(The Return of) Ignatz, by Sam Heldman

Friday, December 13, 2002

Is it really possible that I saw a clip of Pat Buchanan on CNN last night saying that Senator Lott was being treated unfairly, that this was a "lynching" of him? I am 99 percent sure that I saw that with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears. When one of the roots of this whole episode was the Dixiecrats' opposition to an anti-lynching bill -- that's literal lynching -- it takes a vast amount of gall to throw that term around so lightly. But really, that's the point: it's hard to imagine that Buchanan was throwing the term around lightly. He must have meant to be drawing the comparison that the word evokes: to say that many people seriously disapproving of racism by a high public official, is about as bad as a white supremacist vigilante killing.

UPDATE: Well, I didn't imagine it. Buchanan is so proud of this turn of phrase, that he's put it in writing. Think of it. Even if you think (absurdly in my view, but let's place that aside for one second) that Lott has been unfairly criticized, to call this a "lynching" -- in a conversation that is in substantial part about actual Southern racist lynching -- is so astounding I don't know where to begin.

So Pat Buchanan is a white supremacist, duh. Who didn't know that? Correct, of course. So why is he offered up in the news/entertainment media, constantly, as one of the voices that constitute the reasonable spectrum of debate? BECAUSE, AS A SOCIETY, WE'RE NOT BEYOND RACISM YET, that's why. It is alive and well, and not just on the fringe of the fringe. Someone should clue in the Supreme Court, as it hears the U.Mich. higher-ed admissions cases.

UPDATE UPDATE: Atrios -- who, along with Talking Points Memo, has received some well-deserved recognition in the big media for helping make sure that the news of Lott's statements did not get swept under the rug -- also notes Buchanan's choice of words.

posted by sam 7:19 AM 0 comments


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