To a Truther, denial of a false charge is proof of guilt!

What does it take these days to rebut or debunk a lie? Maybe I am living on another planet from some of my fellow citizens, but I thought the claim that Tea Party protesters shouted the N-word at a congressman had been thoroughly debunked by people who simply took time to review the numerous videos of the entire "incident" which are all over the Internet. As no one ever posted any video which showed the N-word being used, I figured that was the end of it. Sure, there will remain unreasonable bloggers on the left, just as there are Birth Certificate Truthers on the right.

I guess Leonard Pitts, Jr. is a sort of "Tea Party racism Truther" for he not only acts as if the story was never debunked, but he claims the denial of it proves that the Tea Partiers are inherent racists, like the Klansmen of the 1960s.

His piece bears at least three titles. The one in my local paper is not available at the Detroit Free Press website, but its title is: "Apologies don't excuse the rottenness within Tea Party protests." Elsewhere, it is titled "Tea party and racists -- 'isolated incidents' no more" and "Racists will never admit their racism."

The central theme is that a denial is an admission, and the more someone denies something, the more guilty he is of it.

Apparently unaware that it has been debunked, Pitts begins by asserting that the N-word incident actually happened:

So it turns out that, contrary to what I argued in this space a few weeks back, racism is not "a major component" of the so-called tea party movement. I am informed of this by dozens of tea party activists indignant and insulted that I would even suggest such a thing.

In other news, tea party protesters called John Lewis a "nigger" the other day in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol.

For the record, Lewis wasn't their only target. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver was spat upon. Rep. Barney Frank, who is gay, was called "faggot."

But it is Lewis' involvement that gives the Saturday incident its bittersweet resonance. The 70-year-old representative from Georgia is, after all, among the last living icons of the Civil Rights Movement.

A discussion of Lewis's inspiring struggle during the Civil Rights Movement follows. He was one of those guys who was there when things were violent and ugly, and he braved the Klan. And while there is no denying his heroism, I cannot understand how that could give "bittersweet resonance" to an "incident" many decades later which has never been shown to have happened at all.

What I cannot figure out is whether Pitt even knows about the video that refutes the allegation. He says nothing about the video, and instead misconstrues Amy Kremer's initial remarks as a dismissal, and as an apology:

Amy Kremer, coordinator of the Tea Party Express, went on Fox News to dismiss what she called an "isolated" incident. Your first instinct may be to cede the benefit of the doubt on that one. It seems unfair to tar nine reasonable people with the hateful behavior of one lunatic.

But ask yourself: When is the last time organizers of protests on other hot-button issues -- say, abortion rights or globalization -- had to apologize for "isolated incidents" like these?

Moreover, given how often tea party leaders have been forced to disavow hateful signs and slogans and even the presence of organized white supremacist groups in their midst, is it really fair to use the word "isolated"? Is there not a rottenness here? And is not the unwillingness to call that rottenness by name part and parcel of the reason it endures?

First of all, if something did not happen, no disavowal or apology is needed. And how often have Tea Partiers been groundlessly accused of racism? If you are often falsely accused of something, doesn't it stand to reason that you will be often forced to deny it? By what logic is denial of an allegation proof that it it is true?

The only "logic" that comes to mind is the Truther "logic" of paranoid conspiracy theorists.

Bad Pitts takes this paranoid illogic a step further. He says that the denial proves the Tea Partiers are really just like the Klansmen who attacked John Lewis during the Civil Rights era:

Not that the denial surprises.

Often we tell ourselves lies to spare ourselves truths. Had you asked them, the people who locked John Lewis inside that restaurant, the ones who mauled him at that bus station and smashed him down on that bridge, would not have said they acted from a rottenness within.

No, like the ones who called him "nigger" half a century later, they would have told you they were good people fighting for principle, trying to save this country from the liberals, the socialists and the communists.

They would not have said they were racists. Racists never do.

Is it possible that Pitts never heard that this story was debunked? After all, he doesn't even address the issue.

He is not some ideologically driven left wing blogger; he's a major syndicated columnist, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. Presumably a member of that elite club of people with access to layers of fact checkers. You would think that either he or someone working for him might at least have watched the video.

But maybe the absence of the N-word in the video wouldn't matter. I mean, if you think that denying something proves its existence, then its absence in the video probably proves that it is actually present in the video.

I don't know how you could have a discussion with people who think like that. They'd probably call you a racist or a child molester, and any denial would be proof of the accusation.

(Yeah, yeah, I know that racists and child molesters are not moral equivalents, so please don't dump on my for that bit of hyperbole. After all, we all know that Roman Polanski is a far greater villain than the Tea Partiers..... Right?)

AFTERTHOUGHT: As to why Pitts and so many of his fellow leftists are relentlessly promoting the Big Lie that Tea Parties are racist, it makes a lot of sense if the policy goal is containment. I think there may be a fear in liberal circles that the Tea Party Movement has gotten too big, and they may have decided that the best way to frighten ordinary people away and keep attendance down is by having as many prominent media people as possible hammering away at the racist meme as frequently and as often as possible -- the hope being that people will start thinking that if so many people are saying this it must be true.

And because racism is the last thing anyone wants to be associated with, then merely making the association by way of allegations ought to (it is hoped) be enough to scare ordinary people away.

MORE: Andrew Breitbart is offering $10,000 to anyone who can prove the N-word was used against Lewis even once:

It's time for the allegedly pristine character of Rep. John Lewis to put up or shut up. Therefore, I am offering $10,000 of my own money to provide hard evidence that the N- word was hurled at him not 15 times, as his colleague reported, but just once. Surely one of those two cameras wielded by members of his entourage will prove his point.

And surely if those cameras did not capture such abhorrence, then someone from the mainstream media -- those who printed and broadcast his assertions without any reasonable questioning or investigation -- must themselves surely have it on camera. Of course we already know they don't. If they did, you'd have seen it by now.


Rep. Lewis, if you can't do that, I'll give him a backup plan: a lie detector test. If you provide verifiable video evidence showing that a single racist epithet was hurled as you walked among the tea partiers, or you pass a simple lie detector test, I will provide a $10K check to the United Negro College Fund.

(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

posted by Eric on 03.26.10 at 01:21 PM


Wow. You're right. The fact that a 20 second video clip exists which does not record anyone using the "n word" proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that no one said it.

I mean, there is just no possible way that a single particular 20 second clip of video from a large rally could fail to include the word if somebody in a large crowd had uttered it during several hours of protests. The fact that it's not on that 20 sec. clip means that no one in a crowd of thousands ever said such a thing during the entire protest Ever.

This is HUGE! Do you understand the implications!??! I have seen a number of 20 sec. clips from Iraq during which no one was killed. That means that no one died during the Iraq war. OMG!! The entire notion that people were dying over there just a media created smear that can now, thankfully, be debunked by the true patriots.

Holy S**T!!! Did you realize that there is FAR more than 20 seconds of video footage featuring O.J. NOT killing his wife!! He really is innocent! We got it wrong for all these years! Well, thank god that is cleared up.

In fact, I just realized that this effects me personally. I know for a fact that there are at least half a dozen 20 sec. clips of me not-masturbating so now I can finally prove to my mother that I have never, ever, ever, touched my dirty parts over the course in my entire life. Well, THAT is a load off, let me tell you.

My mind is reeling. How many other pieces of conventional wisdom can be disproven with the right clips? Is there 20 seconds of Neild Armstrong on earth? Might it be time to rethink that whole moon landing? Only time and prayer will provide the answer. God speed to you!

libarbarian   ·  March 26, 2010 2:12 PM

And that's why I just point, laugh and say, "That's the best you got?" when they inevitably call me racist, fascist, homophobe, mysogynist or whatever else is the insult du jour.

And if they keep it up, I say, "Well since we're going to act like 10 year olds...Oh yeah? Well eat shit sideways."
That is always worth a laugh if you have an audience. Especially if it's full of people who know you're not a hate-ist.

Defending yourself is exactly what they want, not debating the issues but off on trollish tangents.

Once they start that crap you have to attack them, not defend.

Make them look like the obfuscating, trollish children they are.

In this case yawn, ask for proof and then ask them when they stopped beating their spouses.

Veeshir   ·  March 26, 2010 2:16 PM

See? Libarbarian is exactly what I was talking about.
There's no proof of the accusation even though there were many cameras recording the whole thing but that fool writes 6 paragraphs of contentless snark and went off all proud and happy about showing you what for.

How can you not laugh at that?

Veeshir   ·  March 26, 2010 2:27 PM

The time period that is relevant is the time period during which it is asserted that the incident occurred. In the case of Neil Armstrong, there actually is video specifically showing him on the moon, which means that any video showing him while not on the moon is completely irrelevant.

As I said, there are a number of videos highly relevant to the time period in question here, and they are not all 20 seconds long. One of them runs 48 seconds.

Another is nearly 4 minutes long:

At no point in any of the videos can any use of the N-word be heard, and because the video was made during the time period in question, I think it is fair to consider the formerly unsubstantiated allegation to have been proven groundless. (As much as it would be if I were accused of running a red light at a certain time, and a traffic camera showed I did not.)

Bear in mind that there is no obligation on the part of anyone to disprove what hasn't been proven, so the videos which do that are above and beyond the call of duty.

Eric Scheie   ·  March 26, 2010 2:41 PM


I meant every word.

If anything, the problem is that I also never wrote it. See, I have MULTIPLE 20 sec. videos of me not writing it, so I therefore could not, actually, have ever written it.

I'm trying to figure it out myself. But believe me that I mean what I say ... and, apparently, what I don't say as well.

libarbarian   ·  March 26, 2010 2:46 PM

"See, I have MULTIPLE 20 sec. videos of me not writing it, so I therefore could not, actually, have ever written it. "

No, it doesn't prove you haven't done something, it means you can't be proven "guilty" of it. Innocent until proven guilty, no?

guy   ·  March 26, 2010 2:50 PM

WOW... and somehow Libarbarian forgets the following:

1) that the reason the existing video is compelling proof of the unlikelyhood of ANYONE shouting racial slurs, or any pattern of such shouting as to be heard by the representatives is because it was recorded at the time of the event, in proximity to the congressmen.

2) There exists plenty of video of stuff blowing up or people getting killed in Iraq, etc. (and plenty of evidence including OJ's behavior that he murdered his wife - but he WAS acquitted so why the non-sequitur?) No such video has surfaced with the racial slurs on it at teh event.

MDK   ·  March 26, 2010 3:03 PM

See? You're all defending yourselves and it doesn't matter, that tool will never admit it's wrong.

It's not here to figure out what happened or to see any truth, it's here to get you defending the tea parties instead of talking about what they're really about.

You see, just because there's no proof of the accusation, that doesn't mean that it didn't happen.
It up to you to prove it never happened.

You're much better off pointing and laughing. Libarbarian is a typical tool. Almost witty name that it's all proud of but nothing to write that's even close to witty.

It obviously thinks its a wit, too bad it's only half right.
Just a 10 year old's content free insults.

Veeshir   ·  March 26, 2010 3:18 PM

No looking backwards found the audio.
Definitive proof!

I didn't realize Taggart was a Tea Partier, I thought he was a henchman.

Notice everybody else is yelling "Kill the Bill".
Obviously racists.
I guess Libarbarian has been vindicated.

Or at least made fun of.

Veeshir   ·  March 26, 2010 4:25 PM


If you have dirty parts you can clean them with lye. It turns them into soap.

M. Simon   ·  March 26, 2010 4:54 PM

Innocent until proven guilty, no?

Well, guy, that depends on whose Ox is gored, no?

I'll bite and drop the snark and just level for a sec because it is possible that I misunderstood your claim.

If your claim is the more limited claim that the videos suggest that "the crowd" was not hurling racial abuse (ie. that racial epithets were not flung in any meaningful amount by any meaningful number of participants), then I would agree with you. The odds that the videos would fail to audibly record a significant amount of racial abuse that was in fact being hurled around the cameramen or that significant elements of the crowd were engaged in a pattern of hurling racial epithets EXCEPT during the time recorded on those videos, is pretty darn small.

If, as it appeared to me, however, you are making the much more sweeping claim that the entire allegation that someone had yelled it at least once "did not happen", then you are writing checks your evidence can't cover.
This isn't a logical or philosophical argument that absense of evidence isn't evidence of absense. There are several physical and technical reasons that most of the ambient audio generated by the crowd surrounding those cameramen wasn't audibly captured on their videos. Given the fact that the camera likely failed to audibly record most of the ambient noise in it's local environment, there is no basis to claim that the lack of an audible recording particular word, during a total of a few minutes of biased audio sampling from a handful of sources inside of a big crowd implies that the word was never said.

Frankly, I find the whole process of nut-picking to be an exercise in rank stupidity. In any group of people of significant size, you are damn near guaranteed to have racists, "conspiracy theorists", and other jackasses and oddballs. This is especially true of OPEN gatherings where anybody can come regardless of motive or association. Even if the allegations that somebody or bodies shouted "n****r" was true, it doesn't tell us jack squat other than what we already know - that any large crowd is going to contain a few racists and other assorted jackasses. However, for the same reason, I find the opposite practice of "nut-denying" to be just as stupid as nut-picking. ALL large enough samples of people will contain nutjobs. That includes the large groups, including political parties or looser ideological associations, that you and I may happen to consider ourselves part of. Frankly, I think you know this. Hell, your boy "Zombie" made his reputation nut-picking leftwing rallies.

This kabuki theatre of internet partisans is asinine. Some people associated with Team A invariably get caught doing something unseemly and the Team B cheerleaders make a big show of being so offended by the incivility or whatever of Team A. Team A's cheerleaders then hit the field denying that anyone on their team of millions could possibly have done this and "debunking" the evidence. If it prove debunkable then they shift tactics and embrace the no-true-sciotsman fallacy and say "No true member of Team A could ever have done such a thing ... they were probably a plant by Team B to make us look bad because everyone knows all the racists/homophobes/etc. are on Team B anyway." Team B, of course, insists that the incident exposed the true face of Team A. Later on the situations are reversed and everyone adopts the exact same position as their opponents did previously without batting a goddamn eyelash.

Anonymous   ·  March 26, 2010 5:08 PM

The odds that the videos would fail to audibly record a significant amount of racial abuse that was in fact being hurled around the cameramen or that significant elements of the crowd were engaged in a pattern of hurling racial epithets EXCEPT during the time recorded on those videos, is pretty darn small.

I disagree. There are tons of vids everywhere.
But I agree with your point about how one person could have yelled it once.

The whole point about what Eric started talking about was that it wasn't just one guy saying it once, it was a pattern.

You could tell that from when Eric linked the story titled
Tea party and racists -- 'isolated incidents' no more

So in other words, you're agreeing with Eric, if it happened it was an isolated idiot.

So why the snark in the first two comments when you agreed with the post?

Veeshir   ·  March 26, 2010 5:35 PM

In short, I think Occams Razor suggests that

1. a handful of people did, in fact, say racist or anti-gay slurs to people at whom they were quite pissed off.

2. The Democrats then used these handful on incidents to justify a staged pity party to score the some political points.

3. The proper was to respond is by noting that the actions of a handful of people doesn't impugn a much larger number of people and claim that the evidence shows it was NOT indicative of the actions of the majority or even a sizeable minority. EVERY large, open, crowd, is going to contain some small sampling of douchebags who would do that kind of thing. ALL political associations of millions of people, regardless of left or right, has it's share of racists and assholes. Even if it did happen it doesn't mean anything significant in the absence of evidence that it was a large and pervasive phenomena .. of which there isn't any.

Instead, the TP partisans in the blogosphere have decided to implicitly accede to the argument that a handful of racists would, in fact, impugn their entire group, to double down on the "no racism at all over here" gambit, and have the fight over the actual existence of racists in their midsts.

Good luck with that.

libarbarian   ·  March 26, 2010 5:49 PM

"This kabuki theatre of internet partisans is asinine."

So you'll agree that the Tea Partiers are racist while admitting that President Obama and leftists everywhere are racist, hateful and homophobic?

guy   ·  March 26, 2010 5:50 PM

Ok, we posted at the same time.

Now I'm wondering WTF.

Either you're saying that everyone is racist and all groups are culpable, or individuals need to be judged on their own merit.

Or you're just an awesome troll by flipping Devil's advocate midstream to get veeshir off guard and garner more attention.

guy   ·  March 26, 2010 6:00 PM

I was giving it the benefit of the doubt for one comment to see if it really was trying to be civil.
In short, I think Occams Razor suggests that
1. a handful of people did, in fact, say racist or anti-gay slurs to people at whom they were quite pissed off.

Prove it.
There's no video of a handful of people doing anything racist.

You don't convict people improperly using Occam's razor.

So we're back to needing you to prove it.

And if we have to disprove nebulous charges,

I say any racist remarks that might have happened were by a lefty agent provocateur.

I figure, a bunch of angry lefties, on their way home from shooting at Cantor's office, decided to shout racist epithets to make tea partiers look bad.

Occam's Razor says that's what happened.

It's really too bad that your political allies feel the need to do that.

It demeans the whole "free the slaves" and "Civil Rights" things we can thank the Republican party for (in spite of everything the Dems could do on both counts).

Sad really.

Veeshir   ·  March 26, 2010 6:12 PM

The proper was to respond is by noting that the actions of a handful of people doesn't impugn a much larger number of people and claim that the evidence shows it was NOT indicative of the actions of the majority or even a sizeable minority.

I did that.

But amazingly enough, they kept right on saying that bigots are in the majority.

There is no proof that any of this happened. An unsupported assertion is just that.

individuals need to be judged on their own merit.

Agree. And I am not seeing a single individual to be judged.

Instead, a whole group is being judged on the basis of individuals who cannot be heard, seen, or identified.

Utter, complete nonsense.

Eric Scheie   ·  March 27, 2010 9:45 AM

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