Frank Rich on Dobbs, Limbaugh, Beck & Gingrich

There are so many juicy bit from Frank Rich's column in yesterday's NY Times, so let's start with what he said of Lou Dobbs' 'birther' insanity:

Obama’s election, far from alleviating paranoia in the white fringe, has only compounded it. There is no purer expression of this animus than to claim that Obama is literally not an American — or, as Sarah Palin would have it, not a “real American.” The birth-certificate canard is just the latest version of those campaign-year attempts to strip Obama of his American identity with faux controversies over flag pins, the Pledge of Allegiance and his middle name. Last summer, Cokie Roberts of ABC News even faulted him for taking a vacation in his home state of Hawaii, which she described as a “foreign, exotic place,” in contrast to her proposed choice of Myrtle Beach, S.C., in the real America of Dixie.

Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter have condemned the birther brigades and likened them to “the truthers” who accused the Bush administration of engineering the 9/11 attacks. But those conspiracy theorists couldn’t find 11 congressmen willing to sponsor a bill supporting their claims. Even Liz Cheney has publicly refused to dispute the libels on Obama’s citizenship.

One of the loudest birther enablers is not at Fox but CNN: Lou Dobbs, who was heretofore best known for trying to link immigrants, especially Hispanics, to civic havoc. Dobbs is one-stop shopping for the excesses of this seismic period of racial transition. And he is following a traditional, if toxic, American playbook. The escalating white fear of newly empowered ethnic groups and blacks is a naked replay of more than a century ago, when large waves of immigration and the northern migration of emancipated blacks, coupled with a tumultuous modernization of the American work force, unleashed a similar storm of racial and nativist panic.

Here's what he says about Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and the rest of the Fox "news" network for labeling President Obama and Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, racists:

Ground zero for this hysteria is Fox News, where Brit Hume last Sunday lamented how insulting it is “to be labeled a racist” in “contemporary” America. “That fact has placed into the hands of certain people a weapon,” he said, as he condemned Gates for hurling that weapon at a police officer. Gates may well have been unjust — we don’t know that Crowley is a racist — but the professor was provoked by being confronted like a suspect in the privacy of his own home.

What about those far more famous leaders in Hume’s own camp who insistently cry “racist” — and in public forums — without any credible justification whatsoever? These are the “certain people” Hume conspicuously didn’t mention. They include Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich, both of whom labeled Sonia Sotomayor a racist. Their ranks were joined last week by Glenn Beck, who on Fox News inexplicably labeled Obama a racist with “a deep-seated hatred for white people,” presumably including his own mother.

What provokes their angry and nonsensical cries of racism is sheer desperation: an entire country is changing faster than these white guys bargained for. We’ve been reminded repeatedly during Gatesgate that Cambridge’s mayor is a black lesbian. But a more representative window into the country’s transition might be that Dallas County, Tex., elected a Latina lesbian sheriff in 2004 (and re-elected her last year) and that the three serious candidates for mayor of Houston this fall include a black man and a white lesbian.

read the rest of his fascinating piece...

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