One of the most often heard complaints about politically correct liberals is that they try to smear everyone with whom they disagree as bigots. “Racist,” “sexist,” “transphobe,” “transmisogynistic”… The terms are thrown around so often that many people stop listening.
Often people disagree about what constitutes bigotry. But just as often people disagree about the context and what was actually said. While I was listening to the podcast Undisclosed, I was treated to an example of how casually self-righteous liberals can fabricate racially-charged accusations, perhaps without even being conscious of it.
Undisclosed operates in seasons that usually take on cases of someone whom the team of three lawyers, Rabia Chaudry, Colin Miller, and Susan Simpson, thinks was wrongly convicted of a crime. They present the story and the evidence, as they see it, and argue why the convict wasn’t guilty. For the past few months, however, the story they are presenting is different: They are arguing why they think the Baltimore police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray are guilty.
It’s a bit of an interesting turn for the attorneys, who usually argue someone’s innocence, to take a hard stance against people who were charged with crimes on shaky grounds. Maybe it shows the group is focused on the politics of identity–race and power structures–rather than defending the civil rights of anyone accused of a crime. Or maybe they are just continuing their mission of defending the public against heavy-handed tactics of the corrupt police and justice system that, in their view, mistreated and killed an innocent man. Either way, they ought not make up lies about subjects involved.
On episode 14, when talking about the protests that turned into riots, the host stated, “The nation saw the mayor unable to communicate to her own city, awkwardly trying to say that she respects civil liberties but then referring to protesters as ‘thugs’.”
“Referring to protesters as ‘thugs’…” Does anyone remember when Baltimore Mayor Stefanie Rawlings-Blake, a liberal Democrat and an African-American woman, said that? I seem to recall exactly the quote they were thinking of, and she didn’t at all refer to “protesters” as “thugs.”
Just to make sure I was remembering right, I looked it up:
“It is idiotic to think that by destroying your city you’re going to make life better for anybody. Too many people have spent generations building up this city for it to be destroyed by thugs who, in a very senseless way, are trying to tear down what so many have fought for.”
Nowhere in that quote did she refer to protesters as “thugs.” Quite clearly, she was referring to people who were “destroying [their] city” as “thugs.” Rioters were smashing windows, looting convenience stores, throwing Molotov cocktails at liquor stores, smashing automobiles, and beating civilians. The mayor’s office reported there were 15 structural fires, including one that burnt a community center, and 144 vehicular fires.
After having listened to the podcast hosts express so much outrage about violence committed against citizens–when the violence was definitively or allegedly conducted by police officers–it was a little bit incongruous to hear them playing down the violence committed by some rioters whom the mayor and the then-President of the United States, Barack Obama, referred to as “thugs.”
The only way the Innocence Project could get from, “Too many people have spent generations building up this city for it to be destroyed by thugs,” to “the mayor referred to protesters as ‘thugs,'” is if the Innocent Project thinks that protesters were destroying the city.
How freakin hard is it for them to read an English sentence? Smashing and burning a city is destroying a city, not holding up signs, chanting, and marching.
“There’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday. It is counterproductive. When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting. They’re not making a statement. They’re stealing.”
“When they burn down a building, they’re committing arson. And they’re destroying and undermining businesses and opportunities in their own communities.”
“My understanding is you’ve got some of the same organizers now going back into these communities to try to clean up in the aftermath of a handful of protesters — a handful of criminals and thugs who tore up the place.”
These kinds of daft misinterpretations of quotes are quite common by liberals analyzing quotes about social issues like race, gender and sexuality. Often conservatives are the targets of the smears, but not always, as in the case of Rawlings Blake and Obama being smeared.
It’s what happens to Paul Ryan when he talks about poverty, or Charles Murray when he gives a speech at Middlebury.
Of course racist rhetoric and racially-charged motivations are a problem, too. We just went through a presidential campaign in which the winning candidate retweeted racist messages created by explicit white supremacists–messages that, among other things, included fake crime statistics blaming blacks for a grossly inflated amount of the murders of whites and allegations of cash corruption that utilized a Star of David.
But one problem with there being so many objectively false and careless allegations of bigotry thrown around in cases that don’t at all merit the allegation is that it lets those who really due make bigoted statements off the hook. It gives them leeway to say, “You know how those PC liberals always cry wolf…”
For liberals who think allegations of bigotry are a fun game that they can use to win political arguments there’s yet another problem: The tactic can be used against their own side, too. In this past election, Trump’s campaign ran Facebook ads targeted to blacks in swing states (trying to convince them not to vote rather than to vote for Hillary) referencing Hillary Clinton’s comment from 1996 that there was a new generation of “superpredators,” young criminals, growing up. Nevermind that the comment, however inaccurate it may have ended up proving, wasn’t referring to race. Again, she was giving a speech about crime, like Rawlings Blake and Obama who were talking about rioting, and liberal critics associated comments about crime with comments about African-Americans.
Left-wingers who had created the framework where everything is about race had long since decided it was about race and decided that government programs to deter crime were themselves about race. Trump just adopted the politically correct framing that the left-PC had already built.