Rage on the Right
A speech on race triggers the cons.
The Durham probe finished not with a bang, but with a whimper. NYT: “The special counsel’s final report nevertheless did not produce blockbuster revelations of politically motivated misconduct, as Donald J. Trump and his allies had suggested it would.” Or, as Trump might put it: TOTAL EXONERATION.
When you are America’s mayor, they let you do it. Or not. Politico: “Former Giuliani employee alleges sexual assault and harassment in $10 million lawsuit.” The details are dazzling. Come for the oral sex, stay for the pardons-for-sale.
DeSantis backs down. Again. Via Semafor: “Key DeSantis allies viewed anti-Trump tweet as a ‘Massive Mistake.’”
NPR: “Florida is investigating a teacher who showed a Disney movie with a gay character.” Because, of course.
Morning Shots is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
We Are Not the Crazy Ones
On yesterday’s Bulwark podcast, Will Saletan I discuss whether or not this is real life.
“The Least Racist Country in the World”
Consider the cons triggered.
During a commencement address at Howard University this weekend, President Biden denounced white supremacy, calling it the “most dangerous terrorist threat” to the homeland.
"We know American history has not always been a fairy tale. From the start, it’s been a constant push and pull for more than 240 years, between the best of us – the American ideal that we’re all created equal – and the worst of us, a harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart."
"It’s a battle that’s never really over," he said, adding, "But on the best days, enough of us have the guts and hearts to stand up for the best in us, to choose love over hate, unity over disunity, progress over retreat…"
Biden then zeroed in on White supremacy, saying, "…To stand against the poison of White supremacy as I did in my inaugural address." He then called it "the most dangerous terrorist threat to our homeland." The audience erupted in applause.
Conservatism Inc. erupted in indignation. Fox News raged: “Biden blasted for calling ‘white supremacy’ ‘most dangerous terrorist threat’ at college speech: ‘Pure evil’.” Right-wing troll Julie Kelly took to Twitter to rage that Biden was fueling “dangerous racial division.”
Fox News hosts joined in the pile-on, insisting that no way was America a racist country and that it was, in fact, the “least racist country in the world.”
“This is clearly a battle that helps him politically,” host Rachel Campos-Duffy said. “I think it’s so cynical. I think it’s actually evil to lie about America. That is not America. America is not racist. America is the least racist country in the whole world, which is why we have right now people clamoring to get into our country. That’s just a fact.”…
“What the left wants to do to restart race challenges in our country,” host Pete Hegseth chimed in. “D.E.I. is divide, exclude and indoctrinate. They want us to not get along, when our default right now as Americans is to want to love each other, want to work together, want to be together.”
Taking a slightly more nuanced view, National Review described Biden’s speech as yet another instance of what it called his “habitual race baiting.” And, of course, the RNC felt the need to join the chorus.
Let’s concede that Joe Biden has, on occasion, been guilty of verbal incontinence, and that race is an issue fraught with the potential for demagoguery. But why so much defensiveness here? Why did so many on the right simply assume that Biden was talking about… them?
And consider the timing: All of this passionate denialism comes even as the evidence mounts that we do indeed, have a problem, America. Just this weekend, “Hundreds of White Supremacists March on Capitol With Shields, Battle Drums.”
Videos posted to social media showed hundreds of members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front march to the United States Capitol carrying shields and battle drums on Saturday. At least 150 members of the far-right group, wearing masks to conceal their identity, were seen marching along the National Mall and in downtown Washington, D.C. Videos posted to Twitter showed them carrying American flags and holding signs that read, "Reclaim America."
A report by the independent news outlet Talking Points Memo on Sunday alleged that the digital director of the Arizona representative, Wade Searle, was a "devotee of Fuentes”…. Gosar has previously faced criticism for attending Fuentes' conferences and has been accused of promoting antisemitic content…
Then there is Senator Tommy Tuberville, Via the WaPo:
“You think a white nationalist is a Nazi? I don’t look at it like that. I look at a white nationalist as a Trump Republican,” Tuberville said, placing himself within their camp. “That’s what we’re called all the time, a MAGA person.”
And it was just one year ago that a white supremacist gunman — an exponent of the Great Replacement Theory — murdered 10 black people at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. I wrote about it last year:
Mainstreaming the Great Replacement
The usual caveats are in order here: the responsibility for the murders in Buffalo lies with the murderer himself. But as conservatives once understood, ideas have consequences; and poisonous rhetoric can have deadly results.
The [Great Replacement Theory] has been cited by several mass shooters since 2018, including Robert Bowers, who has been charged with killing 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, in 2018; Patrick Crusius, who allegedly killed 23 people in an El Paso, Texas, Walmart; and John Earnest, who pleaded guilty to murdering one and injuring three others at a Poway, California, synagogue in 2019.
And now, Buffalo, where the killer has issued a 180-page manifesto that echoes the previous terrorists and explicitly embraces the Replacement Theory.
In Morning Shots, my colleague Cathy Young wrote: “In a sane and decent political climate, both media figures and political figures on the right would quickly and emphatically disavow ‘great replacement’ as un-American, race-baiting nonsense. Which means … don’t hold your breath.”
[A] poll taken in December found that nearly half of all Republicans believe that there is a plot to “replace” native-born Americans with immigrants. Fox talking heads and Republican politicians have mainstreamed white supremacist ideology.
If anything, the process of mainstreaming paranoid racism is accelerating. Last week, before the Buffalo shooting, Vice’s Cameron Joseph reported: “Racist ‘Replacement Theory’ Is Bleeding Into GOP Senate Campaigns.” No one, however, has done as much to bring the Replacement Theory into the heart of our politics/culture as Tucker Carlson. I wrote about this in April, 2021:
Last week, one of the nation’s most prominent right wing media figures, Tucker Carlson, openly and enthusiastically embraced what is known as “white replacement theory.” Here’s Tucker declaring that “X will not replace us!” (If that sounds familiar… it should.)
Now, I know that the left and all the little gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term "replacement," if you suggest that the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World. But they become hysterical because that's what's happening actually. Let's just say it: That's true.
This is raw stuff, and until last week, generally (if imperfectly) confined to the farther reaches of the fever swamps.
BONUS: Place these excerpts side by side. Here is Tucker in his own words in 2018:
How, precisely, is diversity our strength? Since you’ve made this our new national motto, please be specific as you explain it. Can you think, for example, of other institutions such as, I don’t know, marriage or military units in which the less people have in common, the more cohesive they are?
Do you get along better with your neighbors, your co-workers if you can’t understand each other or share no common values? Please be honest as you answer this question.
This is directly from the Buffalo terrorist’s manifesto:
Why is diversity said to be our greatest strength? Does anyone even ask why? It is spoken like a mantra and repeated ad infinitum “diversity is our greatest strength, diversity is our greatest strength, diversity is our greatest strength...”. Said throughout the media, spoken by politicians, educators and celebrities. But no one ever seems to give a reason why.
What gives a nation strength? And how does diversity increase that strength? What part of diversity causes this increase in strength? No one can give an answer.
Exit take: The greatest threat may not be the guys with the flags, drums, and tiki-torches. The greatest danger maybe the guys with the microphones who are mainstreaming ideas that had once been confined to the darker corners of a 4chan message board.
Bonus: I had some thoughts on this.
1. Here Comes the “Biden Kill List”
For conservative media consumers what Bartiromo et al. are trying to get across is unmistakable. It is part of a long history of vague and not-so-vague accusations that Democratic political elites and the Deep State are willing to go so far as murder in order to silence whistleblowers who might harm the Democratic Party. This tactic was employed most notably against the Clintons with the “Kill List” rumormongering in the 1990s. In the last decade, it was most prominent in the slander surrounding the Seth Rich murder in 2016.
That this was not missed by its intended audience is clear by the response you can see in certain corners of the MAGA internet.
2. When a Shitposter Runs a Social Media Platform
These days, Twitter increasingly feels like a neighborhood where the amiable guy-next-door is gone and you suspect his replacement has a meth lab in the basement. A report in Vox suggests that, Musk’s claims of record usage notwithstanding, Twitter is continuing a longstanding traffic decline. But even as its star fades, because of its important role in the world of online journalism over the past decade, Twitter could still exercise an influence in upcoming elections—especially if Trump, who drove countless news cycles with his offhand tweets, does return to it.
But even if Twitter’s increasingly broken information environment doesn’t sway the results, it is profoundly damaging to our democracy that so many people have lost faith in our electoral system. The sort of claims that Musk is toying with in his feed these days do not help. It is one thing for the owner of a major source of information to be indifferent to the content that gets posted to that platform. It is vastly worse for an owner to actively fan the flames of disinformation and doubt.