As of 10:50 a.m., this was the lead banner headline at the Drudge Report:
Of all the thing’s occurring in the nation and the world, that’s the story that Matthew Drudge believes his readers will be most interested in seeing and will draw the most traffic. And nobody ever said that Drudge does not know his audience.
The incident occurred in St. Louis. It’s ugly. But ladies and gentlemen, it ain’t national news. I can remember witnessing probably a dozen such instances in my own high school years, with kids responding to a fight between their peers in just the fashion they do in the video. Most of you can probably say the same. I guarantee you something similar has occurred dozens of times this very day on school buses or at high schools around the country, and in most instances it had nothing to do with race and everything to do with the fact that high school can be closer to “Lord of the Flies” than most people want to admit.
But in this case the kid getting picked on is white. The boy who attacks him is black. And there’s video. So in Drudge’s world, it’s the biggest news story of the day.
There has been a lot of discussion in the past week about the role that racial resentment among white males plays in the conservative movement. I think it’s easy to exaggerate it, and I think it’s wrong to try to discredit all opposition to Barack Obama as somehow race-related, because it just isn’t. Obama is trying to do big things, and big things need to be questioned and challenged. We have to have room for that in our national life.
However, Drudge’s reaction weighs very, very heavily on the other side of the scale. He understands better than most how much power racial resentment has among his readership, and he is clearly pandering to it. It is compelling proof that for many, this is not about policies or the national debt or health care reform but something much more primal.
UPDATE, as of 3 p.m.: Just saw this from Hank Johnson, Democratic congressman from Georgia, referring to his colleague from South Carolina, Joe Wilson.
“”It did not help the cause of diversity and tolerance with his remarks. If I was a betting man, I’d say it instigated more racist sentiment, feeling that it’s OK, that you don’t have to bury it down,” Johnson said.
“I guess we’ll probably have folks putting on white hoods and white uniforms again and riding through the countryside, intimidating people,” he said. “That’s the logical conclusion if this kind of attitude is not rebuked.”
That’s crazy talk. That’s garbage and nonsense. You can’t justify charges of racism on the words “you lie” and you certainly can’t make charges that inflammatory based on little or no evidence.
Johnson now needs to apologize, publicly, the sooner the better. That’s just wrong.