CSotD: Nits, and larger beasties, Picked

Start here: It seems that the Border Patrol officers may have only been whipping their horses, not the refugees they were attempting to herd like cattle. Which isn’t the same as saying it didn’t happen, but conceding a reasonable doubt.

On the other hand, the people insisting it didn’t happen are often the people claiming Biden wants an open border, and that’s clearly untrue.

On the other other hand, Biden’s continued enforcement of Trump’s policies, specifically Title 42, is coming under White House review, so we’ll call the whole thing a tie, pending further developments.

There are enough other things we can disagree on.


One thing that came out of the Haitian confrontation was a quote about “That’s not who we are,” and Marc Murphy begs to differ.

It’s an excellent refutation of the absurdly idealistic view of American History that, as noted here in a couple of recent posts, James Loewen decried in “Lies My Teacher Told Me.”

I felt Loewen made a good point about the celebratory, triumphalist view of American History, but that he over-corrected a bit too much the other direction, and I see some nits to pick in Murphy’s parallel argument, too.

We’re since renounced most of the actions he depicts, and some were denounced when they occurred. We killed 750,000 or so young men to dispute the righteousness of slavery, and Abu Ghraib surfaced as the focus of criminal investigation.

Still, Murphy is correct that we have shown deep flaws in the past, and to say this or that particular outrage is “not who we are” is naive. We have faults that we need to recognize, not deny.

Which, it’s crucial to note, goes against the only history some states are allowing teachers to teach.


But, for all our faults, Darrin Bell (KFS) makes an accusation that is absolutely unfair.

He’s repeating something that’s been circulating on social media, but political cartoonists are supposed to be journalists, and he should have followed the old dictum, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

No matter how attractive the proposition, a quote that contains not one but two elisions definitely demands due diligence. To be fair to Bell, his cartoon was drawn before Politifact completely upended the charge, but they didn’t dig up anything someone else couldn’t have.

The quote was not simply truncated but was taken wildly out of context and Biden was, in fact, explaining why we need to care about Haiti.

Bell may have been innocently duped by the deliberate liar who launched this phony quote, but, again, he should have checked it out. Cynicism can be a trap.

As Murphy says, we should not ignore our flaws, but there’s a difference between the way James Loewen denounced the cheerful morality tales in high school history texts and the near-glee with which Howard Zinn pointed out every zit, pimple and carbuncle, as if faults were all we had to show for 250 years of existence.

The question of “who we are” doesn’t yield to simple answers, in part because we’ve never broadened it to include everyone, not just the majority.

This has always been a problem, but, now that Tucker Carlson and other white supremacists overtly declare that WASPs are the only true Americans, there is a moral imperative to address inclusion boldly and openly.

Good intentions, however, must always be tempered with facts and context.


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Marty Two Bulls)

(Adam Zyglis)

(Greg Kearney)

Two Bulls is correct that violence against indigenous women seems to go unchecked, both in the US and Canada. It’s an issue that combines race, resources and isolation, along with some sovereignty issues, both formal and informal.

None of which excuse it, but they do help explain it, and, while excuses are why nothing gets done, explanations can spark solutions.

But here’s a major, major point:

We should not mistake national coverage for caring.

How many, for instance, of those 2,700 murders and homicides are unsolved? And how many of the “unsolved” are cases in which the perpetrator is known but there isn’t enough proof to convict?

This is real life, not a TV cop show where cheap-ass security camera footage can be sharpened to reveal license numbers and DNA is scattered everywhere.

I covered a murder where the police knew who did it, but it took nearly three years to put the guy behind bars.

At one point, I told one of the Troopers that the suspect had moved. He chuckled and said, “Oh, we’re keeping a very close eye on Mr. LaGasse.” As indeed they were.

I doubt the case got any coverage beyond Maine, and little enough beyond our county. But national coverage would not have made the slightest bit of difference.

I saw another case in Northern New York of a missing girl — white but not wealthy — who did get on America’s Most Wanted, whereupon mountains of useless tips and idle rumors poured in from around the country.

Still, the case went unsolved for several years, until the guy robbed a local bank with his girlfriend, who flipped on him to reduce her own sentence.

The body was within a few miles of where she’d disappeared; The only thing the national hoopla had produced was ratings.

I like Adam Zyglis’s cartoon, because he’s right that some cases get massive publicity while others do not, though I’m inclined to agree with Kearney that Gabby Petito had already generated interest in her doings before she disappeared.

Moreover, with John Walsh no longer a ratings champion and both Stranger Danger and Satanic Panic less popular fads these days, the issue of who gets the Natalie Holloway/Gabby Petito/Madeleine McCann treatment is as much a matter of social standing as it is of race.

“Them as has gets” applies to publicity as well as it does to other things in life.

Perhaps it helps to consider this:

Nicole Brown Simpson was blonde, white and rich, while Breonna Taylor was none of those things.

Their deaths both got national publicity and nobody went to jail for either.

But only one seems likely to change our system.

Assuming we can be persuaded to focus on what really matters.


9 thoughts on “CSotD: Nits, and larger beasties, Picked

  1. You’re usually more perceptive than the typical knee-jerk partisans who comment beneath my cartoons on Instagram, Mike. But not today. This accusation was absolutely fair, and PolitiFact – and YOU – got this one dead wrong.

    You wrote: “a quote that contains not one but two elisions definitely demands due diligence.”

    ??Right back at you. The first excises his self-awareness that what he’s about to say is “god-awful.” The second excises his SECOND musing about ways in which Haiti could vanish from the Earth. If you think those alter the nature of his quote, fine. I don’t.

    You wrote: “To be fair to Bell, his cartoon was drawn before Politifact completely upended the charge,” and “The quote was not simply truncated but was taken wildly out of context and Biden was, in fact, explaining why we need to care about Haiti.”??

    That’s an odd way to say Biden was explaining why we should NOT intervene to stop atrocities in Haiti. He was explaining why we should leave those people to be mutilated and tortured even though we had the power to stop it. He said it would be unwise, not because it wasn’t any of our business, but because Haiti’s insignificant. In your rigorous and thorough journalism, you somehow seem not to have noticed that THAT is what he was doing.??

    A military coup had just deposed Haiti’s first democratically elected government, and the junta was busy carrying out atrocities against the civilian population. Joe Biden was explaining in this interview that intervening to stop atrocities in BOSNIA was warranted because it was geopolitically important, whereas it WASN’T warranted in Haiti because that nation was geopolitically Unimportant.

    Politifact didn’t upend anything. The context doesn’t cast Biden’s quote in a better light, it reveals it to be even more callous than it is in isolation.

    ??I won’t call you a bald-faced liar (or a “dupe”), but I will accuse you of reading what you WANTED to read in his interview instead of what was actually written. You wrote “Biden was… explaining why we need to care about Haiti” and that is incorrect. He wasn’t explaining why we NEED to care about Haiti, he was explaining why Black people in America (in particular) DO care about Haiti, in answer to the interviewer asking him if avoiding the appearance of racism would be Clinton’s only reason for intervening. He even threw in an aside about Somalia, and said it was the same dynamic at play.

    ??Biden was racist and patronizing to take what was a widespread concern about atrocities in Haiti, and characterize it as a racial grievance on the part of Black Americans. Even if he tried to sound empathetic while he was belittling an entire “demographic.” I wish I could say I was surprised that you can’t see that, but I’ve been black for nearly half a century. I’m used to the blind spot you’ve exhibited today.

    I’m just not used to you fabricating benevolent intent when none was actually expressed, in an effort to dismiss valid criticism of someone you support politically. I guess that’s what passes for “journalism” when a Democrat is in the White House.

  2. I forgot to add, “to be fair” to you, Mike, your source was just as disingenuous as you were. In Politifact’s epic “half truth” takedown of this quote, they wrote:

    “The clip with that quote is used twice in the post, suggesting a callousness on Biden’s part toward Haiti.

    The full context of his remarks shows Biden was discussing the rationale for a potential U.S. military intervention and arguing that there were greater U.S. interests elsewhere in the world, including in Bosnia.”

    …But what Politifact DIDN’T add to their conclusion, was that Biden wasn’t just “discussing the rationale for a potential U.S. military intervention”, he was discussing why THERE SHOULDN’T BE ONE.

    Talk about “half-truths.”

  3. I will repeat that it doesn’t take a lot of expertise with Google to find the full context. Here is the full interview and, if you click the top right icon, you’ll have the transcript as well:


    The section on foreign policy is about the first 20 minutes of the 55 minute interview, so it doesn’t take a lot of effort to find out just what he said and the context in which he said it.

    I stand by my interpretation.

  4. Mike – excellent point(s) about Nicole Brown Simpson and Breonna Taylor. Though the change seems to be dragging…

  5. Mike, I appreciate your link to the transcript. I just finished reading it. I have to say that I am puzzled by your interpretation. I did not perceive any interest or intent by Biden to help the people of Haiti. Nor by anyone else. I felt they were all dismissive of the Black caucus and of the outrage of the black community. They discussed Haiti in geopolitical terms, mentioning the suffering, but not acknowledging that as a reason to intervene in any way.
    I would be interested to know how you heard it to lead to your conclusion. For me, I saw it more as Darrin Bell did.

  6. At the 2.33 mark, Biden says he’s against a unilateral decision to invade and overthrow the dictatorship, preferring to let the OAS deal with it and see if they can get that unpopular gov’t to step down. If not, then invasion is on the table.

    He explains, and the Republican congressman agrees, that invading a country without a clear plan to govern it is simply not a sustainable policy, unless there is a clear and present danger of the problems there impacting other nations. As he says, Bosnia was one such situation — and he was prescient in naming Ukraine and Belarus as future Eurasian trouble spots.

    But Haiti just doesn’t have that kind of influence in the Caribbean or South America and so the knee-jerk idea of invading them as we had invaded Grenada (to restore Reagan’s pride after the Lebanon bombing) should be off the table.

    He also suggests that, given the current balance of power in the world (the USSR had recently broken up) it wasn’t a situation where, if we didn’t step in, another superpower would, and would thereby create a power base on our doorstep.

    It’s not necessary to agree with him, but his reasoning is clear and is not based on race but on realpolitick.

    IMHO, his trusting in the OAS to be the first line of defense is actually a case of trusting smaller nations run by minorities rather than assuming the US was the only country capable of problem-solving.

    And, at the risk of looking in the rearview mirror, our record of invading countries since has not been particularly good, including, unfortunately, Haiti, which we ultimately did invade, with UN approval, restoring Aristide — who was then overthrown by a second coup.

    And speaking of history, I feel we did enough invading of countries in the Caribbean and Central America, overthrowing leaders we didn’t like. I never voted for United Fruit, and, back in 1994, I was willing to sit one out and let the OAS and UN provide the solution, whether that included us or not.

  7. Thank you for clarifying, Mike. I understand more, I think, than I did. I am NOT for invading other countries, and was responding more to the attitude than the situation. Again, I think that attitudes, choices and actions were/are based not in any moral imperative to help those going through horrible suffering. Instead, it is based on geopolitical considerations. Maybe it needs to be. I would be a horrible politician.
    Still, it does seem to “just happen” that the needs and suffering of communities and countries with majority non-white populations are less addressed, by liberal Democrats as well as (descriptive word could get me in trouble) Republicans.

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