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Separating Bashir and Palin

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Amy Fried, Ph.D.     Permalink
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View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H2 12/19/13

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(Article changed on December 19, 2013 at 14:18)

As I'm sure you know by now, Martin Bashir has parted ways with MSNBC - ending his 4pm weekday show - after a tirade he aimed at former V.P. candidate Sarah Palin. I saw the tirade live, and actually missed the last sentence which was the source of the controversy. Palin had made a ridiculous comparison between public debt and slavery. Palin must have known that what she was about to say was questionable, since she prefaced it with "This isn't racist:" 

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"' Our free stuff today is being paid for by taking money from our children, and borrowing from China. When that note comes due -- and this isn't racist, so try it. Try it anyway. This isn't racist. But it's going to be like slavery when that note is due.'"

Bashir answered her comparison with a blistering picture of what slavery was really like. He detailed a documented case of abuse and torture of a slave by a slave owner, which ended with ordering one slave to defecate in that slave's mouth. As cringeworthy as the example was, Bashir was right to hold Palin's analogy up to historical history - up until the last sentence: "... if anyone truly qualified for a dose of discipline from Thomas Thistlewood, she would be the outstanding candidate."

Thus was the beginning of the end of Bashir's career at MSNBC. Since the parting, I've noticed twitter lighting up with claims that Sarah Palin is calling the shots at MSNBC (really?), and the rise of the hashtag #boycottmsnbc. Now, when it comes to hypocrisy on the right, I get it. I may never get over the fact that David Vitter is still a senator, after admitting to taking part in the illegal business of prostitution. (Of course, it is not only right wing hypocrisy, but sexism at play here. Can you imagine if a female senator had admitted to being involved in prostitution?) Of course, when Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner fell into scandal, the response was very different. But Democrats responded to Weiner's conduct on its own merit, not in comparison to Vitter's.

In the case of Bashir and Palin, the fact that Palin's comment was disgustingly insensitive, is not negated by the fact that what Bashir said was also wrong. It doesn't really matter to me that who he said it about is someone I have no respect for. It was wrong no matter who it was directed at. Personally, I was most angry at the fact that Bashir took a perfectly valid criticism of right wing cluelessness, and instead handed a ripe talking point to the folks at Fox. But to be clear: denouncing Bashir is not the same thing as defending Palin.

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We liberals have sometimes suffered for our consistency in applying our own code of ethics, even if it doesn't mirror those on the right. There are plenty of times when I wish the left would stand up more to the right. But I don't think this is one of those cases. 

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Amy Fried is the author of "Escaping Dick Cheney's Stomach." She received her Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior, and has been an advocate for church-state separation and other civil liberties issues. She writes on women's issues, media, veganism (more...)

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