Bigotry On The Loose

It wasn’t Copenhagen, it was Washington and something that transpired there recently was ugly and more than a little frightening. Bigotry was on the loose.

It wasn’t covered much by the country’s major media, and those that did cover it seem to have missed a critical piece of the story which was reported by slate.com and the Financial Times.

Michael Scherer wrote that of the attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Omni Shoreham Hotel February 10, “about half are overdressed college kids in pearls, blue blazers or striped ties, young Republicans who come to D.C. for the chance to flirt with each other, watch Ann Coulter act outrageous, and attempt to sneak cases of Bud Light into their hotel rooms — the kind of students that collect internships like Mardi Gras beads.”

The young’ns were treated to a lot of free Chardonnay and speeches by the likes of Vice Dick Cheney, Phyllis Shlafly, Newt Gingrich, and Lt. Colonel Oliver North. But their favorite was Coulter. FT said they made up two-thirds of Coulter’s boisterous crowd. It was standing room only. According to the religious conservative website crosswalk.com, she received, “a rock star welcome.” Her comments were the most enthusiastically received.

According to FT, “To a chorus of ‘We love you, Ann’, she launched into her trademark outrageous one-liners, denouncing moderate Republicans as “rats” and “Washington weenies.”

“Libertarian Republicans fared little better,” wrote FT’s Caroline Daniel. “If you are going to be a conservative in America, you can’t be a pussy,” said Coulter. Asked to describe her most difficult ethical dilemma, she gave a loud sigh. “There was one time I had a shot at [President Bill] Clinton.”

Then, talking about Iran possibly acquiring the bomb, she said, “Post-9/11 our philosophy should be: Raghead talks tough? Raghead faces consequences.”

During the question and answer period, a young Middle Eastern man rose to explain that the Republican Party was trying to recruit Muslim voters. (He may have been one of those peopling the “Muslims for Bush” table in the lobby.) “Please, please, please don’t say rag head,” he pleaded. “Yeah, I made a few jokes at Muslims. They killed 3,000 Americans,” she retorted to applause.

“Ms Coulter’s positive reception was a reflection of the audience,” reported FT. “Unlike the snowy-haired veterans at many European conservative party conferences, the CPAC crowd gets younger every year.” It’s not just that “we are winning. We have all the pretty girls on our side,” said Ms Coulter, as she surveyed the room. “She threw out a lot of red meat and gets the kids fired up,” Saul Anuzis, the chair of the Michigan Republican Party, said later.

Another crowd pleaser apparently was anti-French jokes. Gingrich dismissed the word détente as a “fancy French word” and after Cheney spoke, the night’s emcee told a joke about how French people screw in light bulbs.

“CPAC offers a chance to learn from other student activists and attend workshops,” wrote Scherer. “Aspiring young politicians come to network and practice their two-handed handshakes. Potential presidential candidates come to cultivate their bases.”

Max Blumenthal reported on the Huffington blog that after Coulter’s rant he approached Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist in the CPAC exhibitors’ hall and asked him what he thought of Coulter’s characterization 15 minutes earlier of Muslims as “rag heads,” to which Frist replied, “I wasn’t there so I better not comment.”

Obviously they also come to practice being gross under the tutelage of the leading lights of the Republican right. The come wearing their insensitivity on their sleeves, to do a Scandinavian cartoonist one better in subjecting a whole people to verbal abuse and derision. Loosen them up with a little Chardonnay they can be quite brown-shirt-like.

Sure, Coulter herself is old news; not every nut case thing out of her mouth need be spread around. But a thousand or so supposedly educated young women and men, dressed to the eight and a half and aspiring to lead the nation some day cheering her racist garbage should be quite alarming. Something very stinky is going on in Washington and it was on full display that day at the Omni Sheraton. Why the major media didn’t report on this aspect of the meeting is a mystery. Maybe the reporters don’t like white wine.

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