When Conspiracy Theories…Get Confused

I must be in the big leagues now! According to this post at Huffpo (basically cribbed from Media Matters) I am part of a vast right-wing conspiracy to umm…ask to see the whole Sherrod tape.

Regular readers know, because I have probably said it scores of times, that I don’t watch the mud-wrestling babes on Fox News; I don’t watch any news that’s not breaking–as in real disasters, not political theater, and I’m no fan of Bill O’ Reilly or Glenn Beck or Hannity. I’m sure they are all very nice men, I just can’t stand listening to any of them for more than five minutes. I have never been to a tea party; I barely write about them unless they’re part of a larger story.

I’m telling you this because the Huffpo piece struck me as so bizarre that I dropped an email to the likewise-indicted Ace, Allahpundit and Ed Morrissey, asking them “am I crazy or is this just absurd?” I also made it clear to the gents that I was not in any way shape or form looking to conspire with them, about the piece or develop any sort of “Blog-o-list.”

None of them responded to me.

Ace, however, promptly debriefed himself, and now that he has I feel compelled to–with regret, since my original intent was to ignore this–debrief myself as well.

That email was probably the second time I have ever written to Ace, the first being when I nearly choked to death laughing at some thread–likely the very profane Dick Cheney Badass one–and wrote to say that I found him and his site smart but vulgar. He never responded, so perhaps I had offended him; I’d thought he’d rather like being called vulgar.

I can be naive, like that, sometimes.

My email contact with Allahpundit, who until recently sort of terrified me, has been limited to his inviting me to guest-blog at Hot Air two weeks ago and, prior to that, a few pathetic attempts to get him to link to me. Ed Morrissey, I have actually spoken with on the phone, twice, once about said guest-blogging–because I am a techno-idiot and once for an radio show interview (which he’s never been tempted to repeat as I am rather dull); the extent of our email is generally along the, “hi, I just wrote this, hope your wife is well”/”she’s good, I’m busy, cheers!” variety.

Although Jim Hoft from Gateway Pundit is mentioned in this timeline, I had not thought to include him in my little conspiratorial email, because…well…that’s how often I think of Jim Hoft (and how often he thinks of me, I’m sure). Although we both have blogs at First Things, we don’t correspond. I once emailed him asking how to do something technical and he emailed back saying he didn’t know. Oh, and way before that–while he was at his old site–he asked me to pray for his mother while she was dying. I did, and sent condolences when she passed. That’s…about…it.

Actually, you know, that’s one of the things that has amazed me about the journolist: where did these people find the time to sit around gassing away in long strings of emails. Look at the amount of content that I, Allah, Ace and Ed (and Hoft) put out each day. Does that suggest there is a lot of time for this sort of hysterical reacting, brainstorming and message-building?

On the 19th, I was busy launching the Future of Catholicism Week on Patheos and tapping out this blog in between countless emails from the writers I’ve been corralling for the project, and my Patheos co-workers; I also had Adoration between 5-6, too. During this Huffpo “conspiracy” I watched the Breitbart tape, and posted my thoughts at 3:31.

Then I spend sent out precisely two emails on the subject.

I sent one to Instapundit, saying, “Not sure I’m buying Breitbart; that tape ends too abruptly for me…” (Glenn did not respond, but linked) and one to Ed Morrissey saying the same; Ed wrote back that he’d have Breitbart on his radio show later, and if there was time he’d ask about the abrupt ending.

End of communication. I didn’t listen to the broadcast, because I almost never listen to anything while I’m working.

Continuing the debriefing: I do not attend conservative conferences. I am not currently in Vegas at some gathering that many bloggers seem to be at. I am not sure what C-Pac is. My only MSM contact works for NPR, and as he is a dyspeptic sort so our correspondence is pretty one-sided; I taunt him and he ignores.

Far from being some grand conspirator, Lizzie is a social moron; it follows that she remains pretty much a lone wolf.

Now, to be fair to Media Matters, when I first saw their timeline I didn’t think of it as anything more than that: an informational breakdown. But as I said, I am naive, sometimes, and besides my dog has been very sick, and that has trumped my interest in much else (to those of you who have kindly asked or prayed, she seems a little better today, thanks, though she’s still very subdued); I was distracted. It was only after seeing this strange Huffpo piece–and realizing that the the timeline seemed to emphasize the right-wing response to the Sherrod-Breitbart story, but not many reactions from elsewhere–that I wondered what the point was?

What is this writer trying to prove, that bloggers read other blogs and say, “hey, so-and-so is saying this, while thus-and-such is saying that, and here is what I think?”

Um. Isn’t that precisely what this writer has done–taken material from one site and included it in a post, with his own thoughts added?

Damn! Conspirators everywhere!

I like this comment from the tail-end of Ace’s piece:

Soooo… the next earthquake, explosion, whatever… I can claim NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, etc coordinated their stories? right?

11:55 AM – Earthquake in California

12:01 PM – ABC interrupts broadcast to break story


12:03 PM – CBS shows a map with circles

12:09 PM – CNN also shows larger map, female host points out Galapagos Islands west of California.

Well, that last bit’s not nice; why pick on women when we know Rich Sanchez would be the one doing that.

Seriously, I don’t get it. I haven’t read much the last two days: is there some center-right blog, somewhere making a timeline of left-wing mistakes in this repellent story which has covered no one with glory? Is someone writing:

“TIMESTAMP: NAACP puts out statement condemning Sherrod, even though they possess full, context-clarifying video, and have not spoken with her?”

Perspective is everything, I guess. If someone were creating such a timeline, wouldn’t it begin, then with:

TIMESTAMP: NAACP indulges in needless political theater by playing un-necessary card with statement condemning Tea Partiers as having racist “elements” within it, and calling on organizers to denounce racism, which Tea Party has already explicitly done back in March, after nebulous congressional accusations…”

Or, you know, something like that.

Dueling timelines could go on and on, of course. People with a lot of time on their hands, or with someone paying them more than I am making, could zap all the way back…

TIMESTAMP 2010: Mel Gibson demonstrates real racism
TIMESTAMP 2008: Barack Obama elected first African American President by wide margin
TIMESTAMP 2005: Kanye West: “George Bush hates black people”
TIMESTAMP 2004: Bush appoints Condoleeza Rice second black Secretary of State
TIMESTAMP 2001: Bush appoints Colin Powell first black Secretary of State;
TIMESTAMP 1995: 1995: Al Sharpton, Freddie’s Fashion Mart, “white interloper”; violence, flames and death; Sharpton expresses regret for racial rhetoric
TIMESTAMP 1991: Clarence Thomas survives “high-tech lynching”
TIMESTAMP 1968: Martin Luther King Assassinated; RFK eloquent
TIMESTAMP 1965: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, initiates Selma march; Charlton Heston joins in support
TIMESTAMP 1963: Birmingham Bombings (child Condoleeza Rice loses friends); Bull Connor opens hoses, releases dogs; MLK Jailed; JFK declares himself “sickened” by “shameful” response of white authorities. Nation begins to awaken to evils of segregation
TIMESTAMP 1955: Rose Parks does not stand up for the man

You can put anything into a timeline, and suddenly it seems relevant. And yes, someone with a lot of time on their hands could spiral this down all the way to William Wilberforce, or even further, to Africa and the first slave traders…or further back, to the Egyptians and the Jews. I am not sure what would be accomplished by that, beyond demonstrating that hate is easy, and that viewing people as “others” who are undeserving of human decency is an ego-riddled choice one makes; getting beyond it is also a choice.

Looking at just that brief timeline I’ve thrown up there, though, should give us all pause. Important things happened during the civil rights era; they were real events, organic and dynamic and up from the ground–not unlike the Tea Party, actually–and not political theater. Before the assassination of Dr. King, it looked like we were headed to a good place, of races working together, to get beyond the hate, beyond the “other-ness.” The nation was making the right choice; perhaps that is why he was assassinated – he was succeeding. Somehow, after Dr. King’s death, “race” became just one more politically expedient, and very destructive, card to play.

I still believe people of good will, of all races, respond with repugnance to episodes of genuine racism, and they are quick to denounce it. We know when something is really racist, as with Mel Gibson’s stomach-turning rant, and when a charge is made for expediency, or to distract, or to defame, or because the one crying “racist!” knows that you can’t prove a negative; no one can “prove” they are nor racist.

Which reminds me, has anyone on the left yet denounced this journolist nugget:

“take one of them — Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”

What about this White House Operative participating? Condemnation?

I suspect not. Perhaps they’re too busy crying “conspiracy,” because bloggers did what bloggers do. Like right now, I’m going to link you to Ed Morrissey exhibiting the efficacy of framing narratives.

Perhaps it is time for everyone–on the right and on the left–to revisit Richard Hofstadter The Paranoid Style in American Politics, and read it not with an aim to identify the “other” within the opposition, but the “other” within the self.


Peggy Noonan on the Teachable Moment we already risk losing
Jennifer Rubin on the Journolist
Neo is heartily sick of it all
More questions…
Breaking the Rules as they are pronounced

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