Friday, April 25, 2014

The Walk-Back

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro.”

Around the United States, hard right sphincters snapped shut. The backlash against the backlash will come soon, as it did when Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson made similar comments about the happiness of African-Americans in days gone by, but for now, the conservative media and the politicians they unquestioningly support dance a little two-step called the Walk-Back.

The Walk-Back is a time tested method of disavowing a person whose views or cause one previously buttressed. In very rare cases, one also can use the Walk-Back to admit that a person’s views were not as horrible and radical as one had assumed, but that never happens anymore. Typically, and with increasing frequency, hyper-partisans shake a leg to the Walk-Back when the subject of their adoration espouses views so extreme that it will hurt their party’s election prospects.

Here is the part where I mention that this is not strictly a conservative problem. Liberals do it, too, although most of us are more interested in tearing down outdated rightwing dogma than lifting up progressive “heroes.” We can talk about Obama’s drone program or about government spying on citizens all day if you like. Most liberals of my acquaintance will condemn the current administration for continuing Republican policies in these areas, but the liberals of my acquaintance are far more leftist than any Democratic politician has been in decades. It is difficult to discern whether or not the average Democratic voter actually agrees with most of these policies or is holding his or her nose while voting for the best of a ridiculously conservative bunch. The Overton Window is a bitch mistress.

Politicians, the media, and just regular people need to still themselves for a moment. Take deep breaths. Look at the people with whom you ally yourself.

Bundy’s fans marched into a community of 12,000 people with their rifles and shotguns, ready to use women as human shields to prove a point about property rights. Property rights. Is this not one of the conservative stalwart points? Land can belong to someone, is the conservative cry, and should someone violate those rights, it is within the owner’s purview to use any means necessary to protect that land.

But this is not about Cliven Bundy, conservative ideology, or even the rule of law. This is about the media and politicians blindly and gleefully idolizing people who will eventually prove themselves lees than heroes.

Do your homework. Pay attention. Stop pretending that because someone votes the same way as you they are your ally. Cliven Bundy is in this for himself and so are those who now dance the Walk-Back. To do a better job, we all must remember that sometimes the enemy is living in our campground rather than the other.

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro.”

Were you really surprised?

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