First, this is Krugman from today:
UglinessA long and brutal game of "gotcha" at every turn, making every interview into a field strewn with landmines, pretending it is more important to catch a candidate in a verbal slip than to ask about their plans for governing. Most of all, the way in which an arrogant and right-leaning media decided that it would frame the way in which our candidates were presented. This interview was not just trying to trick Hillary into saying something that could be construed as her doubt about Obama's faith, it was also at the same time making his faith (which by definition cannot be known by anyone but the person) into a topic of discussion in the campaign. Go and read some of the comments to this blog post by Krugman. Think about the article by Stanley Fish on Hillary Hatred. Consider the ways in which misogyny is so casually mixed in with political hatred, and the level of fury that spills out across the page. Take seriously the effectiveness of the right to exploit deep fears and prejudices and their shameless zeal to call out the worst in everyone they touch.
Read the first paragraph of this, then read this, and you’ll have the essence of what happened in the Democratic primary campaign
I've waited patiently for several days to see if anything of substance would come out of the much ballyhooed announcement by Larry Johnson about a video that alleges Michelle Obama said something objectionable, possibly using a derogatory racial term. I posted a few cautions, and said I needed to see the evidence before making up my mind. This alleged scandal has been pushed for several weeks now, and there have been several days of explanations, each of them at odds in some way with the others. I've made up my mind on this matter.
It is a ratfucking operation by the Republicans and it has done exactly what it was intended to do - set Democrats at each others' throats, stir up racist and anti-Muslim sentiment, and encourage people to enagage in misogynist attacks on Michelle Obama.
At best, Larry Johnson is being played for a fool by these people. His desire to defeat Obama is coming out of a desire to get back at the radical left of the 60s. Obama is his access point to people like Ayers, Wright and Farrakhan, and he's grabbing for every rock that comes to hand, not paying much attention to the dynamite that is taking its place. That there is little to defend in that group does not excuse the irresponsible conduct by any number of people over at No Quarter. I admit to a certain grim satisfaction that two elements I don't much care for in American political life - the violent nihilists of the Left and their mirror-image Cold Warrior, red-baiting fellow nihilists of the right - are duking it out. Couldn't happen to a better pair. But what is spilling over from this decades old grudge match into the rest of the blogs is pure toxic waste - misogyny, racism and anti-Muslim calumny.
Let's get something clear. I do not give a flying fuck if Michelle Obama did say "whitey" in some video tape from whenever and wherever and with whomever she supposedly said it. Period. I sincerely doubt that anything we finally see will rise to the level of what we have been led to believe happened. Furthermore, I do not care if Michelle Obama is unpleasant, nice as apple pie, indifferent to the world, filled with petty resentment, serene and loving, or anything else about the state of her psyche. I'm willing to wager she is all of those things depending on where she is and who she's talking to, just as every major public female figure I have read about has had her inner soul meticulously dissected before the public eye and has been found wanting. The assault on Michelle Obama is exactly like the assault on Hillary Clinton when Bill was running for the White House. It is mean, vile, sexist, crude, derogatory and beneath contempt.
It has also become the ignition spark for a growing fire of racism in the comments, couched as opposition to Black Liberation Theology and to Farrakhan's Nation of Islam. The agitation for this hatred began on the right explicitly with their attacks on Wright's church, which has been part of the underground rightwing email war against Obama from the start. These are things the spousal unit and I were reading this time last year when it became clear Obama was going to try for a run at the Presidency. Ironically, it probably would have stayed in that sewer through the Democratic primary had not Obama decided that running on racism was a good idea. Once he opened Pandora's box, the Wright stuff began to be lobbed back at him. The connections with Farrakhan and with Tony Rezko have been used to tie him maliciously to Islam (and to rabble rouse about that religion in exactly the same way as I see people using "Israel" to indulge in some not very subtle anti-Semitism), pretending in wide-eyed innocence that it's all about his
Just in the way that misogyny made it easy to engage in the purely personal classist warfare and white-on-white bigotry against Hillary, misogyny is making it easy to batter Michelle Obama and slide in the other racial and religious attacks as well, all aimed at stirring up the most crude and hateful impulses in the readers.
Over the last week, I have watched this toxic brew spread out from No Quarter and into other blogs. The anger over the RBC decision and over the hostile and dismissive way Hillary has been treated in the last week of campaigning no doubt made it easier to rationalize dipping into the uglier phrases, the barely concealed slurs, the code words that Americans always use to describe the reviled Other when they are angry and want to rip something down.
We are seeing within the primary itself the misogynistic, racist, religion-bashing attacks that everyone expected to see in the general. The difference is that these accusations are coming out of Democratic mouths and are aimed at our Democratic candidates.
This is doing the Right's work for them.
I'm not giving "our" side a pass on this. No matter how unfair or vile the attacks on Hillary, she has never responded with anything but class. She has never stooped to "But they did it, too!" When people on her campaign tried to use the smears, she canned them.
I have not changed my mind on Obama as a candidate. He ran a dirty campaign, he had every external advantage and the DNC still had to rig the system to shove him across the line ahead of her by a nose. I have also not changed my mind about the wrong way to conduct any kind of political campaign, which is to employ the tactics of the Right. I will have a longer post this weekend on that point.
My screen name, Anglachel, refers to a sword in the Tolkien fantasy world. It was forged from meteoric iron by someone with a deep hatred of those around him, and it took on the deadly, twisted nature of Eol. It slew anyone who tried to weild it, turning on those who thought to use this fearsome weapon and destroying them. Its final possessor, Turin, committed suicide with it and it shattered beneath him.
Let that be a warning to anyone who believes they can use a weapon crafted from hatred to achieve anything lasting or good.