Friday, October 24, 2008

Ashley Todd's hideously vile attempt to stage a hate crime

Yesterday, Matt Drudge helped to sensationalize a story about a white, female McCain campaign volunteer being robbed and mutilated by a black, male Obama supporter. The story, dubious from the start, has now been revealed to be a hoax.

But it is difficult to express how villainous it is to attempt to advance your political views by fabricating a black-on-white hate crime in these times of a dangerously charged proto-fascist atmosphere. I have to assume that the young woman responsible for this hoax is mentally unstable, and while I have nothing but contempt and disgust for her actions, I still pity her more than anything else. But Matt Drudge I have less sympathy for.

The reason why is best explained at Frameshop (I hope Mr. Feldman will forgive me for quoting him at such length)

What Drudge has done, in other words, is reframe a report about a mugging to make it seem like the beginning of targeted political violence against the McCain campaign. Hence, it seems from his headline that there are criminals in the U.S. currently out looking for McCain volunteers with the goal of brutally assaulting them--that someone was looking for McCain volunteers to attack, found one, and beat her.

Now, Matt Drudge's blog is one of the most visited websites on the internet and is well-known for its Republican Party leanings, it's deep connection to right-wing media outlets, and the phenomenal speed with which it can disseminate a story--whether that story is true or false. It is important, therefore, to consider the grave danger carried Drudge's spinning of this story.

Given Drudge's choice of words, one could imagine the Drudge headline as the basis for right-wing media and the Republican base to conclude that political violence has begun against the McCain campaign--despite this being a false and misleading representation of the events.

Even worse, the immense site traffic at The Drudge Report enjoys, combined with Drudge's implication that this horrible mugging incident in Pittsburgh was in fact targeted political violence against Republicans, could result in widespread panic amongst by McCain supporters mislead by Drudge's manipulative reporting into thinking that they were the target of some kind of organized assault.

If either of those things were to happen, the Drudge headline of the WTAE story could quickly tip the the Presidential election into a dangerous place by heightening the 'us vs. them' tensions already set in motion by the McCain-Palin campaign rhetoric.
While there were notable exceptions of bloggers expressing skepticism to the story from the start - Michelle Malkin, for instance - there were at least several bloggers who were quick to jump to conclusions that Mr. Feldman worried would be jumped to.

As Mr. Feldman noted in his post, this sort of fear-mongering is dangerous because generating a belief that an In-group is being targeted for violence by an Out-group creates a pretense for that In-group to itself use violent measures for "self-defense" purposes. Indeed, in places where we've seen the ultimate possible consequence of this sort of fear-mongering - Nazi Germany or Rwanda - genocide was justified as a necessity of self-defense against a violent, thuggish Other.

To put it another way, Drudge's wreckless "journalism" - aka his attempt to play upon racial fears in the hopes of advancing his Republican political agenda - carries with it the very real possibility of itself contributing to a future hate crime.

If you find that hard to believe, then, if you can stomach it, go ahead and visit the white supremacist website Stormfront and notice that one of the first links in their News forum is to the Drudge headline. The thread begins with and contains hordes of hideously racist comments about how the attack signals the start of a black-on-white race war and how the commenters are ready to defend themselves by killing some blacks. Then, when the story was revealed to be a hoax, they concluded that their having believed the hoax - remember, sensationalized by Drudge - in the first place proves that whites being attacked by blacks is a real threat. Can't follow that logic? Not surprising. The thread also was starting to fill up with speculation that the hoaxer is really a "Demogrant Jewess" who did this as part of a sinister plot to make McCain look bad and to put the "chimp" Obama in office.

As bad as those comments were, in terms of sheer hysterical paranoia they still can't compete with this jaw-droppingly insane post from Blogs for Victory (whose blogger Mark Noonan I previously have described as proto-fascist, for such reasons.)

Yes, in a post titled "Nazism 2.0," after saying that the "American Left" are the new Nazis and linking to the fake politically motivated mutilation story, the site's other author Matt Margolis writes:

And Obama is their Hitler

[snip]

The American Left, if we let them win, will usher in a new era of fascism that will rival George Orwell’s dystopian vision in 1984.

I am not being dramatic… The [fake attack] story above is hardly unique. I am merely responding to the truth that is very much in plain sight. I am dead serious.

God help us if Obama wins.
The story is hardly unique? Right, white female McCain supporters being robbed and mutilated by black male Obama supporters happens all the time. It's simply amazing to see someone so caught up in ideology that the individual becomes blinded to the absurdity of such a statement. But to be clear: Margolis is not merely saying that an Obama supporter targeted a McCain supporter for an attack, but that on Obama supporter attacked a McCain supporter because Obama encouraged his supporters to engage in political violence!!!!

Noonan chimes in in an update

As for me, I believe the story - it was reported out here in Las Vegas that some of the people who attended the Palin rally and had McCain/Palin stickers on their cars suffered tire-slashing. The left’s MO has long been this sort of thuggish intimidation - they want people to be afraid to speak their minds and openly proclaim their views in the public square.
As of this posting neither of these two geniuses have updated the post and pointed out it's a hoax. But even if they do, the on-going campaign to rebrand liberalism as fascism will continue forward. The irony is that hysterical anti-"fascist" fear is making folks like Noonan and Margolis sound like fascists, and it's why they end up doing stuff like this. As Orcinus put it:

It is by small steps of incremental meanness and viciousness that we lose our humanity. The Nazis, in the end, embodied the ascension of utter demonic inhumanity, but they didn't get that way overnight. They got that way through, day after day, attacking and demonizing and urging the elimination of those they deemed their enemies.

They did this by not simply creating them as The Enemy, but by denying them their essential humanity, depicting them as worse than scum -- disease-laden, world-destroying vermin, in desperate need of elimination. But that kind of behavior, over the years, has hardly been relegated merely to the Nazis; indeed, it has a long history in America as well, and has been bubbling up on the right increasingly in recent years.

...

The right's attempt to smear liberals isn't merely a Bizarro World inversion of reality. It's becoming, in content and nature, the very demonic thing it claims to fear.
Update: I couldn't help noticing at Blogs for Victory a flashing adverstisement for the political cartoons of Michael Ramirez. That's the same cartoonist who has made explicit the developing stabbed in the back mythos of the conservative movement. That's some irony, given that Blogs for Victory is a site saying that the "American Left" are the new Nazis; recall that fascist Germans in the post WWI Weimar Republic felt that their troops had been stabbed in the back by anti-German "Jews" (who were equated with the German "Left.")

2 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Paul said...

All this proto-fascist nonsense directed towards a candidate who is, after all, pretty much a Centrist. It makes me wonder what they'd do if Obama was a genuine Leftist.