Friday, September 18, 2009

Hurrah! More Macintyre

Hurrah! More Macintyre

What on earth is it about Daniel Hannan that drives lefties so frothingly insane?  Liberal Conspiracy has been devoted to tales of the bald crusader for weeks, and today our little friend James Macintyre joins the fray.

The target for the latest broadside is rather odd.  Odd because it is a blog post in which Dan, who supported Barack Obama for the US Presidency, says the following:

We should admit something frankly, we conservatives. As the amiableĀ Jimmy Carter says, there is an element of racism in some of the hostility to Obama. At the extreme end of the spectrum, it can lead to this. But, in a softer and perhaps less conscious form, it leads to some of the vicious personal attacks on him - the ones invariably picked up by Leftist media and presented as typical.

Barack Obama has an exotic background, and it would be odd if some people weren’t unsettled by it. During the campaign, he made a virtue of his unusual upbringing. He was at once from the middle of the country (Kansas) and from its remotest edge (Hawaii). He was both black and white. He was a Protestant brought up among Muslims. He seemed to have family on every continent. Like St Paul, he made a virtue of being all things to all men.

On one level, the strategy worked brilliantly. But it could hardly fail to leave a chunk of people feeling that Obama wasn’t exactly a regular guy. Hence, for example, the surprising number of Americans who question whether he was born in the US (see here).

But if conservatives should accept that some of the attacks on the forty-fourth president are discreditable, Lefties ought, by the same token, to concede that the overwhelming majority of the president’s opponents are not motivated by personal dislike. Rather, they have reached a considered view that he is making a series of expensive and lasting mistakes. They are alarmed - with reason - at the colossal debt he is running up (see here). They point out that he was elected on a promise of tax-cuts.

In other words, it would be silly to deny that some of the attacks on Obama are racist – and this is disgraceful.  However, most opponents to Obama are not racist, and Obama’s supporters should not try to close down debate by insisting that they are.

Rent-a-gob Parmjit Dhanda has a fair go at ‘most bare-faced misrepresentation of an argument’ in the Daily Mirror:

It’s excusing racism. He is implying if you have what he calls an ‘exotic’ background you can be treated differently.

When clearly it’s nothing of the sort.  But Jayson Blair wannabe Macintyre takes it a whole leap further.

I believe the Conservative Party is institutionally racist. I always have done. I have witnessed too many "jokes" or sideways looks when talking about immigration with Tories -- and done too much research into racism in the party over the years -- to think otherwise. But many would disagree.

I would ask those people to read Daniel Hannan's blog for the Telegraph (not some dodgy recording at a Monday Club meeting, but words written down by him), on the question, raised correctly by the former president Jimmy Carter, of whether the rows in the US over President Obama's health-care plans are fuelled by an unspoken racism (which they are).

Hannan neatly proves Carter's point by saying:

"Barack Obama has an exotic background and it would be odd if some people weren't unsettled by it."

"[Obama seems to] have family on every continent".

"[I]t could hardly fail to leave a chunk of people feeling that Obama wasn't exactly a regular guy."

First things first, Obama does have an exotic background.  Born in Hawaii, to a Kenyan father and mother from Kansas, he was brought up partly in Indonesia.  To almost anyone that would be an exotic background – let alone to how it plays in Peoria.  The idea – further articulated in the comments by Mehdi Hassan – that the phrase ‘exotic background’ is code for being a racist is particularly ridiculous.

Particularly and especially ridiculous because Barack Obama himself says that he has an exotic background.

''I have an unusual name and an exotic background, but my values are essentially American values,'' Mr. Obama said. ''I'm rooted in the African-American community, but I'm not limited by it. I think this election shows that.''

Second, and more importantly, writing a post strongly implying that Dan Hannan is a racist, and justifying that implication by selective quotation and misrepresentation is, what, defamatory, false, based on nothing but smear and innuendo and vaguely grubby.  Even if it’s not literally the case, you can see why Dan assumed Macintyre was a Labour spin doctor can’t you?  He’s got all the attributes.

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