Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ellmers’ Malign-All

“How can you get that low?” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked Wednesday, in a question whose rhetorical construction suggested there was really no way to answer it. Matthews, a serious political animal, was dumbfounded and outraged by a new Republican congressional campaign ad, this one coming out of North Carolina.

But when you watch it in the context of all of today’s bloodsport political season, you realize that Matthews’ question is one of those that doesn’t have an answer, but you’re obligated to ask the question — if for no other reason than to make sure the needle on your own moral compass still works.

The ad for Republican Renee Ellmers, seeking to oust incumbent Rep. Bob Etheridge for the congressional seat in North Carolina, was already circulating on YouTube, and got its big political coming-out party on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox later on Wednesday night. It’s an elegant visual manipulation of historical tragedies — the unifying factor being? Muslims and Their Rapacious March Through History.



[End of the world soundtrack begins]

As painted images of Muslim marauders fill the screen, a narrator speaks in an ominous tone: “After the Muslims conquered Jerusalem and Cordoba and Constantinople, they built victory mosques and, now, they want to build a mosque by Ground Zero. Where does Bob Etheridge stand? He won't say. Won't speak out. Won't take a stand.”

Up jumps the gently tousled, thoroughly domestic American Ellmers, speaking directly into the camera.

“The terrorists haven't won and we should tell them in plain English, No. There will never be a mosque at Ground Zero.
I'm Renee Ellmers and I approve this ad.”

◊ ◊ ◊

For Matthews, it was a hanging curveball and he got every bit of it. “It’s going back to the seventh century, when Mohammed was around, and acting like they’re coming this way in hordes, with flashing scimitars [and] whirling dervishes to come get us, so now we’ve gotta stop them at the gates of North Carolina.”

It’s the latest conservative broad-brush attack on Muslims and Muslim Americans, blaming a people for its religion’s history, an implicit alignment of the Muslims of today with the history of a people as far back as fourteen centuries ago. Ellmers’ glue-all ad, of course, has a commanding grasp of the emotional narrative in today’s politics; for conservatives, bashing Muslims in general is the pitch to the base, the low-hanging hot-button fruit, the piñata they get to whack at with eyes wide open. She’s strong on emotionalism, but Ellmers has a lousy command of the facts.

Like the inconvenient one that undercuts her assertion that “there will never be a mosque at Ground Zero.” The fact that, according to Samuel G. Freedman, writing in a Sept. 10th report in The New York Times, a mosque was situated on the 17th floor of 2 World Trade Center, the southernmost tower, and had been since at least 1993.

“How can you get that low?” It’s not that hard when doing the Ethical Limbo comes naturally to your party anyway, when the state of the national economy makes it real easy to build a scapegoat. It’s not difficult when Ellmers, like the conservative cohort she runs with, refuses to let little things like facts get in the way of a good character assassination.

Image credits: Ellmers: Renee Ellmers for Congress.

1 comment:

  1. Well written, but...

    Renee Ellmers seems unencumbered by moral relativism and and as a result is able to lead on this issue unlike her silent opponent. This is a not a new low unless one happens to be of the 30% who refuse to label a wrong as such.

    You said:
    "Like the inconvenient one that undercuts her assertion that “there will never be a mosque at Ground Zero.” The fact that, according to Samuel G. Freedman, writing in a Sept. 10th report in The New York Times, a mosque was situated on the 17th floor of 2 World Trade Center, the southernmost tower, and had been since at least 1993."

    Are you suggesting there was ground zero before the very attack that defined it as such? Your point here is weak and is based on ignoring the redefining aspects of the 9/11 attacks. There have been no mosques on Ground Zero. In fact, there has been little more than ten years of government indecision on ground zero since it was created nearly ten years ago.

    You said:
    "when the state of the national economy makes it real easy to build a scapegoat."

    Again, you gloss over the redefining aspects of the 9/11 attacks -- the horror of 9/11 and in its place put the economy. It is not scapegoating to be suspicious of those who attacked you. It is truly a low that people in our nation would so easily forget the sacrifice of those lost on 9/11 to make political points such as this.

    For liberals to come to the defense of a group that disparages women, stones homosexuals, prefers religious rule in governance, disrespects human rights, etc. is no better than defending the clan. To come to the defense of such beliefs is the result of moral relativism run amok.

    Do none of you see the contortions of logic you liberals put yourselves when making these arguments? roughly 70% of Americans do.

    Lastly, although there is the freedom of religious belief in this country, that freedom does not extend to building churches anywhere one chooses. Churches are regularly denied building permits due to zoning regulations. This is not a 1st amendment issue.

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