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Eugene Robinson on Fringe Violence

John on July 22, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Eugene Robinson is a liberal columnist who writes for the Washington Post. I don’t care for his brand of politics but I don’t have any personal beef with him. In fact, I imagine that if you got us both away from the keyboard and talking about something besides politics (the Lakers maybe?) we could get on just fine.

With that said, I can’t help but notice that his take on racial politics in the age of Obama is pretty slanted and, in my view, terrible unfair. Let me explain why. Back in March of this year, Robinson wrote a column titled “The Hutaree militia and the rising risk of far-right violence.” Here’s how it began:

The arrests of members of a Michigan-based “Christian” militia group should convince doubters that there is good reason to worry about right-wing, anti-government extremism — and potential violence — in the Age of Obama.

Robinson goes on to argue that there is a sharp divide between left-wing fringe groups and groups like the Hutaree on the right:

for the most part, far-left violence in this country has gone the way of the leisure suit and the AMC Gremlin. An anti-globalization movement, including a few window-smashing anarchists, was gaining traction at one point, but it quickly diminished after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. An environmental group and an animal-rights group have been linked with incidents of arson. Beyond those particulars, it is hard to identify any kind of leftist threat.

There’s more but that’s the gist of it. Now we come to today and Robinson has another column, this time touching on the New Black Panther Party. Here’s what he writes:

Before Sherrod, the cause celebre of the “You Must Fear Obama” campaign involved something called the New Black Panther Party. Never heard of it? That’s because it’s a tiny group that exists mainly in the fevered imaginations of its few members. Also in the alternate reality of Fox News: One of the network’s hosts has devoted more than three hours of air time in recent weeks to the grave threat posed by the NBPP. Actually, I suspect that this excess is at least partly an attempt by a relatively obscure anchor to boost her own notoriety.

Notice any difference?

The arrest of the Hutaree (all nine of them) was cause for an article about how they were a symbol of escalating right wing threats. But when discussing the equally fringe (and equally violent) New Black Panthers, Robinson downplays them as more or less an imaginary group.

What makes the Hutaree, with their vague plan of hurting police officers for the greater good, any different than the NBPP whose leaders rap about kicking cops in the face and killing “whitey?” Both groups were listed as hate groups by the SPLC. And while I have no idea how many members the NBPP actually has, but I’m certain it’s more than nine.

Not content to elevate one fringe group and downplay another, Robinson actually points to coverage of the NBPP as proof that the right is trying to whip up an anti-black frenzy. So the same man who used the Hutaree to tar the Tea Parties and the right in general is now concerned about intemperate speech by the right?

I’m picking on Robinson because I think his approach is emblematic of what has been taking place since Obama’s election. The left has pounced on every opportunity to divine some racist motivation in their political opponents. But when a case like the NBPP arises, the same people tut-tut and give them a pass as beneath notice. A lot of us outside the beltway have noticed this difference and find it hard to explain apart from pure partisanship.

Maybe Mr. Robinson would be good enough to explain it to us?

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Category: MSM & Bias, Politics |

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