The New York Times is mightily exercised with Rick Perry and his father’s hunting camp, which 28 years ago included a pasture, or region, or hummock, with an offensive name painted on a rock. The Times reports that:
When Gov. Rick Perry’s family took over the lease for the camp in 1983, it could have demanded that the name be changed. It could have destroyed the rock on which the name was painted.
Curious syntax here, yes? “It could have….It could have….” One wonders, in the entire history of the New York Times, did it ever before refer to a family as “it?” But that’s just a thought, to preface other, larger curiosities about the editorial.
The family did not “destroy” the rock, perhaps because the rock itself had committed no blameworthy offense. What “it” did — or rather, Mr. Perry senior did (it was his — its — camp, after all, not young Mr. Perry’s, however much the Times attempts to conflate a lease signed by his father with ownership on his part) was to paint the damn name over. This would suffice for most as evidence of upright behavior, but not the Times. The Times faults Mr. Perry in a prominent editorial for having a father who leased property with a historically accurate but offensive name — which he then eradicated in a manner acceptable to any reasoning being — because he did not destroy the rock. I don’t know about you, but to me, this seems a little unreasonable. Rocks, after all, are notoriously hard to destroy. And destroying someone else’s rock is — well — illegal. Even when your intentions are shiny.
That’s it. That’s the sum of Rick Perry’s sin. But somehow, the rock became “Gov. Perry’s Rock” (the title of the editorial). And because of his father’s lack of enthusiasm for dynamite and a reluctance to destroy property he leased, and did not own, the New York Times saw fit to accuse the governor of racism. The editorial concludes:
On private land, and in common parlance, these offensive names often continue, surviving a century of social change, lasting through Reconstruction, world wars, the civil rights movement, right up until the current moment, when the word has added new doubts to Mr. Perry’s staggering political campaign. However much paint was actually applied to Mr. Perry’s rock, it was not enough to wipe away the memory of a national shame.
Well — exactly how much paint must Mr. Perry junior apply to this rock before it is “enough to wipe away the memory of a national shame?” And when did the burden of racism become Mr. Perry’s purview, and his the responsibility for eradicating it?
Have you ever read such a contrived collection of bogus nobility, sham indignation and bait-and-switch sliming? If this “adds new doubts to Mr. Perry’s staggering political campaign,” it is only because the Times’s indefensible rhetoric deliberately inflames this non-issue with silly allegations of racism manufactured solely to harm him politically. Which is in a way still fine with us — that’s what the Times wants to do, and we’d be the last to tell them they can’t — but:
The Times has been running a series of front-page articles about Republican contenders and prominent Republican politicians. One of them, on Darrell Issa, was so full of errors and fraudulent accusations that the Times had to run not one, but two, detailed retractions of virtually every claim made in the article in an attempt to wipe the foam from its lips, making the Times a highly-visible figure of fun on the blogosphere for a few days. (Actually, to us, the most interesting inaccuracy in their article was the description of Issa’s office back home in California as “overlooking a golf course.” Which it does. But it’s several miles away. By the same token, I could describe Donald Trump’s office as “overlooking a garbage dump.” Do you think someone had an axe to grind?)
So — what? Well, the next time someone on this blog asserts that the New York Times is really a pretty much even-handed, unbiased, carefully-reasoned and sober provider of information, I’d suggest they read this editorial. It’s not a minor piece. It’s part of their battery of big guns. And I think this one misfired comically.