The Shroud of Contempt
posted at 9:42 am on February 20, 2010 by Doctor Zero
Washington Post contributor Jonathan Capehart provoked outrage when he became one of the first mainstream media figures to try linking the deranged killer Joseph Stack with the Tea Party movement:
Joseph Stack was angry at the Internal Revenue Service, and he took his rage out on it by slamming his single-engine plane into the Echelon Building in Austin, Texas. We now know this thanks to the rather clear (as rants go) suicide note Stack left behind. There’s no information yet on whether he was involved in any anti-government groups, or whether he was a lone wolf. But after reading his 34-paragraph screed, I am struck by how his alienation is similar to that we’re hearing from the extreme elements of the Tea Party movement.
Stack’s suicide note contains nothing to substantiate this smear. In fact, Capehart had to deliberately edit the last lines of the note from his piece, because they repeated the Communist Manifesto and adapted it into an insult to capitalism – “The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.” This was obviously unhelpful to the nasty little action line Capehart wanted to manufacture, so it had to go.
Strangely enough, the Washington Post continues to employ Capehart, when his manipulation of the Stack suicide note, and apparent ignorance of the decidedly un-Tea Party sentiments that filled the bulk of the madman’s screed, would have been taken as cause for dismissal by a paper with serious editorial standards. The following day, he posted on the subject again, making some amazingly disingenuous attempts to defend himself. “When I wrote my last post on Joseph Stack, I was very careful not to get ahead of what was already known,” he begins. No, but he was also careful not to mention the information that didn’t fit into his narrative, wasn’t he? I guess I can see why the Post didn’t sack him. He’s got the methodology of the dying legacy media down pat.
Retreating into the herd-think that characterizes the establishment media, Capehart argues “I’m not the only one to make the connection between Stack’s alienation from government and the anti-government extremists who have latched on to the broader Tea Party movement.” Well, that makes it all right, then. I guess if we can get a quorum of reporters to agree, we can declare any inconvenient group beyond the pale, and set about demonizing them.
Would it be equally fair to make the connection between the ugly power politics of Al Sharpton and the NAACP, and the anti-democracy extremists who have latched onto the broader civil-rights movement? When those extreme elements were prowling around voting booths with nightsticks, the Attorney General was remarkably uninterested in connecting them with anyone. Might we speculate that an activist super-State, determined to choose winners and losers on considerations of “social justice,” could inspire extremists to violently prevent members of the oppressor class from casting unhelpful votes?
Instead of fretting about “alienation from government” as a psychosis, shouldn’t we be looking at the connection between slavish devotion to Big Government and outbreaks of violence? Soon after top Democrats fled from health-care town hall meetings, shrieking that constituents with tough questions were Nazis wearing swastikas, we had union thugs beating people up, and feral astroturf goons biting off their fingers.
The attempts to paint Joseph Stack’s face onto a tea bag are part of a larger effort to cultivate contempt for the growing backlash against Big Government. Much of the bile directed at Sarah Palin, including the painfully unfunny “Family Guy” episode, is meant to serve the same purpose, finger-painting an image of her as an eccentric figure who can be dismissed with casual malice. Another example is the bizarre attack on Jason Mattera’s appearance at CPAC by the New York Times, insinuating racism based on the sound of his voice. The media has been circling CPAC, looking for an opening, and Mattera was caught in a hail of ink from a drive-by slandering.
A distinctly unamused Andrew Breitbart called the Times reporter “despicable,” and Palin spoke out against the “Family Guy” insult… eight months after dragging a root-canal apology out of David Letterman for spitting rape jokes about her daughter. They were right to raise their voices. The purpose of cultivated contempt is to alienate the sort of independent voter who can be strongly influenced by media atmospherics. The greatest political weapon remaining to our increasingly unpopular legacy media is their ability to cast a shadow of doom over selected targets, building a sense of unease that drives away those who pay only cursory attention to politics. When support for a person or group becomes unthinkable, their words become unintelligible.
Not all of the drive to excommunicate Republicans or the Tea Party comes from pure partisanship. Establishment media figures, including some nominally on the Right, are made confused and uneasy by the notion of “alienation from government.” They understand that the system itself, not merely individual politicians, is coming under sustained and principled assault. Far from a witless mob chanting slogans of mindless anger, the increasingly libertarian Right is drafting manifestoes and designing action plans for the post-Big Government era. They are asking moral and practical questions for which command-economy socialism has no answer. The plan to intimidate them into silence didn’t work, so the new plan is to intimidate moderate voters out of listening to them. Meanwhile, the witless mobs with mindless slogans and pitchforks are filled with union members demanding a government takeover of health insurance.
The Left still has a powerful media loom upon which to weave the ugly shroud of contempt, but it’s a weapon that only works against inarticulate victims. Cutting through it quickly and forcefully is the best defense. No Republican, Tea Partier, or concerned citizen should quietly suffer insults that would never be tolerated against the consecrated constituencies of the Left. Linking Joseph Stack to the Tea Party movement is no more reasonable than linking homicidal maniac Amy Bishop to the National Education Association, because they share her fawning obsession with Barack Obama. The implication that mistrust of our bloated, blind government is a gateway drug to terrorism reduces the American tradition of independence to a psychosis.
Instead of making ridiculous stretches to sell Stack as a Tea Party Minuteman to their dwindling audience, journalists should be probing the connection between Big Government corruption and Amy Bishop’s long career of unpunished violent lunacy. That’s the kind of investigation that might just save lives… and end the degenerate politics defended by its media janissaries, with a chorus of sneers aimed at the people who pay for it.
Cross-posted at www.doczero.org.