Thursday, 16 September 2010

Not so fast

The crowing about the Tea Party lunatics winning nominations for major elective office is premature. I hope Kos and others are right that the victories of these frauds and wackos will deliver senate seats and governorships to the undeserving Democrats. But I would prefer not to hear so much triumphant optimism just yet.

The rise of a hominid like Carl Palladino to the candidacy of a major party for governor of New York would amuse in normal times. These are not. While the likelihood that a creepy perv like Palladino will get enough traction in coming weeks to pose a serious challenge to Andrew Cuomo is not great, there are enough disturbing tendencies afoot to give the sober pause.

Palladino has latched onto a message that is dangerously seductive—racism. He is utterly shameless about it and pounds away on it relentlessly without even trying to hide behind code words. He obviously struck a chord with many voters, which in itself is hardly remarkable—racism is very appealing. That’s why it is so common, and those of us who recognize its dangers know it must be identified quickly and its purveyors called out.

And that is where the establishment, led by the post-racial president, is making an historic error. Pretending that we are beyond all that and apparently terrified to even hint at the racist undertone of opposition obstructionism, Obama, his Democratic Party and most of the old-boy network think that Palladino-style demagoguery either is a useful cudgel to motivate their partisans or else will go away soon. They must look at Palladino’s ads like this one and think, Who can possible swallow that?

The answer is, A whole slew of unhappy, angry and resentful people unless they are provided a counter-narrative. I don’t hear one. When the racists attack an entire religion for its collective responsibility, where are the voices calling this what it is? Instead, Obama and our pathetic governor and Harry Reid and just about everyone else in the land pander to it by backpedaling on the bogus ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ issue. They pretend that if this building just moves down the street a few blocks, everyone will be happy.

But if the mosque really is offensive enough to be forced into hiding, then Muslims really are guilty, aren’t they? Sort of like how Jews shouldn’t come too near the Eucharist since, after all, they killed the Christ and make matzo bread with the blood of baptized infants. So why should anyone in Rochester or New Paltz reject Palladino’s attack line? After all, he is merely being more emphatic about what Obama and Reid concede is a reasonable view.

If there is not a determined, principled and unambiguous response, we will begin to see Palladino’s numbers—fueled by his limitless personal fortune—creep upward, and please don’t bother telling me that it’s impossible because the man is crazy. There is far too much historical precedent for entire societies flipping their collective lids to sustain that argument. It was not that long ago when we thought separate drinking fountains were normal, and yesterday’s Tea Baggers were up in arms over any suggestion that we should eliminate them.

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