Yesterday I saw an article on Media Matters. The story was about a claim that Barack Obama was flashing gang sign to fellow Muslims at a conference. The sign was a finger pointed up:
F.W. Burleigh, “author of It’s All About Muhammad, a Biography of the World’s Most Notorious Prophet,” wrote for the conservative website that an “astonishing photo” of Obama during a summit with African leaders shows him “flashing the one-finger affirmation of Islamic faith to dozens of African delegates.” According to Burleigh, “the one-finger display is the distinctive Muslim gang sign” and “With his forefinger in the air, Obama affirmed his membership in this tribe.” He also postulates that Muslim African leaders present at the event were “all smiles” because “They knew what Obama’s upright forefinger meant.” The post also includes an image in which an “ISIS fighter displays the gang sign.”
When I posted it to Facebook, I included the comment “Have we reached the apex of ludicrous, yet?” It was, of course a rhetorical question.
This is a ludicrous claim to make, that an elected official would flash gang sign at a public event, don’t you think? But, there seems to be no height to which the loons who hate the president find to be too tall in reaching for the ludicrous. They may have stopped claiming that he has a forged birth certificate and was born secretly in Kenya as some plot for communist Muslim Africans to plant a Manchurian candidate in the White House and facilitate Shariah law with collective farms, to boot; but that doesn’t mean that they don’t dredge through the muck of their fevered imaginations to come up with some phony scandal.
This “gang sign” thing is following rather close to a claim by the Minneapolis/St. Paul equivalent of Fox News (the local Fox affiliate itself is rather normal,) KSTP aired a story about the Mayor of Minneapolis standing next to a black person (in their minds an obvious gang member because he is black) and pointing her finger. Betsy Hodges, according to KSTP and the boss of the local police union, was signalling to gangsters that if they ever took down a cop she would make sure to look the other way. I may be paraphrasing.
The photo was taken a week before the November election while the mayor canvassed neighborhoods with a nonprofit group in a get-out-the-vote event. Hodges declined repeated requests for interviews, but her spokesperson told us the mayor enjoys meeting with many people who are organizing on the North side.
The spokesperson also says the man in the photo is well regarded by the nonprofit that employs him and the mayor is simply “pointing at him” in the photo. Retired Minneapolis police officer Michael Quinn, who also managed the department’s Internal Affairs Unit, says the photo is “disappointing because it puts police officers at risk.”
When asked to respond to the mayor’s statement that she is just “pointing at him,” he said, “She can’t be that naive. I cannot imagine.”
“She is legitimizing these people. She is legitimizing gangs who are killing our children in Minneapolis and I just can’t believe it. It hurts,” Quinn said.
Quinn says law enforcement agencies are “going to be pissed about this. They’re going to be angry, and they should be.”
That’s ludicrous, isn’t it? But it isn’t over the top, it isn’t even close to the top. I first started blogging nearly 11 years ago in order to comment on the campaign for election in 2004. First it was the presidential campaign, then I was involved in the local campaigns for legislature and all that. I was dissatisfied with the presidential outcome, of course, and got to be much more politically active in party activities. I had a great deal of fun and got to know several of the elected officials in St. Paul.
But, because I was blogging I was watching the political world in a different way than I had before. I saw details that I had not seen before in the way that people interacted in political spheres. I don’t necessarily mean the way that politicians act, but they way that people talk about politics.
I have always been liberal. Since I can remember thinking about politics, my politics have been liberal. I was a kid against the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. I made signs for McGovern in 1972. I sided with The Meathead while watching “All in the Family.” I became even more liberal in the 1980’s when the Moral Majority took aim at our rights and liberties for a secular society and I knew that even though I was, at that time, still a Christian (kind of,) I really didn’t want to have anything to do with the conservative line that evangelical and Catholic Christians were supposed to take.
Throughout the years I have, from my liberal standpoint, observed the back and forth discussion that people have over issues. There were some ridiculous claims made about Bill Clinton being a Manchurian Candidate because he had spent time in the Soviet Union as a Rhodes Scholar. This claim was made in 1992, after the Soviet Union had fallen. It was ludicrous, but still espoused.
But, following the Eve of Hope in 2008 when Barack Obama was elected as the first black president in U.S. history, there has been a disheartening effort to find the Apex of Ludicrous. These last seven years have been one long screeching, racist, islamophobist ad hominem attack in place of political discourse. The U.S. economy has been in recovery from a serious falter that happened on the prior president’s watch. Obama may not be the one responsible for the fix, at least not responsible on his own, but the prophets of doom were fearfully wrong.
Of course, these are the same prophets of doom who pop up whenever a Democrat is elected. They claim that Democrats are all socialists who secretly hate America, Christians and White People. But, since Obama was elected, the claims have been seeking the Apex of Ludicrous.
We will never reach the Apex of Ludicrous. We will never get to the top, because there will always be some new claim that is more over-the-top than we had previously thought possible. The Apex of Ludicrous is very much like the “Great American Novel.” It is an ideal that can never be realized.