Joe Wilson

I found this over at the Political Cartel. I guess Joe Wilson would approve of this. You can read the article there.

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13 thoughts on “Joe Wilson

  1. Bad form. It’s cupcake to some of the signs about Bush, but it’s still bad form.

    Ever notice how people always go looking for the nasty signs to take a picture of at these types of events?

    I did see one sign that cracked me up: “Your wallet…the only place Democrats are willing to drill.”

  2. I think that even if we stipulate as true that there was an equal number of insults comparing Bush to Nazis as Obama to something racially derogatory (African, zoo animal, monkey, witch doctor, etc.), I still think these are far worse for two big reasons.

    There is a long history of white people dehumanizing black people with racial slurs like these. Those efforts provide the emotional support necessary to discriminate and hate minorities. There is no corresponding history of privileged white people being dehumanized by Nazi comparisons (everybody uses Nazis for everything, and it has not been used as a way of building a base of systematic historical discrimination against any group).

    The second reason is that these are completely unwarranted personal attacks. That differentiates them from two common Bush attacks. Bush was called a Nazi, but that is more related to his policy approaches, which included CIA secret torture facilities, the PATRIOT Act, extraordinary rendition, waterboarding, NSA wiretapping, and other things that could legitimately be compared to totalitarian efforts by the government. The racist attacks are also differentiated from the personal attacks that Bush did face (notably, about his intelligence). Obama gives his opponents no reason to suggest that dehumanizing him by comparing him to an animal is appropriate. Bush, on the other hand, did provide ample opportunity for his intelligence to be openly mocked.

    Those are just my thoughts on the distinctions. Not all insults are the same, because this is not about how badly the president’s feelings are hurt. This is about the damaging and potentially dangerous attitudes that lie underneath the insults.

  3. You can try to rationalize it, but that is a double-standard on how Presidents should be treated.

    Bush was likened to Hitler…to a cowboy…to a monkey…to a flat out idiot. His response? “Free speech is great, isn’t it?”

    Obama was likened to Hitler…to the Joker…to an “African lyin'”…to a flat out communist. The Democrat response? “You are all racist. Shut up.”

  4. Matt S, I think this is an interesting topic and one worth talking about. I explained why it isn’t a double-standard and why these cases can be distinguished from the Bush attacks you reference. If you want to keep this conversation going, you have to address the differentiation that I made; you can’t just restate your position as if it is a rebuttal.

  5. Obama has kept most of the provisions of the Patrioit Act, has left rendition intact, asked just this week to renew authority for roving wiretaps. Why? Because they work! It makes Obama look rather cheeky to rail against this stuff during the campaign and then do the opposite once he sits in the Oval Office, but at least that should indicate that he is trying to protect the country based on what intel he is getting…which is exactly what Bush did. If these things are totalitarian measures started by Bush, and Obama continues the practice, how is Obama any less worthy of having a harsh rally sign made about him?

    Yes, such things can be abused… but that’s why Congress has to approve most of this stuff. To say Bush deserves to be villified as quasi-Nazi while giving Speaker Pelosi a free pass even though she knew of interrogation techniques, for example, is a double standard. Obama hasn’t done much that is different than Bush so far, so why is he not considered to be encroaching on the totalitarian neutral zone? The President has appointed a ridiculous number of “czars” to get around congressional oversight. The President wants to put more government in the auto industry, the banking industry, the energy industry, and the health care industry. What could go wrong?

    I don’t think dehumanizing a President is worthy of either party, but to suggest Bush is a special case is not objective based on the facts.

  6. What about the racial aspect of this criticism? How can you fail to see the uniquely damaging rhetoric that is happening there?

    As I said, it isn’t about the president’s hurt feelings because of the mean names he is being called. It is about the dehumanization that goes into those names. That dehumanization has a long history in race relations in this country, and it is showing its ugliest head in these kinds of protests.

    I hear your argument about Obama’s security policy, and really, I wish he would do even more to turn back from that kind of thing. There is no denying that he has taken several significant steps to undo what Bush did in that respect. But all your analysis is fairly irrelevant to the discussion at hand. When I see those people waving “Obama is a Nazi” signs, I have a hard time believing that they are protesting his unwillingness to completely repeal the PATRIOT Act. These are not ACLU members holding these signs. They are NRA members. They are Bush supporters. They are not reacting to any actual policy with their signs; they are just angry and calling names for no reason.

  7. Point taken. I completely agree with you that race should be left off any sign. No argument. I guess I’m trying to morally figure out where an implicit sign like “Kill Bush” stacks next to a sign that tried to be punny with “Lyin’ African”. I don’t like either one at all, but you have no qualms about the former?

    A word of advice, though: do not assume all protesters are racist. Do you really fear that situation? A whole bunch of people rolled out of bed that morning and decided to spend their day protesting the race of a black President in 2009? On camera? This lady looks more like a cluelessly delighted pun-maker rather than a KKK agent operating in an Iowa quilt club. Sad, but hardly representative.

    —- “They are Bush supporters.”

    Dismissive. I was a Bush supporter. Keep in mind that most “Bush supporters” were behind a strong move on national defense, while outraged at how Bush increased spending—exactly what they are protesting in regards to President Obama. Do not misunderestimate our intellectual capacity. 😉

    —- “They are not reacting to any actual policy with their signs…”

    Dismissive. Even the one pictured above is a policy sign (Obama lyin’ about health care or some other policy under debate). It’s a bad sign, for sure, and should be held up for public ridicule; but let us not cherry pick a few examples as the group label and call it a day. Most of the signs were tasteful and made a point. Most of the people that attended would find the above poster offensive.

    – Obama won with 52% of the popular vote.
    – Rasmussen shows 56% oppose the current health care bill
    – As of this week, 48% at least somewhat approve of the President

    Did a bunch of Independents and Republicans suddenly turn racist after voting for Obama? Of course not. The stimulus bill was a flop, the economy is still stagnant, cap and trade looks like an economy killer even to the Congressional Budget Office, and creating a massive government health care system has not been proven to save money or maintain quality of care. “Not reacting to any actual policy”, indeed.

    Most conservatives are thrilled America has elected a black President. What an amazing milestone after all the stuff this country has been through. In fact, he is going to be challenged just like a liberal white President. Equality, baby! There are always going to be some uncouth people at any political gathering, but this race stuff is a smoke screen while the Dems try to rally after the blitz on health care got repelled. Turning a 52% popular vote and control of both houses of Congress into a major backlash is quite a feat, but the Democrats have done it to themselves (just as Republicans did it to themselves before that).

    Good discussion.

  8. I didn’t think there was any disagreement about saying racist signs were bad; I know you are one of the good guys (or I assume you wouldn’t read a blog like Carson’s). I don’t like the signs that say “Kill Bush” either, as you would probably assume.

    Actually, to be honest, I am pretty against most things people put on protest signs. I think that people use protest signs as a substitute for substantive discourse, and they unnecessarily inflame emotions which actually impedes progress. But anyway…

    I’m not being dismissive by saying that the kind of people we are talking about are likely Bush supporters and likely unconnected with real policy. Those are just generalizations, and fairly reasonable ones. The context was to show that these people are probably in favor of the types of national security policies that were called “Nazi” under Bush and so they are probably not all of a sudden deciding to protest them and call Obama a Nazi for policy reasons.

    So why are they calling Obama a Nazi, anyway? (Personally, I think it is hilarious to call a black liberal a Nazi, but that is just me)

    We are trying to decide if race is a motivating factor fueling these kinds of protests, and especially aggravating them to the level of vitriol that we are seeing. I think that by the way you define racism, you define it out of possibility. Of course I am not suggesting that these rallies are secretly organized by the klan or that the only thing on these people’s minds is a lynching. But it is very apparent that race is playing a factor.

    Race comes out in several of the posters linked to on Brian’s Political Cartel article, and in several other pictures that are easily accessible on the internet. I think it is fair to infer racism as a factor when people chose to use slogans, pictures, insults, and comparisons that have been historically used to marginalize minorities.

    Additionally, I know a lot of these people personally. Maybe not the ones in the pictures, but I know the type. I went to school with them and I have lived down the street from them. There are millions out there who are absolutely disgusted that we have a black president. Race is a major factor for them and a lot of them have been yelling their minds in TEA parties and town halls.

    Do you really think that racism is not a significant factor for a lot of these people? President Obama is the first president ever to be yelled at and called a liar by a member of Congress during a joint session. Is Joe Wilson really record-breakingly obnoxious in the history of all the people who have been elected to the House of Representatives?

    You are right about the Democrats pulling off the amazing feat of shooting themselves in the foot. Sometimes I wonder what the point was in winning every single elected branch of the federal government by such margins? It doesn’t seem to be doing much good on the issues that matter.

  9. …and I will add that protests can do two things:
    1. Enlightened the public to those who fully do not understand complex issues as it relates to the public sphere

    2 …or allow people to think and believe they understand the manipulation of the media (liberal & conservative media). We tend to get it due to our willingness to go beyond a mere sign of a sound bite.

  10. Yes, in any barrel you are going to find some rotten apples. Just be careful how often that accusation is made. Nothing shuts down debate faster than a charge of racism, and nothing marginalizes one’s opinion more than the use of it (yeah, I’m pointing at you, sign lady).

    Claiming that X number of protesters harbor racial feelings still does not answer the policy questions. When independents–who voted for Obama–attend a town hall to get answers and are called racist for attending…that is not going to be a good play for Democrats.

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