Good liberals like Salon.com writer Joan Walsh don't believe in racial profiling. But political profiling, well, that's a different story.
In her August 8 article, "Spotting white supremacists," Walsh used the recent horrendous Sikh temple shooting as an occasion to dust off a widely-maligned 2009 Department of Homeland Security report that suggested that domestic terrorist incidents were likely to hail from extremists on the political right. She also used the occasion to slander conservative Matt Drudge by comparing his website to that of a white supremacist group called Stormfront [emphasis mine]:
The ginned-up controversy over the Department of Homeland Security’s 2009 report on the rise of hate groups looks particularly stupid now, given that Page seems straight out of the pages of the report. “Rightwing Extremism” predicted that a troubled economy plus the election of a black president could inspire a rise in racist hate groups and actions. The report was particularly concerned with “lone wolves.” As Jonathan Capehart has already noted, it found that “lone wolves … embracing violent right-wing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States.”
It went on to say that “white supremacist lone wolves pose the most significant domestic terrorist threat because of their low profile and autonomy — separate from any formalized group — which hampers warning efforts.” The report also noted that military experience could make such lone wolves particularly dangerous. Page was a veteran (I’m not implying veterans are violence prone). Wells Fargo foreclosed on his North Carolina home in January. His girlfriend reportedly dumped him in June. He was a lone wolf who lost his home and was already deep into white supremacist insanity. We don’t know when, or why, he moved to violence. But “Rightwing Extremism” seems prescient now.
Instead of being hailed, or simply ignored (as government reports tend to be), it inspired a clamorous right-wing backlash against even the possibility that extremist right-wing rhetoric married to ideas of racial superiority might result in violence. Matt Drudge, who regularly trumpets supposedly under-covered stories about crime by African-Americans (particularly stories that feature white victims), was one of the loudest voices of opposition to the release of the DHS report, which had been commissioned by George W. Bush. One Drudge banner headline shrieked “SHE IS WATCHING YOU,” she being Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. So racial profiling and stereotyping is fine when it comes to crime by African-Americans, but not by whites. We’re used to that kind of double standard from Drudge, whose site some days resembles Stormfront in its hysterical hyping of black-on-white crime.
Besides smearing Drudge, the MSNBC contributor urged that we need to "fight the tendency, too common among white people but not exclusive to them, to pick enemies and allies according to skin color" Her solution: figure out why "our society seems to be creating more lone wolves, who are often - but not exclusively - white" and to urge "white people to be more pro-active about confronting the racists in our midst."
Walsh patted herself on the back, noting that she has "ruined [her] share of parties and holidays by calling out someone’s racist jokes or comments" and will " continue to." Of course, by definition, anyone who frequents posh dinner parties is by definition someone who is unlikely to be an economically marginalized loner. Joan's valient efforts to stamp out racist jokes by rich liberal WASPs is not going to make a lick of difference in thwarting the next Wade Michael Page.
All the same, Walsh happily cites journalist Rinku Sen, who "implores [her] white friends" to "make a fuss, cause a family crisis, become unpopular, speak up" when a "nutty uncle or classmate goes off about some set of foreigners" as her inspiration to take such an enlightened stance.
Walsh also complained that the Wisconsin massacre, "didn't generate the king of media coverage, or the political response, that the Aurora theater shootings did" and that the torching of a Missouri mosque the day after the Colorado tragedy "got less attention still." The reason, she implied, is rooted in race.
Of course, the Aurora shootings had a far higher death toll and the perpetrator is alive and facingthe justice system, ensuring that the proceedings will be an ongoing story, which has a little something to do with the media coverage.
Managing Editor's Note: The above is revised from an earlier edition to highlight Walsh's smear of Drudge.