September 4, 2011

Erika Smith at Indy Star: ‘I Really Don’t Care’ About Truth of Andre Carson’s Comment

On Wednesday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), quoting Indiana Congressman Andre Carson’s inexcusable, hateful comment at a Congressional Black Caucus event on August 22 (key sentence: “Some of them in Congress right now of this Tea Party would love to see you and me … hanging on a tree”), I observed that “Carson was obviously accusing some of his congressional colleagues, whom he gutlessly would not name, of actually wanting (not metaphorically wishing) to see himself and his black colleagues lynched.” I should also note that in an earlier segment of the quote originally cited by Matthew Balan at NewsBusters, Carson said, of Tea Party sympathizers wishes, “And this is beyond symbolic change.” This is why I also wrote that “The meaning of the words Carson used is not arguable.”

With a disregard for the truth and gutlessness similar to Carson’s, Indianapolis Star columnist Erika D. Smith wrote today that the congressman “had the guts to stand up and say what we’ve all seen over the last three years,” while also asserting that “I really don’t care” if any congressmen actually want to lynch anyone. Here’s more; brace yourself (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

Smith: Carson had the guts to say what some feel

In recent days, I’ve tried to explain to many of my white friends and colleagues exactly why I support what Rep. Andre Carson said. And why I hope that he never takes it back.

My reasons, I’ve discovered through some friendly debates, aren’t entirely logical. They’re emotional. [1]

When I opened my Web browser Wednesday morning and read the headline “Rep. Carson: Tea party wants blacks ‘hanging on a tree’ ” on, my first thought was: “Yup! That’s about right.” My second thought was: “It’s about time somebody said it.”

That was before I even opened the article.

I admit that the details of what he said didn’t concern me. Are there members of Congress who literally want to lynch black people? I don’t know. And to be honest, I really don’t care. [2]

Because that’s not the point.

The point is that the essence of what Carson said is true. There is racism in Washington and a lot of it is coming from an extreme faction of the tea party — a faction that mainstream Republicans have chosen to indulge and no one, until now, has bothered to check. The GOP would rather pretend that faction doesn’t exist and silence anyone who dares to point out the obvious by calling him a “racist.” Talk about doublespeak. [3]

… (Many who disagree with me) think the personal attacks on Obama are just the lumps that come with being president of the United States. That because people called President George W. Bush “Hitler” and “stupid,” it’s the same as Obama being called an ape. [4]

When Obama is criticized, and veiled — or not so veiled — threats of racism are lobbed by an extremist faction of the tea party, [5] we see it through the lens of history, a history that didn’t begin anew just because Obama was elected.

Notes follow.

[1] — The guess here is that Ms. Smith’s “friendly debaters” have logically suggested that it’s not a good idea for a sitting Congressman to say that some of his colleagues would like to see him lynched — as Carson irrefutably did, despite an unbylined Associated Press reporter’s contention that he only “used a lynching metaphor.” Ms. Smith illogically insists that the actual English language meaning of what Carson said doesn’t matter, and credits herself for “emotional” argument. No ma’am; the word is “dishonest.”

[2] — Smith’s reaction is a textbook example of “prejudice,” that is, “an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.” She doesn’t care what Carson actually said, and she doesn’t care whether there are congresspersons who “literally want to lynch black people.” She’s got her mind made up: She feels that least some Tea Party-sympathetic congresspersons (perhaps even African-American Allen West) are racists while failing to offer any evidence, and what she feels is all that matters.

[3] — Y’know Erika, and Congressman Carson, and all who are giving Mr. Carson media cover, if you’re so convinced that there is a “faction” of racist Tea Party-sympathetic congresspersons in Washington right now — racist to the point of being comfortable with seeing Congressional colleagues killed solely because of their race — you should be able to name at least one of them. Either you can’t, because there aren’t any, or you won’t, because you’re gutless cowards who apparently would rather let the alleged racism continue than identify it with a person or persons so it can be addressed. Instead, you’ve chosen to smear every Tea Party-sympathetic congressperson (definitely including Allen West) with the charge that they’re death-wishing racists themselves or are comfortable being philosophical brothers and sisters with those who are.

[4] — Erika seems to have totally forgotten the frequent left-wing “Chimpy McHitler” references during the Bush 43 years. Apparently I’m supposed to just sit here and accept as a fact that likening Bush to a chimp isn’t racist or degrading. I’m not going to do that. It is likewise inexcusable for those who disagree with or don’t like Obama to employ simian references to him (however, we should and will reserve the right to call his actions and statements “stupid” if we believe they are; if Ms. Smith doesn’t like it, she can pound sand).

A Google News search on the president’s last name and the simian word Smith used returned eight items (it should return nine after this post appears, thanks to what Ms. Smith wrote):

  • Two of the results link to Smith’s column.
  • A third is a Chronicle of Higher Education item by Clarence Lang, an African-American, who is an Associate Professor in both African-American Studies and History at the University of Ilinois. Lang writes of the April case of “an Orange County Republican official who distributed an e-mail to party members depicting Obama’s head on the body of an (simian reference).” The woman involved has been censured; it appears that the first person to call for her resignation was a Republican.
  • Three of them are about how Abe Lincoln was in his day called “the Illinois (simian reference)”; none refer to Obama as one.
  • The remaining two items are of no political relevance.

Thus, it would appear that in the last 30 days, the only people in the media who have written about the president being compared to a three-letter word for a simian animal have been … two African-Americans (until I excerpted Ms. Smith). Surely if Tea Party sympathizers were engaging in such activity routinely there would have been something written up about it in the past thirty days. There hasn’t been, because it rarely if ever happens.

[5] — “Threats of racism”? Erika, did you read your copy? Reading the sentence as written, you’d think that Tea Partiers are saying, “Mr. Obama, if you don’t do what we want, THEN we’re going to start being racist.” So I guess that means it hasn’t happened yet. Zheesh.

Assuming that Ms. Smith really meant to write “racist threats,” who associated with any faction of the Tea Party has made them — veiled or not? What have they said? Readers, based on how she treated Congressman Carson’s statement and her utter disregard for objective truth, can safely assume that until she presents specifics, Ms. Smith is simply being “emotional” and has nothing to offer except her vivid, dishonest imagination.

Columnists have a duty to do everything they can to tell the truth in what they write. Erika Smith has said that when it comes to certain matters, she simply doesn’t care about the truth. The Indy Star has a serious problem on its hands which really needs to be addressed.

Cross-posted at


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