The other week comedian — I use the word loosely — Kathy Griffin did a photoshoot with a replica of President Donald Trump’s severed, bloody head.
Conservatives were outraged, and demanded that liberals condemn Griffin for her tasteless act. Which is a little puzzling, because Griffin isn’t so much a liberal as she is a hyena desperate to get on television. But liberals did, in fact, join conservatives in condemning Griffin, and she lost her job as a commentator on CNN.
Curiously absent from this debate were the free speech absolutists who go after college kids for protesting speakers they don’t like on their campuses. Where were those guys, defending Griffin’s right to be offensive? To contribute to the discourse, no matter how outside the bounds of conventional wisdom? It was odd, wasn’t it, that none of those people took a stand here, despite being willing to defend racists and sexists as having an absolute right to be heard?
But, never mind. That’s not the point I want to make.
The point is that conservatives were so outraged by a portrayal of violence in a still photo that they demanded, insisted, upon an apology and even got Griffin fired.
Keep that in mind, and now remember that when an actual congressional candidate in Montana actually committed a violent act against a reporter, and was in fact arrested and charged with assault … the conservative media was silent.
Well, that’s not true, actually — a lot of them chortled that the reporter had it coming. Come on, it was funny! Don’t you hate the media?
Greg Gianforte’s attack on a reporter, of course, was hardly the only recent act of real violence committed recently.
In February, a white man in Kansas shot and killed a man of Indian descent and wounded another, shouting “get out of my country!” The same conservative media that was so angry at a picture of violence against the president had nothing much to say about this real act of terror against immigrants.
In March, James Harris Jackson, 28, took a bus from Maryland to New York City specifically to attack black people, according to police. He used a 26-inch mini sword to stab and kill 63-year-old Timothy Caughman. He did to somebody in real life what Griffin pretended to do to somebody in a picture. But don’t look for the outrage on conservative media; there was none.
In May, a 22-year-old white man affiliated with online hate groups came to Maryland, where he stabbed and killed a black man who had just been commissioned in the U.S. Army.
The conservative media was deadly silent on this act of terror. It has not condemned Alt-Reich: Nation, the hate group to which he belongs, or called for it to be shut down.
Griffin has been more seriously condemned by liberals than an actual murderer of a U.S. Army officer has by conservatives.
And, of course, the suspect in the brutal Portland killings late last month marched and networked with white supremacists groups. Conservative politicians and media have yet to condemn them or call for white supremacists who are actively targeting minorities in America to be investigated and stopped, even though we are seeing a sharp spike in such attacks across the country.
Now look, I absolutely reject the idea that Trump voters, let alone conservatives, are all racists. That’s just not true. But Trump voters need to understand that racists are acting in their names. They are going to pro-Trump rallies and giving the Nazi salute, calling for segregation of the races, bringing weapons — and they believe that they are doing it with your blessing and support.
They’re not, of course, but how do they know that, if you’re not saying so? If you’re not demanding the same accountability that a hack C-list comedian is held to for taking a picture of fake violence?
This is a “character counts” moment for Trump voters and conservatives. There are Nazis at your rallies and white supremacists acting in your name. Are you going to call them out? Or are you OK with Nazis as long as they vote your way?
What would a person of integrity do?
Benjamin Wachs archives his work at www.TheWachsGallery.com. Email him at Benjamin@Fiction365.com.