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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