No, They’re Not Equivalent
After hyping Cliven Bundy for more than a week as being some kind of outstanding folk hero, conservatives were sent scrambling into damage control mode when Bundy suddenly started spouting rather racist comments on camera. Most of them loudly condemned what Bundy said—good for them!—but they are complaining even more loudly that liberals are taking advantage of the situation, unfairly smearing conservatives and the Republican Party in general.
One tack is to complain that liberals get away with such statements all the time, and are never criticized in the media when they go racist. Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer:
[W]hat I find fascinating as the chief spokesman for Republican Party is when a guy with a problem with cattle grazing and discussion about the size of government and overreach of the federal government makes a comment, every reporter calls the Republican National Committee asking for comment. But yet when similar incidents happen time and time again on the left, there is zero coverage, absolutely zero.“
”Just this week Gov. Pat Quinn, the Democratic governor of Illinois, president’s home state, made anti-Semitic Jewish and black comments and there was zero discussion until last night when CNN picked it up,“ he continued. ”But, the rest of the national media, a sitting Democratic governor does anti-Semitic comments that were offensive to Republicans and blacks and there was no coverage. So, while I’m willing to call out time and time again anyone who uses inappropriate language and RNC has gotten — time and time again we’re asking from student council elections to county officials … but when similar instance have happened on the left – zero, zero, zero coverage….
His key example is Democratic (kudos to Spicer for getting the adjectival correct!) Gov. Pat Quinn, who, according to Spicer, “made anti-Semitic Jewish and black comments.” These are supposedly more or less equivalent to Bundy’s comments.
So let’s see if this is true. What comments did Quinn make?
Umm, actually, he made no such comment. The incident being reported was about a tweet made by his campaign staff, in the campaign’s Twitter account (separate from the governor’s). So, what was the racist, anti-black, and anti-Semitic tweet?
“If Rauner is willing to throw his own money away like this, what’s he going to do when he gets his hands on ours?” http://t.co/a1vAS0cChl
Umm… doesn’t seem really racist. Who is Rauner? A white Republican candidate running against Quinn. But hey, maybe the article is totally racist. The tweet does not endorse the article, just quotes from it, but I suppose it could be considered and implied endorsement. Click on the link, and you’ll find an article in the Chicago Sun-Times written by Neil Steinberg, which contains the quote. The quote is the last sentence in the article. So, what’s the article about?
The article is a scathing criticism of a woman named Hermene Hartman, a woman who publishes a periodical for the African-American community. According to Steinberg, Hartman was given $51,000 from Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner, and, allegedly, wrote a glowing piece about Rauner in exchange for the money.
It’s certainly a serious charge, albeit one of relatively minor importance. But how is that anti-black, and anti-Semitic?
It is because of this part of the article, in the first three paragraphs:
“The machine,” political guru Don Rose said, years ago, “could get 30 percent of the black votes for George Wallace over Martin Luther King.”
Though we don’t have to raise hypotheticals. When the actual Dr. King actually did bring his open occupancy marches to Chicago, there was no shortage of black aldermen willing to rise in City Council and denounce King as an unwelcome outsider, their strings pulled by Richard J. Daley.
Let me be clear: As a general rule, individuals will sell out the interests of their groups in return for personal benefit. It isn’t just a black thing. Jews collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, helping them to round up their own people in the hopes they’d be the last to go.
Ah! OK, there’s the Jewish connection. If you read conservative comments, the conclusion is that the emphasized statement above from the article is saying that blacks are like Nazis, and the whole thing is anti-Semitic.
Umm, really? First of all, Steinberg did not say that black people are like Nazis, but rather that in any community, you will find people who will sell out their own, as some Jews did in WWII. And, sadly, it did happen—some Jews did indeed collaborate with the Nazis (examples here, here, and here).
What, exactly, is anti-black and anti-Semitic about that? It’s a scathing indictment of one woman and allegedly some unspecified others, but not of black people in general. The writer is careful not to label this as only a black issue. And while pointing out that Jewish Nazi collaborators existed is not exactly the most politic thing to do during Passover, it is not false, either.
So, what do we have here?
On the one hand, Cliven Bundy, which most of the conservative community was hyping as a hero to their cause, giving him massive coverage and a national platform few every enjoy, standing in front of a camera and saying that “Negroes” who got abortions and “put” their young men in jail never learned to “pick cotton” and would be happier as slaves. When asked later if he really meant that, he repeated it.
On the other hand, you have, not even the Democratic governor of Illinois, who is little-known and not highly-praised, but a campaign staffer for the governor, tweeting a quote from an article which was not racist at all, but in the opposite end of the article, a statement was made which said that every community including the African-American community has sell-outs, and used Jewish collaborators from WWII as an example.
Yeah, I totally see why it’s reasonable to be outraged at how the national media did not treat these two stories in a similar fashion.
This is what happens when you delve into claims of equivalency made by conservatives when they get all defensive: the truth is nothing like they portray it to be. They just lie, and hope that nobody looks too closely at their claims.