The Wall Street Journal is one of the most impeccably written newspapers in America. Maybe that’s why they harbor a plump resident right-wing attack mutt by the name of James Taranto in the cyberslum edition of an otherwise dignified paper. A mystery, however, is why no one has called this McCarthyite neofascist on his slander of loyal Americans.
In a follow-up to a dressing down of the Howard Dean campaign, in which Taranto attempts to smear Dean by depicting me as some sort of wacko pro-Osama com-symp, this fat little Nazi has the gall–and poor legal judgement–to insult me as “America-hating columnist Ted Rall.”
I’m not a thin-skinned guy, Mr. Taranto, but anyone who dares question my patriotism or loyalty to the United States of America has crossed the line–no, he’s leapt way the hell over it. I adore my country, I would lay down my life to defend it, and I’m willing to take the heat from neo-McCarthyite scum like him. When I speak out against the gangsters who have taken over Washington, subverted the Constitution and undermined basic American values like truth and justice, I am merely doing what anyone who cares about our country would do. Bush and his policies are destroying my country–which is why I am working as hard as I can to stop them.
It’s one thing to counter an argument. It’s quite another to impugn the patriotism of the person making it. People who resort to shutting their opponents down, which is the antithesis of the First Amendment which allows our democracy to function, swim in the gutter because they don’t have a valid point of view. They are the true America haters.
It probably reads better in the original German, but Taranto’s original attack piece wallows in outright lies, elementary school smears and inane conjecture:
Ted Rall is like a chronic rash. You really want to scratch it, but doing so only aggravates the inflammation, so if you’re smart you’ll leave it alone. We’ve been pretty disciplined about this, not mentioning his name in almost a year. But there has been a Rall outbreak on Howard Dean’s blog, and, alas, it requires attention.
Look Taranto, just because you may have had some terrible experience with STDs doesn’t mean you should take it out on the rest of us. Follow the lead of the victim who responded to that ad in Germany, the one placed by the psycho looking for someone to kill and eat, and cut the damned thing off if it itches so badly.
Who is Ted Rall? The parts of the column Gross refrains from quoting give you some sense of Rall’s worldview. He likens the Bush administration to the Sept. 11 hijackers: “Who could have imagined back then that a dozen maniacs would hijack our democracy, bankrupt the treasury and subvert our basic values?” He describes Bush’s appealing the Florida election dispute to the U.S. Supreme court as an act of treason. He claims that after Sept. 11 “did Bush begin acting like a dictator.” And he makes this astonishing statement: America is under attack, and Bush is enemy number one. Where does Osama bin Laden rank in Rall’s enemies list? He doesn’t say.
Here, I’ll make it easy for you, Jimmy: Unlike you Republicans, I don’t HAVE an enemies list. While I wouldn’t say that Osama has America’s best interests at heart, I think it’s also safe to say, as any thinking person would, that a treasonous “president” who subverts a national election by hiring Hitler Youth-like goons to invade an elections office, runs up $10 trillion in debt, starts two unjustified wars and opens a concentration camp at Gitmo is more dangerous to the United States than a sick old man hiding out in the middle of Kashmir. Osama may have killed 4,000 Americans in all (and we’re still waiting for proof of what really happened on 9/11) and that’s obviously horrible. But he’s not American. He can’t be expected to give a damn about us. Bush has killed hundreds of U.S. troops and tens of thousands of Afghans and Iraqis for nothing but his own greed and self-agrandizement–and he’s one of us. Who do YOU think is the most dangerous?
Meanwhile, here are some other examples of Rall’s work:
* In an April 2001 column for the Mother Jones Web site (which erroneously labels it as having been published a year earlier), Rall endorsed the use of violence by opponents of free trade: “The disruption of the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City last weekend provides a classic example of doing good while throwing hard objects at big sheets of glass. . . . Lefties just don’t seem to get this fundamental truth of politics: Not only has there never been a revolution without violence, but there’s never been meaningful social change without violence or at least the threat thereof.”
* In an October 2001 syndicated column, Rall argued against liberating Afghanistan from the Taliban and claimed that the Sept. 11 attacks were merely a pretext, “the perfect excuse to do what the U.S. had wanted all along: invade and/or install an old-school puppet regime in Kabul.”
First, these are hardly “examples” of my work. I crank out three to five cartoons and at least a column every week. “Examples” of my work would randomly select from these rather than peruse thousands of pieces to find three for context-free dissection.
As for my Mother Jones magazine piece, I never endorsed violence. I merely stated an obvious fact: that the WTO protesters broke windows in Seattle because they found that working within the system, sending letters to the editor to papers like the Journal, didn’t move forward their claims. Reporting and analyzing the truth ain’t the same thing as endorsing an action, hombre, and you’d know that if you had a passing acquaintance with the former. And where did I ever argue against liberating Afghanistan from the Taliban? To the contrary, I argued against a U.S. invasion of Afghanistan because I didn’t think we had any interest in Afghanistan’s people–only its critical position along a possible oil pipeline route. I was one of the earliest commentators, both in cartoon form and on my former radio show on KFI Los Angeles, to try to get Americans to do something about the Taliban regime. As most Afghans can attest and as became rapidly evident after 9/11, U.S. occupation has not liberated them from anyone, least of all the Taliban.
* In March 2002, Rall published a cartoon…that mocked “terror widows,” apparently including the wife of Daniel Pearl, who had learned of her husband’s death just two weeks earlier. The strip’s third panel depicts a woman standing in front of a bank of microphones saying, “Of course it’s a bummer that they slashed my husband’s throat–but the worst was having to watch the Olympics alone!
Quoting one panel out of a six-panel cartoon, without the artwork, is pretty friggin’ lame. Could it be that the same cartoon, when seen in context, isn’t all that offensive? Selective spin, however, a standard rightist smear tactic.
* In a column published two weeks ago–on Veterans Day, no less–Rall described Iraq’s pro-Saddam guerrillas as nationalist freedom-fighters: “Dear Recruit: Thank you for joining the Iraqi resistance forces. You have been issued an AK-47 rifle, rocket-propelled grenade launcher and an address where you can pick up supplies of bombs and remote-controlled mines. Please let your cell leader know if you require additional materiel for use against the Americans. You are joining a broad and diverse coalition dedicated to one principle: Iraq for Iraqis.”
A classic example of Republirat spin. The column quoted above, which appears in its entirety in my column archives a few clicks away, in no way, shape or form endorses violence against Americans. It is an examination of the appeal of Iraqi resistance fighters, a response to morons like Taranto who claim not to understand why “liberated” Iraqis are shooting at us. He would probably have accused Jonathan Swift of advocating infanticide.
Now, obviously it isn’t Dean’s fault that this vile little creep endorses him–or, to be precise, flirts with the idea of endorsing him: “Maybe it’s premature to endorse Gov. Dean. But right now, given the information we have available, he’s the preferred candidate of us Anybody But Bushies.”
But Dean’s campaign is trumpeting Rall’s support on his Web site, and that ought to be enough to make anyone uneasy with the notion of Dean’s finger on the button.
Yeah, Dean would be SO scary. Unlike the current model of restraint and peaceful diplomacy currently residing at 1600 Pennsylvavnia Avenue. And my endorsement makes him even SCARIER!!! (Cue “Monster Mash” here.)
Fortunately, Dean supporters are a hell of a lot smarter than Taranto takes them for. They know that I’m no “anti-American” and neither is Dean. My upcoming book will lay to rest any doubts of my political stances on a variety of issues once and for all. You, on the other hand…
Have you at last, Mr. Taranto, no decency? Evidently not. A cursory Google search shows that Taranto (known as Tarantoad online) has done this sort of thing before, even stooping to post the home address and phone number of a progressive writer in the hope that rightists would harass him and his wife, who was sick with cancer at the time. No, decency isn’t something known to someone who calls anyone with whom he disagrees anti-American, but know this: calling me an “America hater” to my face would be a very unwise idea.
You may e-mail Tailgunner Jim Taranto at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to renew your Der Sturmer subscription or whatever.