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Pitts: The Dastardly Opposition, Now that It Is Not Us

Leonard Pitts’ latest column:

Last year, Barack Obama was elected president, the first American of African heritage ever to reach that office. If this was regarded as a new beginning by most Americans, it was regarded apocalyptically by others who promptly proceeded to lose both their minds and any pretense of enlightenment.

Beginning an essay by calling people crazy? He’s set himself a pretty high bar.

These are the people who immediately declared it their fervent hope that the new presidency fail…

Pitts refers to Rush Limbaugh, who declared “I want the President to fail” (not “the presidency”) and put his statement in context: “What is so strange about being honest and saying, I want Barack Obama to fail if his mission is to restructure and reform this country so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation? Why would I want that to succeed?”

I don’t agree with the content of Rush Limbaugh’s politics, but of course Limbaugh wants Obama to fail in his agenda, just as I wanted George W. Bush to fail in his agenda.

Pitts continues:

On tax day they were the ones who, having apparently just discovered the grim tidings April 15 brings us all each year, launched angry, unruly protests.

“Apparently” is such a handy word, because it means “it appears to me” and must therefore be true. Want to make a wild claim? Just put the word “apparently” out in front! What craaaaazy people these tax day protesters must be to just discover “the grim tidings April 15 brings us all each year.” I mean, they’re what, 35, 45 years old? Nuts…

…Unless you take the minimal effort to listen to the “nuts” at tax day protests and find out that they had particular reasons to be upset, having to do with the massive bailouts of the winter of 2008 and spring of 2009. But it’s just so much easier for conclude that until this year, the protesters apparently had never heard of taxes! Hardy har har!

And what’s this about “angry, unruly protests”? Were people killed at tax day protests? Was anyone beaten? Were plate-glass windows shattered? Are “angry, unruly protests” a problem now when neither property nor people are hurt? What happened to our cries that “Dissent is the Highest Form of Patriotism?” There were plenty of “angry, unruly protests” during the years of the Bush administration, and Leonard Pitts didn’t have a problem with those.

Pitts goes on:

It remains unclear, once you get beyond the realm of Internet myth, alarmist rhetoric and blatant lie, what the substance of the president’s supposed tyranny might be. “Socialized health care?” Given that our libraries, schools, police and fire departments are all “socialized,” that’s hard to swallow.

On the one hand, it might be hard for Pitts to agree that it would be a problem to convert health care to a government service like a fire department or police department. On the other hand, if he’s paid any attention to national politics it shouldn’t be hard for Pitts to recognize that many other people sincerely believe that would be a problem. But Pitts puts on a pose of bewilderment, pretending it is unclear that people have these beliefs.

Then Pitts further belittles people who protest the actions of their government:

…the woman who cried to a reporter, “I want my country back!” Probably the country she meant still had Beaver Cleaver on TV and Doris Day on Your Hit Parade.

Did this woman say she wanted to go back to the 1950s? Did this woman say anything about Beaver Cleaver or Doris Day? The “probably” is Pitts’ synonym for “apparently,” giving him license to invent patronizingly fictional motivations. When Howard Dean uttered the phrase “I want my country back!” in the 2004 presidential race, did he mean that he wanted to pal around with Beaver Cleaver and Doris Day? When Bruce Springsteen uttered the phrase “I want my country back!” in the 2008 presidential race, did he mean that he wanted to go back to the 1950s?

And finally Pitts channels Ari Fleischer:

When and if the implied violence comes, perhaps its author will explain. Meanwhile, expect those who stoked his rage — i.e., the makers of Internet myths, alarmist rhetoric and blatant lies — to disdain any and all moral responsibility for the outcome.

Get that? All this “angry and unruly protest” is leading naturally toward “violence.” This violence has not actually happened, but that doesn’t stop Leonard Pitts from laying the responsibility for any future violence that might occur at the feet of “angry, unruly” protesters, rabblerousers, dissenters, people who disagree with his point of view and who nevertheless speak up. If they would all simply sit down and shut up, that would make Leonard Pitts so much happier. But what Leonard Pitts doesn’t understand, what Ari Fleischer didn’t understand in his time, is that telling a person to sit down and shut up only makes her more determined to speak her mind.

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