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July 24th, 2009
06:15 AM ET

Avlon: 'Wingnut' guilty of hyper-partisan hatred

Editor’s note: John P. Avlon is the author of Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics and writes a weekly column for The Daily Beast. Previously, he served as Chief Speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun.

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/24/wingnuts.boxer.erickson.art.jpg caption="California Senator Barbara Boxer (L) and conservative blogger Erik Erickson (R)."]

With only the benefit of thirty-odd years on the planet, I’m no expert – but I’m guessing that on the short list for “history’s greatest monster” there would be names like Hitler, Stalin and Mao. But probably not Jimmy Carter.

That’s precisely what one local elected official and prominent conservative blogger called the 39th president of the United States this week.

Erick Erickson serves on the city council in Macon, Georgia – Carter’s home state. He is also the managing editor of the influential RedState.com blog, a post which garnered him the ranking of the 69th “most influential conservative” in the Telegraph newspaper. Here’s his post:

Does anyone really care that History’s greatest monster, the man who laid hands on, endorsed, and applauded many of the most heinous regimes of the last part of the twentieth century, has left the Southern Baptist Church?

And he did so now because of, among other things, the role of women in the church?

That, like most of what Jimmy Carter says, is simply attention getting pablum by an senile old leftist.

The man is an unrepentant anti-semite and leftist. About the only part of the Bible he likes to take literally is the part about the Jews killing Christ. That gives him his anti-semetic justification.

Other than that, Carter wants to be free to live as he wants, not as God wants him to.

Good riddance.

Even more bizarre is the occasion which provoked this outburst against the 84-year-old former president. Several years ago, Carter announced that he was leaving the Southern Baptist Church due to the conservative denomination’s opposition to having women serve as pastors and its stated adherence to the idea that women must obey their husbands (that’s the biblical literalism that Erickson is griping about). Carter recently reiterated his decision in an op-ed for the British Observer, and it was this bit of old news that provoked Erickson’s blogging bile.

We all have our favorite and least favorite presidents – my tastes run to Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt – but none of them, however flawed, ranks even close to history’s greatest monsters. Jimmy Carter was an imperfect executive for our country, a man who was far-sighted on some fronts and naive on others. But most detractors give him points for personal decency and his post-presidential commitment to charities like Habitat for Humanity. And I haven’t even gotten to that Nobel Peace Prize, an award that aims to honor the opposite of humanity’s monsters (yes, Arafat was a slip on that front). In this post, Erickson is not only consumed with hyper-partisan-hatred; he commits a sin he might usually associate with the left – a complete lack of historic perspective.

On the left, the longtime liberal California Senator Barbara Boxer had an awkward moment in the sun at a committee hearing on energy and the environment this week, when she ran afoul of Black Chamber of Commerce President Harry Alford by indulging in a classic bit of liberal condescension. Alford called her on it forcefully and the result was an exchange that quickly circulated around the Internet. Click here to watch – a transcript of the choice cuts are below.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER, D-CALIF.: We will quote John Grant, who is the CEO of 100 Black Men of Atlanta: "Clean energy is the key that will unlock millions of jobs, and the NAACP's support is vital to ensuring that those jobs help to rebuild urban areas." So clearly, there is a diversity of...
HARRY ALFORD, PRESIDENT, BLACK CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Madam Chair, that is condescending to me.
BOXER: Well...
ALFORD: I'm the National Black Chamber of Commerce, and you are trying to put up some other black group to pit against me.
BOXER: If this gentleman were here, he would be proud that he was being quoted.
ALFORD: He should have been invited.
BOXER: Just as he would be proud...
ALFORD: It is condescending to me...
BOXER: Just so you know, he would be proud that you were here. He's proud, I'm sure…
ALFORD: Proud.
BOXER: …that I am quoting him.
ALFORD: All of that's condescending and I don't like it. It's racial. I don't like it.
BOXER: Excuse me.
ALFORD: I take offense to it.
BOXER: OK.
ALFORD: As an African-American and a veteran of this country, I take offense to that.
BOXER: Offense at the fact that I would quote...
ALFORD: You're quoting some other black man. Why don't you quote some other Asian or some...
BOXER: No.
ALFORD: I mean, you are being racial here.

By attempting to counter Alford’s testimony with statements from the CEO of 100 Black Men of Atlanta and the NAACP – neither of which have any special expertise in the slated subject of global warming and its impact on jobs – Boxer indulged in a liberal equivalency, countering one black voice with black voices of her own, rather than dealing with Alford as an individual.

It’s an extension of the still-persistent idea that race is necessarily an indicator of political beliefs, and that conservative African-Americans are outliers at best. When Alford called her on it, Boxer was caught like a politically correct deer in the headlights, stammering about how “proud” the NAACP and 100 Black men of Atlanta would be at being included in the congressional record.

It’s a reminder that we still have more growing to do on all sides before the dream of another Nobel Peace Prize winner from Georgia is fully achieved – that individuals will be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Avlon.


Filed under: Wingnuts of the week
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. jpe

    Internet convention is that people on the right are wingnuts, those on the left are moonbats. So this series – already a banal exercise in the worst of mouthbreathing MSM "on the one hand on the other" reporting – also displays an ignorance of the very sources from which you're stealing.

    Fail.

    August 7, 2009 at 6:37 am |
  2. Melissa

    The Republicans have all gone completely nuts. Why would anyone ever vote these nutbags into any political office?

    August 3, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
  3. asdf

    Jack says:

    >Obviously, our schools really are performing as badly as advertized. Did your teachers teach you anything about history?

    First off I am not near as young as you think I am. I agree our schools suck but that is mostly due to the Baby boomer mantra that everyone is a winner and deserves a trophy and that feel good spoil em crap they push.

    >You should get down on your knees and thank God for the baby boomers and for their fathers before them for the life you live today.

    >Our fathers fought courageously to save this Country for you. They battled from trenches in hand-to-hand combat. They were away from home for years with nothing but photographs and letters to keep them grounded. Their pay was the honor of defending their homes and families.

    Yes the generation before the boomers did an amazing things for America and that is not my argument. Riding on backs of generations before is one of the main reasons the Boomers are a fail (look at all the great boomer politicians like W and Clinton – better but still a fail) Though they did cause the red scare, and Vietnam but in the end we will give em pass.

    >Baby boomers took the advantages given to us by our fathers and built this Country through hard work into the Nation it was, before your generation began its destruction.

    Bullcrap, the baby boomer took alright that is the whole problem. Look who is in charge now age wise and how well things are going. The hippy generation was going to change the world alright and they sure did for the worse.

    Moreover, most of the male boomer generation served in some military capacity and many fought in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Bosnia, etc. to preserve your freedom. We worked and studied to give you the technology and riches to lead the world

    >Many boomers did serve in Vietnam very honorably and that is one of the bright spots for the generation. Of course many were forced to serve but still did so honorably. A large number also ran to Canada as well as spending time spitting on returning soldiers (many conscripted) call them baby killers. Glad no generation since has done this.

    >Consider today’s current events; these events are examples of your generation in action. You have certainly set a standard for yourselves: The world can surely see that your generation is all about how you can profit individually.

    Yep because the baby boomers were all about sacrifice and weren't the Me generation who loved Reagan, and the 80s mantra of greed is good. Want to hear a darn good argument about the boomers made by a boomer who is a big political analyst for CNN, Paul Begala.

    http://www.superseventies.com/worstgen.html

    Take it from the horses mouth baby.

    July 28, 2009 at 5:57 pm |
  4. Al Mills Jr

    Pertaining to the hoop la about Professor Gates. He is definately a Racis. My dad told me when I was young never get smart with a police officer even when you are wrong or wright . If You ever get stoped by a officer while driving a car put both hands on top af the stearing wheel and keep your mouth shut. Don'y be a shart ass. I think Gates has learned a lesson about his neighbors from now on they will not respond to help him out even if his house is on fire. This guy is to smart for his own good.

    July 27, 2009 at 8:57 am |
  5. Wren

    This is just amazing! I mean really, people give the President god like status, place them on a pedestal and like vultures wait for them to fall. You do not care if they are doing good or not, just that they fall or they are mortal.

    And the name calling! From the least to best educated person everyone lays in wait to pounce and belittle with name calling and abuse. Whats wrong bullies pick on you on a playground when you were children? Stop looking and then voting for someone who seems pristine then crying when they turn out to be human.

    If you think you could do better, then throw your hat in the ring and run and do a better job. Stop lamenting your hate and name calling to those that give a different thought and belief. We were not created clones, but unique individuals. That is the beauty of the human race.

    But you start in with the childish name calling and no matter how smart your argument sounds it blatantly shows you lost the battle because you just HAD to sink to a childish level, and you lose all footing you might have had.

    As for blasting a person for leaving a church because they will not allow woman rights? I do not care who the person leaving is. I do care about the person wanting to keep a tight fist on woman not gaining rights.

    I have watched people and listened to people and read people's thoughts on "their President" and who is not "their President" Just remember when your man was in you were like a happy fed baby with a clean diaper. The world does not revolve around you (no where near it) and it is not EVER about your wants, needs or tantrums. And people wonder why this country is so messed up? It is easy to see, if only the majority would take off their rose colored glasses and stop acting like spoiled kids wanting their way no matter what.

    No President has EVER been perfect and 100% right, stop trying to make them fit a mold that never was and never will be in existence. In other words people GROW UP and learn to listen from both sides and try putting yourself in someone else's shoes for just a second before you judge. After all it is not our place to judge.

    July 27, 2009 at 7:59 am |
  6. Bernice

    No. I do disagree! She is a wingnut, as everyone would agree, but to say that all Republicans have lost thier minds is just plain irresponsible! This woman is just a cook, but there are so many great people in both parties, as we ALL know! We are all Americans people, not insane, just human! Let's play nice! Good guys and bad guys come in all colors, shapes, and sizes!! This does not exclude that good and bad come in big packages and small ones too. BUT, people that do not think before they speak seem to come more frequently in BOTH parties!! That ia what keeps these blogs so darn interesting, isn't it? Carter, btw, has his rights as an American citizen to follow his God and his religion as they both see fit! The Bible does share its thoughts about womens place in a church, behind a pulpit, and also what she is to do through her life as a woman and a wife! He has a right, and it takes ignorance to go out of your way to smear an Ex-President in any way for enjoying his Constitutional Rights as an American! Shame on her!! Maybe someone should try to toy with HER religion and Constitutional Rights. Shoe on the other foot time? Lady, you just seem to be about one of the nastiest ladies out there.. Or, I am sorry, no ma'am about it, so maybe shes NOT a lady after all! Silence is golden so next time I hope that she uses ducktape. That may help her!

    July 25, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  7. Jack

    asdf said: "...Short term things look bleak but once the worst generation (Baby boomers) are buried and gone things will moderate once again and hopefully America will be strong again. All one has to do is look at the bravery and sacrifice by the youth today in Iraq and Afghanistan to realize that some generations understand putting others and the country before their own selfish interests."

    Obviously, our schools really are performing as badly as advertized. Did your teachers teach you anything about history?

    You should get down on your knees and thank God for the baby boomers and for their fathers before them for the life you live today.

    Our fathers fought courageously to save this Country for you. They battled from trenches in hand-to-hand combat. They were away from home for years with nothing but photographs and letters to keep them grounded. Their pay was the honor of defending their homes and families.

    Baby boomers took the advantages given to us by our fathers and built this Country through hard work into the Nation it was, before your generation began its destruction. Moreover, most of the male boomer generation served in some military capacity and many fought in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Bosnia, etc. to preserve your freedom. We worked and studied to give you the technology and riches to lead the world

    Yours is the generation that sits at home and relies on an army of mercenary soldiers who whine and cry over having to be on the battlefield for six months at a time. Yours is the generation that cannot go more than an hour without an email or a phone call from home to prove your existence. Yours is the generation that finds honor in firing your missiles from stateside video game consoles. Yours is the generation that fights only with a guarantee of competitive pay, college grants, and re-enlistment bonuses.

    Consider today's current events; these events are examples of your generation in action. You have certainly set a standard for yourselves: The world can surely see that your generation is all about how you can profit individually.

    July 25, 2009 at 12:22 pm |
  8. Jack

    To jim vicalvi:
    When it comes to naming the worst President, let us not forget Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, as well as the soon-to-be ex-President Barak Obama: Portions of the Country the first two couldn't give away to the rich or sale to foreign investors, Obama will give away to the minorities and third-world nations.

    July 25, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  9. Jack

    kwAwk and Dave Cole are right on target.

    Mr. Alford was presenting himself as a spokesperson for the black community, leaving Senator Boxer legitimate opportunity to show differing black opinions. Mr. Alford, like so many other black leaders (professor Gates comes to mind) was simply playing the race card to gain sympathy and to belittle Senator Boxer. Senator Boxer conducted herself in a very professional manner, maintained her composure, and carried on, while Alford acted like the fool he was.

    July 25, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  10. boris khmelnitskiy

    Thank you for bringing attention to the (quote) "69th “most influential conservative” in the Telegraph newspaper." Erick Erickson, in his infinite short-sighted lack of wisdom, is spewing typical conservative hatered, of which we've seen plenty when matters get too close to religious progressive causes. yet it is slightly beyond the realm of this discussion how some folks can get stuck in 2 thousand year old dogmas and not being able to stretch their brains around newer realities, not formed in caves and not involving slave-owning pyramid-building opressors. social norms move on, expand and organically grow – despite what some staunch convervatives would like to believe.

    on sen boxer's quote: she quoted a business man who, i am guessing, is likely to have far more expertise in business matters at stake than either her or Mr Alford. his offense on being quoted another black man, in fact, is his own racial prejudice, that allows him to speak from the PC tower and accusing a senator on technicality. Should any other Asian, Caucasian or Latino CEO care to make remarks that would engage NAACP i'm sure she'd be happy to quote them as well. As Mr Alford knows well, i bet, Atlanta is not the Latino Central, and the role of black community leaders can not be overstated. It is very likely that his desire to emphasize the race of the opponent had a strong purpose of derailing the conversation – which he did, and managed to push you off track as well.

    It is time we take a deep breath and start calling out minorities on their use of race (or equivalent) card when it doesn't fit. Pulling PC tail between our legs and crying foul is hardly a way to bring equal opportunity. I wish to live to the day when a white woman can call out a black leader for instigating a racial dispute where there was none.

    July 24, 2009 at 10:03 pm |
  11. Randy

    @michael armstrong sr.:

    I'd say our problems with Iran began in 1953, when the CIA under Eisenhower and Dulles helped overthrow Mohammad Mossadeq, Iran's popularly elected, pro-western Prime Minister, and putting the Shah in his place. Without that, who knows what might have been.

    I'm a veteran also, in case that makes my opinion worth more.

    July 24, 2009 at 8:35 pm |
  12. asdf

    Yep Carter may have been a worthless president and politically he can be divisive but W was worse on both points. Just the fact that the left and right in the country consider each other mortal enemies must make our true enemies in the world fill will glee. Short term things look bleak but once the worst generation (Baby boomers) are buried and gone things will moderate once again and hopefully America will be strong again. All one has to do is look at the bravery and sacrifice by the youth today in Iraq and Afghanistan to realize that some generations understand putting others and the country before their own selfish interests. It is this quality which made America the powerhouse it is today and after suffering through the destruction of the Baby boomer generation it will be strong again.

    July 24, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  13. jim vicalvi

    I would like to apologize to the rest of the people responding to this article for my last comment. I let an obvious dingaling get under my skin and my comments were completely off of the mark and did not apply to the article. Again, I apologize.

    July 24, 2009 at 5:01 pm |
  14. Carl M

    Is there a conservative name-calling guide out there somewhere? I have noticed how the Rs all have cute little names for our president and other dems. It is disrespectful to the people to whom you refer and to yourself when you call them by clever little jabs. Make your point without the childish name-calling.

    July 24, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  15. J. Richter

    Allright. Enough racial reporting. Let's get back to work. Health care is REALLY a problem in this country for companies big and small and for those who have it and those who dont.

    We can all return to quabbling about racial issues when we are healthy, well fed, can send our kids to school, have good jobs, and feel some stability in it.

    July 24, 2009 at 4:55 pm |
  16. cst

    I'm not really looking to be Carter's defender, but he IS the guy that forged a peace treaty between Eygpt and Israel that has lasted for 30 years... he certainly had his flaws as President, but you can't dismiss that achievement as the work of an "anti-semite".

    July 24, 2009 at 4:52 pm |
  17. jim vicalvi

    to:hopeful optimist. If what I said was the" dumbest thing I have read on here in years" you obviously haven't been reading many of the statements being made by obummer and other membersof Congress. Both Republican and Democrats. I don't hate anyone. Not even my ex-wife but reading your ignorant drivel comes close. I have "no aversion to anyone with any type of education".I only have 1 year of college but still am always trying to learn something. My brothers and sister have multiple degrees. College was more their cup of tea. Not mine. I don't think that either candidates were qualified for office and comments by both of them lately proves me right. You may have more "formal education" but your lack of intelligence is glaring.

    July 24, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  18. al

    America is in the throes of its' worst economic debacle in a century and these people are all emoted about trivialities. Amazing.

    July 24, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  19. Steve

    Seems like a bit of a stretch on the Boxer complaint calling this Liberal Condescension. This is a pretty common tactic used by everybody and probably most commonly by Republicans.

    Hell, for that matter... What is the Black Chamber of Commerce? Isn't that racial?

    July 24, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  20. Hopeful Optimist

    @ jim vicalvi 10:03 am:

    That was undoubtedly THE dumbest comment I have read on here in years. Your ignorance is stupefying. It is exceeded only by your hatred.

    You obviously have an aversion to anyone with any type of formal education. The lack of yours is glaring.

    July 24, 2009 at 3:26 pm |
  21. MJ

    DOES ANYONE STILL HAVE A SIX PACK OF BILLY BEER????

    July 24, 2009 at 3:25 pm |
  22. Dave Cole

    On the Barbara Boxer thing, if you're representing a group called the "Black Chamber of Commerce" aren't you setting yourself up as a representative voice of the black community? It seems perfectly appropriate in my eyes to counter one voice with a contrary voice claiming to represent the same community. Boxer wasn't countering Alford with another black voice because he, personally, is black but because he represents a group that, ostensibly, claims to speak for black folk. Had Alford been simply representing the US Chamber of Commerce and Boxer brought up contrary views from other business groups, would Alford have been similarly incensed that she was treating him as a businessman and not an individual. I can't imagine him saying, "You're pitting me against another businessman. Why don't you quote some other Doctor or Lawyer?"

    July 24, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  23. kwAwk

    Okay, the part about Boxer makes no sense.

    You can't on one hand be from the National Black Chamber of Commerence and then get upset that people are choosing to support or refute your contentions in terms of other Black organizations.

    If Alford had been from the US Chamber of Commerence (sans Black) he would have a pretty good point that the issue was getting racial. But he wasn't.

    He was invited to speak before Congress in his official role as the President of the Black Chamber of Commerence.

    July 24, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  24. jburkos

    I don't really get some of the far right Baptists – no drinking, yet Jesus turned water into wine....oh yeah, Baptists ignore that and claim that it wasn't wine, it was grape juice. Yet I don't quite get how Mr. Erikson is being referred to as a racist. Partisan, maybe, but where is race involved here? That's about as dumb as Professor Gates's actions.

    However, where is the outrage toward SENATOR Barbara Boxer, the same SENATOR who chided a General for calling her Ma'am? She was extremely racially condescending to the president of the Black National Chamber of Commerce, and she wasn't slammed by any comments. Boxer is the posterchild of partisan and obviously has a few racist tenancies of her own. Her comments by far exceeded the acts of the Cambridge PD, but where is the national outrage against her?

    July 24, 2009 at 1:33 pm |
  25. Fitzgerald, Kankake, IL.

    This dude is a hate monger and a coward! Republicans love to be afraid all the time, and they want the rest of the country to be afraid too, because that will allow them to attack sovereign nations who have not done anything wrong to us again!

    The weakest people in the world are those who are always afraid, they love to use fear to rally a county to attack outsiders!

    American has become a nation that is always afraid all the time, and that is so sad! Over the past eight years we did awful thing base on a false fear!

    July 24, 2009 at 10:57 am |
  26. jim vicalvi

    While Erickson might have gone off of the deep end on his monster comments, in general, I can only agree with him on goober farmer Carter. This person, after some of his anti-American comments I won't call him a man, was, without a doubt one of the worst President's that the USA has had. Altho, our resident wannabe obummer will be a close second. Both carter and obummer have repeatedly put down the country that they are supposedly leading. Carter's behavior can be blamed on senility and maybe sniffing to many peanut shells. Obummers can be blamed on just plain ignorance and possibly for his not getting his cut of the money for his former position.

    July 24, 2009 at 10:03 am |
  27. Kathryn

    CNN reporting bias?...On President Obama’s response regarding his remarks on the Louis Gates arrest; if you are going to replay sound bytes of what the President said, be fair, replay the beginning of his response and what follows. You are certain to ensure that you replay the favorable sound bytes of the police officer’s interview. This is why individuals who have experienced racial bias and even those who have not know, in their gut that it is real. The media outlets demonstrate the biases in their reporting style.

    July 24, 2009 at 8:47 am |
  28. michael armstrong sr.

    Im a former sailor who served time aboard the U.S.S Texas CGN 39 during the American hostage crises and I still have animosity towards Jimmy Carter as far as im concerned hes a yellow dog if he would have attacked Iran for its actions we wouldnt be having the problems with them were having today.

    July 24, 2009 at 8:39 am |
  29. The Marginalizer

    Proof positive that Macon is still populated by unhappy pudgy trolls who do not deal in reality. Men like Eric Erickson are small, insignificant voices of a racist, bigoted time gone by. He is a prime example of why the Republicans will ultimately fail and fade into history. By attacking an aging former President it not makes him un-American it makes him ANTI-American and that is another reason America is turning on the losers that now make up the Republican face of American.

    July 24, 2009 at 8:20 am |
  30. Larry

    Seems all Republicans have lost their minds.

    Erickson is obviously a deep south racist and an excellent pick for Wingnuts.

    July 24, 2009 at 7:01 am |