What to do about crazy Uncle Pat

By Guest Contributor Tami, originally published at What Tami Said

You know back in the 90s when Pat Buchanan was launching failed bids for the presidency, the conservative politico was, in the minds of most folks I knew, synonymous with rabid, ugly, bigotry. But in the late oughts, the man who as late as 2006 still called Nixon’s race-baiting Southern Strategy a good idea, has rehabbed his image through regular appearances on MSNBC, where he is treated by the resident progressives like some batty-but-harmless uncle–a good guy who may be a little retro, but who for the most part simply holds a differing but valid political opinion. Hey, good analysis of a political issue requires evaluation from both sides, right? At least MSNBC, whose commentary has a decided leftward slant, bothered to add a real voice of opposition, unlike Alan Colmes, the cipher of Fox News. The problem is, Pat Buchanan’s isn’t a fact-based or harmless point of view, as his recent racist and sexist foaming demonstrates:


This isn’t the first time Buchanan has gotten off his chain, but perhaps the first time since he began his stint on MSNBC that his racism has been so publicly naked and rage-filled. I didn’t think one could get away with saying “white folks are better at thinkin’, but darn it those darkies can run fast” on national TV anymore. (And make no mistake, that’s exactly what Buchanan was saying.) Worse, Buchanan’s rant about white men being singularly responsible for the building and defending of this country is misinformed at best (more likely purposefully filled with lies and half-truths).

Jed Lewison on Daily Kos offers a point-by-point refutation of Buchanan’s mendacity:

Buchanan claimed: White men were close to 100% of the people who died at Normandy…Buchanan’s claim is wrong. Not only did 2,000 African-Americans storm the beaches of Normandy, but 1.2 million blacks served in World War II. Moreover, it’s important to remember that during this time, black soldiers were segregated from white. So even if Buchanan’s claim were true, the reason would have been traceable to institutionalized racism, not the moral superiority of white people.

Starting with the Korean War, the U.S. government began tracking deaths by race. Those numbers also refute Buchanan’s general claim: in the Korean War, whites comprised 80% of the war dead. In Vietnam, it was 86%. In the first Gulf War it was 76%. So Buchanan’s 100% claim just doesn’t add up. Read more…

Indeed, Buchanan’s bluster about all the white men who died at Gettysburg is laughable, since a major precipitating reason for the Civil War was some white men’s continued enslavement of the black men, women and children whose free labor helped build the country and its economy. Despite that, many black men and women served in the Civil War–my great-great-grandfather among them.

Does an opposing opinion that is not just untrue, but also vile and damaging and designed to foment hate, deserve airing on a responsible news network? I say it does not and that by continuing to embrace Buchanan, MSNBC and Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews give credence to his sick and ill-informed beliefs. It is particularly frustrating that too often Buchanan is only tepidly challenged if he is challenged at all. And when challenged by a person of color or a woman (y’know, which upsets the natural order of things), Buchanan starts wilding out. (Remember when he told Keli Goff to “shut up,” prompting Maddow to chastise him, after earlier talking about how much she “loves” him?)

So, what should responsible progressives and people dedicated to anti-racism do? I mean, this is “our” station giving Buchanan a platform, not Faux News. It is MSNBC that pays handsomely for a talking head that has said that women are “simply not endowed by nature with the same measures of single-minded ambition and the will to succeed in the fiercely competitive world of Western capitalism.” Who offered, “If we had to take a million immigrants in, say Zulus, next year, or Englishmen, and put them in Virginia, what group would be easier to assimilate and would cause less problems for the people of Virginia?” Who lamented, “Someone’s values are going to prevail. Why not ours? Whose country is it, anyway? Whose moral code says we may interfere with a man’s right to be a practicing bigot, but must respect and protect his right to be a practicing sodomite?”

My blogsister Professor Tracey says if MSNBC can’t quit Uncle Pat, then we need to quit MSNBC (including my girl, Rachel). She may be right. On the other hand, you know being fired from MSNBC wouldn’t shut Buchanan down. In short order, he’d be spewing his foolishness on rightwing media with even less accountability and contradiction.

What do you say? Should we even bother getting het up about Pat Buchanan? If he is worth our bother, what can we do to ensure MSNBC gets the message that he undermines the credibility of their station?

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