Friday, November 30, 2007

Double Standards

Despite the vicious and unwarranted attacks he received last week from the Rockwell Brigades, David Bernstein asks an important question:

Why are Giuliani and Obama given free passes for their outright solicitations of support from extremists like Pat Robertson and Al Sharpton while Ron Paul is crucified for not returning or screening out a small unsolicited donation from Stormfront?

Bernstein argues that the only rational explanation for this is that our media (and/or society) has concluded: "Apparently, if dangerous fringe demagogues have a sufficiently large political constituency, anything goes."

He's right, of course. There is absolutely a double standard in place here, and it has more to do with the political influence of an extremist than it does with the actual danger posed by the extremist. Don't get me wrong: Alex Jones is a rather scary individual, and Stormfront is as disturbing an organization as you can find. But neither commands the robotic and unthinking legions like Sharpton and Robertson. Moreover, at least with respect to Stormfront, Paul didn't directly solicit their support, while Giuliani and Obama did.

The free pass for Giuliani's solicitation of Robertson's support, though, is in my mind far worse than Obama's solicitation of Sharpton in terms of journalistic double standards. Given that Robertson explicitly blamed 9/11 on America, for a candidate running on 9/11 to solicit Robertson's support is just appalling. Moreover, Robertson's statement about 9/11 was far worse than anything that Jones and the 9/11 Truthers have ever said. Jones and the Truthers are political pariahs because they blame the government for 9/11; yet Robertson is somehow not a political pariah even though he blamed both the government and the character of the American people for 9/11. Now, which of those two options is scarier? Wouldn't that option be even scarier if you were a (formerly) socially liberal mayor of a socially liberal city which was the biggest victim of 9/11?

After he asked this important question (which was implicitly pro-Paul), do you think the Rockwell Brigades will admit that they maybe overreacted to Bernstein last week? Don't hold your breath.