Ryan Lizza (reg. req.) seems to have done a quite effective take-down on George Allen. Kevin Drum has some details and additional analysis, and Ed Kilgore — a genuine Southerner — has some thoughts about Allen as a faux redneck raised in a chateau in exclusive Palos Verdes. Allen’s sister’s memoir sounds like a real candidacy-killer.
But the scariest thing I saw about Allen today wasn’t any of the attacks on him, but this defense by David Holman of The American Spectator. It seems that Allen, in addition to his proclivity for displaying the Confederate flag and engaging in racist pranks (such as spray-painting fake anti-white graffiti on the buildings at his all-white school just before a football game with a mostly-black rival school), liked to display a noose in his law office early in his career. (That’s a little too late to dismiss as “Boys will be boys;” yes, George W. Bush was allowed to be “young and irresponsible” until his 40th birthday, but remember, “Fool me twice … you can’t get fooled again.”)
But Holman assures us that the noose, as displayed, wasn’t a racist symbol at all: “The noose was just as much a Western object as a Southern one, and in the West it played a civilizing influence.”
“A civilizing influence”? On what planet? Western vigilantism lacked the connection with a system of racial oppression that made Southern lynching an especially horrible phenomenon, but it was anything but benign. Even if — stretching things a bit — we imagine that the noose was intended to refer to legal Western hangings rather than the more common informal variety, what kind of twisted character uses a replica of an execution device as office decoration?
And yet Holman, writing for a major conservative outlet, seems to regard this as perfectly normal. It’s the right-wing analogue of the Franz Fanon/Che Guevara cult of revolutionary violence. Ugh!
Allen’s leitmotif seems to be, not racism, but sadism. And if Holman is at all representative, Allen’s supporters are cool with that.
We’ve been ruled since 2001 by people who get a kick out of hurting other people. Are we having fun yet?
Update A reader provides a reminder of what a “civilizing influence” looks like in practice.
The photo might also provide some perspective on the argument between Digby and Outside the Beltway about the moral status of those (including the big-money operators behind Pajamas Media) who promote certain kinds of humor. I’m with No More Mister Nice Blog: “Vote Republicans off the Island” isn’t even in the same league.