Dr. Dawg

Butterfly wings

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New Year’s Eve follies: I wasn’t going to post about this mountain of silliness, but I can’t resist.

Sometime on the evening of December 31, I found that I’d finally had it with a prolific Tweeter and blogger calling herself Angry Black Lady. She is what many of us would term an Obamabot: the slightest criticism of St. O, and she’s on the attack—at her own place, at The Grio and at Balloon Juice, where she was a front-pager until very recently. But I get ahead of myself.

Recently she’s been going after the legendary commentator Glenn Greenwald for opposing an “indefinite detention without trial” Bill just signed into law by Obama. The current President, for many progressives, had already proven to be a steady source of disappointment: his sanctioning of torture, civilian-killing drones and extra-legal executions of American citizens has been like a series of electric shocks. This was just one more bit of evidence that the GOP won in 2008.

Greenwald is a former Constitutional litigator. Some of his commentary on the Bill may be found here and here. For Obama’s defenders, the fact that the President issued a signing statement trying to mitigate the effective suspension of habeas corpus in the Bill should reassure us all. But it shouldn’t, for the obvious reason that the Bill is now law, and will continue to be law under succeeding Presidents who may not see things the same way as the current one. And any hope that the current Supreme Court will find fault with any of the Bill’s dangerous provisions is a pipe dream.

In any case, tired of reading ABL’s furious, irrational and vicious attacks, I posted a Tweet saying in effect that even if Obama raped a nun on live TV she’d find some way to rationalize it. Greenwald responded that she’d likely see it as a noble act on the President’s part, teaching Americans about the evils of rape.

Evening hyperbole on New Year’s Eve, in fewer than 140 characters.

The reaction was simply amazing, at least to me. The Twitterverse erupted with complaint, mostly from Obamabots seizing their opportunity to berate Greenwald. I came in for a lot of pretty rough commentary myself, but Greenwald soon became the preferred target, and eventually my Tweet was attributed to him as well.

He was excoriated in online articles, defamed in Twitter and roasted in blogs, for allegedly “trivializing rape” and making a “rape joke,” and even, unbelievably, for being a racist. Somehow a hyperbolic but not-that-far-off comment about one screechy, unhinged Obamabot became an attack on all Obama supporters. There’s reams of this stuff all over the ‘net, so go look for yourselves.

Over at Balloon Juice, the place exploded. Angry Black Lady flounced after the editor took Greenwald’s side. His response to that makes a pretty good read. And the commentary on both threads is, frankly, educational. The faux-outrage pouring forth from the Obamabots would put even the Blogging Tories to shame. But wiser heads made comments like this one:

I realize I am just a privileged white male, but I don’t understand how this is about rape at all. Some Greenwald supporter made the unremarkable point “you love Obama so much you’d defend him even if he did (something completely indefensible).” The response was that rape is such a deadly serious matter that you’re not even allowed to use it as an example of something completely indefensible, and GG responded by saying actually, the first guy had a fair point. And that’s what all the fighting was about?

Yup, that’s what it was about on the surface, but there’s more, of course, to it. There was the palpable political agenda of the ‘bots, who thought they’d stumbled across a lovely stick to beat Greenwald with. Yet I don’t believe that every person rushing to condemn him (and me) was necessarily being disingenuous.

Somehow the very use of the notion of rape to stand for a heinous crime is considered misogynist. As I asked one critical Tweeter, would “torture a child on live TV” be a better choice? If so, why?

But rape is, admittedly, a trigger-word. Like the Holocaust, it’s sui generis. It’s OK, apparently, to suggest that blind leader-worship of the Angry Black Lady variety might lead to excusing murder-by-drone, torture, indefinite detention without due process and extra-judicial execution orders by St. O. In fact it already has in her case. But the crime I mentioned allowed the discussion to be entirely diverted.

Obviously I was thinking of an example sufficiently heinous to make my point, but some folks just couldn’t get it. The illustration itself rendered them incapable. How they could manage to read “joke” or “trivializing” into it, when it was the very seriousness of rape that was key to my point, may deserve a closer look.

In any case, the battle is still raging. Greenwald was kind enough to send me a note saying I had done nothing wrong, and so I would maintain, even in hindsight. Readers here know I have little time for personality cults and blind loyalist excuse-making, and I tend to be blunt about such things. I have equally little time for leaders like Obama who simply fail to lead, who just get caught up in the political winds and are supported by idolators no matter where they are blown.

But—wow—all this from one Tweet! Perhaps it’s time to declare war on butterflies before they cause any more hurricanes.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on January 4, 2012 4:33 PM.

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