Sunday, March 21, 2010

Responses to protests: now and then

In Steve Benen's item in the Washington monthly's blog about how the Tea Party protests on capitol hill got uglier than usual yesterday, with Tea Partiers calling black congressmen "nigger" and Barney Frank a "faggot", he says something, unintentionally, that's actually quite educational: "But by last night, a related question arose: why aren't Republicans making any efforts at all to denounce the actions of their extremist allies? Can there be any doubt that if liberal protestors, speaking out against the war in Iraq a few years ago, had engaged in these kinds of tactics, the demands for Democratic condemnations would be overwhelming?" (emphasis added)

But of course, there's an actual response to this rhetorical question.  Voters *did* protest the Iraq war, altough they never engaged in this ugly kind of name calling in any way shape or form, nonetheless, Republicans *did* demand democrats apologize for the allegedly treasonous behavior of the protestors.

But even more important, many prominent Democrats likewise questioned the patriotism of the Iraq war protestors and called on the Democratic party to distance themselves from them.

But to reiterate again, the Iraq war protests were nothing like this, they were bog standard protests. No racism, no homophobia, and certintly non of this feeling of being a mob on the edge of violence.  But democrats were called upon by republicans, everywhere, to condemn those protesters. Other democrats did the same.

Meanwhile, in the present, the Tea Party protesters who *did* all these genuinely objectionable things are not condemned by the Republican leadership, or even by their moderates.  The response of both parties to eahc set of protests, despite the Iraq war protests being quite normal and the Tea Party protests descending into something you' expect to see in the South during the 1960's, are actually quite instructive.

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