A February 19 entry at ColoradoPols.com, posted “by: Colorado Pols” — I don’t know the poster’s identity — misstates some facts and offers even more distortions. At issue is a February 17 rally organized by Jon Caldarda in protest of the so-called “stimulus” package. At that rally, a person unknown to Caldara and every other speaker showed up with a sign calling Obama a Nazi by putting a swastika with Obama’s name. In its post, ColoradoPols.com lied about me and distorted my views, so I request a correction and a public apology.
ColoradoPols.com wrongly refers to “II [Independence Institute] blogger Ari Armstrong.” I am not now, nor have I ever been, an “II blogger.” FreeColorado.com is a completely independent entity that I have run for more than a decade. ColoradoPols.com is simply lying, unless it is operating on George Costanza’s theory that “it’s not a lie if you believe it.” Regardless, ColoradoPols.com is playing fast and loose with the facts, and that’s just bad reporting. (Years ago I worked on a single project for Caldara’s Independence Institute as an independent contractor, and I continue to submit an occasional guest op-ed to the Institute, for no pay.)
Yesterday I issued a media release pointing out that Progress Now Action, the organization of Michael Huttner attacking the rally’s organizers, itself features numerous comments calling George W. Bush and other conservatives Nazis or fascists.
ColoradoPols.com claims “Ari Armstrong, unlike Malkin, isn’t upset with the still-anonymous ‘Swastika Guy.'” This ignorers the fact that I condemned the sign in my media release about Huttner. I said, “Obama is obviously not a Nazi, so tagging him with a swastika is wrong.” In another post I wrote that “the Nazis were particular sorts of fascists with a genocidal racist bent. Does that in any way describe Obama? No. … So, again, dumb idea.” ColoradoPols.com is willfully distorting my views.
It is outrageous for ColoradoPols.com to selectively quote my media release, ignore my condemnation of the sign within that media release, and then claim that I’m not “upset” over the sign. I request that ColoradoPols.com correct its post and offer a public apology.
ColoradoPols.com claims that “the examples cited by Armstrong consist of a bunch of anonymous comments and community blog posts from the general public.” Some, but not all, of the examples are anonymous reader comments. To take the first example, a “Post from Richard Myers’s Blog” links Bush to Hitler. This is a primary post, not a reader’s comment, and certainly not anonymous. The fact that it is a “community blog post” does not alter the fact of what it says or where it appears.
ColoradoPols.com also misrepresents the context of the sign. The post quotes Westword’s Melanie Asmar, who wrote that the guy carrying the sign “stood right at the top of the steps during the protest. He was one of the first people I noticed as a reporter covering the event.” Well, that says more about Asmar than it does about the rally. This was a public rally. As such, the event’s organizers had absolutely no control over who attended. As Huttner himself proclaimed, any effort to remove any participant would have been a violation of free-speech rights. Or does ColoradoPols.com endorse the policy of forcibly removing peaceful ralliers at a public venue?
As is obvious to anyone who has seen the state capitol, the west steps are quite broad. The guy with the sign stood at the side of the stairs — not that Caldara had any control over where the guy stood. (Some lady with an anti-immigration sign stood right behind Caldara during the rally, even though that had nothing to do with the theme of the day.) I actually have a photo of the west steps that includes the guy in question (I’ve drawn in an arrow):
ColordoPols.com can pretend that the guy was somehow the center of what was going on, but that’s obviously nonsense.
But what about Malkin? ColoradoPols.com reproduces a photo with Malkin smiling for a photo-op with the guy and his sign. I grant that Malkin ought not have suggested the guy is some sort of “plant” without evidence. (I don’t think he was a plant, but I don’t know who he is.) Did Malkin do anything wrong? Again, it would be useful for the left to recall the goose-gander rule. Has anybody ever worked a photo op with a famous leftists using imagery or language the leftist disapproved of? I saw people hoarding Malkin. I don’t know whether Malkin even saw the sign prior to the photo. But the guy approached Malkin from the side, and he pointed his sign forward, away from Malkin. I doubt very much that, at the time of the photograph, Malkin was aware of what was on the sign. ColoradoPols.com can joyously celebrate the photo if it wants, but it should remember that the next time a leftist is caught in a similarly embarrassing pose.
ColoradoPols.com notes that, when Malkin attacked the left for similar offenses, she was “not exactly what you’d call apologetic.” Yet she condemned the sign, and that is the extent of her responsibility.
(By the way, while I agree with Malkin on many fiscal issues, I profoundly disagree with her on abortion and immigration, as I wrote last year.)
ColoradoPols.com’s conclusion is absurd:
Bottom line? There’s a difference between a public blog where anybody can anonymously rant and a stage full of highly embarrassable public figures at an event you organize. And if that difference isn’t stone-cold obvious to you, for the sake of those same embarrassable public figures you should really consider getting the hell out of the event organizing business.
True, there is a difference — the difference is that, while the organizers of a public rally cannot legally eject any peaceful rallier, Progress Now owns its own web page and thus can control its content. Again, unless ColoradoPols.com wishes to argue that peaceful ralliers should be forcibly thrown out of a public venue, it can’t blame Caldara for the appearance of the guy with the sign.
It is unfortunate that ColoradoPols.com, Huttner, and many others have obsessed about a random rallier’s sign, when there are so many more important issues to cover. In contrast with these leftists, I (who am neither right nor left, neither conservative nor “liberal”) wrote two substantive articles criticizing various aspects of the rally (see the first and second article). For example, I criticize Caldara for inviting Tom Tancredo, who ranted against immigration. I also point out the problem of partisans selectively supporting the “bailout” of their party man while condemning the “bailout” of the other party. I have responded to the ridiculous sign story only to the degree that the left has promoted it. Now I suggest that we get back to discussing real issues. Such as, was the “stimulus” a good idea? It so happens that there are some important things going on in the world, so perhaps we should talk about something that matters.