Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Long Arc of Stupid

At Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday celebration in December, 2002, Trent Lott delivered this show-stopper to the happy crowd:
I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either.

Lott was referring to Thurmond's 1948 run -- in the long American tradition of third-party moral idiocy -- as a Dixiecrat on a segregationist platform, promising that "All the laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the Army cannot force the Negro into our homes, our schools, our churches." A pandemic of outrage followed Lott's remarks, with pressure mounting to strip him of his status as Senate Majority Leader. Lott apologized, explaining that a "poor choice of words" had distorted his meaning, and that he was thinking of Thurmond's strong ideas on national defense when he praised him. This didn't impress Andrew Sullivan, who responded in a post on his blog entitled, "TRENT LOTT MUST GO":

After his disgusting remarks at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party, it seems to me that the Republican Party has a simple choice. Either they get rid of Lott as majority leader; or they should come out formally as a party that regrets desegregation and civil rights for African-Americans. Why are the Republican commentators so silent about this? And the liberals? (Josh Marshall, to his credit, states the obvious. And Bill Kristol, to his great credit, expressed disbelief.) And where's the New York Times? Howell Raines is so intent on finding Bull Connor in a tony golf club that when Bull Connor emerges as the soul of the Republican Senate Majority Leader, he doesn't notice it. And where's the president? It seems to me an explicit repudiation of Lott's bigotry is a no-brainer for a "compassionate conservative." Or simply a decent person, for that matter. This isn't the first piece of evidence that Lott is an unreconstructed racist. He has spoken before gussied-up white supremacist groups before. So here's a simple test for Republicans and conservative pundits. Will they call Lott on this excrescence? Or are they exactly what some on the Left accuse them of?

In the shadow of the 2010 World Cup, the spiritual lodestar of Hezbollah, Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, died. Octavia Nasr, a long-time Middle East correspondent and editor with CNN, tweeted:
Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah.. One of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot...

Fadlallah was a millenarian Islamist who afflicted secular democracy in Lebanon, applauded terrorist attacks on Americans and Israelis, wished for the destruction of Israel and denied the Holocaust. A pandemic of outrage followed Nasr's tweet, with pressure mounting on CNN to fire her. Nasr apologized, explaining that Twitter's brevity distorted her meaning, and that she was thinking of Fadlallah's comparatively liberal religious attitude to women when she praised him. This was good enough for Andrew Sullivan, who responded on his blog in a post entitled, "The Policing of the Discourse":
... Octavia Nasr is fired for offending the pro-Israel lobby over a tweet expressing sadness at the death of a Hezbollah leader. Nasr subsequently elaborated on her tweet in a nuanced piece that ran on It reads like an honest piece of journalism to me.

It's amazing what 8 years and several wars for and by Israel can accomplish.