THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2021
"Republicans pounce on wedge issue:" In our own failing tribe's Blue Towns, we have our mandated Storyline.
We have our mandated Storyline—and we're sticking to it! If some people get otherized in the process, that's always been part of the rules.
In recent years, mandated Storyline has involved the racism of The Others. In this morning's Washington Post, our former and future pal, Karen Tumulty, might imaginably be perceived to be teaching Storyline well.
In her new opinion column, Tumulty was discussing the Virginia gubernatorial campaign. She focused on the strikingly clumsy statement about parental involvement made by the Democratic candidate.
Eventually, she offered this:
TUMULTY (11/4/21): Public school curriculum, not normally an issue in gubernatorial politics, was gaining currency for some reasons that are legitimate and others that are less so. Parents have been understandably frustrated and worried about what the shutdowns that accompanied the coronavirus pandemic were doing to their children’s education. But these concerns have been rolled into battles in the culture war that are taking place and disrupting school board meetings across the country.
McAuliffe’s gaffe ignited a spectacular display of the demagoguery—and racist signaling—that has accompanied the right’s campaign against the phantom menace of critical race theory, an academic construct that is not even part of Virginia’s K-12 curriculum and is separate from laudable, overdue efforts to assure that students receive an honest and full picture of how race has factored in the country’s history.
According to Tumulty, Candidate McAuliffe's clumsy remark had "ignited a spectacular display of...racist signaling" on somebody's part.
That would almost sound like a serious charge, if it weren't so familiar a part of Standard Blue Storyline.
McAuliffe made his clumsy remark at the second candidate debate. That said, who engaged in the "spectacular display of racist signaling" which followed his clumsy remark?
Who engaged in that "spectacular display"—and in what did that spectacular display of "racist signaling" actually consist? Tumulty never makes any attempt to say. Such claims are so thoroughly standard now that they practically type themselves, with no questions asked.
Presumably, it would have been Candidate Youngkin who engaged in this spectacular racist signaling. We almost feel that we can remember the days when editors would have required a spectacularly aggressive claim of that type to be fleshed out—to be supported—by spectacularly convincing examples.
No editor made Tumulty do that. She never attempted to give examples of the "spectacular display of racist signaling" which supposedly followed McAuliffe's remark.
Instead, Storyline prevailed again, with our old pal offering this:
TUMULTY (continuing directly): It also mattered that Youngkin, a wealthy former private equity executive, had the resources to amplify McAuliffe’s comments in his ads, forcing the former governor to respond with one of his own, in which McAuliffe claimed his comments had been taken “out of context,” and that he has “always valued the concerns of parents.” To which the Republican quickly hit back with a response spot in which he replayed other instances where McAuliffe had said something arguably similar.
So with just two days to go before Election Day, and early voting already underway, McAuliffe found himself off his own message and dancing to Youngkin’s choreography. “He’s ending his campaign on a racist dog whistle,” McAuliffe complained of his opponent.
According to Tumulty, McAuliffe had made similar statements in the past. In the face of this awkward fact, the next step here was obvious:
Of course! When Youngkin presented the evidence of this, McAuliffe accused him of racist conduct!
Over here, within our flailing Blue Tribe, we simply love accusing The Others of racism! By now, it's our tribe's sole Storyline. It's the one bomb we deploy.
As the campaign neared its end, McAuliffe accused his opponent of "a racist dog whistle." This morning, Tumulty has bumped the general accusation all the way up to "a spectacular display of racist signaling," with no specific miscreant named and no examples provided.
By now, this is the only game we play, and the only play we know. This is the way we argue our case. These are the "otherization rules" of our embarrassing Blue Tribe.
According to Tumulty, someone engaged in "a spectacular display of racist signaling!" It's amazing to us that an editor at a major newspaper would let such a spectacular accusation go, even in an opinion column.
That said, consider the front-page report in today's New York Times, written by Lerer and Peters.
Remember, we're citing a front-page news report in the Times' print editions. We were struck by the array of loaded terms which appear in its dual headlines, as it appears online:
Republicans Pounce on Schools as a Wedge Issue to Unite the Party
Rallying around what it calls “parental rights,” the party is pushing to build on its victories this week by stoking white resentment and tapping into broader anger at the education system.
According to those headlines, Republicans are planning to "pounce on" the public schools "as a wedge issue." They're going to rally around what they call "parental rights."
Mainly, though, it seems that the GOP is planning to "stoke white resentment." So the headlines said.
So the headlines said! In fairness, though, the headlines follow the framework of the news report quite closely. Eventually, Lerer and Peters offer this account of the Virginia campaign:
LERER AND PETERS (11/4/21): The message worked on two frequencies. Pushing a mantra of greater parental control, Glenn Youngkin, the Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, stoked the resentment and fear of some white voters, who were alarmed by efforts to teach a more critical history of racism in America. He attacked critical race theory, a graduate school framework that has become a loose shorthand for a contentious debate on how to address race. And he released an ad that was a throwback to the days of banning books, highlighting objections by a white mother and her high-school-age son to “Beloved,” the canonical novel about slavery by the Black Nobel laureate Toni Morrison.
But at the same time, Mr. Youngkin and other Republicans tapped into broader dissatisfaction among moderate voters about teachers’ unions, unresponsive school boards, quarantine policies and the instruction parents saw firsthand during months of remote learning. In his stump speeches, Mr. Youngkin promised to never again close Virginia schools.
While Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee, and his party allies eagerly condemned the ugliest attacks by their opponents, they seemed unprepared to counter the wider outpouring of anger over schools.
In this passage, we return to mandated Storyline concerning that Youngkin ad.
The ad "was a throwback to the days of banning books," the Times reporters fuzzily said. Through use of their fuzzy formulation, they slithered past the actual nature of the debate out of which the campaign ad had grown.
(For details, see below.)
The reporters made it sound like the objections by that "white mother" had involved the teaching of slavery. This doesn't seem to be the actual history of this matter, but it's prime Storyline.
Also, alas poor McAuliffe! He and his allies condemned "the ugliest attacks by their opponents," readers were told. But as with Tumulty, so too here:
Lerer and Peters offered exactly zero examples of those "ugly attacks"—the attacks McAuliffe condemned. By now, there is exactly zero need to support such aggressive charges. These charges come from the realm of Storyline, and Storyline is now in the saddle and riding our failing tribe.
Was that Youngkin ad really "a throwback to the days of banning books," as the reporters claimed? (Their claim was suspiciously fuzzy.)
We'll report and you can decide! In her column in the Post, Tumulty described the matter thusly:
TUMULTY: But sometimes, a candidate’s blunder or miscalculation really does matter. The freshest example was the disastrous declaration by Democrat Terry McAuliffe, the former governor of Virginia who fell short in his bid to regain his old job. “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” he said in his second and final debate with GOP nominee Glenn Youngkin. His comment came after Youngkin criticized McAuliffe for having vetoed a bill that would have allowed parents to opt their children out of certain reading assignments.
In fact, the issue hadn't concerned an attempt to "ban books." The bill that Governor McAuliffe vetoed—the bill which resulted from the white mother's complaint—would merely "have allowed parents to opt their children out of certain reading assignments."
No one was trying to ban any books! That ugly, inaccurate, dumbnified claim comes straight outta Storyline.
Tomorrow, we'll return to the ways in which that "white mother"—Rebecca Onion's "older blond woman"—has been aggressively otherized by our repulsive, incompetent tribe.
In this complementary example, Youngkin (or maybe somebody else!) had engaged in "a spectacular display of racist signaling." That said, this spectacular accusation had come to us straight outta Storyline. No examples need apply!
It's an ugly, ugly tale. But this is who and what we actually are, all the top experts have said.
For ourselves, we're just trying to help you see who we are in our failing blue tribe. Full disclosure:
According to all the major experts, your lizard will try to push back!
Tomorrow: Onion and Knox and Goldstein, oh my! Our rules for invention of Others