On his newly-minted conservatism-qua-anthropology blog, Dave Weigel has a post on the continuing debate about whether there really were racial slurs hurled at black congressmen as they crossed the tea-party picketers on the eve of the Obamacare vote.
It’s a story with surprisingly long legs.
When reports of the incidents first surfaced from civil-rights hero Rep. John Lewis (D., Ga.), the MSM were all over it, ready to brand the whole of the tea party as racists. Even your humble blogger bought into it. In fact, as soon as I heard the news, I tweeted that “This John Lewis business is a national shame, plain and simple.” And if some lone bigot indeed muddied the message of the protests by calling a man of such demonstrable moral courage as Lewis a n—er, then I don’t think I oversold it.
But of course there is no documentary evidence that any such thing happened, despite Andrew Breitbart’s $100,000 reward for anyone who could produce it. And there’s the rub: either you believe that, in an age where reality is coextensive with what’s on YouTube, not a single cell phone camera managed to catch one of the 15 n-bombs Rep. Andre Carson said he heard, or you believe that Carson — and Lewis — are lying in an effort to smear a group of political dissenters.
Over on the homepage, I talked to a bunch of reporters who covered the incident, to see if I could get any closer to the truth.