Friday, July 23, 2010


What's wrong with this picture? (Click to enlarge.)

It was the front page of Politico a little before 7:30 this morning, until the image was replaced. (The photo still accompanies the article.) Notice what was shown as an illustration of "rage"? Peaceful marchers demanding the reinstatement of Shirley Sherrod. Could any demand be more reasonable at this moment?

Oh, but they're from Code Pink. Well, one can criticize Code Pink's headline-grabbing stunts -- disrupting hearings, waving bloodstained hands at public officials -- but this picture shows what seems to be the epitome of peaceful protest.

And, oh, the person in the center of the photo is clearly supposed to be read as an Angry Black Man. Eeek! Eeek! (Though to me he looks far more thoughtful than angry.)

The article, by John Harris and Jim VandeHei, isn't horrible, although it does engage in the usual willful refusal to apportion blame accurately. Everyone is at fault, or the culture is at fault, not the left or (heaven forfend) the right (although the linguist Deborah Tannen is quoted and we're told, with some bafflement, that she "puts the emphasis on conservative ideological activists as much as on the new media environment," though according to the authors that's clearly because she's "a more liberal voice" and not because she's right). So we get this:

Every president since the first George Bush has delivered an inaugural address including as a main theme an appeal for more civility and less cynical conflict. Barack Obama is the fourth in a row to be thwarted in this mission -- frustrated by forces that have grown far stronger over the past two decades and aren't abating any time soon.

And this about the Sherrod and JournoList stories:

Both stories featured sharp personal attacks against political opponents. Both revolved around indignant claims from people claiming to be victims of bias and the corrupt ideological agendas of their opponents -- all the while stoking and profiting from the bias and conspiratorial instincts of partisans on their own side.

I guess it's all the same, then, over four presidencies, and there's no point examining any of it further. Anger at George W. Bush's inept, bloody, and ruinously expensive war in Iraq is morally equivalent to Andrew Breitbart's anger at Shirley Sherrod and the NAACP. Anger expressed in purely verbal form on a private listserv is equivalent to a deliberate (and successful) act of personal destruction waged with depraved indifference to the facts. What's the diff, hunh?

But to get back to the photo editing: if you want an illustration depicting the present moment of anger, why show a left-wing protest march? Left-wing demonstrations are thoroughly marginalized right now. They're utterly irrelevant to this political moment -- except as objects of Fox two-minutes' hates. Which, I guess, means they are relevant after all.


UPDATE In an e-mail, Bulworth points out something I missed:

You neglected to mention that in Politico's Age of Rage photo there are at least two, TWO, A.N.S.W.E.R signs.

One person carrying an A.N.S.W.E.R sign easily equals a Breitbart doctored video and racial smear, one erroneous firing over bogus racial charges, an unlimited number of teabagger tweets about the USDA black-farmer lawsuits being "frauds", a key teabagger's racist Lincoln letter and a week's worth of Faux "News" hosts continuing to smear a black official and the nation's premier Civil Rights organization, while lambasting the Obama Administration for covering up the Great New Black Panther Party Scandal, etc.

Two A.N.S.W.E.R signs, on the other hand, means Politico just has to wring its hands over all the incivility and RAGE, but showcase its fainting couch posture with a picture of a couple of A.N.S.W.E.R sign wavers.

Of course! That was staring me in the face and I missed it.

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