As noted by Jesse Walker, former Reasonoid Dave Weigel, guest blogging over at Andrew Sullivan's place, is certainly right that conservatives are overplaying this New Black Panther Party (NBPP) non-story, with hopes that foot soldiers in the Beck Army will cast ballots against the ghost of Huey Newton and Fred Hampton in the midterms. It's a shopworn (and often effective) tactic. When I lived in Sweden, the deeply anti-American tabloid Aftonbladet would run front page, 30 point type stories on Fred Phelps's "church," failing to point out that Westboro Baptists' congregants were almost all family members and could fit into the back of a Cooper Mini.
But my comrades on the left, those denouncing the absurd NBPP story as a "new Southern Strategy," those expressing outrage that conservative blogs and media would exploit the lunatic fringe for electoral gain (what has D.C. become??), might have noticed an uptick in stories on supposed Tea Party racism. Surely the persistence of such stories couldn't be motivated by politics? Indeed, this morning's Express, the freebie published by the Washington Post and distributed throughout D.C., splashed the Tea Partiers-are-racist accusation on its front page. As those who have read my periodic columns on the movement know, I'm something of a skeptic of Tea Partyism; too many lazy conflations of socialism, communism, tsarism, and Nazism, for starters. But I have defended them against the charge of racism in the past—there are clearly racists present at some of these rallies, but no evidence that it is endemic or anything but an embarrassing minority—and the way MSNBC (Weigel's current employer) treats the Tea Party racists is not unlikehow Meghan Kelley treats the NBPP. And as Jesse Walker observed, nor is it unlike how the media treated the so-called "Hutaree Militia."
But let's end on an unfunny note. Here is lunkheaded "spoken word artist" and DEA stooge Henry Rollins, writing at Vanity Fair, on the "racist" Tea Partiers and the NBPP:
You racists need to stop hiding. Come on out! Be who you are. At least have the guts to stand up for your convictions, like a man standing in front of a voting location yelling that he hates crackers. Who the hell knows what was bugging that guy? Why, I just love crackers—graham, saltine—I'm gonna get me a whole big bunch of crackers out of a box, or whatever, and I'm gonna squash 'em on my face and let 'em run off my chin!
Why Vanity Fair, home to some very fine writers, allows this level of retardation on its website is beyond me. But you can read the rest of this laugh riot here.