The blogosphere as a whole comes out of the Lott-Thurmond affair looking pretty good. The normal practice, when someone prominent on the political right praises segregationism, is to play it down and pretend nothing happened. And woe betide anyone on on the left who wants to make an issue of it, especially if they are foolish enough to use the dreaded “R Word”. The mainstream media played this one true to form, burying Lott’s remark that it would be a good thing if Thurmond’s 1948 Dixiecrat campaign had been successful.
It was only after bloggers, and particularly ‘right-wing’ bloggers such as Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit started piling on to Lott, that the media decided there was even a story here. Now it looks as if Lott’s career has suffered severe, and possibly fatal damage. Moreover, it has even become possible to state the obvious truth, that large sections of the US Republican party have prospered by pandering to racist sentiment, exactly as Lott did. [As I’ve observed previously, despite some occasional mis-steps like an appearance at Bob Jones university, Bush is genuinely non-racist, but so far he represents the exception rather than the rule].
For those who want to stick to an image of the blogosphere as a haven for right-wing bigotry, there’s always Mark “Not the truth, not the whole truth and everything but the truth” Steyn, who manages to devote 700 words to praise for Thurmond’s sexual promiscuity without mentioning his racist politics.
And I should observe that the same things happen on the left. Although the parallel is not perfect, Steven Den Beste points to an anti-US screed, headlined The American administration is a bloodthirsty wild animal, and published in the Daily Telegraph of all places, by former “Angry Young Man”, Harold Pinter, who has previously opposed not only the war in Afghanistan but also Kosovo and Bosnia, and advocated the release of Slobodan Milosevic. The natural reaction of leftists is to ignore such embarrassments, but this is a mistake. The view, exemplified by Pinter and Noam Chomsky, that everything the US does is always wrong undermines those who want to support some US actions and oppose others just as much as the “USA all the way!” line taken by so many on the right.