Kids, if the headline baffles you, let me explain. "Waving the bloody shirt" is a phrase from post-Civil War politics. No, I'm not quite old enough to have heard the phrase used at that time, but I am
old enough to recall when schools had mandatory American History classes which taught this stuff.
At any rate, I recently stumbled across this older post
about the "whitey tape" rumor. Anyone remember that one? The story, now largely forgotten, was all the rage in blogworld for a while.
On the occasion of that post, I had spent about twelve hours trying to track down someone, anyone, who had attended a conference at which Michelle Obama allegedly made offensive remarks. The quest came up goose eggs. In all likelihood, she never made such remarks -- there or anywhere else.
As you may recall, the 2008 "whitey tape" rumor was publicized by Larry Johnson, who eventually proved himself to be something of a -- hmm. I'm looking for a word stronger than "jerk" but not quite as strong as "asshole." Any suggestions?
A later report held that the "whitey" story originated with David Brock of Media Matters
. Brock never responded to inquiries as to any role he might (or might not) have played in the germination of this story.
The post you are reading right now isn't about the "whitey" rumor per se
. What I find appalling, even at this late date, are the comments which my story attracted. Re-reading those messages brought back some unhappy memories.
What's up, you fucking bigot?
its okay if you can't abide progressives joey we can't abide you either
You have become a pathetic fucking tumor! Grab your Dixie Cup,and book a flight to Jonestown.
Those were just a few examples that I allowed through; there were many more. In a back-and-forth with another reader, I made brief reference to the large amount of unpublished material...
I mean, the sheer VOLUME of shit they send me is boggling. Only about a quarter of the commentary sent to this blog actually shows up on the page... But the stuff I delete is nuttier than a jar of Peter Pan. And it just keeps coming and coming!
I also wrote:
These comments (and I get many such) do much to explain why Hillary became the more popular candidate in the last third-or-so of the primary season -- why she won the popular vote, and why she stands a much better chance in the electoral college. The Obots simply don't know how sick they sound -- how repulsive they are to normal people.
I mean, earlier today I deleted a comment that was SO freaking bizarre as to be beyond imagination. This clown actually talked as though Obi is the Messiah. Literally: The Messiah. And he was praying for me to open my eyes and accept the new Christ.
Cut to: 2011.
Right now, nobody considers Obama the Messiah. Nearly everyone on the left is thoroughly pissed off at Obama -- and for good reason. A few left-ish writers have even had the courage to admit that guys like me were right all along, although most progs are haughty bastards who would rather poke out their own eyes with cuticle scissors than apologize about anything
Perhaps, though, enough time has passed to allow us to address once more the oft-asked question:
What the hell happened
in blog-land in 2008? Why did so many progressives go so freaking nuts
As you ponder that poser, consider this piece on Jeffrey Feldman
, who wrote (and for all I know, may still be writing) on the topic of the intemperate, eliminationist language employed by right-wingers. Feldman had a berth at Daily Kos, and his book received a blurb from Arianna Huffington. Throughout 2008, both of those sites had published an incessant barrage of invective from Obots. There were numerous examples of actual death threats against Hillary Clinton and those who supported her. (I've published the relevant cites in previous posts.) That stuff was barbaric. Downright unforgivable. The toxicity level of the chatter on Kos matched or exceeded that of any given right-wing site.
I wrote to Feldman, asking him to address the hypocrisy of his position. How could he write for Kos and castigate the right's uncivil behavior, at a time when the Kossacks had become more vile than the conservatives?
Any normal person, when confronting incontrovertible evidence, would have conceded a certain amount of territory. As in: "You have a point." That's all I wanted from Feldman: A simple, not-terribly-humiliating admission of the obvious. It's not as though I wanted the guy to choke to death on crow. He simply needed to recognize that a problem existed.
But no. Here's a summary of his response:
His reply astonished me. After giving me the standard cheerful thanks, he told me that any problems I had with Daily Kos or the Huffington Post should be discussed with Markos Moulitsas and Arianna Huffington.
In other words, he feels that he is not responsible for his chosen associations.
What the hell happened in 2008? Did the Earth pass through a cloud of gas which somehow affected all human reason? Was the dialogue in blogworld hijacked by opinion-manipulating software (the existence of which was recently confirmed)?
What hit us? How did the phenomenon of online Obamania come to pass?