Friday, April 23, 2010

Not So Quick Comment Response Round-Up

Flavia writes:
My friend, I own a fedora, a homburg, AND a Panama hat (as well as, yes: a few hats actually made for laydeez).

I wear the fedora with the most regularity. Got lots of compliments when I lived in Harlem.

That is pretty damn badass, and I would've never guessed that about you. Do you have a Cloche?

Dance writes, as part of our discussion about the Tea Party:
Wait, what's the difference?

an incoherent mess of policies = loons

informed by potentially dangerous passions = violent

I mean, I can see that there may be a difference, but that just seems like the usual simplification of news today. I wonder if you aren't hearing something that the commentators (and you're one of my main sources of political news, so I'm really not sure who you are referring to) aren't quite saying.

I was more thinking of clips from news channels where people like Frank Rich and Eugene Robinson are focusing on the potential for violence among Tea Party members far more than the content of TP's message. I found two articles though that somewhat highlight what I'm talking about.

Frank Rich's column:
How curious that a mob fond of likening President Obama to Hitler knows so little about history that it doesn't recognize its own small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht. The weapon of choice for vigilante violence at Congressional offices has been a brick hurled through a window. So far.

No less curious is how disproportionate this red-hot anger is to its proximate cause. The historic Obama-Pelosi health care victory is a big deal, all right, so much so it doesn't need Joe Biden's adjective to hype it. But the bill does not erect a huge New Deal-Great Society-style government program.

From Robinson's column:
On Thursday, tea party leaders around the country issued statements strongly denouncing threats or violence against members of Congress or anyone else. A number of the leaders said there was no proof that the perpetrators were members of tea party organizations.

But this strikes me, and probably will strike others, as disingenuous. The tea party movement is fueled by rhetoric that echoes the paranoid ravings of the most extreme right-wing nutcases

Here's the issue I have. People like Rich and Robinson look at the Tea Party movement and are horrified by their ideas. Moreover, they cannot understand how somebody could be so pissed about health care reform. Ergo, these people must be crazy. However, in the articles they don't really confront the Tea Party's ideas, they just point toward their fears of potential for violence and that apparently removes the need to address the Tea Party's concerns. QED. Well, that's not an argument. And simply painting them as irrational, violent nutjobs, while it may be therapeutic for Rich and Robinson, is not really a decent assessment.

I'll admit, as I have earlier, that the Tea Party is an incoherent mess of policies. And yes, there probably are some nutjobs in the organization, in the same way that there are nutjobs in the environmental movement or, the one that pisses me off the most, the anti-globalization movement. However, the fundamental reason for their anger is the expansion of government. That's a discussion I believe Rich and Robinson don't want to have. Far better, from their perspectives to paint people with that opinion as wingnuts.

I've mention on several occasions my discomfort with the heated rhetoric because I think it turns off independents and moderates. I also don't think the members of the Tea Party are exactly public policy wonks. And I, like you, have concerns about the immigration rhetoric. BUT...the issue about the size and scope of government is a legitimate topic and they're correct, in my opinion at least, to highlight it, even they do so in a ham-fisted manner.

All that said, your point about simplification of the news is well-taken.

1 comment:

Flavia said...

Glad you asked! Yes, I have a mulberry-colored cloche, which is what I most wear in winter--though I also recently bought an early-60s mink toque.

Must admit I've scarcely worn the Panama hat, though I coveted it for a long time before I bought it and it was the most expensive. You're inspiring me to bust it out this summer.

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