Jewish World Review Jan. 2, 2003 / 28 Teves, 5763

Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

The double standard on political hate speech | "Bobby Ehrlich is a Nazi. . . . He should be running in Germany in 1942, not Maryland in 2002. We'll define him as the Nazi he is. Once we do that, I think people will vote for Kathleen Kennedy Townsend."

Thus spake Democratic political consultant Julius Henson about Congressman Robert Ehrlich, the Republican candidate in Maryland's gubernatorial election this year. Henson had just signed on to work for Townsend, Ehrlich's Democratic opponent, and made his repugnant remarks in an interview with The Washington Post.

It was a classic example of liberal hate speech, the poisonous political rhetoric to which I devote a column at the end of each year. The theme of these columns has been the double standard by which politicians, journalists, and activists on the left get a pass when they use scandalous and vitriolic language to demonize their opponents -- language that would get conservatives crucified if they spoke that way about a liberal.

Of course there is no end of ugliness on the political fringes, left- and right-wing both. And of course hateful slurs should be avoided by everyone, liberals and conservatives alike. But when a player in the mainstream flings a vicious smear -- "Bobby Ehrlich is a Nazi" -- it's generally safe to bet that it's a liberal doing the flinging, and that the media and his fellow liberals will let him get away with it.

But maybe things are changing. This year, for the first time I can remember, some on the left were taken to task for uttering contemptible libels about their political foes. Just hours after Henson's "Nazi" calumny against Ehrlich was reported, the Townsend campaign fired him, calling his words "inexcusable."

It wasn't the only case of liberal hate speech drawing a liberal rebuke.

While delivering the invocation at the Connecticut Democratic convention last summer, longtime party activist Ned Coll labeled Republican Governor John Rowland a "snake" and a "glorified thug" and called for "death to the Prince of Darkness." It is not hard to imagine what would happen to a Republican who openly prayed for the death of a Democratic governor, but Coll's remark drew little attention until Matt Drudge highlighted it on his radio show and web site. The Republican Party then asked Senator Joseph Lieberman to admonish his fellow Connecticut Democrat. To his credit, he did.

Coll's remarks were "offensive and indefensible," Lieberman said bluntly. "Such vicious personal attacks have no place in our political discourse, let alone in a religious invocation."

But no prominent Democrat spoke with equal bluntness about Harry Belafonte, who described Secretary of State Colin Powell's relationship to President Bush as that of a bootlicking plantation "slave" who curries favor in order "to come into the house of the master." And no prominent liberal blasted Gerardo Villacres, the head of the Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce, when he likened California businessman Ron Unz to a Nazi for financing ballot campaigns to end bilingual education.

Sliming conservatives as Nazis often seems to be the first refuge of liberal hate-talkers. Do they really not understand the terrible malignancy of that term?

Sandra Bernhard, the actress and alleged comedienne, was asked during an online Washington Post chat for her thoughts on terrorism. "The real terrorist threats," she replied, "are George W. Bush and his band of brown-shirted thugs." (The Nazi stormtroopers were known as brownshirts.) Miami minister and radio host Victor Curry castigated the Bush administration over the air for its "neo-Nazi, right wing mission against the American people." In a magazine interview, Sean Penn likened Bill O'Reilly, the popular Fox News personality, to Osama bin Laden, Senator Joseph McCarthy, and -- of course -- Adolf Hitler.

Describing a Republican as a Nazi is clearly hate speech. What about implying that he is gay?

That was what the Montana Democratic Party did to Mike Taylor, the GOP candidate for the US Senate this year. The Democrats unearthed an ancient TV clip of Taylor, who once owned a string of hair salons, and turned it into an ad that played up every stereotype of the homosexual male hairdresser.

As one Montana daily reported, the ad showed Taylor applying lotion to the face of a male customer. He is seen "wearing a tight-fitting, three-piece suit with a big-collared open shirt. . . . Taylor's top two or three shirt buttons are unbuttoned, exposing some bare chest and a number of gold chains." The innuendo was blatant and, in political terms, devastating.

If Republicans ever deployed such heavy-handed gay-baiting against a Democrat, the uproar would be deafening. But there was no uproar when it was done to a Republican -- not even from groups that usually roar with outrage when gays or lesbians are mocked. The double standard on political sleaze may have weakened a bit in 2002. Alas, it's still going strong.

Like this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

12/30/02: Good for the spirit, good for the body
12/23/02: The college president who owes a greater duty to a fugitive serial killer than the public or to the law
12/20/02: The death penalty by the numbers
12/16/02: Yes, Virginia, there is (still) a liberal media bias
12/03/02: On the brink of regime change --- in Iran
11/27/02: Light's victory over darkness
11/25/02: A 'Republican' lesson from a Democratic convention
11/22/02: The slippery senator
11/18/02: The campus 'diversity' fraud
11/01/02: Saddam's shop of horrors
10/24/02: Musings, random and otherwise
10/17/02: Jimma's ignoble prize
10/14/02: New Jersey's bigot laureate
10/11/02: Today it is libs who are most likely to demand the silencing of speech they disapprove of
10/04/02: Learning English from Day 1
09/30/02: The world will follow us to war
09/27/02: The face of antisemitism
09/20/02: Starving time in Zimbabwe
09/14/02: Against moral confusion / 9-12-2002
09/03/02: With 'eternal friends' like these
08/30/02: Enriching survivors was a costly mistake
08/26/02: John Kerry's absent passion
08/23/02: Bonnie, get your gun
08/19/02: A screenwriter's remorse
07/29/02: The real abortion extremists
07/26/02: Another round of Kemp-Roth
07/19/02: Jews among Arabs, Arabs among Jews
07/15/02: Musings, random and otherwise
07/12/02: The new civil rights champions
07/03/02: Riding the rails
07/01/02: The prerequisite to peace
06/24/02: Frisking AlGore
06/17/02: Offense, not defense, is the key to homeland security
06/14/02: Looking at the horror
06/07/02: The cost of a death-penalty moratorium
06/03/02: Executing 'children,' and other death-penalty myths
05/29/02: A real threat?
05/24/02: The message in Arafat's headdress
05/20/02: (Mis)playing the popularity card
05/10/02: Outspoken, Muslim -- and moderate
05/10/02: The heroes in Castro's jails
05/06/02: The disappearing history term paper
05/03/02: Musings, random and otherwise
04/29/02: The canary in Europe's mine
04/15/02: Powell's crazy mission
04/12/02: The slavery reparations hustle
04/08/02: Peace at any price = war
03/26/02: Decency matters most, Caleb
03/22/02: The U.S. embargo and Cuba's future
03/19/02: The keepers of Cuba's conscience
03/15/02: A walk in Havana
02/26/02: Buchanan's lament
02/12/02: What 'peace' means to Arafat
02/05/02: Antismoking: Who pays?
02/01/02: Turn the Saudis
01/25/02: Making MLK cry
01/21/02: Ted to tax cut: Drop dead
01/18/02: Musings random and otherwise
01/14/02: An ultimatum to Saudi Arabia
01/11/02: Friendship, Saudi-style
01/07/02: Shakedown at Harvard
01/04/02: More guns, more safety
01/02/02: Smears and slanders from the Left
12/28/01: Congress gives to others -- and itself
12/24/01: The littlest peacemakers
12/20/01: How to condemn terror
12/18/01: Greenland once was
12/14/01: Parents who never said ''no''
12/11/01: Wit and (economic) wisdom
12/04/01: The war against Israel goes on
11/30/01: Tribunals, motorcycles -- and freedom
11/19/01: Friendship and the House of Saud
11/12/01: The Justice Department's unjust monopoly
11/09/01: Muslim, but not extremist
11/02/01: Too good for Oprah
10/29/01: Journalism and the 'neutrality fetish'
10/26/01: Derail these subsidies
10/22/01: Good and evil in the New York Times
10/15/01: Rush Limbaugh's ear
10/08/01: With allies like these
10/01/01: An unpardonable act
09/25/01: Speaking out against terror
09/21/01: What the terrorists saw
09/17/01: Calling evil by its name
09/13/01: Our enemies mean what they say
09/04/01: The real bigots
08/31/01: Shrugging at genocide
08/28/01: Big Brother's privacy -- or ours?
08/24/01: The mufti's message of hate
08/21/01: Remembering the 'Wall of Shame'
08/16/01: If I were the editor ...
08/14/01: If I were the Transportation Czar ...
08/10/01: Import quotas 'steel' from us all
08/07/01: Is gay "marriage" a threat?
08/03/01: A colorblind nominee
07/27/01: Eminent-domain tortures
07/24/01: On protecting the flag ... and drivers ... and immigrants
07/20/01: Dying for better mileage
07/17/01: Why Americans would rather drive
07/13/01: Do these cabbies look like bigots?
07/10/01: 'Defeated in the bedroom'
07/06/01: Who's white? Who's Hispanic? Who cares?
07/02/01: Big(oted) man on campus
06/29/01: Still appeasing China's dictators
06/21/01: Cuban liberty: A test for Bush
06/19/01: The feeble 'arguments' against capital punishment
06/12/01: What energy crisis?
06/08/01: A jewel in the crown of self-government
05/31/01: The settlement myth
05/25/01: An award JFK would have liked
05/22/01: No Internet taxes? No problem
05/18/01: Heather has five mommies (and a daddy)
05/15/01: An execution, not a lynching
05/11/01: Losing the common tongue
05/08/01: Olympics 2008: Say no to Beijing
05/04/01: Do welfare mothers a kindness: Make them work
05/01/01: Another man's child
04/24/01: Sharon should have said no
04/02/01: The Inhumane Society
03/30/01: To have a friend, Caleb, be a friend
03/27/01: Is Chief Wahoo racist?
03/22/01: Ending the Clinton appeasement
03/20/01: They're coming for you
03/16/01: Kennedy v. Kennedy
03/13/01: We should see McVeigh die
03/09/01: The Taliban's wrecking job
03/07/01: The No. 1 reason to cut taxes
03/02/01: A Harvard candidate's silence on free speech
02/27/01: A lesson from Birmingham jail
02/20/01: How Jimmy Carter got his good name back
02/15/01: Cashing in on the presidency
02/09/01: The debt for slavery -- and for freedom
02/06/01: The reparations calculation
02/01/01: The freedom not to say 'amen'
01/29/01: Chavez's 'hypocrisy': Take a closer look
01/26/01: Good-bye, good riddance
01/23/01: When everything changed (mostly for the better)
01/19/01: The real zealots
01/16/01: Pardon Clinton?
01/11/01: The fanaticism of Linda Chavez
01/09/01: When Jerusalem was divided
12/29/00 Liberal hate speech, 2000
12/15/00Does the Constitution expect poor children be condemned to lousy government schools?
12/08/00 Powell is wrong man to run State Department
12/05/00 The 'MCAS' teens give each other
12/01/00 Turning his back on the Vietnamese -- again
11/23/00 Why were the Pilgrims thankful?
11/21/00 The fruit of this 'peace process' is war
11/13/00 Unleashing the lawyers
11/17/00 Gore's mark on history
40 reasons to say NO to Gore

© 2002, Boston Globe