aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Yesterday I pointed to Nathan Newman, twice, as a voice of calm reason. Today he’s quoting William O. Douglas, Thomas Jefferson, George Orwell, H. Rap Brown and Emma Goldman on “the usefulness of intimidating government leaders through violence” even as he says:
Let me be clear-- I am no fan of violence and think even when done in the name of justice, it leads to tyranny and injustice. But the fact is that many thinkers and leaders have justified violence as an important tool to keep government leaders in line.
Later, he spells out a litany of “recent crimes of our court system” and asks, why is the left defending the courts? Then he looks back at slavery, lynching and reconstruction to conclude:
Almost all liberals are willfully blind on this bloody responsibility of the courts for sanctioning racial violence and inequality. The progressivism of the Warren Court was a complete aberration in our history, yet liberals defend courts as if most courts haven’t been the worst bastions of racism and privilege throughout our history.
I’m neither a historian nor a legal expert, but my take is that bad as the courts have been and may yet be, they are better than populist hordes who think democracy means mob rule. They act as a buffer and a brake and they soften somewhat though not wholly even as they do indeed reflect the society they serve. They move slowly, deliberately, and thoughtfully. They are not revolutionary, but they are evolutionary.
Let me be clear-- I’m a fan of Nathan Newman. But I believe in the rule of law and I oppose violent action. It was violence that ruled in the South in the time of slavery, Jim Crow and lynching. And violence rules in lawless lands around the world with ineffective governments and corrupt malfunctioning or nonexistent judiciary systems.
Oh, and as to the Warren Court as aberration, it could also be seen as reflecting progress, the times, and the benefits of an independent judiciary. I even take some small solace in the fact that he was a Republican Governor appointed by a Republican president.
I think of myself as someone who pays attention to architecture so I was surprised to read about a style I had never heard of before, Doo-Wop architecture. Via Downtown Lad, who asks, is this building worth preserving?
It’s The Caribbean Motel in Wildwood, New Jersey. For those who are unaware, Wildwood is home to the largest amount of “Doo-Wop Architecture” in the world...While these buildings are not yet on the National Register of Historic Places, they should be. Luckily, architects and preservationists are starting to revive these motels...The more architecture like this that Wildwood can preserve, the better off the town will be. Could Wildwood, New Jersey become the next Miami Beach. Hey - with great architecture like this, why not?
Er, it’s chilly in New Jersey for one thing. But I vote we preserve it!
The blogs are abuzz about DeLay today. MyDD has a reader poll going , “Is he toast?” (My vote, a hopeful “yes.") Kos says “I’m actually rooting for him to survive another six months,” Kevin Drum that “The noose is continuing to tighten,” and The Carpetbagger Report has two fine posts here and here from way too early this morning for me.
If Tom DeLay can survive this, they’ll have to change his nickname from “the Hammer” to “Houdini.” This morning, the already besieged House majority leader, facing scores of allegations about unethical behavior and abuse of power, and grumbling among his nervous GOP troops, gets hit with a one-two punch, courtesy of the Washington Post and the New York Times. Their exposÃƒÂ©s only add more detail to a portrait of a politician who rarely let the rules get in the way of his own personal enrichment.
First, the Post: “A six-day trip to Moscow in 1997 by then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) was underwritten by business interests lobbying in support of the Russian government, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the trip arrangements.” It is against the law for a member of Congress to accept travel reimbursements from registered lobbyists and foreign agents.
Then there’s the Times: “The wife and daughter of Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, have been paid more than $500,000 since 2001 by Mr. DeLay’s political action and campaign committees.” The paper notes the women’s duties “were described in the disclosure forms as ‘fund-raising fees,’ ‘campaign management’ or ‘payroll,’ with no additional details about how they earned the money.”
David Neiwert has been the definitive source for me on the horrendous intention by C-SPAN to “balance” (a term it now “regrets”) a speech by the Holocaust scholar at Emory University, Deborah Lipstadt, with a lecture by Holocaust denier David Irving.
From Neiwert’s post on balance that must be read in its entirety:
What “balance” has become, in essence, is a fig leaf for broadcasting falsehoods on behalf of right-wing propaganda efforts. In the process, it has become a major means for transmitting extremist beliefs into the mainstream. The Schiavo matter is only the most prominent recent example of this.
Perhaps less noticed, but even more illustrative, was the recent case of C-SPAN’s decision to “balance” its coverage of Deborah Lipstadt’s book on her ordeal with Holocaust denier David Irving by insisting that Irving be given equal airtime.
In that post he excerpts the New York Times coverage (no longer available for free) and the Washington Post Richard Cohen column (which triggered an unusual on-air swipe at Mr. Cohen by C-SPAN host Susan Swain.)
So far, C-SPAN’s behavior has been not only unprofessional, it is entirely inconsistent with its previously established standards for “balance”: When it broadcast conferences of the white-supremacist organizations American Renaissance and Council of Concerned Citizens, it felt no need to “balance” those discussions with opposing viewpoints. One has to wonder why, once again, truth and fact have to contend on an equal footing with lies and vicious slander.
Finally, in a post last night, Neiwert looks at the show in depth:
Though it no doubt would like to have put the controversy behind it, C-SPAN’s Sunday broadcast of its BookTV program on Deborah Lipstadt’s book on her ordeal by libel trial with Holocaust denier David Irving wound up only demonstrating that the concerns over its highly questionable approach were indeed well grounded.
The chief guest on the program was Washington Post reporter T.R. Reid, who, as noted earlier, was probably not the best-informed “expert” the program could have featured. As Reid himself told the New York Sun, he has not read Lipstadt’s book...Moreover, he did not actually cover the trial, at least not in the traditional sense.
Neiwert details the definition of “Holocaust denial” and documents how Irving’s views fit then concludes:
Regrets about terminology notwithstanding, C-SPAN’s approach to this subject makes clear that it has a great deal to learn about how extremists like Holocaust deniers operate. They count on the ignorance of those unfamiliar with their tactics to handle them “fairly”—which is to say, to treat their lies as though they merely represent another viewpoint, and thereby spread their vicious falsifications into the mainstream,. Sunday’s broadcast was a classic case of this.
(You can read Lipstadt’s reaction to the program on her blog.)
I’ve been a fan of C-SPAN. Booknotes was my favorite show. I am a fan of BookTV. But I have to admit that this incident makes me agree with Atrios: there is something seriously creepy going on there.
UPDATE: In Corrections Department, Dave Neiwert explains he “jumped the gun” here and here (I quoted both in this post) and “unfairly characterized the coverage of the Irving-Lipstadt trial by T.R. Reid of the Washington Post...It is clear to me, after some conversations with Mr. Reid, that he did in fact attend at least several days of the trial itself.”
Still, Neiwert concludes:
What’s not as defensible, I think, is the relatively thin gruel that Reid served up for BookTV’s national audience—a natural result, I think, of his not having read Lipstadt’s book. I also think, given what we saw on TV, it remains an open question just how deeply Reid was acquainted with the trial testimony; “days and days” certainly represents honest and hard work, but I still doubt that he comes close to having attended a majority of the trial’s 32 days.
That said, I’d like to also apologize to my readers for this bit of sloppiness. I can’t promise it won’t happen again, but I can only try.