Kansas City congressman Emanuel Cleaver finds himself at the center of a spit storm this week. It appears that of all the members of the Black Caucus who parted a sea of protestors outside the Capitol on Saturday he was uniquely called an n-word and uniquely spat upon.
To this point, we have to take his word about the racial slur. The ample video evidence shows hundreds of protestors booing and yelling, "Kill the bill," but nary a racial slur is heard among them. That, of course, did not matter to the mainstream media as typified in the libelous McClatchy newspapers headline, "Tea party protesters scream 'nigger' at black congressman."
Now, the spitting evidence is coming into focus as well. As this video clearly shows, one fellow was rather expressively yelling through cupped hands at the Congressional Democrats as they walked up the steps. He was clearly not shouting racial slurs as neither Cleaver's colleagues nor the police seemed trouble by the content of his speech.
Trailing the pack, Cleaver appears to have walked close enough to get caught in the spray. He would describe the offender to Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy as a man "who allowed saliva to hit my face." In other words, the man was a shouter, not a spitter. Cleaver seems to have suffered the kind of abuse a baseball ump experiences half a dozen times a game. No wonder he did not press charges.
"I thought he was going to say, ‘Hey, I was yelling. Sorry," Cleaver told Milloy, but the man, apparently upset at the impending loss of health care liberty, just kept yelling.
What Cleaver does not fully share with Milloy is that he turned and stuck his finger in the man's face, which may account for the man's continued anger. Not knowing this, Milloy recounts Cleaver's background as a preacher and compliments him for his magisterial restraint, "Have mercy. The preacher walks the walk."
Milloy, as befits the progressive spirit of peace, showed no such restraint about the protestors. He would unabashedly prefer to "knock every racist and homophobic tooth out of their Cro-Magnon heads."
And so, alas, it goes. The Civil Rights movement, which was born in tragedy, appears destined to die as farce.