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Jul 22 2013

The puzzling silence over Carter’s remarks

In my post on former president Carter expressing support for what Edward Snowden did and adding that “America has no functioning democracy at this moment”, I expressed surprise that there has not been a huge outcry over the remarks. Indeed, while Carter said this at a closed-door function in Atlanta, it was a German magazine Der Spiegel that first reported it. I wondered if Carter would walk back his statements but he has not done so, so we have to assume his stands by his remarks.

And yet when I did a Google search this morning using just the two terms Carter and Snowden, it did not turn up a single major media source in the US covering this story. The only people talking about this are people who support civil liberties independently of any party or ideology.

Why am I surprised at the silence? It was because the right-wing noise machine rarely fails to seize an opportunity to brand Democrats as people who bad-mouth America and are thus not true patriots because as we all know America Is The Greatest Country That Ever Existed, Is A Beacon Of Freedom And Democracy That Is The Envy Of The World, And Always Acts Morally. Any one who so much as hints otherwise is vilified. Here is a clip from the TV show The Newsroom that captures the power of this dogma.

While the nostalgia for the past is overblown (things were not that great in many areas), the diagnosis of what exists currently is dead on.

So while I was not surprised that Democrats and Obama supporters would try to ignore or suppress this news because a fellow Democrat said it, I did expect Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the right-wing noise machine to seize this as yet another example of anti-Americanism by liberals and the Democratic party. And yet, even in the fringe publications from those quarters there has been nothing. It is not that Carter is a marginal figure whose views are always ignored. Compare this to the furor when Carter said in 2006 that is some respects the Israeli occupation is worse than South Africa apartheid.

I am curious as to the reasons for the silence. Is that when weighing the benefits of bashing Carter and the Democrats against the cost of publicizing his very damaging critique of the current state of American politics, they fear the latter more than they welcome the former?

20 comments

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  1. 1
    sigurd jorsalfar

    I think it’s because the right wing consists of people who either a) don’t really want a functioning democracy, so they find Carter’s statement uninteresting or not something worth drawing attention to, or b) agree that there is no functioning democracy, thanks to the machinations of the godless, homosexual liberals, so there’s nothing in Carter’s statement to disagree with.

  2. 2
    slc1

    Of course, Jimmy the peanut (aka James Earl Carter) also commented that the jury that acquitted George Zimmerman made the right decision. Don’t see Prof. Singham trumpeting that opinion of the former president.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/17/jimmy-carter-george-zimmerman_n_3609912.html

  3. 3
    maxdevlin

    Yeah, all that nostalgia crap at the end was bogus; America has had a notoriously extreme case of anti-intellectualism since before the Declaration. And what makes us the Greatest Country in the World (still) isn’t how we rank on some list drawn up by a liberal to show how badly we’re doing. We’re the Greatest Country in the World because we invented modern government and pluralistic society, and however badly we compare to our ideals, we do have ideals, and are unsatisfied if we cannot consider ourselves an example to others.

    The reason everyone ignored Carter’s remarks is because most of the people who’ve heard them went to the voting booth last November, so they know he must have been speaking metaphorically. And, frankly, it doesn’t matter what metaphors Jimmy Carter wants to use any more than it does that Daniel Elseburg is also a fan of Snowden. Snowden is still a dishonest criminal, and little more than that. Leaking scary details of how good a job the government is doing trying to protect us from future terrorist attacks doesn’t end up discrediting the government so much as the leakers. And everyone knows Carter is quite the dove to begin with.

  4. 4
    invivoMark

    What is wrong with you?

  5. 5
    Nick Gotts

    Of course slc1 does not mention the Romans sowing the fields of Carthage with salt after the Third Punic War.

  6. 6
    slc1

    Well, Carter’s comments were rather more contemporaneous then the Roman’s activities relative to Carthage.

  7. 7
    slc1

    I thought I showed great restraint in not mentioning Israel in connection with Jimmy the peanut.

  8. 8
    bmiller

    Yet you choose to use even more ancient (and far more mythical) histories to justify your favorite colonial settler apartheid state.

  9. 9
    slc1

    Actually, I do nothing of the sort. The State of Israel is no more a colonial settler project then the USA or Canada. Both of those countries were founded by European settlers who shoved the Native Americans into reservations when they didn’t kill them indiscriminately.

  10. 10
    invivoMark

    The fact that you think of that as some great feat of willpower says a lot about your mental condition.

    I’ve been reading your comments on Mano’s posts over the last several days. You seem to feel compelled to post the very first thing that pops into your mind, like some twisted form of the game Word Association. But the things you end up writing are so vacuous and inane that it seems incredible to me that there isn’t some part of your brain that kicks in before you hit that “Submit” button to tell you to carefully reconsider the words you are choosing to represent your online persona.

    For instance, it was less than two weeks ago that Mano wrote a very detailed post describing his bafflement with the idea that if one quotes a given person on any subject, that that could somehow be taken as an endorsement of every thing that person has ever said. Mano’s point seemed obvious to me, and I couldn’t figure out why it needed to be said. Yet here you are, the product of an utter lack of any recognizable sense of logic, not two weeks after that point was driven home (and I know you read that post, since you show up in the comments there… with more inane drivel, unsurprisingly), and you still don’t understand that elementary concept.

    Perhaps you serve a useful function at this blog. The contrast with your mush-brained verbal incontinence does seem to highlight Mano’s rhetorical expertise and logical sharpness.

  11. 11
    brucegee1962

    The choice of terms that the administration and the MSM have chosen for Snowden (and which you have chosen to parrot) says a lot. At first, they were saying he was misguided — misled — naive. He only had a small piece of the picture, and drew inferences that were incorrect. That may have been a complete lie, but it was at least plausible.

    But then the rhetoric changed. He was a dangerous criminal — a madman — a traitor — an America-hater. I’m surprised they haven’t been airbrushing his pictures to make his eyes look more menacing. All of this, of course, is simply obviously untrue. Criminals tend not to make decisions that they consciously know are going to utterly destroy their comfortable lives. I was willing to be convinced that perhaps Snowden was unaware of mitigating circumstances that would have allayed his concerns about privacy had he known them. But it’s ridiculous to try to convince me that his motives were anything other than what I’d like to see in my own son. That tells me that he must have struck pretty close to a nerve.

  12. 12
    slc1

    Actually, I agree with the former president on this topic. Since Prof. Singham has not seen fit to comment on the affaire Zimmerman/Martin, I can’t say for sure what his opinion on the matter is but, given his generally left wing leanings, I would suspect that he doesn’t agree with the former president.

  13. 13
    bmiller

    I smell a hint of envy here, slc. Are you claiming that the big problem is that Israel did not kill enough of the Palestinians>? Strangely enough, I actually agree with your characterization of the USA.

  14. 14
    cotton

    Carter has a long history of being ignored largely independent of these remarks. He was a deeply unpopular and seemingly baffled president who was thoroughly crushed in his reelection bid. Since then he has been the loudest one term president in modern history.

  15. 15
    MNb

    Actually the difference in votes was not big at all – Carter lost a lot of states with a narrow margin.

  16. 16
    slc1

    General Phil Sheridan: “The only good Indian is a dead Indian”. In fairness to the general, he changed his views later and became something of an advocate for Native Americans. Echoed some 80 years later by Admiral William Halsey: “I have been asked as to whether there is such a thing as a good Jap; the answer is yes, one that has been dead for 6 months”.

    I would point out to Miller that there are more then 1 million Arabs currently in Israel, not all of them Palestinians. Pretty poor at ethnic cleansing and genocide are those Israelis. Bashar Assad is much better at it.

  17. 17
    slc1

    Carter wasn’t helped by the presence of John Anderson on a third party ticket, although, unlike the case in 2000 with Al Gore and Ralph Nader, he probably would have lost anyway if Anderson had not been there. Carter totally loused up the Iran situation; his rescue attempt was pathetic. Contrast it with the 1976 Entebbe raid by the IDF which got almost all the hostages out with very few casualties.

  18. 18
    jamessweet

    FWIW, the BBC covered Carter’s remarks. That doesn’t contradict your assertion that no mainstream American sources covered it, of course. But the BBC is not exactly a radical supporter of civil liberties, either.

  19. 19
    jamessweet

    Regarding the Carter/Zimmerman nonsequitur: Well, first, it’s a nonsequitur. Second, there’s not necessarily a contradiction between agreeing with the verdict and being outraged at a culture and legal system that allows such a thing to happen. For my part, I think manslaughter was the proper verdict, and think that even a full-on Not Guilty is defensible (there’s no coherent interpretation of “reasonable doubt” that would have allowed a murder conviction, and for manslaughter it depends on how strictly one interprets “reasonable doubt”) and yet I am outraged that Martin is dead and Zimmerman is free and is even being glorified in certain circles. There’s not necessarily a contradiction there. The only thing that I’d add is that it is a manifestation of white middle class privilege that it’s so easy for me to dispassionately talk of reasonable doubt and the distinction between manslaughter and murder, rather than letting the hurt and outrage overshadow all of that. My boys don’t look like Trayvon. So my anger over this injustice (and let’s be clear: Even if the verdict was correct, the outcome was unjust — that’s just the way life is sometimes) is much less raw than it might otherwise be.

  20. 20
    slc1

    I agree that the outcome of the trial did not give justice to Trayvon Martin. Unfortunately, the fault is not with the jury, it’s with the law. The prosecutor charged Zimmerman with 2nd degree murder, which the evidence did in no way support. It should be noted that the police officer who was in charge of the crime scene, after talking to the ambulance technicians who examined Zimmerman and interviewing the latter, recommended to the elected prosecutor that he be arrested and charged with manslaughter. His recommendation was rejected by the elected prosecutor, to which the governor appointed a special prosecutor who overcharged Zimmerman, probably in response to political pressure and as an attempt to force a plea bargain for manslaughter. The defense team, seeing the weakness of the case, didn’t fall for it, forcing the subsequent trial.

    The prosecutor obviously recognized the weakness of her case by asking the judge to allow the jury to find Zimmerman guilty of the lesser included offense of manslaughter. She also tried to get him to allow consideration of even less serious lesser included offenses (e.g. child endangerment), which the judge rejected.

    By the way, apparently Zimmerman is trying to prove that he isn’t such a bad guy after all.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-News-Wires/2013/0722/George-Zimmerman-rescues-four-people-in-SUV-crash

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