Republicans Outraged Over Republican Mocking Republicans On CNN
Rick Wilson is a Republican. Not only is he a Republican, he is a Republican who pretty much invented the whole "Reverend Wright scandal." You know, the thing where they did a commercial showing Reverend Jeremiah Wright saying a bunch of very obviously true things and then Obama had to apologize for having gone to his church in Chicago? That was him. He made that commercial. He later said he made that commercial with the end goal of "scaring the living shit" out of white people in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
He is also a Never Trumper who is now very popular among the subset of cable news bookers who think the real problem with Donald Trump is the fact that he is tacky, and would have no real problem with anything he's done if he were just classier about it.
This Never Trumper status lends itself well to CNN appearances, like this one from Saturday in which he, Don Lemon and Wajahat Ali discuss Mike Pompeo's demand that an NPR reporter find Ukraine on a map. This led to Wilson doing a bit about Trump not being able to "find Ukraine on a map if you had the letter 'U' and a picture of an actual, physical crane next to it," which quickly devolved into him making a bunch of jokes about how Trump supporters think maps and reading are for the elites.
Naturally, this has become quite the scandal with Trump weighing in — and blaming the whole thing on Don Lemon for reasons we cannot possibly imagine — and outlets like the Daily Caller doing the "They're all laughing at you" shuffle. Rick Wilson calling Trump voters the "credulous Boomer rube demo" will likely be on repeat for the rest of the week.
America, this is what CNN thinks of you... https://t.co/puuVjRLlw1— Daily Caller (@Daily Caller)1580182329.0
I am a big "know your enemy" person. And one thing I know about the Right is that their most potent propaganda is this "this is what they think of you" shit. They're like Carrie's mom out there, constantly screaming "They're all gonna laugh at you!" and it works because it preys on the deepest fears and insecurities of the people they're trying to appeal to.
It works for the same reason that Donald Trump blowing smoke up their asses about how fabulous they are also works. They believe they are entitled to a certain amount of respect simply for being a certain kind of American (yes, we all know what kind) and they react very strongly to getting that respect or not getting that respect.
Rick Wilson, of all people, should know this.
Republicans say absolutely horrible things about us all the time. They claim we have abortions while giving birth — or even after birth — for no reason other than not wanting the baby. They claim that Drag Queen Story Hours are some form of child sexualization. They claim that trans people only want to pee so they can commit violent assaults against cisgender people in the bathroom or walk around naked in the women's room, as we all so often do. They accuse atheists of seeking to oppress Christians by refusing to follow the tenets of their religion. They even accuse us of harvesting the adrenal glands of babies in order to get high. We're in league with Satan, we are trying to destroy their way of life, we won't let them wish anyone a Merry Christmas. Gay people and feminists are constantly causing natural disasters, if you ask Jim Bakker. They think we are making up climate change for the purpose of hurting their feelings or something.
It is so constant that it is just white noise at this point. We barely even notice it. It's like "Oh, why are we in league with Satan this week? Burger King used the word 'damn' in a commercial? Okay then." Once something escalates to that point, it's hard to take it seriously.
But because for the most part conservatives are still handled very delicately, this is like throwing a Molotov cocktail in their general direction. Especially since it's something they actually are deeply insecure about. And while I could never be accused of handling the Right with kid gloves, I do like to be sure that when I throw a Molotov cocktail, it lands exactly where I want it to.
And this didn't land right, because it landed in a place that resulted in a lot of unintended casualties. If I were a liberal who was very capable of reading a map and had a Southern accent, I would be a little annoyed. And now it's going to be used over and over and over again in their propaganda for the next year. It's approximately 12,000 times more potent than "Look at these jerks out there wanting you to have health care."
Consider that most of the time, when something feels cathartic in that way, it is also something that makes you look like a huge asshole. It's one thing to engage in that kind of catharsis at your kitchen table, it's another to do it on national television. This is something I have to constantly check in myself, so trust, I'm not lecturing here.
Certain liberals — though I do not include Rick Wilson in this, on account of how he is not one — absolutely do have a little bit of a problem with classism. From "LOL that person probably thinks the Olive Garden is fancy," to using Southern accents as shorthand for stupid (no disrespect to Molly Ivins, though!) or ignorant or racist.
I am happy to assure you, by the way, that as someone who grew up in Massachusetts, I know for an absolute fact that there are many accents in the racist bullshit rainbow.
This is something worth being aware of and checking within ourselves. It's not cool. Don't make fun of people's accents, don't make fun of people for being poor or poorly educated (especially if you are Rick Wilson, in which case I am just going to guess you are not in favor of subsidized college), and don't throw bombs indiscriminately. We have the advantage of actually being right about shit, so it would be cool if we could not ruin it by acting like jerks.
And just for the record, I am a reasonably educated person who cannot read a map to save her life, and once thought Omaha was a state for a second. Everyone has a thing.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse