transmission Belt" cartoon as well as a pamphlet examining Lindbergh's Nazi ties. It also produced a flier that pointed out:

1) A large part of the audiences of many America First meetings are members of pro-Nazi organizations.

2) Nazi propaganda is distributed at many of these meetings.

3) Nazi organizations not only distribute the literature of the America First Committee but recruit members and raise money for the committee.

4) The Nazi press in the United States has stamped the program of America First with its approval.

5) The propaganda ministries of the democracy-hating Nazi and Fascist governments endorse the policies of the committee.

Another group, calling itself the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies (CDAAA), published an article in May 1941 that observed:

The point is that un-American organizations have made appeals for contributions of money to America First. Un-American element crowd America First rallies. They applaud America First speakers. They boo the President of the United States. They do not boo Hitler or Mussolini or Stalin. . . Some of them belong to the Nazi Bund which is pro-Hitler. . . What Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin and their friends in this country Applaud cannot be good for America.

All this came to a screeching halt on Dec. 7, 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and America's entry into the war was cemented. America First's officials met on Dec. 8 and announced the organization was disbanding. At least publicly.

In secret, however, the leaders -- who were convinced America would lose the war -- kept the organization going, planning for the day when the Nazis took over. As Russ Bellant reported in Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party: Domestic Fascist Networks and Their Effect on U.S. Cold War Politics:

After Pearl Harbor and Germany's declaration of war on the United States, the America First Committee didn't go out of business as it officially declared on December 12, 1941. Five days later, a secret meeting of certain key leaders of America First took place in New York to plan for what they assumed (and hoped) would be the Axis victory in Europe and the Far East. "[T]he Committee has in reality gone underground," FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover reported to the White House. It began planning for the day when they would be the Americans with whom the victorious Nazis would negotiate a surrender. Finally, when the defeat of the Nazis by Allied powers was a foregone conclusion, the America First Committee secretly dissolved itself in 1944.

(Bellant's primary source, for those interested, was a Feb. 13, 1942 memo from J. Edgar Hoover to Major General Edwin M. Watson, Secretary to the President, which declared that America First had "gone underground.")

The meeting was held in the home of Edwin Sibley Webster, a wealthy Wall Street broker with Kidder, Peabody, and it featured a number of key American First members, including Lindbergh. The group reformed under a new name, Americans for Peace. One of the attendees, Horace Haase, left no doubt about the future activities of the gathering:

"It is obviously necessary for the leaders of the America First like Wood and Webster to keep quiet. But the organization should not be destroyed. I have never been in the limelight and have nothing to lose. I can remain active in a quiet way. I should like to offer to keep the files. We must get ready for the next attack which must be made upon this communistic administration."

The America Firsters' fantasies of serving as a future Vichy government in America gradually crumbled, of course, as the tide of the war turned. Americans for Peace quietly disbanded in late 1944.

Another significant American figure in the buildup of the Nazi war machine: Prescott Bush, grandfather of the current president and scion of the Bush family fortune. A fortune that was based, in no small part, on doing business with Hitler's war machine -- and in fact, funnelling large sums of American capital into German manufacturing -- during the 1930s.

In other words, those Hitler sympathizers who were claiming, "He's not such a bad guy," who "just didn't get it" (or rather, perhaps "got it" all too well), were in fact the same right-wing enablers who, in their 21st-century guise, are nowadays finding excuses for an incompetent and mendacious president who dragged his country into a war under false pretenses, claiming: "He's not such a bad guy."

This is not to compare Bush to Hitler, but rather, to point out that the corporatist impulse to support warmakers is deeply entrenched. The faction that made excuses for Hitler out of their own self-interest comprises today the same people who pooh-poohed so-called liberal organizations like Amnesty International when they raised concerns about America's continuing support for Saddam Hussein back in 1989. You know, the folks who now accuse devoted patriots who do not believe in wasting the lives of our soldiers of actually causing them harm. Talk about "just not getting it."

This particular line of attack on antiwar liberals is predicated on the notion that the war in Iraq has become the focal point of the "war on terror" -- when, in fact, nearly everyone with a sense of reality understands that it is in fact a terrible diversion from the real work of combating terrorism. Most of all, it obscures the real nature of those Hitler sympathizers, who were in the end the same corporate enablers of a warmongering leader with whom O'Reilly is clearly aligned, making excuses for the inexcusable.

And perhaps it's worth remembering, as well, that we've heard complaints similar to O'Reilly's current jihad about non-Christians wanting to "do away" with Christmas before. Long before. Why, back in the 1930s, none other than Henry Ford was making nearly identical complaints:
"And it has become pretty general. Last Christmas most people had a hard time finding Christmas cards that indicated in any way that Christmas commemorated Someone's Birth. Easter they will have the same difficulty in finding Easter cards that contain any suggestion that Easter commemorates a certain event. There will be rabbits and eggs and spring flowers, but a hint of the Resurrection will be hard to find. Now, all this begins with the designers of the cards."

Where was this text located? Why, in The International Jew, of course.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Hate crimes: The big picture

Have you ever noticed how, when libertarians and right-wingers talk about "threats to our freedoms," the only source of those threats is the government?

It's perhaps useful to remember that, over the course of American history, the greatest threats to the liberty of American citizens have come not from the government, but from our fellow citizens. Particularly, those directed by white citizens against nonwhites.

Recall, for instance, that the most egregious example of the removal of citizens' civil rights in America occurred primarily through extralegal means -- namely, during the lynching period, when thousands of blacks were summarily murdered in the most horrible fashion imaginable, often merely for the sin of being successful by white standards (this made them "uppity" and thus marked for extermination).

Lynching was a form of socially sanctioned terrorism against the black community whose entire purpose was to "keep the niggers down." It largely succeeded, until the wellsprings of the civil rights movement began working to tear it down as a broadly accepted American institution.

The legacy of lynching remains with us today, though, in the form of hate crimes -- whose purpose, once again, is to oppress and eliminate targeted minorities. This fact was driven home once again by a new report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics examining the real state of hate crimes in America:
The real number of hate crimes in the United States is more than 15 times higher than FBI statistics reflect, according to a stunning new government report.

Hate crime statistics published by the FBI since 1992, based on voluntary reports from law enforcement agencies around the country, have shown annual totals of about 6,000 to 10,000, depending on the year. But the new report, "Hate Crimes Reported by Victims and Police," found an average annual total of 191,000 hate crimes. That means the real level of hate crime runs between 19 and 31 times higher than the numbers that have been officially reported for almost 15 years.

"It's an astounding report," said Jack Levin, a leading hate crime expert at Northeastern University. "It's not necessarily completely accurate, but I would trust these data before I trusted the voluntary law enforcement reports to the FBI."

... The report, which inferred hate motivation from the words and symbols used by the offender, found that just 44 percent of hate crimes are reported to police. Other hate crimes don't make it into FBI statistics for an array of reasons: police may fail to record some as hate crimes; their departments may not report hate crime statistics to state officials; and those officials may not accurately report to the FBI.

According to the new report, hate crimes involve violence far more often than other crimes. The data showed 84 percent of hate crimes were violent, meaning they involved a sexual attack, robbery, assault or murder. By contrast, just 23 percent of non-hate crimes involved violence. Other studies have suggested that hate-motivated violence, especially against homosexuals, is more extreme than other violence.

The report also showed that 56 percent of hate crime victims identified race as the primary factor in the crimes they reported. Ethnicity accounted for another 29 percent of the total. Hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation were 18 percent of the total. Given that the best studies indicate about 3 percent of the American population is homosexual, this means that gays and lesbians are victimized at six times the overall rate.

It's likely that, in fact, we're seeing an increase in unreported hate crimes because one of the most significant areas of underreportage involves hate crimes against immigrants. As I've observed previously, the ongoing efforts of the rabid right to "crack down" on these immigrants, particularly in the face of significant demographic shifts in the Midwest and West due to Latino immigration, has made it far more likely that this problem will only worsen.

That is only one front on which American conservatives are measurably deepening the problem. The most significant, of course, is the continuing campaign to ensure that Congress cannot even pass a federal hate-crimes law.

And, as I've also noted, conservatives are not alone in these failures. Many mainstream liberals have capitulated to the right-wing, pseudo-libertarian contention that hate-crimes laws create "thought crimes." As I explained then:
More to the point (and as I also argue at length in Death on the Fourth of July), hate-crimes laws are not about taking away anyone's freedoms -- rather, they are about ensuring freedoms for millions of Americans.

As I point out in the book, hate crimes have the fully intended effect of driving away and deterring the presence of any kind of hated minority -- racial, religious, or sexual. They are essentially acts of terrorism directed at entire communities of people, and they are message crimes: "Keep out."

Rural dwellers' dread of the dark colors of the inner city is something of a cliche, one based nonetheless on reality. What is less observed, however, is the common dread held by many minorities for America's more rural spaces. Black people fear stepping foot in Idaho because of the presence of the Aryan Nations in the state's Panhandle. Gays and lesbians view driving through places like Wyoming and Montana with a palpable anxiety.

If you get out a map of the country and put yourself in the shoes of a person of color or another sexual persuasion, and start looking at the places you would feel safe visiting, you'll suddenly realize that this can be a very small country indeed for people who are not white heterosexuals. This is what Yale hate-crimes expert Donald Green means when he says that hate crimes annually create a "massive dead-weight loss of freedom" for Americans.

That massive dead-weight loss keeps mounting. And our continuing inaction will, someday, be considered a source of national shame.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Over the river and through the woods ...

... To Grandmother's house we go.

Blogging will be light for the next few days. Unlike my diet.

Unhinged: Unhonest

1: The Unbearable Lightness of Malkin

2: Eye of the Unhinged

3: The Unhinged Right

4: Hunting Liberals

5: Extremists? What Extremists?

Conclusion: Keeping Our Cools

The Poor Man made a noteworthy point the other day about an interesting facet of the conservative movement: "how even the tiniest example of wingnuttery is a near-perfect replica of the whole edifice, substantively consonant in every particular but scale."

Michelle Malkin's work, particularly her new book, Unhinged, is like that: a kind of embodiment in miniature, as it were, of the conservative movement as a whole. Just as Malkin ignores the clear presence of extremism within the ranks of conservatism and instead projects those tendencies onto her enemies, so too does the conservative movement as a whole.

And that, in the end, is the root of the problem.

Now, it's true that Unhinged is perhaps the most lightweight of all the liberal-bashing tomes that have been flooding the market. In a year or two, its publication will have been long forgotten, and its impact on the national discourse will have been negligible in any positive sense, in no small part due to its innate lack of honesty.

It's a forgettable propaganda tract in most regards. Why bother devote any time -- let alone a six-part series -- to examining it in the first place (as some of my readers have asked)?

Put simply, it's because Malkin and her book are crystalline examples of how the conservative movement works. She's certainly not the only one to be bellyaching about how nasty liberals are getting these days. It was a hot topic of conversation back in 2003, too. In fact, it's been part of the right-wing Wurlitzer's steady drumbeat for a couple of years now.

To say that this is a case of projection, as I've been explaining, is putting it mildly. But the most outrageous claim here is that the right polices and oversees its own:
"[T]he truth is that it's conservatives themselves who blow the whistle on their bad boys and go after the real extremism on their side of the aisle."[p. 9]

And while conservatives zealously police their own ranks to exclude extremists and conspiracy theories, extremism and conspiracy theories have become the driving force of the Democrat Party. [p. 169]

Does she provide any good examples of how conservatives zealously "blow the whistle on their bad boys"?

Well, no.

She did give us one clue in that appearance she made on Bill O'Reilly's show, wherein she continued on this theme:
O'Reilly: Do you see mainstream conservatives condemning Michael Savage?

Malkin: All the time.

O'Reilly: You do?

Malkin: Of course you do. In fact -- again, I think that this is something that the mainstream media does not recognize. It is in fact conservatives who are very outspoken in condemning fringe people, and people who are extremists on the right side of the aisle. The Trent Lott episode for example. A lot of mainstream conservatives were pivotal in decrying Trent Lott's remarks at Strom Thurmond's party.

Well, there are (as always) a few things missing from Malkin's narrative. Liberals (particularly the bloggers Josh Marshall and Atrios, who kept the story bubbling with a steady flow of revelations about Lott's neo-Confederate dalliances) played an equally critical role in l'affaire Lott. And there is also the matter of a White House that was eager to cut Lott off at the knees in that lovely internecine warfare the GOP sometimes engages in.

But give Malkin and conservatives credit where it's due. Certain conservatives did play a critical role in bringing Lott to ground for his remarks. Regardless of how principled their motives, they deserve credit for forcing his removal from the Senate majority leadership.

But it's not as though the resolution of the matter vindicated either the GOP or the conservative movement. Lott did, after all, retain his seat and much of his power and perks. More to the point, the GOP's rich associations with the extremist neo-Confederate movement -- which was at the nexus of the issue with Lott -- neither went away nor withered.

As I explained previously:
Lott was far from alone among Republicans in maintaining ties to neo-Confederates and other Southern racists. Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia, chief sponsor of a 1997 bill to impeach Clinton, also made appearances before the CofCC, and over the years has had open associations with the populist-right John Birch Society, as well as a striking penchant for placing the militias’ issues -- gun control, tearing down the United Nations, fighting "globalism" -- atop his list. Ex-Mississippi Gov. Kirk Fordice maintained open ties with the CofCC and other neo-Confederate factions. And Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster -- who was President Bush's campaign chair in that state -- maintained an interesting relationship with white supremacist David Duke: He liked to buy Duke's mailing lists. (He also tried to conceal his purchase of the lists and was caught and fined for it.)

The South, however, was only one of many staging grounds for ostensibly mainstream conservative politicians to commingle with right-wing extremists. In fact, it happened in every corner of the country. In New Hampshire, Republican Sen. Bob Smith made open alliances with the Patriot/militia-oriented Constitution Party (indeed, he nearly ran for president on the party's ticket). Former Rep. Helen Chenoweth of Idaho, who chaired a natural-resources subcommittee and was one of the first to join Barr as an impeachment co-sponsor, had long associations with her home district’s militiamen -- and you can still buy her anti-environmental video, "America in Crisis," from the Militia of Montana. Former Republican Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas likewise made open alliances with several Texas Patriot groups, and defended their agenda in Congress. Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas continues to peddle pseudo-Patriot "New World Order" conspiracy theories to his constituents.

The connections with neo-Confederates and right-wing racial extremists continue to flourish unabated today -- a fact about which the right remains in denial. It manifests itself in places like right-wing academia, where a predilection for the racist League of the South prevails. It comes to roost in the cozen of Republican political candidates with extensive neo-Confederate backgrounds.

It's not as though these are simply obscure politicos. Among the Republicans playing footsie with the neo-Confederates is former GOP bigwig Haley Barbour, who successfully ran for the Mississippi governorship with the open (and mutual) support of the Council of Conservative Citizens. Given the opportunity to correct that course, Barbour happily played the role of divider instead. Being Republican, after all, means never having to say you're sorry.

The neo-Confederates, though, are only one of many facets of modern conservatism in which right-wing extremism has woven itself into the mainstream. Others include:
-- The Minutemen.

-- Anti-environment extremists.

-- Anti-abortion extremists.

-- Eliminationist thuggery.

-- Religious extremists.

-- Talk-radio hatemongers.

And that's really just scratching the surface.

Meanwhile, let's not forget the American right's newfound infatuation with Joe McCarthy. First it was Jonah Goldberg, then Ann Coulter, and now this. Pretty soon we'll hear it coming out of Sean Hannity's mouth too: "Joe McCarthy was not so hot in the way he went about doing things, but he was right."

The absorption of so many extremist elements into the conservative "mainstream" has wrought nothing less than a reconfigured "conservative movement" that only vaguely resembles genuine conservatism. Fiscal restraint? Bah! International restraint? Fooey! Civility and interpersonal restraint? Fuggedaboutit! The "conservative movement" of 2005 is nothing less than the ascendancy of the old right-wing John Birch Society mentality: the paranoia, the demonization, the wild-eyed ... unhingedness.

That mainstream conservatism is being swamped by its extremist elements is a problem for everyone: genuine conservatives, moderates, liberals. Because the way it's happened involves a course that will lead the nation into truly dark times.

By absorbing so many extremist elements, the conservative movement has itself become more extremist. Many of these elements -- particularly the racists and neo-Confederates -- would eventually wither and fade from society if they weren't being sustained. And what's sustaining them is the access to power and influence they enjoy within the conservative movement. Moreover, that access is growing. And that's bad news for everyone (except, of course, those extremists).

The work of "transmitters" like Malkin, Coulter, and Rush Limbaugh in bridging the former gaps between extremist elements and the mainstream right is essential in creating the opportunities for that access. Their role is to provide media cover -- a constant barrage of talking points, wielding words as weapons in a propaganda war -- for the advance of this extremism.

We've known for some time, really, about the right's propensity for projection. I mean, who can forget the claims in early December 2000 that it was Al Gore who was trying to steal the election? Malkin's thesis that the left has been taken over by a cast of eye-rattling loons is of a piece with this: You can always get a good idea where the right is headed (if it's not already there) by what it's currently accusing the left of doing.

Nonetheless, that doesn't let liberals off the hook, either.

Now, Malkin's book doesn't present any substantial evidence of genuine extremist elements gaining significant influence within mainstream liberalism (and it's always worth remembering that liberalism is not a discrete movement in the way that conservatism has become). What she does document is some kookery among certain left-wing individuals, and some reactive ugliness (see, especially, the Randi Rhodes material) that is apologized for, but not forgiven.

The only left-wing extremist movements of any note in 2005 -- the animal rights/eco-terrorist extremists particularly, though the anarchists and anti-globalists who helped make the WTO demonstrations a fiasco also fit the bill -- do not have any kinds of significant footholds or influence within the Democratic Party.

But Malkin does document some genuinely ugly personalities floating among the ranks of liberals. Even if her footwork and methodology are shoddy and questionable, there are enough genuine samples to make a valid point. I think reading some of the e-mails sent her way, as well as some of the comments posted on blog threads, has to leave anyone with a simple sense of decency shaking their head.

I don't think it's fair to characterize the left as being represented by these kinds of voices, any more than I think it's appropriate to argue that the entire right is embodied by folks like the Border Ruffian

But I do think it's fair to argue that people on the left, if they genuinely stand against such things as xenophobia, racism, and misogyny, have an obligation to speak up against this kind of talk, these kinds of attacks.

People who read this blog know I have no tolerance for such comments here, and certainly have never indulged them.

And I'm frequently appalled and disgusted by some of the voices I hear on the left. The lamentable "Fuck the South" screed was a classic case: spleen-venting that feels good for a moment or two, and leaves the taste of dry ashes in your mouth. Because you know that in the end, it's an argument for writing off your fellow Americans.

That's what they do. And besides, it's counterproductive: a recipe for permanent loserdom.

Even more sickening for me personally are the anti-Asian slurs (with an exponential factor in the sexual ones) directed Malkin's way. Having studied, up close and personal, the history of anti-Asian bigotry in this country, for me these kinds of remarks always mark the person making them as a bigot to be scorned, regardless of their political affiliation.

And you know, I might speak out against these voices more often if I thought there was any likelihood I'd see conservatives similarly speaking out against their extremist and "unhinged" elements.

You remember. The condemnation that Malkin claims happens all the time -- and for which she can provide no clear examples.

Because that's the way the game is played now, thanks to the hardball Rovean Right. Fair play and decency are signs of weakness to be exploited. Admit to a failing and it will be trumpeted. That's why Republicans never, never, say they're sorry. (See Dick Cheney for the consummate example of this.) They just stay on the attack. Their own worst propensities become a charge to make against the opposition.

Regardless, in the face of all this, I think it behooves liberals to remain true to their principles and eschew threats, violence and violent talk, and especially racist, xenophobic or sexually crude remarks.

I believe in fighting, and fighting hard, but I don't believe in losing my cool, either. It's a waste of energy -- not just yours, but everyone else's. Because, as Malkin's book well demonstrates, it provides them ammunition for distracting our attention from what's really happening: the spread of extremism within the mainstream right.

So I think it's worthwhile to decry behavior of the kind Malkin documents, and I intend to do so more often. I seem to recall that, whenever the remarks of the kind Malkin cites have appeared on liberal threads, they generally have been met with a chorus of disapproval (which, once again, Malkin neglects to mention).

That doesn't excuse them. But using them to represent a "trend" in liberalism -- while pretending that no such trend exists among conservatives -- is simply dishonest. No "un" about it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to return to reading something genuinely substantial and meaningful. I'd recommend everyone else do the same.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Michelle the Martyr

I was just going to stay out of the whole business of Michelle Malkin's recent self-martyrdom, since it doesn't directly affect me or respond to me. Certainly none of my posts have attacked her family, nor have they even hinted at issues regarding her race (though I have discussed her potential dual citizenship).

But I couldn't help but notice a few things about it. To wit:

-- There's the headline over the post:

Readers of my ongoing series on Unhinged will recognize this line. It's the one that Michelle uses to demonstrate how disgustingly racist the left is (she features it on the back cover of Unhinged).

Yet, as already explained, the line is taken from a comment posted at Is That Legal which, as you'll see, was a satirical post written quite intentionally in the voice of a white supremacist, by way of making a point about the kinds of interests that Malkin's work actually serves:
Why can't we find competent race-traitors anymore? Issuing a retraction based on legal threats? Disgusting. This was her moment to shine - a real public forum to level a set of smears against Japanese-"Americans" that would have assured they NEVER tried to drive across the heartland of America again. Instead she knuckles under like Tojo in Tokyo Bay.

This is what happens when you send a yellow woman to do a white man's job.

Posted by: Tommy Pain at May 18, 2005 11:45 AM

Why does Malkin keep reusing this line when it's clear that the "racism" in this post is satirical in nature?

-- Malkin doesn't really appear to be responding to the source of the questions about her professional relationship with her husband. That would be MalkinWatch and its lengthy examination of the extent of Jesse's contributions to her blog (cowritten by Liberal Avenger). As Auguste points out, his blog has never indulged in the inflammatory and racist material that Malkin complains about in her self-martyrdom. Neither have ever portrayed her "as a greedy Asian whore/dupe/brainwashing victim who simply parrots what [her] white slavemasters program into [her] empty little head."

In fact, it's hard to tell exactly who she's complaining about. It's certainly not coming from any blogs of real note.

-- Most significantly, there's this little sentence inserted into the middle of this wailing and gnashing of teeth, describing just what Jesse does contribute:
He has done copy-editing on my three books, conducted background research, taken dictation, drafted language for business letters, reviewed contracts, mailed my thank-you notes, helped me with a handful of blog posts out of the estimated 3,000 I've written since June 2004, corrected the math in a few of the estimated 800 newspaper columns I've penned since November 1992, and provided me with emotional support and encouragement through good times and bad.

As Matt Stoller says, what, exactly, is a "handful"? Are we talking just one or two? Or a dozen or more? A hundred? Why else mention the number you've actually posted?

Because the issue, in the end, is a serious one regarding Malkin's professional ethics: Did she post material under her name that was written by someone else without informing her readers?

It appears that the answer, from Malkin's own admission, is yes.

If so, why? What conceivable reason could she have for not giving Jesse Malkin his own byline on those posts he wrote?

It's important to understand that the incident that sparked Malkin's post -- her interview on a radio talk show in North Carolina -- framed the issue exactly that way: Was she posting material under her name that was written by her husband?

Eric Muller at Is That Legal? heard the interview, and has been posting on it:
Brad also asked her whether there's anything to all of the chatter out there on the internet that her husband writes some of the material that's published under her name. She denied this categorically, calling the suggestion "comical."

Ooops! A day later, she was admitting that, in fact, her husband does in fact write some of the material that's publishing under her name. Seems she was, in fact, lying on the air the day before.

And the lying continued in her misrepresentation of the interview in her blog post. As Muller points out:
Malkin blogs about this interview exchange here. One correction. She says this: "During one of countless book-related radio interviews this week, a liberal radio host insultingly asked me whether I write my own column." On the radio show, when Brad Krantz asked her what she thought of the story swirling around the web that her husband writes some of her material, she responded with enthusiasm, and said that she was "glad" he had asked the question.

Evidently, Malkin is intent on deflecting the serious criticism for an egregious breach of professional ethics by playing the racism card, and lying a little to cover her tracks. Isn't that what she complains about liberals doing all the time?

-- Finally, Michelle, if you want people to leave your family out of it, it always helps if you do the same.

In the meantime, instead of complaining about anonymous bloggers whom she never identifies, perhaps at some point she'll work up enough courage to respond to her more substantive critics.

UPDATE/CORRECTION: I've finally listened to a tape of the interview, and the questioner does ask Malkin about the rumors that Jesse ghost-wrote "your column and such things". So I've edited the post accordingly. My apologies.

Unhinged: Unhonest

1: The Unbearable Lightness of Malkin

2: Eye of the Unhinged

3: The Unhinged Right

4: Hunting Liberals

Part 5: Extremists? What Extremists?

All you really need to know about how Michelle Malkin handles the extremist elements of the conservative movement can be found in her description, on pp. 131-132 of Unhinged, of the scene surrounding the protracted death of Terri Schiavo in Florida:
Next on the unhinged target list: ordinary, peaceful protestors who traveled to Florida in support of Terri Schiavo, the disabled woman starved to death by her husband and the courts after a protracted legal battle in March 2005. Here's how Michelle Cottle of The New Republic expressed contempt for Schiavo's religious supporters on CNN's Reliable Sources with Howard Kurtz:

Kurtz: Michelle Cottle, has the press ridiculed, or maybe I should say marginalized, religious people who believed [that] Terri Schiavo must be kept alive as a matter of Christian morality?

Cottle: Well, it's not that they get out there and make fun of them. It's just you come with a ready-made kind of visual here. You have people on the streets praying. They're, you have very dramatic and even melodramatic protests and things like this.

These people are easy to kind of just poke fun at without even saying anything. You just kind of show these people. And the majority of Americans who don't get out there and do this kind of, you know, really dramatic displays feel a little bit uncomfortable on that level. [Emphasis added]

If Cottle was willing to be this honest on national TV about his discomfort with people praying on the street, can you imagine what her colleagues in newsrooms and control rooms across the country say about "these people"?

She goes on with more descriptions of "religion bashing" around the Schiavo case, as well as numerous other instances of similar ugliness by "church bashers" and "religion haters."

But note how she describes Cottle's "discomfort" (though it sounded like she was more amused than discomforted): its only source, in Malkin's retelling, was "people praying in the street" -- when what Cottle was describing was the bizarre, freak-show scene that actually was on display in Florida, including the "melodramatic protests" that included such scenes as falling down on their knees in the middle of the street.

Well, these scenes didn't just disturb media people: they disturbed regular, churchgoing Christians as well, because they entailed other self-described Christians shoving their brand of belief -- an extremist brand, actually -- down the throats of a family struggling with the most difficult and private of decisions. These ostentatious displays of religiosity are, for many Christians, spiritually problematic. Haven't these people ever heard of the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican?

Mostly, the scene in Florida disturbed anyone with a few remaining strands of sanity and decency. If you wanted to see some "unhinged" folks, you only had to watch a few of the street scenes:

If you continued watching the broadcast of Reliable Sources that Malkin cites, you'd have heard them discuss further the nature not just of the "ordinary" protesters who were showing up at Schiavo's hospice, but of their allegedly mainstream-conservative supporters in the media:
JOHN FUND, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Michael Schiavo, the closer you look at him, the more unsettling the whole case gets, because, frankly, he has not been a good husband.

PAT BOONE, SINGER: Terri's husband is determined to let her die, not let her die, put her away.

PAT ROBERTSON, THE 700 CLUB: I blame her husband, who obviously wanted to kill her.

Let's not forget, of course, that this rhetoric in fact inspired at least one person to action -- the charming fellow who plotted to have Michael Schiavo and the judge in the case murdered.

Moreover, the stage in Florida was every bit as filled with right-wing extremism. The ranks of those "ordinary, peaceful protesters" were being filled by the likes of militia leader Bo Gritz -- who attempted a citizens' arrest of Michael Schiavo and the judge in the case -- and Randall Terry, who has a long history of associations with the murderous wing of the anti-abortion movement, as well as the Patriot/militia movement. Neo-Nazi Hal Turner went so far as advocate an armed rescue, as well as shooting anyone who interfered.

So, where did these wackos go in Malkin's description of the Schiavo protests? Nowhere to be seen. Nary a mention. They were just ordinary people praying. Right.

And did anyone hear any "mainstream" conservatives denouncing these folks, as Michelle claims happens with great regularity? Well, not really. Certainly there's nothing in Malkin's posts on the matter to indicate anything but admiration for them.

In fact, it seemed that everyone on the right was doing their damnedest to enable them.

Let's not forget that the Schiavo matter was a classic case of the conservative movement being taken captive by its extremist wing: the Republican Congress went so far as to try to force an intervention that was repudiated by the courts. That in turn inspired an extremist attack on the integrity of the courts that went nowhere.

It's not really a surprise that Malkin sees no extremism in all this. That is, after all, part of a pattern she has sustained throughout her career: Malkin is embarrassingly susceptible to a broad range of extremist ideas and talking points, including their claims not to be racist. Then, in promoting their ideas --albeit repackaged for broader consumption -- Malkin helps transmit these extremist ideas into the mainstream.

Malkin, in fact, has numerous dalliances with right-wing extremists -- the real ones that she claims conservatives are busy policing.

The most vivid instance of this is her long association with VDare, which has been designated a hate group by the SPLC, and for good cause:
Fast forward to 2003. Once a relatively mainstream anti-immigration page, VDARE has now become a meeting place for many on the radical right.

One essay complains about how the government encourages "the garbage of Africa" to come to the United States. The same writer says once the "Mexican invasion" engulfs the country, "high teenage birthrates, poverty, ignorance and disease will be what remains."

Another says that Hispanics have a "significantly higher level of social pathology than American whites. ... In other words, some immigrants are better than others." Yet another complains that a Jewish immigrant rights group is helping "African Muslim refugees" come to America.

Brimelow's site carries archives of columns from men like Sam Francis, who is the editor of the newspaper of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, a group whose Web page recently described blacks as "a retrograde species of humanity."

It has run articles by Jared Taylor, the editor of the white supremacist American Renaissance magazine, which specializes in dubious race and IQ studies and eugenics, the "science" of "race betterment" through selective breeding.

As I've said before, Malkin's In Defense of Internment is likewise of a piece of this same willingness to indulge views that are by any measure bigoted, and in some cases, extremist, by ignoring the latent bigotry and its broader ramifications.

These are hardly the only instances. Let's not forget her link in a blog post to an anti-immigrant site operated by an extremist Holocaust-denial organization. (The link is still up.)

Then there are the Minutemen, hailed by Malkin as "the mother of all neighborhood watch programs", and defended with regularity on her blog. As I've observed numerous times, the Minutemen are a magnet for the most extreme racists and xenophobes in America, and their claims to be "weeding out" such extremists are so much hooey.

After all, not only is the Minuteman Project directly descended from the militia movement, the Minuteman leader have a history of extremism. And they haven't changed their stripes, their media makeover notwithstanding. Jim Gilchrist, one of the Minuteman Project cofounders, is currently running for Congress under the banner of the far-right Constitution Party -- which itself is closely bound up with promoting the militia movement. And then there are the charming folks who show up for Minuteman parties.

Given Malkin's extraordinarily high tolerance for right-wing extremism -- indeed, her open participation in advancing their agenda -- it's probably not any wonder that the presence of right-wing extremism, and its positive embrace by the mainstream conservative movement, is simply left out of her narrative.

After all, if you think racial hygienists like Jared Taylor and Steve Sailer and the rest of the VDare gang are "normal," well, then what "real extremists on the right" remain for people like Michelle Malkin to denounce?

In that respect, Malkin emodies what has become of the "mainstream" conservative movement: So enmeshed with extremism she thinks it's ordinary.

Next: Keeping Our Cools

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Unhinged: Unhonest

1: The Unbearable Lightness of Malkin

2: Eye of the Unhinged

3: The Unhinged Right

Part 4: Hunting Liberals

[Via Left in SF]

To hear Michelle Malkin tell it in Unhinged, the levels of extremism and ugliness that can be found on the right are apparently relegated to a few minor instances that apparently don't really count [p. 9]:
And while the Left's knee-jerk response to these stories will doubtlessly be to trot out well-worn examples of unseemly behavior on the right -- Dick Cheney swearing, or mean-spirited conservatives' Internet jibes about Democrats -- the truth is that it's conservatives themselves who blow the whistle on their bad boys and go after the real extremism on their side of the aisle.

As Malkin depicts things, the vast majority of ugliness is emanating from the left, from those same Internet jibes about Republicans to Howard Dean yeaaaarghing. In other words, covering the same range of participation that Malkin describes coming from the right.

Ah, but the way Malkin explains things, you see, it's the sheer volume of the left's unhingedness that is worth examining. So her text is mostly dedicated to cataloging this ugliness -- while studiously ignoring the question of whether a similar volume might exist on the right. Indeed, other than these two "minor" instances, you won't find a single instance of Malkin describing (let alone denouncing) "unhinged" behavior on the right.

It's not as though the information isn't available. After all, we tracked thuggery from both sides during the 2004 election here, and came up with a 33-to-8 ratio of right-wing vs. left-wing ugliness -- though the data collection for left-wing incidents was obviously flawed. Malkin's book cites most of the incidents we gathered, and a number we missed, including a large number of vandalism attacks on Republican campaign offices.

But Malkin, while cataloging these attacks, leaves unmentioned the nine separate attacks on Democratic campaign offices that were reported in 2004, incuding a number of deeply disturbing cases.

Malkin also describes a number of incidents of assaults, threats, and intimidation by left-wingers during the campaign, but similarly ignores the many incidents of identical behavior that were recorded on the right (we counted 15 of them). These included the the Bush supporter who pointed a gun at the head of a Kerry backer, and the boyfriend who put a screwdriver to the throat of his girlfriend who balked at voting for Bush. Or the Freepers who invaded an antiwar protest with the clear intention of disrupting the event and attempting to provoke fights.

Here's how Malkin sums it up:
It's not Republicans taking chainsaws to Democrat campaign signs and running down political opponents with their cars. It's not conservatives burning Democrats in effigy, defacing war memorials, and supporting the fragging of American troops. And it's not conservatives producing a bullet-riddled bumper crop of assassination-themed musicals, books and collectible stamps.

It's not a Republican who invoked Pol Pot and Nazis and Soviet gulag operators when discussing American troops at Guantanamo Bay. That was Democrat Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, who kept his Senate Minority Whip position and who continues to blame an "orchestrated right-wing attack" for what came out of his mouth.

It's not Republicans who suggested that President Bush had advance knowledge of the September 11th attacks or that Osama bin Laden has already been captured. Those notions were advanced by former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and current Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean.

And it wasn't a Republican who asserted that the war Iraq was "just as bad as six million Jews being killed." That was Democrat Rep. Charlie Rangel, who has refused to apologize and whom no Democrat leader has denounced.

And while conservatives zealously police their own ranks to exclude extremists and conspiracy theories, extremism and conspiracy theories have become the driving force of the Democrat Party.

Well, if Malkin were as concerned as she claims regarding wackos who disrespect veterans and commit violence against their opponents' signs, what did she have to say about the lunatic who ran over the flags at Cindy Sheehan's Texas protest that were intended to be a tribute to the soldiers killed in Iraq? She called him a "nutball." Pretty tough talk there, lady.

As I already noted in response:
It isn't Democrats who sprayed racist, pro-Bush graffiti on Democratic campaign HQ in Sacramento, or stole computers from Democrats in Ohio, or set campaign signs afire in Louisiana, or spread blood and innards around the front doors of Bush critics. It isn't Democrats firing workers for their presidential choices.

It isn't Democrats, Michelle, who have denigrated the service of war heroes; it's people like you. And it isn't Democrats who are delivering a steady stream of "bestselling" books attacking liberals as subhuman scum: calling them innately treasonous, identifying them with terrorists, the "enemy within" with a "mental illness." Going on talk shows and saying that the best way to talk to a Republican is "with a baseball bat, preferably."

As for the "assassination" themes, Michelle, it wasn't a left-wing blogger who posted the following remark at the height of the 2004 campaign:

Rope. Tree. Justice. The only three things that Qerry deserves for his "service".

No, as a matter of fact, that was a blogger who resides on your blogroll.

It was that same blog, in fact, that earlier urged the use of violence against another blogger and even provided directions to that person's home on his blog. I'm not aware of any left-wing bloggers having done that.

Indeed, for all the left-wing wackery out there -- and there's no doubt plenty of it -- what you don't see is this kind of eliminationist rhetoric.

After all, Michelle, it wasn't a prominent Democrat who publicly hypothesized about what would happen to the crime rate if all black babies were aborted. It wasn't a prominent Democratic radio talk-show host in Seattle who said of a U.S. Senator -- yes, the same Dick Durbin whose remarks you find completely out of line: "This man is simply a piece of excrement, a piece of waste that needs to be scraped off the sidewalk and eliminated."

It isn't the most prominent liberal talk-show host in the country who jokes that we shouldn't "kill all the liberals" -- instead, we should "leave enough so we can have two on every campus -- living fossils -- so we will never forget what these people stood for."

It wasn't a prominent member of the "liberal" media who opined that we ought to incarcerate everyone who works for Air America.

It wasn't a Democratic congressman who opined that we ought to ship liberal dissenters to Iraq to serve as "human shields."

It wasn't left-wing letter writers who attacked former USA Today editor Al Neuharth and recommended he face execution for treason. Al Neuharth, mind you -- not exactly Mr. Liberal.

And kooky theories? Well, Michelle, what about the forthcoming tome from a well-known conservative postulating -- against all known historical fact -- that fascism is a liberal phenomenon. Of course, you know all about ignoring the weight of historical evidence, don't you?

It isn't liberal bloggers, Michelle, who have waxed wroth at the General Ripperesque notion that the Flight 94 memorial is actually a tribute to the terrorists, or who have whipped up groundless fears about Islamist terrorists in Oklahoma and elsewhere; no left-wing moonbats groundlessly attacked the Pulitzer winner in photography or attacked USA Today with conspiratorial accusations for a badly retouched photo.

No, Michelle, that would be you and yours. Moonbats, wingnuts, take your pick: The shoe fits -- you.

Malkin also makes a great deal (pp. 163-164) out of a Bush-hating entrepreneur who offered a line of "Kill Bush" T-shirts and cups (the logo being a takeoff of the Tarantino film "Kill Bill"), and observes that no one on the right likewise promoted "Kill Kerry" shirts.

Perhaps not, but there is someone offering, at the same location, "Liberal Hunting Permits" like the one at the top of this post. Ah, but for Malkin, no doubt, there's nothing extremist about such gear.

Malkin also includes photos and anecdotes of left-wing Kerry supporters getting ugly with right-wing Bush backers throughout the campaign, and includes a photo gallery of some of the "unhinged" folk who would do such things.

Strangely missing, though, are shots like these:

[More info here.]

[More here.]

There's quite a gallery of this behavior on both sides of the aisle, really. But an honest and thorough survey of the ugliness will reveal something Malkin doesn't want her readers to know, because it contradicts completely her claim that the right reins in its extremists:

Not only are conservatives guilty of nearly identical behavior that Malkin describes as "unhinged," but the volume of it is at least equal to, if not greater than, that from the left. Right-wing unhingedness is equally pervasive, if not more so, at nearly all levels: it can be found throughout ordinary movement conservatives; conservative media and punditry spokespeople; and among the officials and movement leaders (like Cheney) who set the tone for the rest. And it has been poisoning the public discourse for a much longer period of time.

Anyone who is seriously concerned about the ugliness and division that has become imbued in today's politics should be concerned about the kind of discourse that Malkin documents -- at least, those instances that actually document beyond-the-realm behavior and not simple partisanship. There are enough of these, I think, to give any liberal pause.

But any honest assessment will not only consider all the ugliness across the political spectrum, it will consider it in its respective context. How should we assess left-wing nastiness, for instance, when it appears not only to be a relatively recent phenomenon, but in many regards highly reactive to right-wing provocation?

As I observed in the previous post, the deeply eliminationist nature of so much right-wing rhetoric -- "hunting liberals" being a classic example -- is the antithesis of constructive discourse. Its purpose is to intimidate and antagonize, as well as to encourage similar ugliness.

Conservatives' complaints about left-wing ugliness are akin to those of the lunatic who walks about the town square poking his fellow citizens in the eye with a sharp stick -- and then complaining about their lack of civility afterward.

The most significant context in this regard is another reality: the "unhinged" discourse from the right -- what Malkin calls "a lot of the violence, a lot of the paranoia, a lot of the conspiracy theories, a lot of this hatred" -- has been going on for a long time.

Perhaps it's just a convenient memory lapse by Malkin that omits the fact that conservatives have engaged in ten years and more of liberal-bashing -- consumed by a pathological hatred of Bill Clinton, especially, that came floating to the surface in the form of violence, paranoia, and conspiracy theories.

After all, who could forget all those stories promoted -- not just by fringe players, but by supposedly mainstream conservatives like the Wall Street Journal's editorialists -- about Bill Clinton:
-- Clinton was responsible for the fiasco surrounding the 1992 FBI shootings on Ruby Ridge.

-- Clinton and his attorney general, Janet Reno, were responsible for the massacre of the Branch Davidians who died at the culmination of the standoff in Waco.

-- Clinton was the nominal leader of the "New World Order," a government conspiracy to subsume American sovereignty under the United Nations and destroy our freedoms.

-- Clinton was responsible for a long string of deaths of people who had the misfortune to cross his path, cataloged in the "Clinton Body Count."

-- Clinton was a rapist.

-- Clinton had a love child by a black woman and then denied paternity.

-- Clinton was responsible for a vicious cocaine-dealing ring that operated out of Mena, Arkansas.

-- Bill and Hillary secretly conspired to have Vince Foster murdered and made to look like a suicide.

-- The Clinton staff vandalized the White House on their way out.

All of them either laughable on their face or completely disproven and discredited. We do know that an intern was giving him blow jobs, and he was evasive in his testimony about that (gwarsh, wonder why). But other than that, there was a tremendous amount of shit flung onto Bill Clinton's wall during the 1990s, and none of it stuck. Malkin, of course, makes no mention of this context.

She also makes much of protesters who burn Bush in effigy, but conveniently forgets that not only was Clinton burned in effigy during the 1990s, so was the first lady. And when she runs for President, expect a lot more of that. Indeed, no one seems to inspire unhinged behavior on the right like Hillary.

Considering how Michelle Malkin treats extremism like this on the right, I think it's a fair likelihood that she'll be one of the leading torchbearers in the Hillary-burning mob.

Next: Extremists? What Extremists?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Unhinged: Unhonest

1: The Unbearable Lightness of Malkin

2: Eye of the Unhinged

Part 3: The Unhinged Right

You might think that, having just appeared on Bill O'Reilly's Fox News show to plump her new book about left-wing looniness, Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild, Michelle Malkin might have squirmed a little when, just a couple of days later, O'Reilly himself uttered some of the most unhinged, unAmerican remarks I think any host on any major network has made in recent years, perhaps ever:
Hey, you know, if you want to ban military recruiting, fine, but I'm not going to give you another nickel of federal money. You know, if I'm the president of the United States, I walk right into Union Square, I set up my little presidential podium, and I say, "Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you're not going to get another nickel in federal funds. Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead."

And if Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.

Has any major "liberal" media figure ever written off an entire city's population? Given terrorists permission to attack them? Damned thousands of Americans -- men, women, children -- to horrible deaths? Can you imagine the reaction if they had?

When the city's mayor demanded an apology, O'Reilly refused to back down, saying the city needed "a wake-up call." He also tried to claim he was making a "satirical" point and promised to publicize the "smear" sites that suggested he had said what he actually had said.

Regardless of whether he actually was inviting a terrorist attack -- and what kind of "humor" is it, exactly, that's predicated on mass death? -- what he was clearly saying was people who choose not to participate in the Bush "war on terror" do not deserve the protections afforded the rest of Americans, and by extension deserve to be killed by terrorists.

It doesn't matter to O'Reilly that these people may have legitimate reasons for being concerned about having military recruiters in their schools, especially since those recruiters are known to lie to and threaten young people. They may also have legitimate concerns about their children being recruited to fight in a war in Iraq that is nothing but a diversion from the real war on terrorism.

No, conforming with his notion of what is "patriotic" is all that O'Reilly cares about. Those who don't -- well, they can die.

Did any conservatives stand up and argue that O'Reilly's remarks were out of line and extremist? Um. No.

Did Michelle Malkin? Um. Well. [Crickets chirping.]

Y'see, Malkin is adamant in Unhinged that the right does its best to decry extremism and kookery, to purge it from their ranks:
"[T]he truth is that it's conservatives themselves who blow the whistle on their bad boys and go after the real extremism on their side of the aisle."[p. 9]

And while conservatives zealously police their own ranks to exclude extremists and conspiracy theories, extremism and conspiracy theories have become the driving force of the Democrat Party. [p. 169]

On O'Reilly's show, Malkin expounded similarly:
It is in fact conservatives who are very outspoken in condemning fringe people, and people who are extremists on the right side of the aisle.

So, either Malkin has no intention of actually participating in said "zealous policing," or she doesn't consider O'Reilly's remarks to be the same kind of plainly grotesque, extremist rhetoric she denounces in Unhinged. I'd guess both. Especially when the remarks in question are coming from one of her friends.

So, no -- Michelle didn't squirm. It's one of the cool things about the conservative cult mentality: it relieves you of those untidy little guilt pangs that usually accompany ostentatious hypocrisy.

But of course, we've already seen that when it comes to obvious cases of extremism, such as Michael Savage, Malkin is remarkably silent.

Did anyone from the conservative side of the aisle ever speak up when Savage announced that the tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia "wasn't a tragedy"? Uh, no. How about when he said this?
Right now, even people sitting on the fence would like George Bush to drop a nuclear weapon on an Arab country. They don't even care which one it would be. I can guarantee you -- I don't need to go to Mr. Schmuck [pollster John] Zogby and ask him his opinion. I don't need anyone's opinion. I'll give you my opinion, because I got a better stethoscope than those fools. It's one man's opinion based upon my own analysis. The most -- I tell you right now -- the largest percentage of Americans would like to see a nuclear weapon dropped on a major Arab capital. They don't even care which one. They'd like an indiscriminate use of a nuclear weapon.

Nope. It's positively an orchestra of crickets chirping away over there on the right when it comes to Savage, who claims an audience in the millions.

Though Malkin claimed on O'Reilly's show that conservatives denounce Savage "all the time" she has so far been unable to come up with a single instance of it. Indeed, a Google of Malkin's site reveals no denunciations of Savage -- just warm approval.

What about other extremists from the right? Perhaps the most prominent of these is Ann Coulter, who says things like:
"My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building."

"We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed too."

"They are either traitors or idiots, and on the matter of America’s self-preservation, the difference is irrelevant. Fifty years of treason hasn’t slowed them down."

"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."

"God said ... rape the planet -- it's yours. That's our job: drilling, mining and striping. Sweaters are the anti-Biblical view. Big gas-guzzling cars with phones and CD players and wet bars -- that's the Biblical view."

"I have to say I'm all for public flogging."

"I think [women] should be armed but should not [be allowed to] vote."

"Liberals hate America, they hate flag-wavers, they hate abortion opponents, they hate all religions except Islam, post 9/11. Even Islamic terrorists don't hate America like liberals do. They don't have the energy. If they had that much energy, they'd have indoor plumbing by now."

"My libertarian friends are probably getting a little upset now but I think that's because they never appreciate the benefits of local fascism."

And, since assassination fantasies apparently send Malkin all aflutter, recall also that Coulter thought assassinating Clinton should be a subject of public discourse:
In this recurring nightmare of a presidency, we have a national debate about whether he "did it," even though all sentient people know he did. Otherwise there would be debates only about whether to impeach or assassinate.

Has Malkin ever spoken up about this kind of extremism? It doesn't appear so. A quick Google of her site reveals plenty of references to Coulter -- but they're all adulatory and approving; many are about painting Coulter as a right-wing martryr.

And what about Rush Limbaugh? Any raised eyebrows (let alone voices) when he suggested that Hillary Clinton would have John Kerry assassinated if he won the presidency? Nope.

How about when he suggested that it would be best to just kick out of the country anyone who speaks out against it -- thereby ridding us of Michael Moore and "half of the Democratic Party"? (The "unhinged" half, no doubt.) Any condemnation from the right?

Or then there are the numerous times Limbaugh has joked along these lines: "I tell people don’t kill all the liberals. Leave enough so we can have two on every campus -- living fossils -- so we will never forget what these people stood for." See anything wrong with wishing to kill all but a few liberals? Hmmmm? Anything extreme about that?

Then, of course, there is Malkin's friend O'Reilly, who has made numerous ugly outbursts over the course of his career. There was this recent gem too:
Everybody got it? Dissent, fine; undermining, you're a traitor. Got it? So, all those clowns over at the liberal radio network, we could incarcerate them immediately. Will you have that done, please? Send over the FBI and just put them in chains, because they, you know, they're undermining everything and they don't care, couldn't care less.

Wait. I think I know what Malkin is going to say about all these examples: "They're just jokes. Don't you liberals have any sense of humor?"

The funny thing about that is, when it's this kind of extreme "humor" coming from the mouths of those on the left, Malkin dismisses this defense. See, for instance, p. 161:
Of course, if a conservative journalist had written this tripe, no one would let him get away with the "ironic joke" alibi. He'd be figuratively hanged instead for a hate crime.

Right. So why is it so easy to find "ironic jokes" from the right, but not so many figurative nooses for them?

Now, what's really noteworthy about the kinds of "jokes" and ugly rhetoric coming from the right side of the aisle is its nakedly eliminationist nature: it is predicated on the idea of eliminating liberals, either through violence or through mass roundups and incarceration.

This is really only found on the left in the form of the "jokes" about assassinating Bush, which are indeed grotesque and worthy of real condemnation. But the left doesn't appear to harbor fantasies about wiping out all conservatives -- as the right does for liberals, commonly, frequently, and loudly.

More to the point, this eliminationism has increasingly become an imbedded feature of right-wing rhetoric over the past decade. It's commonplace in Internet discussions, as well as generic talk on the street.

It's important to understand the effect of eliminationist rhetoric: It can't be debated. It can't be discussed. It's simply a declaration of emnity and the intent to cause harm. It is, rhetorically speaking, the equivalent of poking your opponent in the eye with a sharp stick.

Now, one of the apparent predicates of Malkin's text is something that goes unstated: the surge of left-wing hatefulness she documents is a relatively recent phenomonen. And I think anyone surveying the political scene in the 1990s would say that, as a matter of sheer volume, the left in that decade, at least, was much quieter in terms of ugliness than the right.

So if Michelle Malkin -- or anyone genuinely concerned about the state of the nation's discourse -- were seeking answers about why we're seeing this kind of response from the left, she would have to seriously examine the effects of the conservative movement's rhetoric of the past decade.

What they would find is that people on the right have been repeatedly, and aggressively, poking their opponents in the eye with a sharp stick.

And now they're acting all innocent and wounded when folks on the Left respond with howls of somtimes inchoate anger.

As we'll see, there have been a lot of these sharp eliminationist sticks being wielded by the right in recent years, and well before. And no one -- no one -- has been reining them in on the right. Indeed, not only are Malkin's claims to the contrary thin and completely unsupported, she has herself been leading the stick-poking brigade.

Next: Hunting Liberals

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Book notes

A couple of notes for my Seattle-area readers ...

I'll be interviewed Thursday afternoon on Seattle's KUOW-FM, during Dave Beck's afternoon program, The Beat, which begins at 2 p.m. PST. We'll be discussing my book, Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community. Click on the KUOW link for a live feed.

That'll be kind of a warmup for my big event of the day, which involves a presentation at the Winters House in Bellevue for the Eastside Heritage Center. Winters House is an appropriate location, since it's adjacent to a blueberry farm that was at various times under the management of Japanese immigrants. And I'm hoping to have a number of the folks who participated in the project turn out, since a number of them are still alive and kicking. I'll have a slideshow, and I'll be discussing and honoring the families of those who turn out.

If you have time, drop by. Festivities begin at 7 p.m.

Orcas: Officially Endangered

[A passing J pod orca photographed July 28 at Lime Kiln State Park.]

Perhaps the best political news of the week is the government's decision to endow "endangered" status on the Puget Sound's orcas. As the P-I story explains::
The Endangered Species Act requires the government to devise a recovery plan for the orcas and to identify and safeguard "critical habitat" necessary for their survival. This could trigger a renewed push for the cleanup of contaminated hot spots in the Sound, environmentalists said. They also speculated that restrictions could be tightened on whale-watching boats.

Under the act, federal agencies also must review their actions to make sure they won't hurt the orcas. Concerns have been raised by the potential harm caused by Navy sonar tests.

This was a critical decision, recognizing the growing scientific consensus that this population of these animals is on the brink:
Their numbers dropped precipitously from the mid-'90s until 2001, when they reached a recent low of 79. They currently stand at 90, according to the Center for Whale Research, a Friday Harbor-based scientific group.

The federal agency recently set 84 to 120 orcas as the target population.

"Because the population has such a small number of sexually active males in it, a catastrophic event -- an oil spill, a chemical spill -- could really make a huge difference in the population," said Brian Gorman, spokesman for the fisheries service.

"The fact that the population is small always worries a biologist," he said.

Scientists have identified many other factors that put the local orcas at risk of disappearance. There has been a decline in the amount of salmon -- their favorite food source -- from historic levels. The killer whales are contaminated with industrial pollutants that can reduce fertility and make them more vulnerable to disease. Research has indicated that boat traffic and other manmade noise can disturb the highly social animals.

Coming to terms with those factors is almost certain to bring the scientists into conflict with both local industry and the military. Efforts to restore salmon runs are certain to place limits on the building and development industries. Cleaning up the pollution that's killing the orcas is going to raise antipathies in military circles, since the majority of PCBs (the most lethal of the pollutants killing the whales) are on the Puget Sound's military bases adjacent to the marine waterways, and cleeanup will be costly. The Navy also is likely to be butting heads over their use of sonar in the Sound.

The Seattle Times coverage points out that the initial reaction is that the listing is being greeted on all sides:
Unlike many other ESA listings, groups whose activities could impact whales -- including salmon fishermen and whale-watching tour operators -- applauded this listing.

"It's not like the spotted owl, where it's loggers versus owls," said David Bain, a University of Washington orca expert. "We're all on the same side on this one."

I'm not so certain about that. The orca listing will at least have the effect of putting more bite to the efforts to restore salmon, because the lack of their dietary staple remains the most fundamental problem the orcas face. And that puts the orcas up directly against the same development and agricultural interests that have been fighting salmon restoration.

Those same people, as it happens, are responsible for the one thing that could render the listing moot: the effort in Congress to gut the Endangered Species Act. As the Times piece observes:
Then again, the listing could have no impact at all if Congress changes the ESA, Bain said. In October, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to significantly scale back the federal government's role in preventing species extinction. It's not clear how the Senate will side on the issue.

"It may be that we spent six years trying to get this listing only to have it not mean all that much," he said.

That isn't the only effort on the part of right-wing politicians that could seriously endanger the orcas. As one of the scientists noted, a single oil spill could kill enough whales to drop the population below the critical levels necessary for full recovery.

And, as it happens, Republicans in Congress are working to raise the likelihood of an oil spill by killing the so-called "Magnuson Amendment" that keeps the major supertankers out of the Sound and limits the traffic that does come here.

The first of these efforts was killed in the House, but it was recently resurrected in the Senate by Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, the rape-and-run pro-development right's favorite senator. The plan is not being very warmly greeted:
Norm Dicks, D-Bremerton, and delegation staffers took them to task for trying to upend 1977 legislation by quietly enlisting Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Republicans from other states to champion their cause.

BP would like more oil tankers to be allowed to dock at its Cherry Point refinery in Bellingham.

But the so-called Magnuson amendment, named after the law's author, the state's late U.S. Sen. Warren Magnuson, restricts any increase in oil-tanker capacity in Puget Sound unless it serves Washington state's energy needs.

Internal e-mails from BP executives and one of its lawyers, given to The Seattle Times, indicate that BP has been working closely with Stevens to undo the tanker rule.

You can bet that when these big-money interests come up against the new orca listing, it will be just a matter of time before we start hearing from "scientists" funded by these selfsame interests.

They'll inform us sternly that there are plenty of orcas in the world, so this population doesn't really need protecting. And besides, the new restrictions are costing us jobs, and Americans more oil for their SUVs. And a few hundred other phony talking points designed to let the orcas go extinct here.

Count on it.

Unhinged: Unhonest

[1: The Unbearable Lightness of Malkin]

Part 2: Eye of the Unhinged

There's a lot of left-wing ugliness documented in Unhinged, and Michelle Malkin's reportage of it, on a surface level at least, appears to be largely accurate -- so far as what she actually reports. As noted, however, most of the time this reportage is incomplete: Exculpatory evidence, of course, is never even mentioned, and Malkin does little to ascertain that the ugliness is from bona fide liberal sources.

In fact, it turns out, Malkin's examples are often not what Malkin presents them as being.

There are certain stretches in the book -- particularly some of the Internet-spawned ugliness directed Malkin -- that should give all liberals pause. There's little doubt that some of the people angered by Malkin's arguments responded with vicious, racist, and misogynist hate mail.

However, Malkin never attempts to provide the reader with any perspective on all this. What percentage of the discourse, for instance, falls into this genuinely ugly category? That should, after all, tell us a great deal about the nature of the beast.

Those experienced in Internet-based discourse are well aware that nastiness abounds on all sides, particularly in the political realm. But the quantity of this nastiness can also be telling. What's striking about sites like Free Republic and Little Green Footballs, for instance, is not just the ugliness of the rhetoric, but the sheer overbearing mass of it. Is the ugliness at sites like Kevin Drum's and Atrios's -- both of whom provide much of the grist for Malkin's mill -- comparable? We never find out, because Malkin never bothers to examine the question.

Now, while Malkin correctly identifies some real examples of viciousness, she fluffs out her thesis regarding left-wing ugliness and kookery with plenty of examples that aren't really all that kooky.

For instance, she devotes most of pp. 7-8 mocking the Web site for posting liberals' apologies to the rest of the world for having failed to prevent George W. Bush's re-election. This is simply old-fashioned partisanship -- something that Malkin appears to only consider kooky when it comes from the left.

Moreover, an examination of the genuinely vile comments that Malkin provides shows that Malkin was anything but careful about those citations. For instance, on her back cover, Malkin quotes an anonymous poster at Eric Muller's blog, Is That Legal?, who wrote:
This is what happens when you send a yellow woman to do a white man's job.

As Thersites has pointed out, the entire post was actually a clearly satirical one:
Why can't we find competent race-traitors anymore? Issuing a retraction based on legal threats? Disgusting. This was her moment to shine - a real public forum to level a set of smears against Japanese-"Americans" that would have assured they NEVER tried to drive across the heartland of America again. Instead she knuckles under like Tojo in Tokyo Bay.

This is what happens when you send a yellow woman to do a white man's job.

Posted by: Tommy Pain at May 18, 2005 11:45 AM

That is, the poster was writing in the voice of an actual racist to make a satirical point about Malkin's argument. This, of course, seems to have either been missed or glossed over by Malkin. Her use of it as an example of ugliness is either a dense misreading of the original post or just dishonest. Or, rather, "unhonest."

Another example of missing context is her inclusion of the following remark:
Look at how even aggressive educated wogs like this Michelle Malkin serve their white masters at little or no prodding simply because they desire to be white and not what they were born.

Malkin's a whore regardless what race she was born. She'd serve any Dark Lord as long as they paid her.

This remark came from a thread at Eschaton, which Malkin culled for the blog post that provided the basis for the section of Chapter Six of Unhinged that examines online lunacy.

And what's clear is that the post -- written by "Big Daddy Mars" -- was actually written in response to another satirical post, this time written by a troll who appeared on Atrios' threads and posted in the voice of the historical King Leopold. His post:
Why exactly does this large toothed educated female wog believe that she will be treated as white when God chose to make her yellow?

Even her political allies see her as nothing more than a trained monkey coached into saying a few simple racial truths that would be politically damaging if put into the mouths of a white man?

Her hatred for her fellow wogs comes from an inability to accept that God did not make her a European and that God chose to make her a woman.

Please, beat her severely and set her to work in a brothel somewhere in Malaysia that services Islamic terrorists.

King Leopold | Email | Homepage | 02.04.05 - 12:39 am | #

So Malkin, once again, omits context that makes the later "wog" reference clearer -- as well as the semi-satirical nature of Big Daddy Mars' response. As Thersites points out, Malkin's deletion of the King Leopold remark -- which she carried on the blog post, but left out of the book -- is telling in several important regards.

This all raises a critical context missing from Malkin's use of Internet posts to demonstrate liberal moral bankruptcy: To what extent, really, can Malkin ascertain that these posts actually represent liberals?

The Internet is indeed a wild and woolly place. And tricksters and hoaxters abound alongside the ugliness. Some liberals will wander over to conservative sites and post nasty material, posing as a fellow conservative, just to make the right look bad. And some conservatives do the same thing at left-wing sites.

In other words, these posts simply are not any kind of reliable source of information about the pervasiveness of the political ugliness Malkin wishes to document. Malkin never bothers to explain this to her readers -- no doubt because it would raise serious questions about her use of them in the first place.

Finally, Malkin attacks the sites' hosts for allowing this kind of nonsense on their boards. She attacks Duncan Black, aka Atrios, calling these citations his "idea of ideal political discourse" (p. 11), and Kevin Drum, saying that these "supposedly 'respectable' liberal bloggers allowed their foaming readers to post similarly depraved comments (p. 118). She particularly attacks Drum, who tried to ameliorate her anger with a reasonable e-mail exchange, and was rewarded for it by having her mock his response as "bleating" and "wimpy."

Malkin seems strangely obtuse about the nature of comment threads at blogs. Now, at small blogs like this one, monitoring and managing the comments is a relatively simple task. But as Malkin herself discovered, comments get completely out of hand when you reach the upper stratosphere of blogging -- when literally hundreds of comments are posted at your blog each day.

Malkin clearly believes that it's better to have no comments at all than to be unable to control what's posted at your blog. Which is fine; that's a legitimate choice for her blog.

But other bloggers will have different philosophies -- that it's better to encourage the public discourse by making comments available for your readers. It's an important way of building an online community at your blog, and it's a healthy exercise in free speech, the negative aspects notwithstanding. That, too, is a legitimate point of view.

Malkin, however, seems to be demanding that other major-level bloggers to follow her footsteps and shut down their comments. I don't think that's going to happen.

Frogs and Ravens had an excellent commentary the other day about the realities of blog-comment management:
On the one extreme of the spectrum are those who believe simultaneously that (a) blogs should not post anything that might offend them, even if they are only visiting a given blog on a first-time fly-by and (b) that anything should be allowed in the comment threads, up to and including insulting the blog owner and his or her other commenters. I call this the "The World Exists to Serve Me" contingent.

On the other extreme are those who believe that (a) blog owners can say whatever the hell they want, however they want, and if the people visiting the blog don't like it, they can go away (common rallying cry, "No one's making you read this blog") and (b) blog owners can do whatever they want with regards to their comments threads -- ban randomly, edit comments according to their own whims, refuse to have any comments, ban people who disagree with them, etc. I call this "It's My Blog and I Can Do What I Want" crowd.

... This is one thing that I think proves challenging to a lot of people new to the blogosphere (as well as a few tone-deaf old hands). The blogosphere is not a uniform, homogenous place, operating according to universal rules and expectations. (My god, how boring it would be if that were so.) Instead, the blogosphere varies with the whims and inclinations of each blog host and each commenting community. Some places are fine with profanity, others aren't. Some specialize in trading witty one-offs; others prefer thoughtful, meandering conversations. Some are snarky and sarcastic; some are warm and touchy-feely. Some develop small, close-knit communities into which a newcomer must ease slowly and cautiously; others are big raucous public parties that anyone can jump into without prior experience. The blogosphere is anything but homogenous.

And that's the point. Atrios' policy, he tells me, is that he will delete obnoxious trolls, but he has no intention of trying to play the role of full-time hall monitor in his threads. For the culture of his blog, that is a perfectly appropriate approach -- just as Malkin's is appropriate for hers.

Most significantly, perhaps, Malkin wants these bloggers to "clean up the trash" at their Websites, but seems to have no such concerns regarding the similar trash that can be found in the comments at such sites as Little Green Footballs and Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler, both of whom reside on her own blogroll.

At LGF, for instance, you can regularly find comments that call both Muslims and liberals "vermin" and "subhumans" and say that "targeted genocide ... will become necessary." At the Rottweiler, you can read threats of violence against other bloggers, as well as assassination threats against John Kerry. Misha, the site's proprietor, has posted himself in support of the notion that antiwar dissenters were asking to be lynched.

What's evident is that Malkin doesn't consider the comments at these sites -- not to mention the posts by their proprietors -- to constitute "trash". Otherwise, she wouldn't express indignation at liberal bloggers for their similar failures.

No, as already noted, Malkin contends that conservatives are in fact much better at weeding out such extremism. On p. 9, she claims that "the truth is that it's conservatives themselves who blow the whistle on their bad boys and go after the real extremism on their side of the aisle." (Ironically, she holds up only two examples of possible right-wing ugliness: Dick Cheney's "Go fuck yourself" to Pat Leahy, and "mean-spirited conservatives' Internet jibes about Democrats" -- but mentions them only dismissively, as though barely worth discussing. Yet Malkin, ironically, devotes entire chapters of her book to the same behavior on the left.)

She goes into this in further detail on pp. 168-169:
It's not Republicans taking chainsaws to Democrat campaign signs and running down political opponents with their cars. It's not conservatives burning Democrats in effigy, defacing war memorials, and supporting the fragging of American troops. And it's not conservatives producing a bullet-riddled bumper crop of assassination-themed musicals, books and collectible stamps.

It's not a Republican who invoked Pol Pot and Nazis and Soviet gulag operators when discussing American troops at Guantanamo Bay. That was Democrat Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, who kept his Senate Minority Whip position and who continues to blame an Â?orchestrated right-wing attackÂ? for what came out of his mouth.

It's not Republicans who suggested that President Bush had advance knowledge of the September 11th attacks or that Osama bin Laden has already been captured. Those notions were advanced by former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and current Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean.

And it wasn't a Republican who asserted that the war Iraq was "just as bad as six million Jews being killed." That was Democrat Rep. Charlie Rangel, who has refused to apologize and whom no Democrat leader has denounced.

... And while conservatives zealously police their own ranks to exclude extremists and conspiracy theories, extremism and conspiracy theories have become the driving force of the Democrat Party.

If only conservatives would zealously police their own ranks to exclude extremists -- particularly if they had done so over the preceding decade.

But, as we will see, they haven't. They aren't. And Michelle Malkin is one of the leading figures in this failure.

Next: The Unhinged Right

[Note: I've slightly rearranged the series since the first post, so the "Next" links have been edited.]