Cantor’s Defense of Bachmann Reveals the Hypocrisy of his Embrace of Diversity

When Michele Bachmann accused an innocent woman of being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood she was clearly trying to catapult herself into the limelight after a humiliating foray into presidential politics. Making like Joe McCarthy probably seemed like a good idea to an aspiring and ambitious – and not least, bigoted – fundamentalist Christian woman from Minnesota. She quickly found out she had misjudged the times. Rather than raising the Tea Party masses behind her, pitchforks and torches in hand to round up some witches, Bachmann found herself brushed off, and in some cases, castigated, by her own party.

But she did find one defender, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). Yesterday on CBS’s “This Morning” Charlie Rose was asking Cantor about Bachmann:

Rose set the stage by bringing up recent comments made by Cantor on July 19 in a Buzzfeed story about the importance of tolerance. Reminding Cantor of his comments there, that it is “absolutely wrong to stereotype or look badly at anyone because of their religion” and “It’s a bad thing to look at a Muslim and think bad things. Again, we’re all Americans here and we share beliefs in freedom and the ability to practice our faiths,” Rose asked:

“Do you think Rep. Bachmann was out of line? It does not square with this.”

“If you read some of the reports that have covered this story, I think that her concern was about the security of the country.” Cantor replied. “So that’s about all I know.”

“Beyond your own sense of diversity and tolerance, does this reflect on your own part some sense this may damage the party in the general election, if there is a perception that the party and its ideas do not reflect diversity and tolerance.”

You might wonder where Charlie Rose has been if he is just cluing into this now. Diversity and tolerance began to flee the Republican Party the moment Barry Goldwater lost in 1964 and the tent has been getting smaller and smaller ever since, to the point where it’s barely has room for the egos involved, let alone diverse viewpoints.

But Cantor’s response is, again, a real non-answer.

“You know, I feel very strongly about the fact that we’re a nation of inclusion, we were built on the waves of immigrants that have come to these shores. I myself am a member of a minority faith and have enjoyed the ability to pursue and practice that faith unlike I could anywhere else in the world and that is the point here. We all have the freedom that was given to us by our creator and was memorialized, if you will, in the documents that provide the legal framework for us to live.”

Somehow, Cantor didn’t think, or didn’t want the viewer to think, that Bachmann’s behavior was counter to what Cantor told Buzzfeed. Cantor said we have to respect each other’s viewpoints, including our religious differences, but Bachmann attacked Huma Abedin on account of her religion.

Cantor, refusing to actually answer the question posed by Rose, dismisses it by asserting that Bachmann was just being a patriotic American trying to protect her country.

That was also the essence of McCarthyism, to protect America from the Red Menace. The essence of the Witch Hunts was to protect Christian society from Satan. When Hitler exterminated the Jews he said he was protecting not only Germany, but Europe and the entire West from “Jewish” Bolshevism. In other words, though his methods were more extreme, he had the same goal in mind as McCarthy – and Bachmann.

But the ends do not justify the means, whatever Bush-era ideology might proclaim. We tried that even after refuting it at Nuremberg. It didn’t go over well, here or abroad. We elected Barack Obama and as a nation refuted that thinking again.

McCarthy can’t be excused because he was not as bad as Hitler. Bachmann cannot be excused because she is not as bad as McCarthy. We would likely all be shuddering had Bachmann struck at the right time, or found the right chord, or been a more charismatic leader. Close your eyes and imagine her as McCarthy, a megalomaniac who thinks God talks to her and tells her what to do. Compared to a self-proclaimed agent of the Lord, McCarthy might well be looking like a piker among demagogues to us now.

You would have the worst elements of McCarthyism and the Inquisition combined.

And Cantor may claim he is all about tolerance and diversity but his sense of fairness does not include women or the middle class. When Muse wrote here the other day that Cantor said it is time to “question whether it’s fair” that some Americans do not pay income tax and that “we should broaden the (tax) base in a way that we can lower the rates for everybody that pays taxes,” Cantor wasn’t talking about the rich. He was talking about the rest of us.  He said it is unfair to “milk them (rich) more because government has a duty to preserve their ability to provide the growth engine.”

So the rest of us have a duty to pay taxes so the rich, who squirrel their money away in tax free shelters overseas and manifestly do not “provide the growth engine” can lead a comfortable existence at our expense, a new class of helots or serfs, an America of diverse plantation slaves for the rich white landowners and industrialists. The trouble is, Cantor’s vision smacks more of Tsarist Russia than the Founders’ vision for America.

Cantor comes across as very reasonable (as he did with Charlie Rose) when he wishes to be, but there is nothing reasonable at the heart of the ideology that drives him. I suppose coming from a mainstream media outlet we should be happy that even the suggestion that the Republican Party might be intolerant and lacks diversity is a victory of sorts, but that would take an interviewer who wants to do more than simply provide a platform for Republican talking points. Rose is not that interviewer and CBS is not that network.

13 Replies to “Cantor’s Defense of Bachmann Reveals the Hypocrisy of his Embrace of Diversity”

  1. it seems to me that the Democrats have a great defense and the fact that a very small minority of the wealthy are job creators. And yet none of them mention it when complete idiots like Eric Cantor say that we can’t tax the rich because they’ll stop taking jobs. It appears to me that they already have stopped making jobs.

    It also occurs to me that they have stopped making jobs because the middle class engine that runs job creation through purchasing isn’t there. I know president Obama pounds on this daily but the Democrats have to get behind him and refute this constant BS about the rich being the job creators.

    As for Bachmann, she should be arrested and charged for taking up oxygen that Starving children in Africa could be using

  2. are you always this kinky on Saturday mornings? I have one more cup of coffee to go, you’re going to have to wait till noon

  3. It’s my opinion that the criticism from Republicans is window dressing only, because they know that there are still people around who remember the lessons learned from McCarthy and WWII. If they could get away with it, they’d be behind her too.

    Bachmann (and by extension Cantor) are of the type that deny racism is still rampant and a major problem in this country. You look at the things they are against… affirmative action for one, and they show their hideous real faces. They don’t have a clue what it’s like to be a member of a minority and loose jobs (or most of your customers if you own a small business) because you’re not a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant male. They don’t have a clue what it’s like to be called lazy for “not working”, when the damned WASP businessmen refuse to hire you in the first place (based on race, orientation, whatever).

    They’ve never experienced REAL persecution and discrimination (their claims are bogus and projection of what they do to others). That’s why they totally lack empathy and caring – heartless and cruel. They don’t have a clue as to what it feels like.

    As far as Bachmann’s statements, I think the dominionists are trying to find some Othered group that they can get disenfranchised. If they can start with one, then it becomes easier to go after others. If they were to succeed with Muslims, who would be next? Atheists? LGBT people? Before long, the only people left would be themselves (WASP dominionists), and if they didn’t start a civil war by trying to force their religion on everyone else, by that time they’d enter a civil war – the two major flavors of dominionism would almost certainly come to war with each other.

    They don’t seem to realize that exclusion doesn’t work in a pluralistic society, and that inclusiveness is the way to go. That thinking is foreign to them because it contradicts their core values.

  4. Somebody should tell this a-hole that the real muslim infiltrating the US government is Grover Norquist who has the republicans doing his bidding, he is married to a Palestinian muslim and always pushes muslim causes!

  5. Geld the entire hate-filled, fear-mongering, shameless Republican Party on November 6, 2012

    WE the people will speak

  6. “If you read some of the reports that have covered this story, I think that her concern was about the security of the country.” Cantor replied. “So that’s about all I know.”

    “So that’s about all I know.” Legislator with the intellectual depth of a grade school drop out.
    Ignorance isn’t something to be proud of.

  7. “I myself am a member of a minority faith and have enjoyed the ability to pursue and practice that faith unlike I could anywhere else in the world and that is the point here.”

    I’m getting so bloody tired and fed up with politicians who insist that your “freedoms” ONLY exist in the USA. That’s just one of the reasons why non-Americans are disgusted with this meme. It’s just not true; and I blame pols in both parties for this. American exceptionalism, in this regard, is merely a myth to fire up feelings of patriotism.

    Aside from that, can you really expect anything different from the likes of Cantor and his fellow T-baggers? Just like their leader Romney, the garbage and lies that spew from their mouths are never countered by their interviewers — EVER!

  8. Can’t rely on Cantor. “That’s allI know”, means that’s all I wish to tell you. Bachman and her Ameerrica make me wonder if she will be relected. Time to hang it up and go into business with her spouse converting the gay person to a heterosexual! Two stand up comics.

  9. Cantor pulled the same evasive tactic in an interview a few weeks ago when he was asked about the #50 million the republicans wasted on trying to repeal the ACA for the 33rd time. He never responds to the questions he’s asked in interviews and is an expert when it comes to doubletalk. Cantor and republicans like him are the reason the party is having problems getting large numbers of minorities to vote for their politicians. They always find some way to avoid standing up for what is right and end up choosing to alienate those whom they want to vote for them. Everything about Cantor is dishonest and cowardly. Steve Benen noted earlier this week that Cantor’s support for Bachmann places him at odds with Boehner and others in the GOP. As someone who is a Jewish-American, I would think that he’d be the last politician in the country who would be willing to scapegoat anyone else, but I see was wrong.

  10. Mr. Cantor is as good as the rest of the current RePUBIC-clown party at lying through his teeth. He espouses diversity and his embracing of that principal; however, it would seem that does not extend to a black man occupying that large residence at the end of Pennsylvania Avenue. Do I detect a note of hypocrisy here?

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