Monthly Archives: February 2012


Am I the only one who has had it up to here with experts in the media? What the hell is an expert anyway? Isn’t an expert someone who is really good at something? If this expert is so good at something, why doesn’t he go do it, instead of blabbering a bunch of made-up gibberish that he and some other “experts” say that we’re all too stupid to understand? I immediately assume that anyone who is called (or calls himself) an expert, and who does not practice his expertise, but goes around talking and expecting people to mindlessly believe whatever he says, because he is an expert, is nothing but a con artist. Some experts overcome my suspicions by making good arguments backed up by evidence or even by having interesting ideas, but many do not. Here’s an example:

Hack promotes hack

In this Salon article, partisan hack Katie Ryder presents to us “expert” Arthur Goldwag. If Katie was being honest with us she would explain that Arthur is her fellow partisan hack, but instead she introduces him as an expert:

“Right-wing rhetoric seems to have reached new heights of xenophobia. But is that true? An expert explains”

Why is he an expert? Let’s let Katie tell us:

“Salon spoke with Goldwag — who has worked at Random House and the New
York Review of Books and is the author, previously, of “Cults,
Conspiracies and Secret Societies” — over the phone about today’s hate,
the persistence and remarkable uniformity of American prejudice, and our
potential for change.”

OK, he wrote a book. Lots of people wrote books. Why is he an expert?

Crickets chirp. Katie has nothing for us. She’s just going to assign Mr. Goldwag the title of expert and we’re supposed to dutifully accept his expert pronouncements.

Let’s see what this expert has to say. Let’s skip over the part where he conflates Louis Farrakahn and Robert Welch with Hitler. Let’s just skip over that part.

Let’s skip over the part where he explains that Republicans aren’t only now using the evil language of hate to get votes; they did the same 50 years ago, and it worked so good that they’re doing it again (unlike the wonderful good Democrats who would never do anything different from what Jesus would do). Where rich Southerners used racism to divide blacks and whites, and get stupid white people to vote for them, now rich republicans nationwide are using racism and hate to get votes. Let’s go to the part where he apparently either confuses or co-accuses Ron Paul and the Obama Birth Certificate doubters (who do not include Ron Paul) of being haters and then apparently conflates both (or does he mean just the “birthers?) with David Duke. This entire paragraph is such a classic example of the “expert” scam that I have to make you read the whole thing:

Katie: “…that means calling out hatred for what it is, and not allowing it to “hide in plain sight,” as you say in the book.

Goldwag: “Yes. A useful example is that Ron Paul was a figure in the John Birch
Society.  It’s no secret.  He was a local leader, and he had real
associations with white nationalists and very marginal people 20 years
ago. But he’s been exposed for that past behavior, and now he can’t rely
on it as a type of base appeal – he can’t go too near racism because
it’s too dangerous for him. The New Republic brought it to light four
years ago, and it became a third rail for him. And that’s a very
salutary thing. Once you’ve shown a light on these types of things, they
can’t be used anymore. As long as somebody’s pretending that their
appeal isn’t racist, they can keep saying, “I’m just terribly concerned
because I think you need to be a natural-born citizen to be the
president of the United States.”  But that’s bullshit and it’s racism
and xenophobia and nativism. And once you name it, you can’t go there
anymore and still be in the mainstream. If you’re David Duke, you can’t
pretend to not be David Duke.”

Wow! There’s so much here to unpack:

“Ron Paul was a figure in the John Birch
Society.  It’s no secret.”

No need to provide proof, because you said “it’s no secret!” That’s a magic phrase that means you don’t need any proof. Don’t bother investigating because you wouldn’t want to find proof that this is a tired old smear that has been tossed at Ron Paul repeatedly, and there is lots of evidence to debunk it. Here’s an article that debunks a recent case:

Basically people are extrapolating from Ron Paul’s speeches at the John Birch Society that he is a Bircher, and then making up the idea that Birchers are racist. Anyone who looks up the JBS on wikipedia will find that they are a kooky organization with some ideas that sound less and less kooky as time passes, such as the idea that a shadowy elite conspires to manipulate politics. No, I’m serious, this is one of their more non-mainstream ideas. They were kooky in 1950, nowdays they are just dated. Everyone knows that the super-rich run everything in this country. We don’t need the John Birch Society to tell us that. And I’ve never seen any evidence that the JBS promotes racism, or has anything to do with racism. I bet there are some racist JBS groups in the South. I bet there are some racist church groups in the South. Car racing groups, any kind of group you can name, could be racist, in the South or anywhere in the US. That doesn’t make any of these activities inherently racist. If Mr. Goldwag has proof that the JBS is racist, and that Ron Paul is a JBS member who is aware of and promotes those racist policies (or ever did), let’s see it. Let’s hear about it. Let’s at least discuss the subject in plain English, and not confuse Ron Paul with Donald Trump and the rest of the Obama birthers (who this “expert” consigns to the dustheap in favor of the “truth”) which is of course nobody should ever question Obama for any reason and anyone who does is doing it because they are a racist. “it’s racism and xenophobia and nativism” You’re David Duke if you want to see Obama’s real birth certificate. Well you know, I don’t know if I believe all that conspiracy stuff, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Obama’s real birth certificate, and his school records and stuff. Why is all that a secret? Am I racist and xenophobic now? Just because I would like to see some information about the President of my country? Why don’t citizens have a right to know stuff like that, especially if a bunch of them are curious? Are politicians better than us? Do they have more rights than us? What exactly is this “expert” telling us?

I was going to write a lot more but I am so disgusted by this tripe that I am going to stop here before I vomit.

Update: I’ll add one more thing; here’s a link to the TNR smear that Goldwag refers to “The New Republic brought it to light four
years ago, and it became a third rail for him.” Goldwag appears to be claiming (without a shred of evidence) that Ron was openly racist until TNR exposed him in 2008, and after that he had to tone it down.

TNR smears Ron Paul (2008 version)

And here’s a link to the 2011 version:

TNR smears Ron Paul (2011 version)

And the 2012 version:

TNR smears Ron Paul (2012 version)

I’ll leave the debunkings of these smears, and Ron’s responses over the years, as exercises for the reader.