The most exciting chapter unfolded this weekend in the perennial battle between a corporate media giant and… a late night comedian.
Jon Stewart did an interview with Chris Wallace this Sunday on Fox News. Despite some heat and Stewart’s not-so-Freudian slip in the beginning (“you’re insane”), the tone of the event overall was remarkably cordial, especially in light of Stewart’s open hostility to the network in the past. Chris Wallace also deserves praise for his part in the conversation; one wonders why someone as apparently respectable as him would even want to be seen on the same channel as demagogues like Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck.
Towards the end, however, Stewart makes a big mistake in claiming that conservatives are unfairly accused of racism, bigotry, etc.
People on the right are called racists and they’re called things with an ease that I am uncomfortable with — and homophobic and all those other things. And I think that that is absolutely something that they have a real right to be angry about and to feel that they have been vilified for those things. And I’ve been guilty of doing some of those things myself.
Stewart here misses the bigger point. While it’s true that conservatives from both of the major parties have been labeled those things, the real issue is whether or not such accusations are accurate. There’s nothing unfair or prejudiced about pointing out that the leading conservative publications like the National Review were opposed to Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s. Or that Ronald Reagan played on the racism of southern Democrats during the 1970s in his drive to vilify the country’s social net. Don’t forget this little gem, which appeared only a few weeks ago.
Naturally, this doesn’t mean that all, or even most conservatives are bigoted. But there’s an undeniably strong link between the conservative movement’s amazing success during the past 40 years and political campaigns stroking the bigotry of its voting block.