After Boston Bombings, Rightbloggers Denounce Muslims, Abortion, Gun Control, Hippie Bumper Stickers
The nightmarish events in Boston last week engendered a huge load of coverage, some of it inspired, some of it infamously bad. Most of the bad stuff was bad because the people putting it out were either trying to scoop the world and wound up reporting untruths, or didn't care what the truth was in the first place.
Rightbloggers were bad in something like their usual way. Truth wasn't so much the issue with them as context, which they tried to manage so that the grim event might be perceived as congruent with their worldview -- which is that liberals are stupid, people who are different should be avoided and possibly deported, and Obama hates America.
The bombing made especially clear one signal feature of rightblogger behavior: their simultaneous reliance upon, and loathing of, the mainstream media.
Normally reflexively distrustful of anything the MSM says, as soon as the bombs went off rightbloggers posted every scrap the networks dished out -- indeed, posted it as fast as they could (often with video clips from the nets) to grab some of that good major-event aggregation traffic -- and, whenever the repurposed news was later debunked, they complained that the MSM was irresponsible -- e.g. Instapundit:
REPORT: Boston Bombing Suspect Arrested. UPDATE: NBC now saying no. Stay tuned. ANOTHER UPDATE: CNN walks back. Confusion reigns. MORE: A major media malfunction. And yet journalists put down bloggers?
DaTechGuy was also hard on the press but, when the action came to nearby Watertown, disdained to walk a few blocks to cover the manhunt and show the MSM liars how it's done, explaining, "I would simply be another member of the press either standing in a parking lot trying to look important or in the way of the cops actually doing their job," and anyway, "the strength of new media is to be where the MSM is not or add a perspective they MSM doesn't have..." DaTechGuy then told us that "liberalism and the parallel secular culture" were purposely trying to destroy America, which is a perspective, we guess, though that's not the first word that came to our mind.
The brethren did show more discernment, though, when opportunities for self-pity arose. Before the suspects were ID'd, TV news show gabblers speculated on every conceivable possible source of the violence; rightbloggers only heard the bits about homegrown militias and tea partiers, though, and announced that the Lame Stream Media had slandered them with "eliminationist narratives."
When dark-skinned people got called "persons of interest" on the air, however, the eliminationism was on the other foot. Michelle Malkin sprang into action early with "the suspects have been named via police scanner (unconfirmed): Mike Mulugeta and missing Brown University student Sunil Tripathi." Malkin's alternate-universe Twitter outlet Twitchy circulated a picture of Tripathi wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt, alomg with trenchant commentary ("Sunil Tripathi doesn't seem like the type to kill innocents. He's wearing a freaking Che Guevara shirt!").
Good thing one of Malkin's suggestible fans didn't get ahold of Tripathi before the real suspects were found (though his family hopes someone does -- he's still missing). Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi was not so lucky; he was the Saudi guy who got jumped at the scene of the crime basically because he looked Saudi we mean suspicious.
After Alharbi was let off the hook, bizarre rumors that he was getting deported as part of some sort of Obama-Muslim cover-up circulated in rightblogs ranging from Protein Wisdom ("there are whistleblower reports of an unscheduled 'walk-by' meeting that took place lase evening the White House") to Israpundit ("Saudi Connection to Boston Bombing Being Whitewashed"). This clusterfuck continued even after it was made clear that the guy wasn't getting deported; some conspiracy theorists decided this simply meant "the government has had second thoughts on deporting Ali Alharbi."
When at last we all found out the probable perps were a couple of white Chechens by way of Kyrgyzstan, rightbloggers' interest didn't flag -- because the Tsarnaev brothers were also Muslims. While they didn't look exactly like the guys at Gitmo, they still had Islam going on, which excited in rightbloggers fond memories of the days when the War on Terror made them feel brave and seem popular.
This excited some epic rants. For example: When Michael Moore made a series of unremarkable Twitter comments on Tsarnaev press coverage ("For past 4 days hundreds of 'terror experts,' 'terror analysts' and pundits never said anything about Russia or Chechnya. They know nothing"), Dave Swindle of PJ Media reacted thus: "It's very important for Moore to try and undermine the credentials of anyone who can affirm that Sharia is a real threat. In Moore's world Global Warming is more dangerous and cigarettes and car accidents cause more deaths per year than Islamists." (Uh... they don't?) When Ana Marie Cox, referring to widely-circulated remarks by the suspect's Uncle Ruslan Tsarni, wrote, "Branding terrorists as LOSERS, not villains, not monsters, not martyrs, not foreigners, not religious fanatics ---> a win," here was Swindle's interpretation: "Yes, it would be a win for progressives if they could legitimately make the case that corporations and the bigoted, theocratic, 'Religious Right' are the most evil forces threatening America and the human race." Swindle also thinks Kirsten Powers is a liberal.
When the New York Times told readers that Chechens were homegrown radicals and unlikely to be part of a global jihad, Michael Kennedy of Chicago Boyz denied it. After all, "the suicide bomb is a common weapon for jihadists" -- notwithstanding that the Tsarnaevs walked away from the Boston bombing. Kennedy also assailed "the PC tendencies of the FBI lately," giving no citations to support this characterization.
Kennedy's big issue was the Kenyan Pretender himself. "The Obama administration has been determined to ignore the problem of the domestic Islamic terrorist, like Major Hasan who shot up Fort Hood," for reasons left unmentioned but probably treason.
It's hard to imagine what Obama should do here -- maybe bring back the color-coded Homeland Security chart? Or tell citizens to be more apprehensive of Muslims, even the white ones? Rightbloggers didn't bother, as they spitballed ways to stick Boston to the President.
The Washington Post covered Obama's Friday night remarks thus: "Obama cautioned against a rush to judgment about the motivations of the suspects and 'certainly not about entire groups of people.... That's why we have investigations, that‚Äôs why we relentlessly gather the facts, that's why we have courts...'" Here's how Neil Munro of the Daily Caller covered it: "Americans should not decide their opinions about the Boston terror attacks until the government decides its own opinion, President Barack Obama told the nation late Friday night."
Some rightbloggers got into the old-fashioned warblogger schtick of attacking liberals from the city that had just been attacked by terrorists. Bookworm Room said the bombing was "highly ironic" because "Boston is the bluest of the blue," and compared the city to a "liberal mugged by reality." Later Bookworm sneered that "Bostonians and their liberal ilk around America" might "rationalize this away as two crazy, murderous people who just coincidentally happen to have been Muslims..." We wonder if Bookworm plans to take this message direct to the people of Boston in a public reading; it's something we would pay to see.
At National Review Mona Charen mocked "'tolerant' liberals who cannot bring themselves to condemn attacks on America if they come from certain ethnic/religious groups," without providing a source; she did invite us to learn more in a podcast featuring her, for which, we must speak frankly, we are not being paid enough to listen.
Rightbloggers attacked as well the media, who had not only tricked them into using bad information on their own sites, but also, in their imagining, were protecting their friends the Muslims from prosecution.
When the L.A. Times ran a hed and dek that echoed what was known so far about the Tsarnaevs -- "Brothers suspected in Boston attack stood apart in U.S./Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev, suspected of planting the bombs at the Boston Marathon, felt alienated in the U.S., even after about a decade in their adoptive country" -- William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection sputtered: "If only we had been nicer, none of this would have happened. In other words, it's not them, it's us. They were radicalized here, by us." Jacobson's editor forgot to put "[pause as audience stares dumbstruck]" before Jacobson's next line: "Even if they don't come right out and say it, that's the implication."
Still, it would be better for rightblogger purposes if the terrorists were more directly linked to Al Qaeda, and the brethren worked hard at it with the little they had. "Chechen Connection Suggests Possible Al-Qaeda Link to Boston Terror Attack," National Review's Fred Fleitz announced. The proof: "This attack is consistent with efforts by al-Qaeda over the last few years to recruit non-Arabs to commit terrorist acts in the West and to use radical Islamist websites to recruit followers in Western countries." Also... well, that was pretty much it.
Aside from hatred of Muslims and liberals, rightbloggers also sought to extract secondary messages from the bombings. For example, at National Review Michael Pakaluk went into a long, long reverie about "viewing the events in Boston through old-fashioned glasses because this helps me to pick out what is good." He talked about how Plato said we should beat up murderers ("and I say that that reflex response to murder... is simply good"), how exciting the manhunt was ("this is cool and it is good"), and how exciting also is the technology that made it work ("so this is good also").
Then mid-ecstasy Pakaluk begged our indulgence: "I'd like to say that... if only we could rise up in anger against any of the daily murders in Boston or Chicago or D.C.," he said. "Or that sentimentality really kills us, because it's so arbitrary that, by sentimentality, we 'feel united with that tough and resilient city of Boston' but that it's also because of sentimentality that the abortionist doctor in Philadelphia or any other abortionist doctor, and abortion, gets a completely free pass."
This was followed, not by "Hey, why's everybody leaving?" as it would in real life, but by another paragraph of meanderings: "'Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; these words of St. Francis echo in my thoughts... I'll try to use my time for helping others, especially the poor, and doing more that is constructively good." We expect Pakaluk will soon be found outside the smoking ruins of an abortion clinic, saying "this too is good" as they slap the cuffs on him.
Something else the rightbloggers thought Boston proved was the futility of gun control. This may seem counterintuitive, as, number one, you can't defuse a bomb with a gun and, number two, it's doubtful a bunch of armed citizens would have performed better than law enforcement did during Friday's urban manhunt, unless the goal is a high number of accidental shootings. Nonetheless elected officials Louie Gohmert and Nate Bell promoted this thinking, and so did some of the brethren.
"After the Boston Marathon bombing, days of armed terrorists on the loose in the Boston area, and a door-to-door search for a terror suspect that ended in gun fire on the night of April 19," said AWR Hawkins of Breitbart.com, "gun control will be an even tougher sell to the American people next time around."
How'd he figure? "Massachusetts residents who sat huddled in their homes when Boston was on lock-down," he said, "were reminded that they were their own first line of defense if the terrorist came to their door." Nice going, buddy -- you've just given jihadists the bright idea of going door-to-door with terror, instead of performing it in crowded public areas! Now how are encyclopedia salesmen supposed to make a living?
"BOSTON MANHUNT SHOWS IMPORTANCE OF 2ND AMENDMENT RIGHTS," concurred Hawkins' colleague John Flynn. His reasoning: "The world can be a very dangerous place."
"Consider what is happening right now in Boston," wrote Jacob G. Hornberger. "As I write this, the cops have cordoned off a wide populated area, thinking that they have the other bombing suspect surrounded. They're telling everyone to lock themselves in their homes and not to go outside. Now, think about what the situation would be if everyone were disarmed (except the cops)."
Um, seems the effect would be pretty much the same; presumably a lot of Bostonians owned guns Friday night, but they weren't out on the streets yelling, "Don't worry, officers -- if he gets past you he has me to deal with!"
Hornberger went on: "in the ideal world of the gun-controllers, people in the surrounded area of Boston would be cowering in their homes without any guns to protect themselves from a well-armed terrorist who would have no reluctance in killing them after breaking into their homes." Just think if David Henneberry, who noticed Tsarnaev in that backyard boat and called the cops, had instead decided to grab his Glock and take the villain out himself. We'd have no surviving suspect to interrogate -- but it would have been a victory for the Second Amendment, and that's what counts.
"Millions of Americans listening to the bulletins on the developing manhunt were either glad they had guns in their homes or thought seriously about getting them," said mindreader Walter Russell Mead. "Yet for many professional journalists, and maybe especially those in the Acela corridor in the Northeast, this reaction is incomprehensible." Mead, who also lashed out at "Acela liberals," may not realize that Boston is on the Acela Corridor, or may imagine the citizens of Boston who were neither liberals nor journalists would have preferred it if the cops told them to muster and go find the guy themselves, in the interests of shrinking government spending.
But listen, what's a terrorist attack without some black humor? Rightblogger levity erupted over a "Coexist" sticker allegedly on the car the Tsarnaevs hijacked.
As Snopes reported, that story is almost certainly fake -- the car they jacked doesn't match the screen-grabbed image of the car with the sticker on which the rumor is based. But it suited the brethren's general feeling that stupid hippies want to get along with Muslims who want to kill them.
"IRONY: Car jacked by Muslim terrorist suspects had 'COEXIST' bumper sticker," reported The Daily Caller. "We are not 100% certain," LOLed American Grizzlies United, "but perhaps the Obama Bumper Sticker Removal Kit will work on Coexist Bumper Stickers too." "My irony meter just exploded," howled My Pet Jawa. "'Coexist' in Islam means surrendering to Muslims -- 'Coexist and we won't kill you.' Some liberals just don't get it." "Perhaps now the owners of the car will see the folly of their ways?" chortled Left Coast Rebel. "I've always maintained that the Coexist crowd live in a make-believe world!" larfed Rabid Republican Blog, engaging in a whole new level of unintended irony.
Mark Steyn of National Review did a whole column on it, though he managed to work in a long bit about the Gosnell trial, too ("[Gosnell's] victims are ideologically problematic for the media, and so the poor blood-soaked monster will never get his moment in the spotlight"). The Tsarnaevs "were alumni of Cambridge Rindge and Latin, one of the oldest public schools in America and latterly one of the most 'diverse,' boasting (being the operative word) students from over 80 countries," said Steyn. "The Tsarnaev brothers had spent most of their lives in the United States, and lived the diversity dream." See what happens when you let people of different backgrounds live together?
Steyn luxuriated in the absurdity of the Coexist sticker and concept. "Oh, you must have seen them," he told his readers; "I bet David Sirota has one... I think there's some LGBT, Taoist, and Wiccan stuff in there, too. They're not mandatory on vehicles in Massachusetts; it just seems that way. I wonder, when the 'Co-exist' car is returned to its owner, whether he or she will keep the bumper sticker in place." Steyn didn't wonder enough to update his column with a correction, though. That'd spoil the fun!
Some of the brethren even admitted they just didn't care whether it was legit or not; the joke tickled them too much.
"I don't know if it's real," said William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection, "...but it's too good not to print, with all the caveats, 'reportedly.'" "I think it's a prank," admitted John Hinderaker of Power Line. "Still, I would be happy to be proved wrong, so if anyone has information to the contrary, please so note in the comments. Whether the picture is genuine or not, I share Mark's sentiment..."
Howie Carr and National Review's Stanley Kurtz explained that because of the bombing we must now kill pending Congressional immigration bills, lest we be blown up by future jihadist Mexicans. "This week, we have reason for great doubts in our culture's ability to assimilate those who come here into good Americans," claimed David Geraghty at National Review, "and our government's ability to examine potential citizens and weed out those who would seek to harm us." We just knew letting more goddamn Italians into this country after Sacco and Vanzetti was a mistake!
And so it went. You'll be hearing more of this sort of thing in weeks to come, with some help from Republican politicians, who are pushing to have the surviving Tsarnaev tried as an enemy combatant, despite his U.S. citizenship. It may be difficult in post-financial-collapse America, especially after ten years of Iraq, to get Americans interested in another with-us-or-against-us crusade. But they've got to try; it's all they know.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.