The New York staff of National Review Online is closing early today to go on an Easter Egg hunt (Hint: the best place to hide them is in the library behind the bound copies of the Nation from the 1930s, particularly the annual issues with the Stalin-is-a-babe foldout calendars). What this means for me is that I have to get this column done in about an hour.
This would be fine except I have no idea what to write about today. Everybody else is writing about China. Still, one thing that is interesting about this China story is the American crew. In the wake of the election, the concept of “Red vs. Blue” has become a staple of pundit analysis in this country (there’s even a regular column called “Red Vs. Blue” over at Salon). Which is okay, except that, just because pundits say something, that doesn’t mean it’s not true.
Everyone knows what RvB refers to. The electoral map of the United States shows a stark political split in America that tracks geographically. The blue parts hug the coasts and the major urban centers. This is Gore country. The red parts form the vast bulk of the United States — “fly-over country” according to people who order off-menu. This is Bush country. See for yourself.
As a gross generalization, liberal elites and urban minorities don’t trust the red parts. Working-class Americans don’t trust the blue bits. The most infamous and repugnant exposition of this sentiment was Paul Begala’s hateful and asinine column for MSNBC in the wake of the election. When he looked at the map, he saw “…a more complex picture. You see the state where James Byrd was lynch-dragged behind a pickup truck until his body came apart — it’s red. You see the state where Matthew Shepard was crucified on a split-rail fence for the crime of being gay — it’s red. You see the state where right-wing extremists blew up a federal office building and murdered scores of federal employees — it’s red.”
In short, red America = hate, danger, and puppy-kicking. Blue America = love, security, puppy-loving.
Well, I wish the media would keep all of that in mind as we lionize this crew and especially Shane Osborn of Norfolk, Nebraska (definitely a red part). Indeed, if you go down the list of the crew you find a whole lot of people from the red parts. Even the people from the Gore states seem to be mostly from the Bush parts of those states, like Staten Island, N.Y., or Warminster, Penn., or La Mesa, Calif.
Of course, I have no idea who these folks voted for. But the point — and I admit it’s a small one — is that the parts of the country that the news hostesses at MSNBC with “If-I-only-had-a-brain” glasses titter at, also happen to be the parts of the country that are more inclined to generate the sorts of heroes that MSNBC fawns over. The parts of the country that the Jonathan Alter crowd distrusts so much are also the parts of the country that create men like John McCain, i.e., the kind of men who Alter likes to draw in Roman poses on his notebook during study hall.
It’s a Hate Crime When they Say So.
Meanwhile, let’s look at the biggest story coming out of a blue part of the country: the riots in Cincinnati, Ohio. Recall that the only electorally significant areas that Gore carried in “fly-over country” were the big cities in the industrial Midwest. This was largely because he won the black vote by a margin of 9-1. There’s nothing wrong with that: Democrats win black votes, they win urban votes, and they win union votes.
But, as we learned from Mr. Begala and others at the soccer-mom network, it’s fly-over country where hate crimes thrive. Indeed, the leading voices touting the superiority of the blue parts — Alter, the New York Times, Salon, Newsweek, Time, Margaret Carlson, MSNBC, Greta Van Susteren … ok, ok, it’s easier to list major media that aren’t leading voices for the blue parts, but you get the picture.
Anyway, that crowd insists that hate-crimes laws are necessary to keep blacks and gays — i.e., refugees in what I hereby call the “blue archipelago” — safe inside that vast expanse of America where bagels come from the frozen-food section and Dominos and the Olive Garden are the best Italian restaurants.
Now, I think hate-crimes laws are among the dumbest ideas to come down the pike since New Coke. But, if we’re going to have them, let’s be serious about them. Few arguments in favor of hate-crimes laws even skim off the atmosphere of reasonableness.
As I understand it, waging violence against people because of their race or because they like to have sex with members of their own team is a lot worse than waging violence against someone who stole your car or ate your Doritos. Fine, fine. But if that’s the case, how in the world are the riots in Cincinnati not the biggest example of wholesale hate crimes since, I dunno, the last riots?
For all I know, the Cincinnati police force is as racist and corrupt as its detractors say it is; we’ll find out soon enough. But that’s not the point.
When blacks riot, attacking white folks or Korean-Americans simply for no other reason than their skin color or race, there’s so much media-thumbsucking about the pent-up frustrations of black people living under racist circumstances, there’s probably not a viable thumbprint left among the entire New York Times editorial board. In such circumstances, it’s all context. “Understand what it’s like to live they way they do,” we are admonished. “Blacks are merely reacting to” whatever white journalists happen to feel guilty about this week.
But when whites attack blacks, well that’s cut and dry. It’s a hate crime. It’s racism.
It may well be racism. And I am sure that if a gang of white thugs dragged a black woman from a car in Cincinnati this week, the media would be freaking out about “lynch mobs” and the like. But when some black thugs did pull a white woman from a car this week, there was almost complete silence. If the situation were reversed, we would be looking at video of white people throwing rocks at black motorists for weeks and months on end. It would be on the cover of Time and Newsweek. Jesse Jackson would pry his lips off Jiang Zemin’s you-know-what so fast he’d leave the PLA’s contribution to Operation Push on the tarmac.
Now, I am all for understanding and providing context (which includes mentioning that black-on-white violent crimes vastly outpace white-on-black crimes). I am for stoutly denouncing racism and punishing criminals of all races, including cops, like nobody’s business. But, the result of all this is that “hate crimes” are simply defined as acts of violence which a liberal elite wants to punish more than other “more understandable” acts of violence. And that’s disgusting.
In response to numerous requests, I have decided to permanently replace my picture with the picture of Cosmo the Wonder Dog, which you can find at the top of the page. Alas, one of the reasons I have been so cranky of late is that Cosmo has been put on injured reserve and it is all the fair Jessica and I care about. Cosmo the Wonderdog is Cosmo the Underdog, though he is handling all of this a lot better than I am. He has a persistent limp that the vets cannot yet identify (would you believe I have an orthopedist for my dog?). We think we know what it is (a form of dysplasia in his front-right elbow), but until we can check against a new set of X-rays next week (or a CT scan that will cost ten times what Cosmo did) we won’t know for sure. If there any vets out there who don’t mind answering questions from columnists for free, drop me a line. In the meantime, think good thoughts — just like Cosmo always does.
Also, thanks to everybody for the contributions to NRO. We are very grateful for the support. If you missed the link earlier, here it is again.
Lastly, I hope everyone has been checking out “Ask The Editor” — it seems to be going great. Again, if you missed the link, here that be.
Have a great weekend and I’ll let you know who won the Easter Egg hunt on Monday.