The Right as 'The Other'

Melissa Harris-Perry Weeps to Keep Her Job,” Rick Moran notes at the PJ Tatler:

I think what’s going on at MSNBC is the same thing that’s going on at many liberal blogs and in the liberal commentariat, not to mention in liberal salons and liberal coffee klatches all over the country. Harris-Perry, Baldwin, Bashir, Schultz, and Hayes are not doing anything differently in front of the camera than they do when in casual conversation among themselves and their liberal friends. The wildly exaggerated caricatures of conservatives they routinely use to describe their political opponents — ascribing evil intent to every action, every utterance — is part of liberal culture. It’s a laziness of thought and mind that has become second nature to them. And, secure in their arrogant belief of moral superiority, they fail to see their own racism, their own bigotry, their own hateful, hurtful attitudes unless someone steps out and throws it in their face.

It makes you think, what are they apologizing for? They’re not sorry. This is how they talk. This is what they think.


Indeed. “To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil,” Charles Krauthammer wrote over a decade ago. And viewing someone of a differing ideology as being evil is a very different stance than viewing him as simply uninformed or otherwise somehow misguided.  In the past, serious epistemic closure has occured when cultures view related or competing ideologies, religions or races as the Other, who must be shunned at all costs, lest its citizens become contaminated by such “heresies” as Jewish Science, Bourgeois Pseudoscience, Acting Too White, and now as seen at MSNBC, humanizing eeeeeeevil Republicans, and even their relatives.

To add onto Rick’s comments above, it’s not just the gang at MSNBC or the Kos Kids; such ideas seep into fictional entertainment as well. At Acculturated, Anthony Dent explores “Why Conservatives Should Cheer On HBO’s Girls.” Personally, I’ll take a pass on that, at least for now — I don’t think I’ve even made it through an entire episode of HBO’s earlier Sex and the City — but this paragraph jumped out at me:

At every turn, Girls satirizes liberal stereotypes or ultimately finds liberal values wanting. In part a response to criticism that Girls was too “white,” Dunham introduced Sandy—Hannah’s African-American boyfriend played by Donald Glover—whose diversity proved short-lived not because of his race, but because he was a Republican, something she simply couldn’t tolerate.


Which sounds very much like last Sunday’s panel on MSNBC led by Harris-Perry, who dumped on Mitt Romney’s adopted African-American grandson, solely because his grandfather had an R after his name, something no one at NBC can apparently tolerate. Also writing at Acculturated, Mark Judge ponders MHP and “Comedy After the Cultural Revolution”:

Before the cultural revolution of the 1960s, too much American humor was first wave humor, and a lot of it wasn’t funny. It was often racist, gay-bashing or misogynistic. These were the jokes about lazy blacks, limp-wristed homosexuals, or ditzy, big-busted women. These jokes were never meant to be a disarming prelude to a deeper friendship and intimacy; they were meant to degrade and humiliate. It was Archie Bunker smiling about male fairies with purses and black women with big backsides.

And now, today, it is the left who have become the masters of first-wave humor. I was not as offended as much by what Harris-Perry said as by the knowledge that her liberal orthodoxy, the orthodoxy whose catechism holds that all Republicans are ignorant racists, will never allow her to actually get past the joke to humanize Mitt Romney. She, like too many of her academic and journalistic peers, will never break bread with the Romney family. To do so runs the danger of humanizing them, of discovering that they are individuals, of finding common things to laugh about. And in the echo chamber of MSNBC, that just won’t be tolerated.


And how. At the conclusion of his post on Harris-Perry’s apology today, Rick Moran added, “It won’t be long before another MSNBC host steps over the line of decency. Perhaps it’s too much to demand fairness from the network. But perhaps we can ask for a little honesty from transgressors who aren’t really sorry about trashing their opponents as much as they are about getting caught at it.”

Actually, it only took a few minutes, in the very same show, right after Harris-Perry’s apology. As Caleb Howe notes at the Right Scoop, “On MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry show Saturday, a few minutes after the host’s emotional apology for a racially-charged segment on last week’s show, panelist Katrina Vanden Heuvel renews the charge that Republicans are racists”:

Later in the segment, New York Times editorial writer Robert George suggests that racism played its part in part in both right wing and left wing populism, even calling out the unions, but Vanden Heuvel will have none of it. “Not today though,” she insists. “Not today.”

No, today, the only racists are in the Republican party. Which is the exact sentiment that led to the segment for which host Melissa Harris-Perry only just apologized this morning.

And around we go …

Past cultures that shunned wide swatches of their population as the alien “other” rarely ended well; how does this leftwing Mobius Loop become unstuck, lest a similar collapse occur in America?



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