THE RIGHT STILL DENIES SLURS FROM HCR PROTEST…. It’s been nearly a month, but the far-right obsession continues. It’s getting embarrassing.
On March 20, House Democratic leaders walked from a caucus meeting to Capitol Hill, en route to the final debate over health care reform. As the lawmakers approached the building, assorted right-wing activists chastised Dems, reportedly used racial and ethnic slurs, and in one instance, spat on an African-American lawmaker.
Prominent far-right voices have gone to truly ridiculous lengths to insist that the slurs never happened.
Conservatives apparently can’t help themselves. James Taranto, a Republican writer at the Wall Street Journal, got in touch with Rep Heath Shuler’s office after the North Carolina Democrat expressed his disappointment to a local newspaper over the ugliness of the right-wing, mid-March protests.
[W]hen we phoned Shuler’s office this afternoon, press secretary Julie Fishman told us the local reporter misunderstood. According to Fishman, Shuler’s comments to the Times-News referred to the general tenor of the protests, not to the black congressmen’s specific allegations.
Fishman said that Shuler was not walking with Cleaver and did not hear the “N-word.” Shuler was, however, in proximity to Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts and heard someone call Frank, as Fishman put it, a “communist F-word” (that would be “faggot,” not the other F-word). At least one reporter also was said to have heard the antigay slur directed at Frank, so we’re inclined to believe that claim. But the allegations of racial slurs remain uncorroborated.
Greg Sargent added, “Okay, so yes, someone at the Tea Party rally did call Barney Frank a ‘communist faggot,’ but the racial slurs remain unproven! So there: The liberal media’s efforts to smear the Tea Party movement as a hotbed of intolerants and bigots has been conclusively debunked!”
If there’s any sense in this strategy, it eludes me. Even far-right members of Congress see no value in pushing this line of attack. House Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) said, “I take at face value what John Lewis said. If John Lewis said he heard it, I believe he’s a man of integrity. And I would denounce those kinds of statements in the strongest possible terms.”
That’s really all conservatives have to say to put this matter behind them. Instead of accusing John Lewis and other black lawmakers of lying, conservative activists like Taranto, Andrew Breitbart, and Mark Steyn have a far more sensible alternative. They can say, “We didn’t hear the racist slurs, but if they occurred, we reject them entirely. Those misguided individuals don’t speak for our movement, and there’s no room for bigotry in the Tea Party.”
But, no. Instead the message, in effect, is, “Don’t trust those black Democrats. They say they heard racism, but they’re probably lying.”
What’s more, they keep saying this. Taranto’s piece didn’t run in March; it ran yesterday. It’s as if the right believes if they just keep accusing African-American lawmakers of being liars, the allegations of racist rhetoric will disappear.
Usually, the right is more adept when it comes to political rhetoric. This is just bizarre.