Saturday, March 24, 2012

War And Lynching And So Forth

"To be sure," Charles Lane notes,

we have been waging “war on” this or that for decades. America is such a diverse and disputatious country that war, actual or metaphorical, has been one of the few causes capable of bringing together its various factions, regions and races. That is why we had Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty, Richard Nixon’s war on drugs and a series of presidents’ war on cancer. Heck, even Jimmy Carter tried to convince us that saving energy was “the moral equivalent of war.”

Exploitation of this metaphor has grown in recent years.       Lane cites, among other examples, Democratic charges of a "Republican war on women," "war on working families," and "Paul Ryan's war on seniors."     Republican charges include Obama's alleged "war on religious freedom," "war on energy," and "Democrats' war on American jobs."       Authors have alleged a "Republican war on science" and "Debacle:   Obama's war on jobs and growth."    And on and on.

The Washington Post columnist concludes "my fear is (Frank Luntz) is right" when he says "we all submit to the power of language, whether we know it or not."     Both Luntz, approvingly, and Lane, not so, recognize the prevalence and power of hyperbole in American society.

Such reared its ugly head in New Jersey this past in the Republican war on workers (sorry- too tempting).      The Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday reported

In a blow to Gov. Christie's political agenda and an unprecedented check on his power, one of his nominees to the state Supreme Court was rejected by a Senate panel Thursday following a day of interrogation over his family's business dealings.

Phillip Kwon, a top official in the state Attorney General's Office who worked for Christie when the Republican governor was a U.S. attorney, watched from the front row of a hearing room as the Judiciary Committee voted, 7-6, not to approve him.

It was the first time a Christie nominee at any level - from sewer commission member on up - had been rejected by the Democratic-controlled Legislature, and the first time a judicial nominee was rejected since 1988. No Supreme Court nominee has ever failed to be confirmed.

Seven of eight Democrats voted against the Asian-American nominee while every Republican voted for him.      Democrats, enraged that a Governor- contrary to state tradition- has tried to remake the Court in his own ideological image, raised questions about the finances of Kwon's family.      Christie, reflecting the perspective of many GOP members of the legislature, charged" Phil Kwon was sacrificed on the altar of payback to the NJEA [New Jersey Education Association], the CWA [Communications Workers of America] and the AFL-CIO.    They all followed the union line like lemmings."

Most of the bickering was standard political fare.    Most.    Republican State Senator Kevin O'Toole, meanwhile, remarked "We didn't have a hearing, we had a lynching."

As described here, "this 1930 photo shows the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith in Marion, Indiana.        This image is a part of the Without Sanctuary:   Lynching photographs in America exhibit." Apparently, this is roughly what Mr. O'Toole was referring to:

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