Saturday, April 18, 2009
Janene Garofalo's Limbic Brain
The recent "Tax Day" protests in the United States have received an incredible surplus of coverage based on their comparative size. Clearly tailored for vulgar sensationalism, the "tea bag the White House" demonstrations were a perfect example of South Park conservatism.
But many people clearly didn't appreciate the calculated nature of these protests. Among them were CNBC's Keith Olbermann and a recent guest on his show, Janeane Garofalo. On a recent Countdown segment, Garofalo insisted that the tea bag protests were about nothing but racism.
"Let's be very honest about what this is about," Garofalo mused. "It's not about bashing Democrats. It's not about taxes. They have no idea what the Boston Tea Party was about, they don't know their history at all. This is about hating a black man in the White House. This is about racism straight-up."
Certainly, some people have managed to find some examples of signs at these protests that are either overly racist, arguably racist, or at least can be conflated into being racist.
But interestingly enough, the Ku Klux Klan -- the American cultural leader in racism -- doesn't seem like they've had anything to do with or say about these tea bag protests. Ever.
If these protests were really just about "racism straight-up", it's interesting that a group that is all about "racism straight-up" seem to have no interest in these protests.
Certainly, it couldn't possibly occur to either Olberman or Garofalo that even if most of those people participating in those protests are due for a tax cut, that this couldn't possibly be about government debt and the future taxes that would be necessary to pay back that debt.
No, like many left-wing ideologues, Garofalo and Olberman seem to have only one angle to play here -- the racism angle, even it is an incredibly ill-fitting frame.
Well, OK. Maybe not quite. Garofalo also took some time out of her interview to play amateur neurologist, and indulge herself in the intellectual folly of trying to write off fiscal conservatism -- even as poorly-conceived as these particular examples of fiscal conservatism are -- as a mental illness.
"The Limbic brain inside a right-winger or Republican or conservative or your average white power activist, the limbic brain in much larger in their headspace (Gee, does anyone think that's the technical term for that? -ed) than in a reasonable person and it's pushing against the frontal lobe so their synapses are misfiring," Garofalo muses. "It is a neurological problem we're dealing with."
In the end, Garofalo's conclusion seems to be based on the crowds being mostly- or all white. By almost any standard of evidence this is extremely thin gruel, particularly when these protests are taking place in so many communities that are predominantly caucasian.
It's amusing to witness Olbermann's toadyism in the course of the interview, not stopping once to question or challenge Garofalo on her inflammatory rhetoric. This is nothing new to anyone who's paid so much as passing attention to the American media -- one sees this kind of Toadyism on Fox News quite frequently, especially on shows hosted by arch-conservatives like Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly.
It's just ironic to see this on a CNBC program complaining about the alleged media malpractice of Fox News.
But it's hard to hold this against Keith Olbermann or Janeane Garofalo. Their limbic brains must be oversized.