Monday, August 10, 2015

Seeing red over RedState, or why Erick Erickson isn't welcome here anymore

You might have noticed in the past that I've linked to quotes from a conservative website called RedState, run by conservative activist Erick Erickson (as a matter of fact, I think I did one in the last week or so).  I'm not going to link to them here, but if you haven't read them, you might want to take a chance now, because you ain't gonna see anymore quotes from RedState at this site.

In the circular firing squads that now comprise both the Republicans and the conservatives, Erickson got off a shot last Friday night, when he disinvited Donald Trump to his RedState bash over the weekend, because of comments Trump made about Fox news host and self-shill Megyn Kelly, who did such an execrable job in her part as host of the GOP "debate" on Thursday night.  Erickson was offended by Trump's post-debate comments, thinking them to be in bad taste.   I'm not going to go into a whole lot of detail on this because it's all kind of distasteful, plus I have more important things to write about right, things that have nothing to do with either this blog or the TV one.*  However, if you want to read about it from the best possible source, I'll steer you to this wonderful column from Mark Steyn.

*However, dear readers, I'll never desert you entirely.  No matter how busy I am, I'll always have time for a post or two.  Just not too many long ones like this one.  For the time being, at least.

Let me make it clear at the outset: I'm not a supporter of Donald Trump, although I think he's absolutely tapped into the discontent seething inside the Republican Party these days.  (As was well-put by Rush here.)  I'm not really for anyone at the moment, although if I was forced to pick someone, I'd go with fellow Texan Ted Cruz.  My suspicion is that it doesn't matter who anyone votes for at this point; both parties are going to job you.  The Democrats are in full leftist mode, with no room for conservatives and increasingly no room for moderates or even classical liberals.  The Republicans, the party of capitulation, seems far more concerned with maintaining their own position in the status quo than affecting any real change.  Both parties hold the average person in contempt, both parties are run by elitist monied interests, and the only difference in how they want to spend your money is on which of their pet projects and crony capitalist enterprises they favor.  In other words, they both want to spend all your money; they just differ on the specifics.

With that all out of the way, let's get to brass tacks, as it were.*  What is it specifically that set me off on Erick Erickson?

*And what is it about brass tacks, anyway?  Wiktionary says it dates back to the 1860's specifically from Texas (no surprise there)., and may refer to "the brass tacks in the counter of a hardware store or draper’s shop used to measure cloth in precise units (rather than holding one end to the nose and stretching out the arm to approximately one yard)."  In other words, let's deal with facts, not estimates.

Even when I read RedState regularly, there was something vaguely unsettling about it.  Perhaps it was the crudity with which some of their writers addressed the issues of the day, not to mention the fact that many of them simply aren't very good writers.  But there was something more to it as well, an edge of nastiness that didn't really accomplish anything if your goal was to get people to respect, if not agree with, your viewpoint.  I began to suspect that the "Red" in RedState stood more for red meat than red-state politics.

Then there was their habit of banning comments from people who disagreed with them.  This didn't happen across the board, but it most frequently occurred with people who chose to respond to RedState using the same rhetorical flourishes that RedState itself used.  In other words, Pot - meet Kettle.*  I understand the idea that a blog is private property, and that the blog owner is free to do whatever he or she likes with it.  Nonetheless, I've often wondered about people who block critical comments.  Yes, there are times when it's necessary - in the case of organized campaigns by people trying to bring down a blog, for example.  However, in the case of a site as large as RedState, I doubt this is the case.

*Certainly, they're not the only bloggers who are hypersensitive to seeing themselves in the faces of others.  See also: Shea, Mark.

So even when I was a regular reader, there was something that bothered me about the site.  Maybe it was Erickson's increasing habit of using religious, indeed Biblical, allusions in his writing.  Now, I do this myself at times, but I hope when I do, it appears organic and natural, and not as Erickson did, in what seemed to be an attempt to attach legitimacy to his point of view.  You know, when all else fails: use God as a crutch.  There was something unnatural, and not to his benefit, in the way he did this.

It wasn't until this kerfuffle that I finally found out what it was, though, and for that I suppose I should be grateful to Erickson.  You can see a lot of it in this exchange Erickson had with Neil Cavuto on Fox today, when Cavuto chose to read some of Erickson's own tweets on-air - many of them, in fact, coming across as, well, sexist.  Which, as I recall, is what he'd accused Donald Trump of.  Cavuto was joined by fellow Fox commentator Greta Van Susteren, who said that Erickson "has said the worst things about women."  I told you that Erickson was a Fox contributor, didn't I?  Apparently the revolution really is consuming its own.

Then there was this story on why Erickson didn't invite Dr. Ben Carson to the RedState gathering this past weekend (the same event for which he'd disinvited Trump).  In the body of the story is a line from Erickson in which he describes himself not as a journalist, but an "activist."  And there's nothing wrong with being an activist.  But the problem, not only with Fox but with CNN, MSNBC and all the rest, is that all they do is employ activists, whom they pass off as either experts or representatives of a particular point of view, in hopes of setting off some kind of manufactured shout-fest that just serves to turn off even more voters.  In fact, whatever happened to the idea of becoming an activist in order to make things better?  If Erickson was interested in this, he wouldn't be quite so inflammatory; instead, he might actually try and convince people of his positions.  As Van Susteren says, "No one should pay any attention to them – they are not persuasive, they are noise, and in some instances boorish and obnoxious.  I suspect this guy [Erickson] feels that he makes himself relevant or even important if he says or tweets like this. I just roll my eyes and wonder what is going on in his head!"

As if all this wasn't enough, there was this comment Erickson made regarding the Virgin Mary, whom he said, "My wife tells me Mary had PMS on the way to Bethlehem.  Says the Bible says Mary rode Joseph's ass all the way there."

OK, so I'm going to put my religion hat on for a minute, and I hope it doesn't come across the way I accused Erickson's of sounding when I wrote about it a few paragraphs ago.  But as someone who has a particular devotion to both Mary and Joseph, I find that comment not only not funny, it's insulting and offensive.  It borders on blasphemous, as much as "Piss Christ" in some ways.  And it just isn't the kind of comment someone ought to be proud of making in public.  As I've often said, there are some people who just shouldn't be on Twitter.

In case you haven't figured it out by now, I'm not a fan of Erick Erickson's.  I think he's done much to lower the level of discourse in the public arena.  (I'm not a fan of Megyn Kelly's either, but one attack per day is about my limit.)  I will give him credit for one thing, though.  He points out that his blog is private property, which means he can do what he wants with it.  That's true of my blog as well, which means I can do whatever I want.  Including not linking to RedState, or Erick Erickson, again.

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