MSNBC's Dan Abrams completely blows this opportunity to point out precisely what is behind the far right's out of bounds attacks on Barack Obama in this lame interview of Republican congressman Jack Kingston of Georgia. First he lets the congressman repeat the charge that Michelle Obama said she was proud of her country for the first time in her adult life when he knows what was actually said, taken in full context, was that she was proud of the American political process for the first time. And he wasted half the interview on a minute point about the congressman wearing a flag lapel pin.
Much more egregious is the fact that he lets the congressman get away with calling things like using Obama's middle name repeatedly and pointedly, just a little back and forth "banter". Which is really all Abrams engaged in with this guy when he should have nailed him. This is a classic smoke screen the right uses by bringing up something that they know is incendiary and claiming that it is, or should be innocent. Using arguments like, well, that really is the guy's middle name and, we use other people's middle names. Or we show other politicians on diplomatic trips in the garb of other nations. When we all know that the intent of pointing these things out is to make an association with Obama and symbols that people fear.
This is all about the politics of fear and the problem with it is that it causes fear in people, some of whom are hateful, some of whom are violent, and some who are completely mentally unhinged. It is not the simple innocent fact that his middle name is Hussein or that he dressed in middle eastern clothes on a diplomatic trip. It is the attempt and intent to draw a parallel between him and terrorism in a way that could inspire a nut case to do something that could hurt the Senator or other innocent people. It is the repeated use of his middle name and that photo in an attempt to make people who may be a little on the edge question him in their minds. To make them ask, why does this guy keep pointing out his middle name is Hussein.
It's something old people, especially from the south, used to say when I was a kid; throwing a rock and hiding your hand. Pretending you did nothing when you have the worst intentions. It's getting as close as you possibly can to hate speech and still being able to deny it. It should never be tolerated or soft-balled in the way that Abrams did. Dan, you have to hammer these people because this is the same thing as using code words. We see it in the heated undocumented worker debate where supposed innocent speech by people like Lou Dobbs results in an increase in hate crimes against Latinos. And I don't mean in any way to compare Abrams to Dobbs. There's no comparison, but he let this guy off the hook. In fact in my next post I give Dan well deserved credit for what he's doing to expose the corruption involved in the Don Siegelman case. One of the most important stories not being covered enough at this time.
-Fight the Powers.