Every day – and I can’t remember when or why it started but it did – I get emails featuring James Taranto’s “Best of the Web” writings for the Wall Street Journal. Often I agree, insofar as I know enough to agree. But yesterday’s email was extremely odd. In it, Taranto quotes a certain Simon Moloy, writing at something called MediaMatters, who earlier in the week had accused Taranto of having said something racist, in this. Maloy wrote thus:
The implication of Taranto’s theory is that African-Americans aren’t sophisticated or observant or intelligent enough to know real racism when they see it, and are thus continuously duped en masse into voting for Democrats. It couldn’t be the case that black voters actually care about issues and have real reasons for voting Democratic, they’re just puppets who are motivated by racial sentiments that Democrats prey upon.
Now I don’t know how reasonable this complaint against Taranto is, which Taranto himself quotes in his reply, the one in yesterday’s email. To know about that, I would have to know a lot more about the USA than, having never even been there, I know now. But this I do know. Maloy was not himself saying that black voters are “just puppets”. When Maloy used this phrase, he was saying, rightly or wrongly, that that was what Taranto said. Any observer of this spat, with only Taranto’s reply to this critic to hand, can see that, because Taranto himself included the above quote. Taranto then accuses Maloy of believing this sock puppet thing himself. And Taranto calls him a racist. Says Taranto:
MediaMutters’ suggestion that black voters are “just puppets” is racist and repugnant.
It would be, if the suggestion had actually been suggested. But clearly, it was not.
I can think of nothing polite to say to defend Taranto on this, other than perhaps that the balance of his mind was disturbed by being called a racist himself. He seems to be combining illogicality (a clear misreading of something he actually quotes) and tactical stupidity (supplying all the evidence of his obvious misreading to even the most casual of readers) to a truly amazing degree. What was he thinking?
Don’t misunderstand me. I hate what the current clutch of Democrat politicians appear, from this side of the Atlantic, to be doing to the USA and its economy, and I hate what else they seem to want to do to the USA even more. I too wish that black people in the USA were more reluctant to support such disastrously statist policies, which I think will harm them along with everyone else except the posh people in charge of them. I rejoice when I hear that black people are participating in Tea Parties and arguing that the scope of the US Federal Government should be reduced.
But because of that I want to see arguments against the statist tendency that carry some weight. This latest counter-argument of Taranto’s, if you can call it that, can only expose Taranto to ridicule and contempt. Indeed, I presume that it already has. Were I a Democrat, I would trumpet Taranto’s foolishness as loudly as I could. No wonder Democrats like to call their opponents racists, if this is the kind of thing they can get them to say in reply.
I’m also not impressed that Instapundit (whom I admire greatly) recycles Taranto’s accusation for all the world as if it made perfect sense. I guess that’s the price you pay for Instapundit managing to link to so much, so often. Every so often he gets things wrong too.