To say that there are double standards in life is just another way of saying that life isn’t fair. This is not exactly late breaking news here on the Planet Earth. Nevertheless, we have seen the recent employment of double standards regarding statements that come from Progressive America as opposed to Neanderthal Right Wing America that is a cause for real concern. After all, since when is what is good for the goose no longer good for the gander?
Case in point – MSNBC commentator Martin Bashir articulated righteous and appropriate outrage to the obscene statements of Sarah Palin arguing that the national debt would bring about a condition “worse than slavery”. Mr. Bashir actually took the time to research some of the more popular tortures commonly used by white American owners of black American slaves and suggested that Ms. Palin be subjected to such treatment as punishment for her obscene and pornographic use of history.
The result – Ms. Palin and her supporters on the right wing of the right wing screamed like scalded cats. Somehow the tattered shreds of her honor were presumably besmirched because Mr. Bashir turned her obscene analogy around and she didn’t like how it felt. That should have been the end of that bit of rhetorical parry and thrust.
But it was not. Mr. Bashir was forced to take a leave of absence. Subsequently he submitted his resignation and anyone who believes that he resigned voluntarily believes in the Easter Bunny. And now it is alright for denizens of the right wing to appropriate the horror of American racial slavery to their own rhetorical purposes, and they can do so with impunity.
There is clearly a slippery slope at work and the right wing of the right wing is feeling empowered. How else to explain Rick Santorum ranting that his fight against Obamacare is similar to Nelson Mandela’s fight against apartheid? If he had used the analogy of the French resisting the Nazis or Polish Jews battling in the Warsaw Ghetto he would have been justifiably run out of town. But somehow Mr. Santorum can splatter his rhetorical mud on the memory of Nelson Mandela without consequence.
And just to show how absurd the goose and gander thing is getting, last week Aisha Harris, a writer for Slate, opined that Santa Claus is non-racial and should be portrayed that way. Immediately, Megyn Kelly, a Fox News commentator with an echo chamber where her brain should be, berated Ms. Harris for even suggesting that Santa Claus was anything but white. And for good measure, she reminded Ms. Harris and anyone else who isn’t white that Jesus is also white.
Ms. Kelly was neither fired nor suspended. Mr. Santorum is still raking in speaking fees at a rate that would make Midas blush. And nowhere in the mainstream media has there been any discussion regarding limits on what should be out of bounds when referencing the black experience and historic and institutional racist oppression. Respect is not just the seven letter title of a song; it pertains to the recognition of the humanity of others.
And so we prepare ourselves for another round of Martin Luther King Day White Sales at Macy’s (in light of recent Shop and Frisk incidents the irony is well, ironic). And we should also remember the cringe worthy statements of incoming New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton who promised to operate the odious and demeaning policy of Stop and Frisk “in the spirit of Nelson Mandela”.
Trivializing insult and injury is just one more step in trivializing the people who are insulted and injured. To punish, attack or ignore those who protest the trivialization is in many ways even worse than the insult and the injury.