Posted by: Donna
1. The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.
2. The parts of something written or spoken that immediately precede and follow a word or passage and clarify its meaning.
I know I’ve mentioned here a time or two about when I was on a panel with Arizona bloggers and there was a prominent right wing blogger on it who preened about how he never used bad language in his posts because his mom and pastor read his blog. I thought about his pastor reading this blogger’s numerous diatribes against public assistance to poor people and finding them acceptable because there was no profanity. I concluded that the right wing blogger’s pastor must not be a very nice person. But I’m sure both the blogger and the pastor think of themselves as very moral people. Oh yes indeed. I don’t believe in letting poor kids go hungry or letting people die for lack of health care. I think those are pretty moral positions but I also swear like a sailor in real life and occasionally in blog posts. Which makes me a moral degenerate in the eyes of upstanding right wing bloggers and their pastors.
This brings me to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is not having a good week. He faces a trial on his profiling policies this Thursday and he was ripped a new one by George Lopez in his HBO comedy special and whined about it to Channel 15, demanding that Lopez agree to meet with him in Arizona. For an angry dance-off, I guess.
Let’s be clear: Arpaio has a masterful PR machine. It looks like they were making lemonade out of the giant lemon a famous comedian lobbed at Joe Arpaio. I rather doubt he just happened to be flipping through channels with his wife Ava and happened upon the Lopez special and then, of his own volition, ran sobbing to the news station about it. My guess is this was a carefully calculated move intended to impress Arpaio’s base of uptight old white people who consider themselves very morally upright because they don’t approve of cussing in public. Especially when the cussing is from “lesser” people like George Lopez toward their social betters like Joe Arpaio. Arpaio is a hero to authoritarians who believe that the worst thing that anyone can ever do is insult or discomfort their betters. For them it’s all about form over substance. This is why, for example, no matter how blatantly racist a Republican is, you are always the bigger name-caller, maker of personal attacks, and (of course) the real racist for pointing it out. We even learned recently that the mere utterance of the word “vagina” from a mere woman is so upsetting to the tender sensibilities of right wing men passing gobs of regulation on ladyparts that the offending woman must be banned from the floor of the state legislature.
It was fun to watch Arpaio make a petulant ass of himself at the Birther press conference yesterday when he was asked by a (wonderful!) Channel 5 reporter if he’d sic his deputies on President Obama’s motorcade during a Phoenix visit to demand proof of his citizenship. But there’s an ugly and dangerous undercurrent to the Birther thing that cannot be dismissed or ignored. The whole point of Arpaio’s investigation of Obama is to excite his fan club of bitter racists who hate the President simply for who he is. They embrace the Birther conspiracy because they think it lends their racial animus a patina of legitimacy. And because they are largely older white conservative males – the most privileged group in our society – Birthers are accommodated and coddled in a way that no other group of people engaging in such loathsome behavior would be.
I’m not in the “stop giving them attention” camp either. I want them to be exposed and I do think the local news stations are doing a decent job covering them. However, there’s still too much of the “both sides” crap going on. Stop it. Just, stop it. Birthers are a hate group, full stop. I realize they are a shockingly large percentage of Republican voters but that is no reason to give Birther leaders any more latitude than you would have given the late JT Ready. Treat Birtherism as the obscenity that it is, please.
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