MSNBC Creates False Equivalence for Itself

Melissa Harris-PerryThis is a good segment from The Young Turks, about another MSNBC “scandal.” What happened was that Melissa Harris-Perry had some comedians on her show and they made a joke about the Romney family. Immediately, there is a freak out in the right wing media. The comedian then apologized and Harris-Perry apologized again and again and again. What’s interesting is that there is literally nothing to this. And the fact that Harris-Perry feels the need to beat herself up publicly, just shows how successful the right has been at working the refs.

Jimmy Dore is great in this segment because he totally calls it: this is false equivalence. Now, whenever anyone on MSNBC says anything that ruffles a single feather on the right, those on the left are equating it with the really vile stuff that is said on the right. This isn’t an MSNBC problem; this is a liberal problem. For all of their awful behavior, at least the right wing is loyal to itself. The left wing throws its own people under the bus for the smallest of causes.

Where I disagree with Dore is that Harris-Perry wasn’t over-apologizing because she isn’t smart. She was over-apologizing to protect her job. Given that both Alec Baldwin and Martin Bashir were fired over minor things, there is no reason to believe that MSNBC wouldn’t have turned on her as well. And notice, these two guys were fired, but when Phil Robertson says the vilest of things about happy blacks before they were allowed to vote, nothing happens to him.

I have gotten used to the mainstream media bending to the whims of conservative outrage. But this is totally out of hand when the supposed liberal cable channel (that I no longer watch because of the firing of Bashir) allows itself to be worked the same way. Have you noticed that very little has been said about Sarah Palin’s outrage about Bashir and then her great defense of Phil Robertson’s free speech rights? Come on liberals. Grow a fucking backbone. We’re fighting this war of ideas on the conservatives’ terms. So even when we win, we lose.

Check out the segment; it is really good:

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “MSNBC Creates False Equivalence for Itself

  1. So if liberals make jokes about how blacks don’t belong in the Republican party, they are somehow being insulting to black people, or Republicans? Because pigeonholing people’s political stances in wrong?

    Then I’m waiting for the outrage machine to be offended at every hit country song from the last 20 years.

  2. @JMF – I was thinking about that. It’s supposedly terrible to acknowledge that blacks vote overwhelmingly for the Democrats. But it is perfectly fine for the Republican Party to push white racial resentment for almost 5 decades in order to get elected. It is fine for them to try to stop blacks from even voting.

    As for the Romneys, I worry about that child–all of those children actually. I agree with Dawkins: forcing religion on children is abuse. I don’t think children should be allowed into a church until they at least develop formal thought–about 14 in our culture. Otherwise, they can’t make a choice, they just believe what they are told. And most never get beyond that.

  3. I wish. That’s something which will never, ever happen. Americans consider it their sacred right to indoctrinate children in whatever lunacy they find appealing.

    What I’d love to see would be mandatory comparative religion courses. They have these in most Euro countries and that’s why the right hates the thought of having them here. Courses like that undermine parents who insist their beliefs are the exclusive truth.

    Kids could do a month on each religion. (There you go, Bill O’ — we’ve put Christ back in Christmas!) Try fasting during Ramadan. Cook Jewish food for a holiday. Get assigned random Hindu deities to write papers on, etc. Lots of possibilities!

    Oh, dreams, dreams. At least that Romney kid will be rich. And maybe when he grows up he’ll read about how his grandpa got clobbered by Nixon for trying to reach out to the urban poor, while his dad got clobbered by a Black president after telling every not-rich American to crawl in a hole and die. Mormons are BIG on family history, y’know . . .

  4. @JMF – Robert M. Price talks about how he used to teach introduction to religion at the college level to all these kids who were raised in these strict Christian households. And they knew basically nothing about the Bible. He would ask them, "What did you do in Sunday School?" And they would say, "Talk about sports."

    American Christians would never allow religion to be taught for the same reason that they hate "Happy Holidays!" They don’t want anyone to suggest that theirs is just another religion. It’s fine to study Islam and all that, but Christianity is [i]real[/i].

    BTW: I found this [url=]image of Jesus[/url] the way he probably looked. I wonder about the green eyes and his beard seems trimmed. But it’s a start.

  5. In that image, Jesus looks — shall I say — a bit Neanderthal? Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

    So. Here’s why fundamentalists know nothing of the Bible. Stick with me on this logic, it makes sense in the end.

    I remember a few years ago picking up a "Book Of Mormon" I found on the bus. I thought, "hey, I know nothing about their faith, I’ll read it." I couldn’t read it. And I have a high tolerance for reading boring stuff. It was just nonsensical gibberish.

    Not to knock "BOM." They’re ALL like that, the Bible, the Koran, the Bhagavad-Gita, all of ’em. These are things that had profound mystic, explaining-existence-relevance to people as foreign from our understanding of experience as, well, Neanderthals.

    Of course, Joseph Smith wasn’t (probably) transcribing Bronze Age angel dictation. He was either making it up or might have believed he was transcribing, who knows. But whether or not he was deliberately making ancient-sounding stuff up, or just in a sort of schizoid altered state where he thought he was receiving revelations (maybe Muhammed was, too), the complete dumfounding totality of his goofy book isn’t what matters.

    It’s how teachers, preachers and parents frame segments of the holy books that matters.

    And that’s why I couldn’t read "BOM." It’s (consciously or not) like every other ancient holy text. Those writings have scant relevance to anyone born in the last 1500 years. When you grow up in such a religion, though, people interpret those writings for you. They explain to you what the nonsensical anecdotes mean, today, RIGHT NOW TO YOUR LIFE! LIKE AWESOME!

    Since I didn’t grow up Mormon, their gibberish means nothing to me. But I can pick out important stories from the Bible easily enough, and tell anyone what they are supposed to mean.

    So of course hardly any Christians are familiar with the Bible, or devotees of other faiths familiar with their sacred texts. Such familiarity is for theologians, studying under other theologians who make sure few currently anathema interpretations are deduced from the utterly irrelevant instructions on how to properly bleed out sacrificial goats, or which family names carried the most social cachet in 450 B.C.E.

    It suddenly strikes me that this is a big problem with hoping current forms of religion can be modernized. There are things in the Bible, and I’d wager in most holy texts, that are nice, useful, even occasionally profound. But they’re told in such distant terms that it’s far easier for parents and preachers and other mini-totalitarians to focus on the "submit to power" segments than the "look for existential truth within yourself and your own conscience" segments. As long as these old books (or books pretending to be old by being just as looney-tune) are held up as, well, gospel, and their interpretation dependent on experts in insanity, there’s not much we can hope to see from religion.

    Why not a community of people who cherish the best of all these ancient (or Mormon) texts without venerating them? I suspect because the very idea of existence is so incredibly, bogglingly brain-warping that most people who want to broach the topic and debate it with others are intimidated (as well they should be; existence is fucking spooky.) It’s like the choices are A) forget about it, B) submit to dubious authority on the subject, or C) wash the spooky away by making it comfy and congratulating oneself for the metaphysical effort.

    Unitarians and Quakers weren’t dogmatic, and took this stuff very seriously. And they’re all but gone.

    But, hey, we have "The Book Of Mormon"!

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