February 5, 2010
Liberal Hate Speech
When Sarah Palin made Rahm Emanuel's expletive-enhanced use of the word "retarded" an embarrassment for him and the president, she forced the left to live up to its own P.C. standards. Saul Alinsky would be proud.
Normally, according to the media elites' rulebook, when liberals rant, it's called free speech; when conservatives rant, it is hate speech.
Members of the media elite appear to sincerely believe that liberals are less vitriolic than conservatives, and through repetition they have convinced a large part of the public that this is true. The reason liberals can "rant" without fear of being labeled terrorists is that their "rants" are justified in the eyes of the media elite. Liberals believe that their beliefs are based on the rational analysis of scientific data. Their opponents' beliefs are based on superstition and prejudice.
This perspective was exemplified by comedian Bill Maher, who explained that "half this country wants to guide our ship of state by a compass. A compass, something that works by science and rationality, and empirical wisdom. And half this country wants to kill a chicken and read the entrails like they used to do in the old Roman Empire." Opponents of the liberal agenda are frequently described as "racist," "unpatriotic," and "ignorant." Conservative "rants" are not only incorrect; they are evil. It is therefore not "hateful" to describe opponents for what they are: "ignorant, unpatriotic racists."
Criticism of liberal administrations is seen as destroying public faith in our institutions, and in some cases, it is called dangerous. In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, Washington Post columnist David Broder opined, "The bombing shows how dangerous it really is to inflame twisted minds with statements that suggest political opponents are enemies." During the Clinton administration, columnist Anthony Lewis criticized Rush Limbaugh, saying Limbaugh's "game" was "to throw dirt on government and anyone who believes that society needs government. In his hateful talk about President and Mrs. Clinton and others in office, he is really trying to destroy public faith in our institutions."
Recent criticisms of President Obama and his policies have been characterized as un-American. Suggestions that his policies should fail are equated with a suggestion that America should fail. This concern for American institutions may be something new, because it apparently was not a factor in the past. In 1986, Washington Post columnist William Raspberry commented on his view of the Reagan administration: "Ronald Reagan is in trouble, and [we might as well own up that] some of us are tempted to take a certain fiendish pleasure in the fact." Later, Michael Kinsley of the New Republic wrote in the Washington Post, "The fall of Reagan is a laughable matter. The only irritating aspect of the otherwise delightful collapse of the Reagan administration is the widespread insistence that we must all be poker-faced about it."
Liberals can demonize entire classes of people. One of the favorite targets of the liberal elite is the Christian right. According to Michael Weisskopf of the Washington Post, the followers of people like the late Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson "are largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command." These people are not only ignorant, but they are also a definite threat. Chris Matthews has declared, "The group in this country that most resembles the Taliban, ironically, is the religious right." Rosie O'Donnell asserted, "radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America." This demonization makes it permissible to say some pretty outlandish things. NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu on his "All Things Considered" segment stated, "The evaporation of four million [people] who believe in this [Christian] crap would leave this world a better place." Actress Megan Fox, admittedly not a representative of the elite intelligentsia, said that if given the chance, she'd urge the fictional character Megatron to murder only the "white trash, hillbilly, anti-gay, super Bible-beating people in Middle America."
Of course, Republicans and conservatives are the prime target of liberal spleen. Sen. Ted Kennedy gave this description of Republicans: "The Republican Party is basically anti-civil rights, anti-immigration, anti-women, and anti-worker." Howard Dean, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, stated, "I hate Republicans and everything they stand for." Jesse Jackson after the 1994 GOP victory claimed that "[h]ate and hurt are on a roll in America. If what was happening here was happening in South Africa, it'd be called racist apartheid. If it was happening in Germany, we'd call it Nazism. And in Italy, we'd call it fascism. Here we call it conservatism."
Liberals appear to get a pass when they attack conservative individuals. USA Today columnist and Pacifica Radio talk show host Julianne Malveaux expressed her opinion of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on PBS: "The man is on the Court. You know, I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early, like many black men do, of heart disease. Well, that's how I feel. He is an absolutely reprehensible person." Nina Totenberg, National Public Radio and ABC News reporter, commenting on Senator Jesse Helms, said, "I think he ought to be worried about what's going on in the Good Lord's mind, because if there is retributive justice, he'll get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will get it." Former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill had a less than flattering opinion of Ronald Reagan: "The evil is in the White House at the present time. And that evil is a man who has no care and no concern for the working class of America and future generations of America and who likes to ride a horse. He's cold. He's mean. He's got icewater for blood." New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis claimed that President Reagan "spews out rage and hate, fear and falsehood." It would take volumes to chronicle the outrageous attacks on George Bush or Sarah Palin.
On "Late Night with David Letterman," Sam Donaldson said, "I think he's [Reagan] going to have to pass three tests. The first is, will he get there, stand in front of the podium, and not drool?" After the audience showed its disapproval, Donaldson responded, "Wait a minute, I don't mean that disrespectfully." Letterman replied, "Well, I think we all took that as flattery, Sam, we did." When Whoopi Goldberg drew a distinction between "rape" and "rape-rape," she possible provided an explanation for liberal "rants." They are not "hate-hate" -- simply "hate."
John Dietrich is the author of The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence on American Postwar Policy.