Race and James O’Keefe

By
Wednesday, February 03, 2010 at 12:06 pm

In 2006, I attended an event hosted by the Robert Taft Club, a proudly un-PC debate society run by young conservative activists who worked at the Leadership Institute — Marcus Epstein, Kevin DeAnna — and The American Conservative. They specialized in subjects that would be too controversial for other groups, and the subject of this forum was “whether conservatives should talk about race.” The big draw: Jared Taylor, the politically toxic editor of the openly racist American Renaissance magazine.

The Taylor appearance was buffeted by controversy and moved, at the last minute, to a location a few blocks away from its original location near the Clarendon metro stop in Virginia. It was strange enough to draw out people like me and a photographer for the One People’s Project, who snapped pictures of the attendees, wrote a report — and then, unfortunately, had most of the photos seized by the FBI. A zoomed-in headshot of James O’Keefe (after the jump), then working for the Leadership Institute, survived, although it cropped out the table he was sitting at, covered in controversial literature. O’Keefe’s position at the Leadership Institute gave him some ownership of the event, but in general the crowd consisted of conservatives and libertarians who wanted to see some controversy, some fireworks — not so much of people who agreed with Taylor.

One People's Project

One People's Project

Last week the One People’s Project posted the headshot and an account of the event. Today, Max Blumenthal uses that event as a jumping-off point for a story on O’Keefe’s problems with race. A related story that hasn’t really been written is the acceptance of really extreme racial theorizing — some would just call it racism — among a small segment of the campus conservative movement.

When I talked to many veterans of the same programs that produced James O’Keefe for my story on the more under-the-radar success of the conservatives-on-campus programs, they remembered, not fondly, people like Marcus Epstein who signed up with conservative groups in order to say shocking things about race or immigration. And for several years, Epstein was employed by the Leadership Institute, Bay Buchanan, and Tom Tancredo. His willingness to push the envelope and invite extremists to public forums was seen more as intellectual bravery than as something controversial that would come back to haunt him – until last year.

I’ve known campus conservative activists for a decade, and I know the people who put together the 2006 forum quite well. Extremism — theories about race, right-wing European politics, anti-immigration rhetoric — is seen in these circles as something of a lark. It’s forbidden knowledge. It terrifies liberals. But people like Marcus Epstein and James O’Keefe feel (or felt) like they can get away with playing around in these circles before getting down to serious politics. And once they make that leap — as Epstein did with Buchanan, or as O’Keefe did with his ACORN tapes — the idea of being brought down by controversy is laughable. They’d faced down the Southern Poverty Law Center and won, so what do they have to fear?

Blumenthal’s article is worth reading for the background on O’Keefe’s race obsession at various points in his career. It makes a connection that liberals have had trouble making, between the right’s attacks on ACORN and the organization’s work registering poor, mostly non-white voters. But the new attention on the 2006 Robert Taft Club event suggests that young campus activists with big ambitions are going to find their dabblings in extreme politics coming back to haunt them. In other words, can the tactics conservatives used to attack Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennings or Green Jobs Czar Van Jones–digging into their associations, reporting that they attended scary-sounding events, finding out-of-context, radical-sounding quotes from their earlier careers–be used against conservative activists?

Follow David Weigel on Twitter


Comments

43 Comments

uberVU - social comments
Trackback posted February 3, 2010 @ 12:31 pm

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by rkref: RT @TWI_news Race and James O’Keefe http://bit.ly/aOmppQ...


vabelle
Comment posted February 3, 2010 @ 12:58 pm

Sure, those tactics *could be* applied against them, as well as by them. But won't be; Dems are not very good at pushing the guilt by association angle. Also, Dems have a very low boredom threshold; they're most unlikely to repeat the same thing, in exactly the same words, over and over and over again, until it sinks in as The Truth.


24AheadDotCom
Comment posted February 3, 2010 @ 1:49 pm

If there's one person who's less credible than Weigel, it's Max Blumenthal. See the link for the details.


Tracy
Comment posted February 3, 2010 @ 2:00 pm

Sorry, champ, but no cookie for you. Troll for web hits elsewhere.


strangely_enough
Comment posted February 3, 2010 @ 2:42 pm

It makes a connection that liberals have had trouble making, between the right’s attacks on ACORN and the organization’s work registering poor, mostly non-white voters.

The connection is blatantly obvious.
ACORN has become a surrogate for racial terms that are too offensive for even conservatives dismiss with condescending references to “political correctness” and “liberal guilt.”
Going after ACORN is of a piece with Rove's caging list strategy of disenfranchising non-whites (think voter roll purges in Florida prior to the 2000 election, and more elsewhere).


24AheadDotCom
Comment posted February 3, 2010 @ 4:33 pm

Oddly enough, the comment from “Tracy” coincides with a visit to the MB link from an “edit-comments.php” page at this site, with an IP apparently located in Hanover, MD. Could TWI moderators be leaving nastygrams on comments they don't like?


ohgood
Comment posted February 3, 2010 @ 5:05 pm

Heh. That's a beautiful Web site you've got there, anonymous, cowardly hiding crazy person. Just elegant design, really. Oh, and I see you're a birther, too.


ohgood
Comment posted February 3, 2010 @ 5:07 pm

Seriously, ever noticed that right-wingers have the ugliest Web sites? And the crazier they are, the more hideous the site.


Tracy
Comment posted February 3, 2010 @ 8:54 pm

Wrong on all counts, little man.


Capn America
Comment posted February 3, 2010 @ 8:55 pm

keep up the great work, Dave, these people need to be exposed.


theo669996
Comment posted February 3, 2010 @ 9:55 pm

Er, um, shouldn't you have to provide actual proof when you're accusing someone of being a racist?


theo669996
Comment posted February 3, 2010 @ 10:02 pm

This post reads like a Charles Johnson style defamation. I can't prove that O'Keefe is not a racist (I can't prove that David Weigel isn't a racist, either), but I see no real evidence here, just a desperate attempt to take down someone Weigel dislikes with an ism.

I actually have basis to consider Barack Obama a racist, given the fact he attended a filthy racist church for 20 years and considered its filthy racist pastor his friend and mentor.


a
Comment posted February 3, 2010 @ 10:05 pm

In other words, can the tactics conservatives used to attack Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennings or Green Jobs Czar Van Jones–digging into their associations, reporting that they attended scary-sounding events, finding out-of-context, radical-sounding quotes from their earlier careers–be used against conservative activists?

Interesting post, but both these people were brought down by stuff they did once they'd started their professional careers, not college activism that they thought no one would notice.


a
Comment posted February 3, 2010 @ 10:08 pm

Oh also WTF, on what grounds did the FBI seize this person's photos?


bricko
Comment posted February 3, 2010 @ 10:08 pm

So, you are saying he has done nothing…..but Olberman, Shuster and LGF will push that he has. great.

Thanks, looks that way to me too.


ellid
Comment posted February 3, 2010 @ 10:14 pm

Have you redesigned your web site to be navigable yet? Last time I was stupid enough to click I thought I'd landed on one of those horrendous Angelfire memorials to dead premature infants that look unfortunately like California raisins. And the content – !


monkey99
Comment posted February 3, 2010 @ 11:23 pm

The more you see of right-wing nutcase websites, the more it makes you glad you're not one of them.

Seen the hate blogs yet? There's some really wacked out thinking going on. And the language! TWI is tame, by comparison.

The closest I can come to a definition is sedition and insurrectionist ideology, all under the guise of “we're red-blooded Americans!” Who do they think they're kidding?


Te Baggo
Comment posted February 4, 2010 @ 7:05 am

O'Keefe is an American hero right up there with George Franklin and Benjamin Washington.


highnumber
Comment posted February 4, 2010 @ 10:25 am

He's a lot of things, but he is not anonymous. His name is Chris Kelly.


johnwallsghost
Comment posted February 4, 2010 @ 12:13 pm

“I don't like Democrats, therefore James O'Keefe can't be racist”.
Its clear that this young man and his supporters see him simply as someone who is attacking hypocrisy, which he may do now and again. However, his supporters and probably even himself fail to recognize that he can do this and be a racist at the same time, and I'm sorry but the messenger does matter.


jummy
Comment posted February 4, 2010 @ 3:29 pm

“…can the tactics conservatives used …digging into their associations, reporting that they attended scary-sounding events, finding out-of-context, radical-sounding quotes from their earlier careers–be used against conservative activists?”

maybe. maybe context means more. the revelation of van jones' belief in “bush did it” 911 conspiracy theories came in the midst of a progressive pr efforts to portray the belief of a segment of the right that there's something fishy about obama's birth certificate as a form of ninsanity unique to the right. that's where the political force of it came from. with jennings, well, saying creepy things about children and sex will always strike the ear as creepy.

when it comes to race, however, people tend to have different views as to what is beyond the pale and who has the authority to set those boundaries. for most people, i'd say, a progressive's assessment of x person or x event as “racist” is greeted with skepticism, if not dismissal.

for instance, max blumenthal's tendentious aspersion that opposition to acorn is, at root, related to acorn's “work in service of poor people of color” lays there unsupported by anything. it has currency only with those who share his presumed insight into what people with whom he disagrees “really think”.

most people, including people who observe events closely enough to hear the charge but who are not necessarily jealously aligned themselves, would have assumed that conservatives' interest in dishing dirt on acorn is responsive to the fact that acorn workers were found to have issued hundreds of false voter registrations, and thus screeching about acorn is a bit of sauce for the progressive left which, to this day, endorses bizarre conspiracy theories about diebold rigging electronic voting machines to favor bush in 2000 and 2004.

they might assume that conservative opposition to acorn is responsive to the progressive identity of acorn and it's (white, incidentally) former sds activist founder, wade rathke. they might additionally be aware that acorn's conduct, though it portrays itself as dedicated to serve poor people of color, is often a material disservice to poor people of color. for instance, when they headed the crusade to prevent a walmart from opening on the south side of chicago which would have brought jobs and produce to “urban desserts” which are over-served by liquor stores. acorn's (ultimately unsuccessful) conduct in blocking walmart from opening it's locations served the white union establishment and white northside latte liberals who have a class-cultural preference for kitchy little boutique retailers, and forsook the concerns of poor people of color.

yet throughout, acorn was able to play the race card, arguing that their cause was poor people of color. this ability is rooted in nothing more substantial than a jealously enforced axiom: the left is for poor people of color, non-left ideas support white supremacism to one extent or another. most people recognize the toxic speciousness of that sort of claim.

so, when the one people's project (a silly dc-based maoist/anarchist outfit looking for something to do now that bill white is in jail) says that x is a bona fide neo-nazi because they appeared in the same hotel reception hall with y who is connected to z, you can expect the charge to lay inert in the minds of whoever hears it until they've personally taken a look into x, y AND z and made their own assessment as to whether any or all of them is in fact “racist” in any meaningful sense.

as it is, it seems that o'keefe is guilty of sitting at a literature table at a conference which pitted a white nationalist against a black conservative and a conservative skeptic of racialism and proposed to discuss whether, not even how, conservatives should discuss race. we can assume that the conference topic was so formulated as a reflection of how successfully bullying the left has been in enforcing the axiom that you are either a leftist or a racist and that all other political ideas and identities are mere code for white supremacism; codes which are invisible to those with correct vision.

whether it is a long discursive essay about how positive rights and race or progressives' revealing knee-jerk perception of a “dogwhistle” about miscegenation (?!) in a republican campaign ad, the overall effect is that, when a progressive opens his mouth about race, he is assumed to be revealing more of his own anxieties than his opponents'.


jummy
Comment posted February 4, 2010 @ 3:43 pm

“…strategy of disenfranchising non-whites (think voter roll purges in Florida prior to the 2000 election…)”

a lie.

it was, at the time, illegal for a convicted felon to vote in florida. florida contracted an independent accounting agency to audit and remove felons from the voter rolls. a number names were removed in error. because of these errors, the names were reinstated prior to the election. a subsequent statistical study revealed that an individual who was removed from the rolls in error was more 9% more likely to be white than black.

there was no purge, much less a “racist” one. and that's one example of why people roll their eyes and direct their attention elsewhere when a progressive opens his mouth about race.


shellgoddamnit
Comment posted February 4, 2010 @ 3:51 pm

Can I get a cite on that subsequent study plse? Thanks.


jummy
Comment posted February 4, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

ems are so skillful at pushing “guilt by association” that they've taken the style of argument to a who new level of abstraction. while they were feigning moral shock at the tactic when conservatives were speaking of president obama's actual, substantial, first-person political association of choice with the domestic terrorist, william ayers, progressives were promoting palin's supposed guilt by association to things some people heard (others didn't) yelled by anonymous crowd members at places where she was speaking. this guilt-by-association-with-things-shouted-anonymously-100-yards-away was tried last week with scott brown (in conjunction with that other tactic progressives weild masterfully, the knowingly false misrepresentation). later, progressives went further with palin, charging her with guilt by association twice removed to a ghost-writer's association with some guy who wrote some stuff pseudononymously on a listserv a decade and a half earlier.

none of these is as abstract as the charge that reagan is proven guilty of racism for speaking at a county faire in a blue county by association to a murder which occurred twenty miles away and sixteen years earlier.

i'd say progressives are pros at it.


jummy
Comment posted February 4, 2010 @ 4:20 pm

i'm not ignoring your request, just digging for it. as you can imagine, the google searches are dominated by headlines like “the stolen election of 2000″ and “the new face of jim crow”.


Lucky_Jack
Comment posted February 4, 2010 @ 7:30 pm

David,
How about some REAL journalism here. comrade?
Have you bothered to call James? How about anyone else involved? Or maybe you just found the whole thing to delicious to perform even the most rudimentary fact-check.
It says a lot more about your integrity than it does about O'Keefe that you'd resort to writing and spreading fertilizer like this.


shellgoddamnit
Comment posted February 4, 2010 @ 10:57 pm

Yes, I did fear you would ask me to do my own research – I knew that would be a can o worms & a half. Bless you & good luck. You have a better chance than me, having found it once before, evidently.


» Correction Report: The Village Voice - Big Journalism
Pingback posted February 4, 2010 @ 11:06 pm

[...] position at the Leadership Institute gave him some ownership of the event,” Weigel wrote. But Weigel also quotes Marcus Epstein, who did organize the event, as saying that O’Keefe [...]


James O’Keefe Pals Around with White Supremacists
Pingback posted February 5, 2010 @ 1:01 am

[...] O’Keefe? He may have something of a race problem. Specifically, a problem with hanging out with open racists. This is a photo of O’Keefe manning the (racist) literature table at a conference featuring [...]


» The Wheels Come Off for Salon and Blumenthal as Weigel Issues ‘Clarification’ of O’Keefe Event - Big Journalism
Pingback posted February 5, 2010 @ 2:08 pm

[...] — and Mea Culpa — on James O’Keefe and ‘Race and Conservatism’ On Wednesday, I wrote a post reacting to Max Blumenthal’s story “James O’Keefe’s Race Problem” and was too quick with [...]


Subotai
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 6:06 pm

“A related story that hasn’t really been written is the acceptance of really extreme racial theorizing — some would just call it racism — among a small segment of the campus conservative movement.”

That strikes me as rather delusional. Is Mr. Weigel really under the impression that “extreme racial theorizing” on campus is the sole province of conservatives? Is he honestly unfamiliar with the well-establshed racial-grievance industry on campus featuring endowed chairs of “black studies” and so forth?

If he is under that impression I suggest that he rectify it ASAP.


Subotai
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 6:16 pm

You somehow neglected to mention that Marcus Epstein is half Jewish and half Korean. I guess that tends to undermine the whole white-supremacist narrative.

“Extremism — theories about race, right-wing European politics, anti-immigration rhetoric — is seen in these circles as something of a lark.”

You don't offer any specifics here, But I'm familar with your writings, and the person with “extremist” views on immigration is named David Weigel.


SharksBreath
Comment posted February 6, 2010 @ 11:52 am

“for instance, max blumenthal's tendentious aspersion that opposition to acorn is, at root, related to acorn's “work in service of poor people of color” lays there unsupported by anything. it has currency only with those who share his presumed insight into what people with whom he disagrees “really think”. “

Why go after ACORN. An organization that helps poor people yet in the same breath Republicans will defend Halliburton.

Remember when they got all the non bid contracts then moved their headquarters so they would not have to pay taxes.

Going after ACORN just doesn't seem right when their so many other big fish to fry.

Just goes to show you how the GOP operates.

Cheney's former company which received Billions in contracts can do no wrong as they open the back of the truck up and rob us but the non profit that assist poor people is the biggest threat to our nation.

We look at you guys and wonder what the hell is wrong with you.

We think it must be race. Or we are using that as your excuse when your really just bat #hit crazy.

You guys did vote for Bush twice.

Now if you voted for Mcain/Palin after Bush you are just insane.


amfriedman
Comment posted February 8, 2010 @ 9:56 pm

I learned absolutely nothing from this blustery piece of blogfoolery. It is entitled “Race and James O'Keefe” yet it only talks about TALKING about race and James O'Keefe. Where's the beef? You must be a vegetarian. ;)


FlyDiesel
Comment posted February 20, 2010 @ 8:45 pm

So opposition to ACORN is not merely racist, but also supportive of the scary-sounding Halliburton? That portion of Halllibuton you're crowing about is today known as KBR, and is also used by the vicious, right-wing, war-mongering administration of Barack Obama. Moron.

http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/archives/kbr_w…

Talking points often have only the merest kernel of truth. The rest of the story is that no other company does what KBR does, then and now, which is why the current administration uses them to the same extent and in the same way as the previous one, even for new contracts. Nor does this silly 'Dick Cheney/Darth Vader/Halliburton/Evil Empire' concoction have anything to do with the points made by jummy. Rather than dishonest misdirection, why not try factual arguments?


FlyDiesel
Comment posted February 21, 2010 @ 1:45 am

So opposition to ACORN is not merely racist, but also supportive of the scary-sounding Halliburton? That portion of Halllibuton you're crowing about is today known as KBR, and is also used by the vicious, right-wing, war-mongering administration of Barack Obama. Moron.

http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/archives/kbr_w…

Talking points often have only the merest kernel of truth. The rest of the story is that no other company does what KBR does, then and now, which is why the current administration uses them to the same extent and in the same way as the previous one, even for new contracts. Nor does this silly 'Dick Cheney/Darth Vader/Halliburton/Evil Empire' concoction have anything to do with the points made by jummy. Rather than dishonest misdirection, why not try factual arguments?


ghd
Comment posted June 8, 2010 @ 2:18 pm

100% Authentic quality gurrantee,3 days free shipping.

World cup soccer jerseys is coming, hot sell

soccer jerseys

recently.

we are the wholesale jersey company from china, mainly selling

nfl jerseys

,

mlb jerseys

, and

cheap soccer jerseys

.

all our jerseys are made in embroidered. and top good quality. nowdays, we have so many customers doing

wholesale nfl jerseys

,

wholesale soccer jerseys

,

wholesale mlb jerseys

from us, especialy for the orders in usa, uk, australia, canada, and another euro

countries.

wecome for retail orders and wholesale orders of

cheap nfl jerseys

,

cheap mlb jerseys

, 2010 new nfl jerseys hot sell.

2010 new nfl jerseys

we believe we are your best choice.
http://www.jerseylink.com

hey, do u want to have a straightening hair style?

why are u hestitate!!

come to our website to buy

cheap ghd

,

ghd hair straighteners

online.

we are special ghd website for

ghd purple

,

ghd straighteners

.

welcome for

wholesale ghd

orders online. yours satisfied is our honor.

cheap ghd

cheap ghd hair straighteners

here, get much discount ghd.

surprise so much.

please chlick here to our website.

http://www.hghdoctor.com


exercises to lose weight
Trackback posted November 4, 2010 @ 5:16 am

Thank you……

I? new on here, I hit upon this site I discover It quite valuable and its helped me out a lot. I will be able to contribute & aid other users like it has helped me….


nba nfl nhl mlb
Comment posted May 28, 2011 @ 12:58 am

I like it very much, thank you
运动鞋
篮球鞋
运动服


2919205
Comment posted September 7, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

2919205 beers on the wall. sck was here


4601188
Comment posted September 7, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

4601188 beers on the wall. sck was here


846484
Comment posted September 7, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

846484 beers on the wall. sck was here


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.