I Condemn this Peggy Noonan Metaphor: DNC Convention = Nuremburg Rally
In the August 28th Wall Street Journal. Peggy Noonan claimed that thinking journalists thought that "the change of venue Thursday night to Invesco Field, and the huge, open air Obama acceptance speech" was a gamble and it:
"... has every possibility of looking like a Nuremberg rally; it has too many variables to guarantee a good tv picture; the set, the Athenian columns, looks hokey; big crowds can get in the way of subtle oratory. " (link)A Nuremberg rally? Really? Someone actually said this to you Ms. Noonan?
Noonan very slickly doesn't even have the guts to own the accusation. She throws it on "thinking journalists"or "everyone" (Read the entire passage below, it is unclear who she is actually referring to, but it IS clear that it is not her because in the next sentence she says, "My own added thought is that speeches are delicate;" nice attempt to distancing yourself from the nastiness!)
If Ms. Noonan isn't going to own her attempt to tie the Democratic National Committee production Thursday night to a Nazi Nuremberg rally, then I want the names of the "thinking journalists" who suggested that metaphor. (You will note that Noonan doesn't call herself a journalist, she used the plural so there are at least two of them out there. Maybe they will come forward on their own.)
Why do I care what some elite Republican speechwriter or "thinking journalists" have to say about the setting for a convention? Why worry my pointy-eared head?
Why not ignore it?
- Because Ms. Noonan is not some kid making a video for an online contest. She is a Very Serious Person, she is not an unknown leaving a comment on a blog. She knows the power of a metaphor and she clearly understands the goals of associating Democrats with Nazis and Obama with Hitler.
- Because when Peggy "I was Reagan's Speech Writer" Noonan throws out a specific comparison of Democrats in Denver to Nazis in Nuremberg, that comparison implies a comparison of Obama to Hitler. And the comparison didn't happen just anywhere, it happened in the pages of the Wall Street Journal with over 2 million readers worldwide.
- When something like this flows out the pen of Reagan's speechwriter it sends a signal to the rest of the speechifying community that it's okay to bring out the Obama = Hitler metaphor in their rarefied world.
Now, following Cokie's Law (™ Digby) this specific comparison will be "out there." And from now on the "Obama's too popular" and "He's a celebrity" ads can connect with the real purpose of the movement conservatives who want to tell you:
"You know who else was as popular as Obama? Hitler. Hitler was a celebrity who spoke at big events too, and we all know what to do if we see a new Hitler rising, don't we? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge."As they say you can't unring the bell. We've been told in the past to just ignore sick metaphors. I can't stop her metaphor but I sure as hell can call her out for using it and demand that she come forward and apologize for her poor choice of words.
If I can't get a Senate resolution condemning this metaphor, then I want her to write a sincere apology in the WSJ. I want her poor choice of a metaphor exposed. Since it's already "out there" I want her to admit it was inappropriate. A writer at her level needs to apologize when they cross the line. It's like using the n-word or the f-word in polite society. You are supposed to know better. You are supposed to be ashamed that you have sunk that low. The only thing that would be worst is for them to be caught plagiarizing as in, "I actually didn't say this, it was my friends the thinking journalists who said it, I just stole it from _______ (insert names of "thinking journalists.") that would be close to an apology and would reveal who these people are who are whispering these metaphors in Ms. Noonan's ear.
This week will Ms. Noonan use the same metaphors to describe the raids of peace groups in St. Paul? Will she talk about what the riot police remind her of while they are attacking peaceful citizens? I doubt it. Like many on the Right she projects onto others what her own party is most guilty of.
BTW, it appears that Ms. Noonan has a potty mouth off the air (link).
Will She Apologize?
I hope that the part of her that is still an active member of the human race will apologize. I don't expect it. She wrote a book about the Pope, that had to remind her of what is right and wrong. If that part of her decides to apologize, great, but I don't want to see a faux apology. It is not a real apology when it sounds like this, "I'm sorry if someone was offended."
When people on the left apologize I notice that people on the right aren't happy until there is groveling, disowning and renouncing involved. I wouldn't mind some groveling, disowning or renouncing, but if it doesn't happen I want everyone to note that the difference from what they demand of us. Then we can say, "I'll apologize for calling so and so a blank as soon as Peggy Noonan apologizes for suggesting that my party are like the Nazi's at Nuremburg. And since she brought it up as a Very Serious Person applying to my party at our convention, then I'll bring up the other metaphor that goes with Nuremburg. War Crimes trials. And I'll bring it up as a Very Serious Person."
Look, I'm a 5th tier blogger with a silly name, with an education from Star Fleet Academy so she will ignore me and the whole "kerfuffle". But I will not ignore this. I'm not going to sit around as Peggy Noonan and her "thinking journalists" call my friends and my party Nazis.
Do we ignore cancer hoping it will get better on its own? No. Shall there be no consequences for this casual defamation hidden in a offhand remark about staging at a political convention?
When Peggy Noonan says something like this she isn't just "tapping into the zeitgeist" she is directing it.
I've asked three people who watched the convention if that image came to their mind. "No" they said. "What kind of person thinks that way?" Starting Thursday morning 2 million readers of the WSJ and 13 million Limbaugh listeners started thinking this way because movement conservatives and Peggy Noonan want them to think this way. It will be interesting to hear her comments about the RNC staging this week.
In talk radio, which I track, they aren't as smart or as subtle, but they are just as calculating and nasty with their words. They will come right out and call someone a Nazi, a Stalinist or a Communist. They will make these false claims EVEN if they know that the person is NOT a member of any of those groups. If you object to being associated with groups that are known for their acts of torture, killing of innocents and destroying of civil liberties when you do NOT stand for those they cry, "But, but, but you should hear the names that THEY call us! And those rappers! And the emails we get with the dirty words!" They also like to "joke" about killing people, which I don't find particularly funny either.
What happens when they think that we have crossed a line.
- If a prominent speech writer for Bill Clinton said this about the RNC convention, we WOULD see a Republican Hissy Fit ™ of epic proportions. They have held Hissy Fits for much less serious comments from far less serious players. (Remember the Hissy Fits over Wes Clark's comment accurate comment and over the MoveOn video contest and newspaper ads?)
According to the IOKIYAR rules (which are followed by most Republicans, lots of Democrats, and the majority of the media) I'm supposed to just ignore it or "get over it".
I'm sick of Republicans and conservatives calling me a Communist, a Nazi, a Stalinist and a fascist. I am a liberal and a registered Democrat. If you call me anything other than that you are being false and misleading.
Here is exactly what she said. For even more context go here.
The general thinking among thinking journalists, as opposed to journalists who merely follow the journalistic line of the day, is that the change of venue Thursday night to Invesco Field, and the huge, open air Obama acceptance speech is…one of the biggest and possibly craziest gambles of this or any other presidential campaign of the modern era. Everyone can define what can go wrong, and no one can quite define what "great move" would look like. It has every possibility of looking like a Nuremberg rally; it has too many variables to guarantee a good tv picture; the set, the Athenian columns, looks hokey; big crowds can get in the way of subtle oratory. My own added thought is that speeches are delicate; they're words in the air, and when you've got a ceiling the words can sort of go up to that ceiling and come back down again. But words said into an open air stadium…can just get lost in echoes, and misheard phrases. People working the technical end of the event are talking about poor coordination, unclear planning, and a Democratic National Committee that just doesn't seem capable of decisive and sophisticated thinking. So: this all does seem very much a gamble. At a Time magazine event Wednesday afternoon, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe suggested the power of the stadium event is in this: it's meant to be a metaphor for the openness and inclusiveness that has marked the Obama campaign. Open stadium, 60,000 people – "we're opening this up to average Americans." We'll see. In my experience when political professionals start talking metaphors there's usually good reason to get nervous. (Questions: how many of the 60,000 will be Coloradans? Are a lot of the tickets going to out of staters? Are they paying for tickets? Is the Mile High event actually a fundraiser? What's the top ticket going for?)
I condemn this Peggy Noonan metaphor and and I encourage the Congress, especially Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, and House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican to put together an official denouncement of Peggy Noonan for her repeating that comment made about my fellow Americans and specifically the attempt to mislead with a vicious metaphor the work of the production designer at the DNC event at Invesco Field.
It might read something like this.
"To express the sense of the Senate that
General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq,Bruce Rodgers, Production Designer for Democratic National Convention at Invesco field Denver deserves the full support of the Senate and strongly condemn personal attacks on the work and integrity of Bruce Rodgers and all members of the production and design United States Armed Forces."
And then the quotes could read something like this (link)
smear campaigncomments by Peggy Noonan and her "thinking journalist" friends consisted of entirely unwarranted and fallacious attacks, and sought to impugn the name of a highly respected man of integrity,"
That could be said by Sen. John Cornyn, TexasSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, could call on senators to "go on record in opposition to this outrageous ... and unacceptable
Bottom line: Ms. Noonan suggested that a group of Americans of all ages, creeds and colors were Nazis and that the person that they had come to choose as their democratically elected leader was like Adolf Hitler. When someone at her level says something like that in the Wall Street Journal it is inappropriate and profoundly disrespectful to her fellow Americans.
We aren't Nazis Peggy and Obama is not Hitler.
Stop suggesting it. It's wrong and you know it.