Sanders gets it right: Rachel Manteuffel, roughly 31, "works in the Washington Post's editorial department."
A few years back, she noticed that Dr. King was in effect being misquoted at D.C.'s new King Memorial. Last Saturday, she wrote a peculiar column in the Post, explaining why she's registered to vote as a Republican in D.C., where she lives.
We were struck by the waste of time and energy involved in Manteuffel's decision to register that way and in her attendant conduct. We thought it odd that the Washington Post would publish such a peculiar column, especially since it was written by someone from the paper's editorial staff.
Out in suburban Reston, Virginia, a different reader of the Post had a different reaction to Manteuffel's column.
His letter appears in today's editions. In our view, the letter invites us to take the Manteuffel challenge:
LETTER TO THE WASHINGTON POST (3/19/16): Regarding Rachel Manteuffel’s March 12 op-ed, “I have the voting power of 40 Texas Republicans”:Should Manteuffel have compared Candidate Rubio, for whom she strategeristically voted, to a cockroach?
The Post’s guidelines for online comments call for the exclusion of degrading, hateful and derogatory language. Did no one think that referring to a candidate for president as “a man who skitters cockroach-like” was perhaps over the line? Fully half of Manteuffel’s submission was “hateful” by The Post’s standards. As for the other half, she delighted in telling us how clever and bold she is, something that probably goes over better as cocktail chatter with friends than in the pages of a great newspaper.
If Manteuffel feels such distain for the Republican Party, she should leave. No one would miss her.
Go ahead—take the Manteuffel challenge! The column in question is here.
The Reston writer took offense at Manteuffel's language. For what it's worth, comparisons to rodents, insects and machines have long constituted a basic element of dehumanization and otherization, dating at least to the famous, evil killing regime of Europe's you-know-whos.
All in all, it probably isn't the greatest way to play.
(In October 1999, Candidates Gore and Bradly staged their first Democratic debate. At Slate, Jacob Weisberg posted a peculiar instant review in which he said that Candidate Gore "arrived on stage like some sort of feral animal who had been locked in a small cage and fed on nothing but focus groups for several days. Upon release, he began to scamper furiously in every direction at once." This description was hard to square with the videotape. It was also classic otherization; other peculiar claims followed. For that reason, Weisberg's piece was widely plagiarized by major "journalists" over the course of the next few days. This signaled that an ugly group process was already well underway.)
Should journalists compare candidates to roaches and rodents? That letter writer saw Manteuffel's column in a particular way.
He saw it as an example of the ugliness of our liberal tribe. He saw it as an example of the way Our Liberal Team breaks our own rules.
You can judge those claims for yourself. In the broader sense, we think it's worth considering the way Our Team may sometimes appear to The Others.
Our view? Despite their obvious subhuman status, The Others are sometimes right in what they see.
That letter writer may have a point about Manteuffel's language. Beyond that, his letter reminded us of something Candidate Sanders recently said.
On Thursday night, Sanders appeared on the Maddow Show. In response to a question, he showed that he's willing to draw a basic distinction, one which is blindingly obvious:
MADDOW (3/17/16): Senator, I know your time is limited. I just have one last question for you and it's because you raised the issue of Donald Trump.Sanders was willing to draw a distinction. He said it's appropriate to protest at a campaign event. He said it isn't OK to disrupt such an event.
Obviously, Mr. Trump has had an issue with violence at his events. He has blamed you. He recently blamed your supporters for showing up to his events and mounting protests that are disruptive. What advice—
Obviously, I don't blame you. But what advice would you have for your supporters, or for protesters who show up for any reason to Trump events, whether they're there to protest on your behalf or someone else's?
SANDERS: Well, first of all, Rachel, you may know, at least in my view, Donald Trump is a pathological liar. There's very little that he says that one can at face value believe to be correct.
We have never, not once, urged any supporter of ours to disrupt a meeting. I think that's kind of counterproductive.
Having a respectful demonstration, a protest, is I think absolutely right. You have a guy here in Trump who has insulted Muslims, insulted Mexicans, insulted women, insulted the African-American community, insulted veterans, you know, and I think it is totally right for people to protest.
Disrupting rallies is not my style. I would urge people not to do that.
Can we talk? That distinction is blindingly obvious. Here's something else that's blindingly obvious:
In 2007 or 2008, if some speech by Candidate Obama had been interrupted "at least a dozen times;" if this sort of thing had happened routinely; we the liberals would have complained very loudly.
We would have started dropping our bombs. Quite correctly, we would have said it isn't OK to interrupt such events.
Leading up to Candidate Trump's cancelled event in Chicago last week, our own tribe's admirable and thoroughly brilliant youngsters kept interrupting his events. Even after the Chicago event, one of our admirable freedom fighters rushed the stage at his next event, causing security agents to scramble and getting himself arrested in the process.
That said, how odd! During and after the Chicago event, our spokespeople crowded onto cable TV to discuss what had happened. And how strange! Starting with Maddow herself, we seemed to have a very hard time drawing that very basic distinction--the distinction between protest and disruption.
Starting with Maddow herself, tribal believers worked quite hard to fudge that basic distinction. Trust us on what comes next:
Out in Reston, that reader of the Washington Post could see that we were doing that. Quite correctly, he thought we were being dishonest.
Subsequently, he was told by conservative voices that we were being dishonest. And uh-oh! In this instance, what he was told by Rush and Sean was basically right.
Bernie Sanders had no trouble drawing a basic distinction. Last week, our tribal sachems didn't seem able to do it.
This leads us to a pair of conclusions:
Fairly often, we the liberals are less than obsessively honest. On many occasions, The Others, despite their resemblance to roaches, are very much able to see this.