No, Joan Walsh, I Don't Think That's "gangsta rap talk"


Salon's Joan Walsh has responded to my post yesterday that took issue with her contention that "the real story of the shutdown" is "50 years of GOP race-baiting." With the classic musta-touched-a-nerve! formulation popular with juvenile polemicists everywhere, her new piece is titled "Angry right gets mad when you accuse it of race-baiting!"

I'm neither "angry" nor "right," but I'm in the lede, so I thought it may be illustrative to point at Walsh's typical sleight of hand when casually insinuating racism among those who disagree with her politics. She writes:

Unfortunately, he's still mad at me for calling him out on a really dumb column he wrote three years ago. Oops: "Calling him out;" I shouldn't have said that. Because according to Welch, that's gangsta rap talk.

Two things here: 1) I'm not "still mad," bro. Curiosity and wonder are not anger. And 2) it's ludicrous to suggest that I would think even for a second that the phrase "Calling him out" is "gangsta rap talk." Why?

For one, you can search through a quarter-century of my work, and you will never find a phrase or sentiment remotely like "gangsta rap talk." This is just not what I write or care about, except very occasionally to mock curmudgeons who get upset about people "walking on their pants with the cap on backwards listening to the enema man and Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dogg." About the only time I've ever written about "gangsta rap," period, was in an optimistic piece about how "gangsta rap and pop culture are driving out corrupt post-Soviet thugs" in Romania.

Secondly, her whole case for suggesting, falsely, that I'm the kind of guy who is constantly hearing (and presumably fearing) "gangsta rap talk" in casual conversation rests on exactly one piece of evidence: That in September 2009, when President Barack Obama said to his truth-stretching Obamacare opponents "we will call you out," I described it as "a nearly Snoop Doggesque display," linking to a then-hot-of-the-presses Snoop video whose chorus was "we will shut you down."

This sent Walsh's racism-dar on high alert. "Is 'We will call you out' a black phrase? Kind of a black phrase? Urban? Street? Or Snoop Doggesque? (Someone called it that.)," she asked on Twitter. "What in God's name does Snoop Dogg have to do with Barack Obama, (besides the obvious)," she asked in Salon. "I think that line in your piece will go down in history as one of the dumbest white-boy outbursts in the history of covering Obama," she wrote me.

She apparently could not accept my answer: I just found the phrases we will shut you down and we will call you out to be similar, and so made a throwaway link and reference in a blog post whose substance was about the president's veracity, not cadence. And as I suggested to her at the time, the only negative association within this non-noteworthy side-comment came from people who read one into it:

I'm from Long Beach, Joan; Snoop Dogg is a hero of mine. I like — not dislike, but like — that the president of the United States occasionally talks like people my age, and where I'm from.

Such is the absurdly low bar in some allegedly journalistic circles for associating the most toxic modern label to people who have different ideas about health care policy. Something to keep in mind this week as an entire swath of the political spectrum gets tarred as irredeemably racist.

And now, as your reward for reading this much drivel, please enjoy the Reason.tv classic, "Social Security, Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dogg, & Alan Simpson":