I demand to see the AP's list of invisible and inaudible "tea party activists"!

Noting the difficulty inherent in proving that something did not happen, Dave quotes an AP piece which criticizes Andrew Breitbart for not providing evidence to rebut the claim that racial epithets were shouted by Tea Party activists:

Conservative columnist Andrew Breitbart disputed accounts that tea party activists in Washington shouted racial epithets at black members of Congress amid the health care debate, although he didn't provide any evidence.
Of course, if you do provide evidence, as Eric Erickson did when he said that the videos showed no racial epithets, you will be accused of lying. "John King Lets Erick Erickson Tell Latest Right Wing Lie on Racial Slurs: They Didn't Happen."

The logic is utterly impenetrable. Saying something happened without proof makes it true, while denying it and offering proof is a "right wing lie."

Notice also how the allegation has changed. It has evolved from unknown persons who shouted in a crowd to "tea party activists in Washington shouted racial epithets." Yet no one -- not even the accusers -- have come up with the slightest proof that anyone there shouted a racial epithet.

As it has not been shown that a single person used a single racial epithet, how can it be claimed that "racial epithets" were shouted by "tea party activists"?

Because the AP says so?

What I'd like to know is how does the Associated Press know about these tea party activists, and why aren't they identifying them? Who are they, and where are they? Do they have a list of imaginary names like Joe McCarthy? Why won't the AP let the rest of us in on their game?

Because, if in fact there are invisible tea party activists that no one can see, who do not appear on any videos, but who nonetheless managed to shout racial epithets that no one can hear, they are obviously very powerful, very sinister people who have great magical powers -- powers they are clearly misusing to harm the Tea Party movement. The Tea Partiers should demand that the AP identify them so something can be done to stop them.

I'm glad Andrew Breitbart is offering a $10,000 reward.

posted by Eric on 03.28.10 at 06:37 PM


C'man Eric. It's Breitbart who made the claim that he had "proof." Whose fault is that? And if he's going to claim that John Lewis, of all people, is a liar - at the very least, you'd think he ought to have a basic understanding of the meaning of the verb "to prove." Breitbart seems to discredit himself every time he speaks, lately. And I'd generally hope that smart guys like you were a little more skeptical of bad arguments like that.

AemJeff   ·  March 28, 2010 10:52 PM

I'm pretty damn skeptical of Lewis myself, AemJeff.

These clowns were going through the crowd, with their own people filming what occured. If they'd had anyone - ANYONE - say anything untoward, it would have been up on prime time news.

Of course, absence of proof isn't proof of absence, but with the sheer number of cameras in hand on BOTH sides, don't you think someone would have claimed Breitbart's reward by now if there HAD been slurs like Lewis claimed?

JLawson   ·  March 29, 2010 1:15 AM

Brietbart has upped the offer to $100,000.

M. Simon   ·  March 29, 2010 3:05 AM

If Lewis is lying (as many say he is), or if he's hyperimaginative and suggestible and thought he heard the N-word, what he says is rhetorically bulletproof by virtue of his being a civil rights icon. A white person who calls him a liar would be accused of racism, and a black person who calls him a liar would be accused of being a traitor.

Of course, none of this should come as a surprise. If opposition to health care reform is racism, then any disagreement on anything is.

Eric Scheie   ·  March 29, 2010 11:46 AM

JLawson, that's facile. Just as you said "absence of proof isn't proof of absence." Lewis does have some innate credibility - I think he earned that fair and square on Bloody Sunday in 1965. If you can show that he's a liar - that is, if you have something better than Breitbart's unproven allegations, then that's different. But hiding behind the "everything's racism when we say it" trope doesn't get you very far in this case, in my opinion.

AemJeff   ·  March 29, 2010 12:03 PM

They aren't Breitbart's unproven allegations, they are Lewis'.
Breitbart wants proof of Lewis' assertion.

I find it pretty funny that someone saying, "Prove your assertions" is the one who has to supply the proof of a negative.

Veeshir   ·  March 29, 2010 2:34 PM

AemJeff, maybe the latest meme will be is that the Dems are too pure to soil themselves with Breitbart's money, and they're not going to release the video they have because thy're tracking the perpetrators and don't want them to have a chance to hide.

But face it - if there had been ANY video with a slur on it, those race-baiting poverty pimps (Oh, was that racist? Sorry...) would have left a hole in the air getting it to the media.

They said it happened - they need to prove it.

JLawson   ·  March 29, 2010 8:11 PM

Cool! A self-refuting post!

AemJeff   ·  March 29, 2010 11:27 PM


I see you have no proof of Lewis' assertions either.

"Because I say so" is not good enough for such a serious (in today's America) charge.

M. Simon   ·  March 30, 2010 12:29 AM

Actually Simon, I never claimed to offer proof. I did claim that Lewis has earned stature such that merely calling him a liar is insufficient; and I've said that Breitbart seems pretty convincingly discredited.

AemJeff   ·  March 30, 2010 9:08 AM

See AemJeff, nobody's calling him a liar, we want to see proof of his assertion.
There's a difference and it's disingenuous to try to conflate the two.

Veeshir   ·  March 30, 2010 11:44 AM

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