Our tribe likes him for it: Charles Blow is a terrible columnist.
Our tribe likes him for it! The latest evidence of this liberal dysfunction appeared in Saturday’s New York Times.
Blow began by describing the taunting of Karen Klein, a school bus monitor who was tormented by four seventh-grade boys on the way home from school last Monday.
The taunting of Klein was captured on tape, then posted on Facebook. Quickly, the tape went viral. (To watch the full tape, click here.)
Blow’s mind has a viral quality too. By Saturday morning, he had spotted a “metaphor” in the conduct of those seventh-graders:
BLOW (6/23/12): But what, if anything, does this say about society at large? Many things one could argue, but, for me, it is a remarkably apt metaphor for this moment in the American discourse in which hostility has been drawn out into the sunlight.Children have always behaved in such ways. We hope this turns out to be a weird, anomalous event in the lives of the boys on Klein’s bus. But Blow says this kind of behavior infests our adult society too.
Those boys are us, or at least too many of us: America at its ugliest. It is that part of society that sees the weak and vulnerable as worthy of derision and animus.
This kind of behavior is not isolated to children and school buses and suburban communities. It stretches to the upper reaches of society—our politics and our pulpits and our public squares.
And that part is true! We’ve seen it!
We’ve seen a multimillionaire TV star shower dick jokes on the heads of average people for more than a week—while pretending that she was embarrassed by what and her guests were doing, of course.
We’ve seen a Hollywood actress go on TV and say that anyone who doesn’t vote her way is a “redneck racist” whose limbic brain doesn’t work right. (She was cheered on by a misogynist cable news blowhard.)
We’ve even seen a New York Times columnist go on TV and invent bogus facts about a possible murder trial. When it became clear that he had misled the public, he absent-mindedly failed to correct his appalling, absurd misstatements!
But how weird! On Saturday, that same New York Times columnist was passing judgment on the apologies of four 12-year-old boys. And he was spotting a metaphor in their unfortunate conduct.
How odd! Here at THE HOWLER, we’ve seen lots of adults behave in ridiculous ways in the past several years. We’ve seen ridiculous conduct from people on Fox—and from people in Hollywood, and from people who make their money at our major “mainstream” news organizations.
But because Charles Blow is a terrible columnist, he only sees one type of error. When he unpacked his metaphor, these were the (three) rivers he’d seen:
BLOW: This kind of behavior is not isolated to children and school buses and suburban communities. It stretches to the upper reaches of society—our politics and our pulpits and our public squares.Truly, Charles Blow is absurd.
Whether it is a Republican debate audience booing a gay soldier or Rush Limbaugh’s vicious attack on a female Georgetown law student or Newt Gingrich’s salvos at the poor, bullying has become boilerplate. Hiss and taunt. Tease and intimidate. Target your enemies and torture them mercilessly. Maintain primacy through predation.
Women are under attack. Hispanics are under attack. Minority voting rights are under attack. The poor are under attack. Unsurprisingly, those doing the attacking in every case are from the right.
Might we make a few quick points? In the first instance comprising Blow’s metaphor, that gay soldier wasn’t booed by “a Republican audience.” As you can clearly hear on the tape, he was booed by two or three people.
Regarding Blow’s other examples, Limbaugh’s conduct has of course been atrocious for years. In a long array of instances, so has Gingrich’s. But with regard to Gingrich, just which “salvos at the poor” does Blow have in mind? We’ll have to admit that we aren’t really sure. And yet, these are the only examples the columnist can conjure.
Later, as his metaphor unspools, he actually says that the adults of whom he was reminded last week “in every case are from the right.” That’s the work of a hopeless intelligence.
For ourselves, we weren’t reminded of any adults when we watched the tape of those boys on that bus. We may have thought of Lord of the Flies—and of Eleanor Estes’ brilliant 1944 children’s book, The Hundred Dresses. (Still in print—and still morally brilliant.)
At one point, we wondered how the one boy got an image in his head of slipping a knife through Klein's body “like through butter.” We don’t know where he got that violent image, of course. We don’t even know if he got that image from any external source.
But various Hollywood factions and stars peddle violence and misogyny as highly marketable products. They get rich and famous in the process—and these people are not all Republicans.
Some of these people rush rush rush to donate to Big Major Dems.
Because his mind is somewhat constricted, Blow could think of Republicans, no one else, as his metaphor worked itself out. If we’d been forced to think of adult bullies, we would have thought of Blow himself, along with a wide range of others.
But check the comments to Blow's column! Some readers complained about his metaphor. But many members of our liberal tribe simply loved his piece. Truly, Charles Blow is a terrible columnist.
Our tribe likes him for it.
For a point of inspiration: See our next post
Only in America: Piers Morgan was fully appalled by the 12-year-olds’ conduct. “I think every one of those kids who abused bus monitor Karen Klein should be expelled,” he bravely tweeted. “Let them pay the ultimate price for their behaviour.”
Let them pay the ultimate price? Why not put them to death? Has stoning gone out of fashion?
“Real Americans don't behave like that,” the high-minded import declaimed on his Thursday night program. Well guess what? At age 12, sometimes they do!
Gaze on the wisdom and judgment of the multimillionaire “press corps!” Setting aside Karen Klein for the moment:
What did Americans ever do to justify treatment like this?