Tuesday, September 15, 2009

(The Other) McCain Agonistes

As you'll see later on in this post, I'm not the one who brought Hitler into the matter at hand. But as long as he's hanging about, I'm going to use him in a hypothetical "alternate history" scenario:

Imagine that for some reason, at some point in World War II, after the death camps were fully cranked up but before D-Day, a negotiated end to hostilities took place. No need to put a bunch of skullwork into why, as that's non-essential to the scenario (if you insist, let's just say that the US never entered the war and that England and the USSR were exhausted and so was Germany). Germany withdrew to its borders. Poland, France, Austria, the Sudetenland, Alsace-Lorraine ... everything returned to status quo ante. Except, of course, for the fact there were a lot of missing Jews, and everyone knew what had happened to them, and part of the truce negotiations was a requirement that the camps be closed down, the survivors freed, etc.

Further, imagine that instead of offing himself in the F├╝hrerbunker, Adolf Hitler survived and continued to lead Germany until he turned 60 in 1949, then passed the baton off to Himmler or Goering and got himself elected to the European Parliament in a much earlier EU, serving for a full 40 years until he turned 100 in 1989. Over the years, his attitude toward Europe's remaining Jews was well understood by all around him. He didn't go around screaming "Juden raus!" at people or anything, but his vote could be counted on for anything that he thought might torment Jews, and counted out for anything that he thought might aid them.

Now, imagine if another member of the European Parliament (an Austrian chap by the name of Kurt Waldheim, let's say) congratulated Hitler on his 100th birthday thusly: "When Adolf Hitler attempted to conquer the world and cleanse it of the Jews, we served in the Wehrmacht. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the continent had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years, either."

End of scenario.

Quoth Robert Stacy Mccain:

I have never been a great admirer of Trent Lott, but when Senate Republicans dumped him for having dared to say nice things about Strom Thurmond -- on the occasion of Thurmond's 100th birthday -- that was like ceding the Sudetenland to Hitler.

And now, a snippet from those "nice things" that Lott had to say:

When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years, either

Just as a history memory jog, here's a summary of Thurmond's presidential campaign platform, in his own words:

I wanna tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there's not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the nigra race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.

This is the sort of aside from McCain that I'd normally snort at, perhaps issue a snarky retort to in comments, and then write off as part of his patented "feuds make for hits" schtick ... except that it's taking place in the context of a slightly more lively tempest, in a slightly larger teacup, than usual.

Short version: Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs says that Robert Stacy McCain is a racist. McCain says no, he's not. The argument seems to be propagating rapidly across the right-wing blogosphere, mostly to Johnson's disadvantage.

Long version: Too long to even begin to explain here. If you want the original material, try punching the following two searches into Google:

"Robert Stacy McCain" site:littlegreenfootballs.com
"Charles Johnson" site:rsmccain.blogspot.com

One problem to expect in evaluating the material you'll find:

Whatever else anyone may have to say about him, Robert Stacy McCain can write, and I'm not just referring to technical command of the English language (although he does indeed possess that). It might be going a little far to put him in the same league as Hunter S. Thompson and Mark Twain ... but not much too far. The guy knows his craft. He knows how to tell the story his way and make you like it. Which means you're going to want to believe it.

Johnson's polemic, on the other hand, reads like a Usenet posting hacked out by a Randroid who gulped down a bottle of Robitussin® about half an hour ago. He's also got a real cult vibe going at LGF, complete with summary excommunication for questioning His Divine Omniscience, and if you're anything like normal it's going to weird you out. Which means that you're going to want to get the hell out of there before he can attach the brain slug, which means that you're going to want to dismiss his claims.

Consider yourself forewarned that puzzling the whole mess out is going to take some work.

Is McCain a racist?

Last May, I spent somewhere between 26 and 28 hours, in two installments of 13 to 14 hours each, in a crowded van with McCain and a bunch of other guys, at least one of whom was, unless I'm suffering from false memory syndrome, an African-American. I usually have pretty decent antennae for racial animosity, and I've spent more time than I'd rather have around racists of the overt (a cousin who got too radical for the Ku Klux Klan, for example) and subtle (fellow Marines who just didn't seem to like Marines of races other than their own very much) variety. My recollection is that McCain and the African-American gentleman conversed pleasantly, debated a bit, and (again, if my memory isn't going) sat at the same table and broke what passes for bread at McDonald's during one of our gas/food breaks.

Which proves nothing, of course, but it's relevant such as it is, and I don't think it would be honorable to address this matter without mentioning it.

On the other hand, as expounded upon at length in the first part of this post, it takes real brass for McCain -- in a post about the controversy over whether or not he's a racist, no less -- to bring up Trent friggin' Lott's Thurmond Bomb but omit relevant, essential and damning facts about it. WTF is up with that?

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