No Laughing Matter

Were it not that I have studied and written about propaganda, my head would have spun like Linda Blair, in the Exorcist, as I listened to the commentary and “analysis” of Patrick Joseph Buchanan on MSNBC News, yesterday, May 27th, at 3:00 PM. Some small segment of listeners would have picked up on Mr. Buchanan’s comment consciously, with no thought and with ease. Most, however, would have not even heard what was said. His comment would have zoomed by, unnoticed.

Mr. Buchanan is billed by MSNBC as a political commentator. What he is, in fact, is a skilled propagandist. He has been an editorial writer, speechwriter, columnist and book author. He is well schooled in the art of rhetoric. Generally, he carefully composes his propaganda lines. The distinction between a pure propagandist and commentator is, most fundamentally, a question of honesty. We expect the commentator to express his or her genuine point of view. The propagandist recites a prepared line intended to mislead, or promote a particular cause. The word derives from the Roman Catholic Church, “a committee of cardinals…responsible for foreign missions” under Pope Gregory XV—the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide, or Congregation for Propagation of the Faith, in English. What “faith” was Mr. Buchanan promoting?

MSNBC’s Nora O’Donnell moderated between Messrs. Buchanan and Lawrence O’Donnell on the subject of the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to sit as a United States Supreme Court Justice. Buchanan offered the case of Ricci v. DeStefano as grounds for objection to Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation. The case was decided by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, on which Judge Sotomayor currently sits. The City of New Haven, Connecticut, prevailed against the firefighters union, who argued that testing resulting in the appointment of no black person to the job should not have been thrown out. There may be a tiny amount of legitimate debate about this outcome. The US Supreme Court will decide in its October Term. But, what “faith” was Mr. Buchanan promoting?

I ordered a copy of the broadcast as a DVD—Rush, FedEx delivery. The DVD is not needed to confirm what I heard. I am certain of that. The reason for ordering the DVD (at VMS, 1500 Broadway, RSF: 6th Floor, New York, NY 10036) is to relish in catching the propagandist live, in the flesh, in-the-act. As amazing as Linda Blair’s head spinning, the DVD arrived at my door less than three hours after I placed the telephone order. It is poignantly titled, “Supreme Battle Talks/Pat Buchanan”. 

NORA O’DONNELL: Pat is Sotomayor a racist?

BUCHANAN:	 No, I wouldn’t use that term about her. To me that implies somebody that hates people of the opp[osite]…some opposite race. I do think there’s no doubt about it she supports racial preferences. She intervened in that case, or took that case, out of New Haven.

The case Judge Sotomayor “intervened in” or “took”, as Buchanan put it, she was duty-bound to hear and decide, as a sitting judge. This was no “Freudian slip” by Mr. Buchanan (not that any such thing actually exists, other than as a mechanism for excuse making). Nor was it a statement made in the heat of debate—the contest had not started. Neither was it an unfortunate phrasing, or poor choice of words. What is was, in addition to being pure propaganda, was a window into Mr. Buchanan’s mind—his, and those like-minded bigots who hide behind rhetoric, masquerading as mere ideologues.

The phrase Mr. Buchanan used was “some opposite race…” “What in the name of God could that possibly mean”, I asked myself, rhetorically, immediately on hearing it? Parsing professionally prepared propaganda can be difficult, even tricky. But Mr. Buchanan’s statement leaves no room for doubt. He believes that he belongs to one race; and that there exists another race opposite to the one he belongs, or, as the dictionary puts it, of a contrary kind. I remind Mr. Buchanan and all who share his mindset: There is now and has always been but one human race. Accept it, or excommunicate yourself from it.

Extending and amplifying the writing of Fredrick Nietzsche, I have described a continuum of pale criminals: from those asserting a form of absolute political correctness, to the purposeful propagandists (military, advertising, academic), to the political ideologue, to the ahistorical religious zealot (particularly fundamentalist—Christian and Islamic), and, at the most extreme of the continuum, the (often unappreciated) psychopath.

Yesterday Mr. Buchanan identified himself, unmistakably, as a pale criminal. And that is no laughing matter.

W.B. Corley
May 28, 2009

The referenced video can be viewed at YouTube.