[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]
Bill O'Reilly hosted the Wall Street Journal's resident Chief Wanker, James Taranto, last night on his Fox show to discuss -- or more correctly, promote -- Taranto's latest fetid dropping, "Why the Left Needs Racism: It serves a political purpose."
To keep blacks voting Democratic, it is necessary for the party and its supporters to keep alive the idea that racism is prevalent in America and to portray the Republican Party (as well as independent challengers to the Democrats, such as the tea-party movement) as racist. The election of Barack Obama made nonsense of the idea that America remains a racist country and thereby necessitated an intensifying of attacks on the opposition as racist.Oh, yeah. Because, of course, the Left actually has to concoct out of thin air the entire unrelenting flood of racist signs, rhetoric, and behavior that has been part and parcel of the Tea Parties since their inception -- and before, in their nascent phase, during the 2008 presidential campaign. Not to mention the relentless wingnuttery -- such as Birtherism -- that creates a clear racist undertone and has severed its followers from reality.
These charges of racism are partly based on circular reasoning. Among Blow's evidence that the tea-party movement is racist is "a New York Times/CBS News poll released on Wednesday [that] found that only 1 percent of Tea Party supporters are black and only 1 percent are Hispanic." Other polls have put the black proportion as high as 5% (and, as Tom Maguire notes, Blow misreports his own paper's Hispanic figure, which is actually 3%). But with blacks constituting some 12% of the population, there's no question that the tea-party movement is whiter than the nation as a whole.
Yet to posit racism as an explanation is to ignore far more obvious and less invidious causes for the disparity. The tea-party movement's racial composition reflects a pre-existing partisan alignment: The movement arose in opposition to the policies of a Democratic government, and the vast majority of blacks are Democrats, or at least vote for Democrats. Pride in the first black president, a normal and wholesome attitude, reinforces this partisan allegiance.
There's another factor that might keep blacks away from tea parties: the perception, whether true or not, that the movement is racist--a perception that liberal politicians and commentators have worked tirelessly (and tiresomely) to propagate. Add to this the risk of race-based opprobrium from fellow blacks and even from white liberals for deviating from the way blacks are "supposed" to think.
And the fact that they're overwhelmingly white? Why, that's just a coincidence, an illusion created by all the people pointing out the racism.
But it's touching, really it is, that Taranto is so concerned about protesters being unfairly smeared with self-serving propaganda.
Because we can remember, back in the day, when Taranto developed quite a reputation for smearing anyone who dared question the invasion of Iraq as "pro-Saddam" -- particularly antiwar movement protesters:
In particular, one of the favorite attacks of those who impugn the motives of war opponents has been to label war opponents "pro-Saddam." This phrase has shown up more than any other used in this ugly campaign. Among those who have employed it are Christopher Hitchens in an appearance on CNN's "Connie Chung Tonight"; David Frum on CNN's "Reliable Sources" and in his column for National Review Online; and the editorial board of the New York Post.I guess, in Tarantoville, it's not a dirty political trick to smear someone with vicious falsehoods. It must be when you tell the truth about them that it's unfair.
The worst offender on this count, however, has been James Taranto, writer of the "Best of the Web Today" (BOTW) column on the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal.com, who has repeatedly accused liberals who oppose a potential war with Iraq of supporting Saddam Hussein. On numerous occasions, he has called them "pro-Saddam" or offered several other aggressive rhetorical attacks. On February 25, for instance, Taranto labeled "McLaughlin Group" panelist and Newsweek writer Eleanor Clift "one of Saddam's shrillest defenders." Writing on March 6 about a walkout by some students who oppose the war, Taranto claimed they were "ditching for Saddam." And in yesterday's BOTW, Taranto used the example of antiwar protestors who defaced a September 11 memorial in California to smear everyone who opposes the war, concluding that it was "all you need to know about the 'antiwar' movement" in a section entitled "'Antiwar' Is Anti-American."