Wednesday, September 15, 2004

A blind spot for the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy

It's been a weird few days on the campus of American University in Washington DC. And weird in the way that normally should have resulted in a frenzy of commentary from the usual suspects by now, about those crazy politically correct college kids being so intolerant of others. First, Michelle Malkin, internment advocate, saw her campus talk being cancelled, and a campus prayer room was vandalised.

So, time for the VRC to do a cut and paste from their previous rant about the last vestiges of Stalinism being found in the ivory tower, right? Errr... No. Because the Malkin talk got canned on orders from Republicans, and the vandalised room was used by Muslims. So for instance, Andrew Sullivan finds time on Tuesday amidst a self-reported attention-deficit haze to link to a report of anti-Semitism in Sweden, but misses an example of religious intolerance in his own sometime hometown [and, by the way, Sullivan never does follow-up linking when apparent incidents of anti-Semitism in France to which he gleefully links turn out to have been rather more complicated than first appearances; but that's for another day].

And as for Malkin, the college Republicans wanted to hear her, but were leaned on by the national party, who didn't want her message disrupting Karl Rove's pitch to key ethnic voting groups two months before the election. So neither incident really makes for a good week of yelling on Fox News.

We have a broader point. We've noticed from our interactions with seemingly sensible people that there's a pernicious bit of osmosis going on, the line of thought that "of course Dubya is terrible but Kerry is such a bad candidate" (Sullivan again, and Mickey Kaus being two arch-exponents). Just remember -- Kerry is working against a media that is only interested in amplifying events that fit a script. Things like vandalised prayer rooms, right-wing squelching of free speech, dead Iraqi civilians -- it never happened. The candidate is fine. It's the media veil he's trying to pierce that's the problem.

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