Friday, July 12, 2013

Putting Things in Perspective for Chris Hayes



Our country disappears people. It tortures people. It has the blood of as many as one million Iraqi civilians — men, women, children, the infirmed — on its hands. You’ll forgive me if I just can’t quite dredge up the requisite amount of outrage over Rand Paul's social media director.

This sense of perspective is especially important when Senator Rand Paul, at least in the realm of electoral politics, is arguably the leading, most credible, most viable critic and reformer of the death-churning military industrial complex and unchecked global police state.

But this sense of perspective isn't originally mine. It's what Chris Hayes, formerly of The Nation, and now an MSNBC host, said in 2008 of Senator Barack Obama's radical and volatile pastor, Jeremiah Wright, in a private email to other journalists on Ezra Klein's private JournoList group.

Hayes said:

"All this hand wringing about just how awful and odious Rev. Wright remarks are just keeps the hustle going.

Our country disappears people. It tortures people. It has the blood of as many as one million Iraqi civilians — men, women, children, the infirmed — on its hands. You’ll forgive me if I just can’t quite dredge up the requisite amount of outrage over Barack Obama’s pastor."

But for Hayes, it wasn't about perspective. It was about partisanship.

After years of President Obama escalating the violence, the torture, the disappearances, the executive overreach, Hayes has lost all sense of perspective in a fit of partisan derangement against the Senator Rand Paul, whose record as a legislator already promises far more for a Paul Administration than Senator Obama's record promised for his future presidency, which included among so many other things, consistent votes to extend and expand the scope of the unconstitutional and Orwellian Patriot Act.

In an MSNBC segment this week, Hayes intoned, "I'm sorry, Rand Paul. That's three racist strikes. You're out."

What were Rand Paul's three strikes?

1. In his 2009 senate exploratory committee, Rand Paul employed a spokesman whose friend posted a racially insensitive comment on the spokesman's MySpace page two years earlier.

Hayes is reaching. Big time. This is what passes for evidence that Rand Paul is a racist white supremacist? Anyone else think this ump is maybe a little biased for one of the teams? Rand Paul's supporters aren't bending over backward to defend him. His critics are actually just hysterical.

2. In 2010, on Rachel Maddow, Rand Paul said that he supported most of the Civil Rights Act's work to abolish Jim Crow laws, but disagreed with the provision that violated the right of private business owners to exercise freedom of association, even to exercise it in a way most of us would find irrational and bigoted.

That's a "white supremacist strike" for Rand Paul in Chris Hayes' book. Is he being dense on purpose or is he really that dense? Probably on purpose, because I doubt we'll hear Hayes or any mainstream commentator calling on Congress to ban hate speech from the Westboro Baptist Church. Almost everyone agrees they're using their freedom to be hateful bigots, but no one questions their freedom to be hateful bigots.

Even if you think racist restaurant owners are different somehow, it should not be unfathomable to a thinking person that Rand Paul might not think that's very different and might have a nuanced view motivated by his understanding of the importance of freedom, not by racism.

3. Rand Paul's social media director said and did some uncouth things as a talk radio host, but which hardly approach a threshold for actual white supremacy or racism, and which he has since disavowed as something embarrassing to him, and he did so before the string of hit pieces this week-- before the heat was on. You can read my full response to these attacks in my July 10th article entitled, "How You Know Rand Paul Is Winning The Argument."

Again, Hayes is reaching. Big time. His goal is to paint Rand Paul in the worst light possible and to smear him by association and insinuation. Racism isn't his concern here just as it wasn't when Senator Obama faced controversy over his associations. And perspective wasn't his concern then just as it isn't now.

Other than a genuine inability to think clearly, that leaves partisanship, which I guess is a genuine inability to think clearly.

Hayes began his segment by saying, "Even if you take the most charitable view possible, that say, you get three white supremacist strikes, Rand Paul's in trouble."

What a misleading preface! Chris Hayes wasn't taking the most charitable view possible in his uncritical analysis of each of these so-called strikes against Rand Paul. He was scraping the bottom of the barrel for any mud he could possibly stretch his pink little fingers far enough to smear on Paul's face.

To quote Hayes once again: "You’ll forgive me if I just can’t quite dredge up the requisite amount of outrage."