"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Friday, May 20, 2011

Media Bias or Mass Stupidity?

This was a draft post from last week, I think.   Not sure if I ever pressed the "publish" button.   So here it is:

Recently President Obama said in a speech in El Paso on immigration something on the order of "Texas has always been Republican."   Many have pointed out that Obama here demonstrated a spectacular lack of historical accuracy, since Texas was heavily Democratic through most of its history up until very, very recently.  (The Texas House, for instance, didn't go majority Republican until 2005; George W. Bush as a Republican Governor of Texas had to deal with a Democratic legislature.)

This is not an atypical rhetorical move, however.   Liberals are constantly obfuscating the fact that the Democratic Party, and not the Republican Party, was the party of slavery and segregation and Jim Crow laws.  Remember the furor when Trent Lott lauded Strom Thurmond (a Democrat) at his funeral for having run for President in 1948 (as an avowed segregationist)?   Big deal, right?   Remember any similar furor about Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia having been a leader of the Ku Klux Klan?   I didn't think so. 

Here is another example, from a recent article by Richard Cohen of the Washington Post on the topic of "American exceptionalism" (note: he's against it):

The huge role of religion in American politics is nothing new but always a matter for concern nonetheless. In the years preceding the Civil War, both sides of the slavery issue claimed the endorsement of God. The 1856 Republican convention concluded with a song that ended like this: “We’ve truth on our side/ We’ve God for our guide.” Within five years, Americans were slaughtering one another on the battlefield.
Therein lies the danger of American exceptionalism. It discourages compromise, for what God has made exceptional, man must not alter.
See what he did there?  He talks about slavery, then he talks about the Republican convention, and then he talks about the Civil War, then he talks about a failure to compromise.   How many readers educated in American schools will know that the Republican Party was the party of abolition and Abraham Lincoln, while the Democratic Party was the party of slavery and secession; that the Democratic Party and the South caused the Civil War; and that it was the Democratic Party and the South that wouldn't compromise to give up slavery in the territories?

Cohen surely knows better, so his mistake is calculated bias.   But many of his readers simply equate -- because the media has drilled this equation into their heads -- Republicans with racism.   They just don't know any better.

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