Caught a nicely revealing interview with Jim Gilchrist on MSNBC this morning. There are times when the AM offerings on that network can be surprisingly tonic; generally, they serve to piss me off, but occasionally they invigorate me in other ways entirely.
This morning’s talking-head segment with Jim Gilchrist really did it for me.
The anchor — I think it was Contessa Brewer — almost seemed to be siding with Gilchrist at first as the man kept spouting about the way the stage had been rushed at Columbia University recently when he was pontificating about the Evils of Immigration. Gilchrist called the students “twenty-first century fascists” and alleged they were taking away his “first amendment rights”.
First of all, let me clarify something to all you right-wing assholes, okay? Fascism is what the Republicans, under George W. “Il Duce” Bush, are attempting to foist upon the nation. Fascism is a combination of strong — heavily dominating — government with corporate/financial/big-business-centric policymaking. Benito Mussolini was the archetypal fascist, and his government is a good example of the nature of the beast.
Students mounting (literally) a protest, while arguably in poor taste, are absolutely not fascists.
Anyone who uses the term to describe student protests — or who uses the term “islamofascists” to describe suicide-bombing extremists — is ignorant of history, and is showing his ignorance each time he (or she) uses the term.
As for Gilchrist and his rights … he actually seemed to welcome the demonstrations initially. He had this to say after previous speaker Marvin Stewart, a black man who supports the “minutemen”, was called away from his speech in the face of mounting protests.
“Who’s a racist now?” said Gilchrist, putting an arm around Stewart.“I love the first amendment!” he shouted. “You’re doing a great job, kids. I’m going to have more fun with this than with my prepared speech.”
Apparently first amendment rights apply only to Gilchrist, or maybe it was okay with him that his black alleged friend was silenced.
A brawl followed when things happened in this order: 1. Gilchrist began spewing his commentary; 2. Protestors got on the stage with a banner; and 3. College Republicans mounted the stage as well, which action resulted in a mêlée.
Okay, so that’s the backstory. Now, the students at Columbia are refusing to apologize for anything that happened, and Gilchrist, who is stumping around the US on his twin ticket of paranoia and bigotry, responded to their refusal on MSNBC this morning. At one point he said something along the lines of his being disappointed with the quality of education and students at Columbia University, and Brewer stopped him mid-whine with a beautiful, beautiful question.
So you’re judging all of Columbia University based on the actions of a few students?
Gilchrist paused for at least five seconds. “What?” he said.
Brewer repeated her question.
Gilchrist was silent again for several moments with a classic deer-in-the-lights look on his face, then began trying to sputter a reply to the effect that it was the only way he could measure the student body (ignoring, one supposes, grades, citizenship, campus club involvement, internships and other well-established metrics), which was a very instructive and illuminating statement given what was to follow.
Brewer had to interrupt because Dennis Hastert was going to be appearing somewhere soon, but came back to Gilchrist in a few more minutes for a following piece on border security. Gilchrist’s colors, already prominently on display, were hoisted fully when he continued his rants about crime (quoting unsubstantiated numbers) and refusing to address the point that the Mexican government has asked the US for help in allowing workers to come across the US border more readily for employment — and been given the cold shoulder — and that’s when it dawned on me that Brewer’s earlier question, which struck me as being particularly incisive, was probably a deliberate preface.
Gilchrist, it was obvious, was judging Mexicans based on the actions of a few, just as he’d done with the Columbia University student body.
And, like so many bigots, he was so obsessed with being a bigot that he completely failed to see the trap, even after it had been sprung on him.
Kudos to Contessa Brewer for pouncing on a rant that turned out to be a salient indictment of a narrow-minded, unprincipled man’s selfish view. That took real intelligence, and it was a damned fine moment in American televised journalism. Maybe there’s a little blood left in the liberal media after all.
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