In an apparent fit of rage against Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, liberal New York Times columnist Charles Blow took to Twitter to tell him to "stick that in your magic underwear" for supporting the idea that society ought to concern itself with the large numbers of children born outside of wedlock.
That sentiment apparently set off Blow who tweeted the following at 8:56pm ET on the 22nd: "Let me just tell you this Mitt 'Muddle Mouth': I'm a single parent and my kids are *amazing*! Stick that in your magic underwear."
Judging from a tweet Blow sent earlier in the evening, it seems as if he believed Romney (who was actually echoing remarks made previously by fellow candidate Rick Santorum) was trying to condemn single parents who are racial minorities. That wasn't what Romney was saying at all, of course. Instead, he was saying that when speaking of the life arrangements of children, it is undeniable that those who come from married parent households fare much better than those who come from single parent households and perhaps in light of this fact, society ought to reconsider ways in which it has unwittingly worsened the circumstances of children of single parents.
This type of thinking tends to send liberals, particularly wealthy educated ones like Blow, into spasms of anger, typically because they can't differentiate between nuanced social commentary from a legitimate, but different perspective and thinly couched racism--something many liberals desperately need to see in American society in order to reassure themselves of their own superiority to it.
Reading Blow's anti-Mormon tweet, I couldn't help but be reminded of the recent trouble that fellow black liberal pundit Roland Martin got into for making a joke during the Super Bowl which was construed by many in the media as offensive toward homosexuals. Martin's tweet earned him a suspension from his commentator spot on CNN. Here's what he said: "If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him!"
Defending himself from attacks by the gay left, Martin repeatedly stated that he was not meaning to incite violence against gay men but rather making a joke against fans of soccer, the sport played by David Beckham in Europe (and briefly here in the U.S.).
Whether or not he intended to make an anti-homosexual joke, Martin was trying to be funny and light-hearted, something which is much harder to infer from the context of other tweets made by Blow during the debate, many of which were intended to be humorous but were much more venomous than Martin's ill-fated quip. Here is a sampling of remarks made by Blow during the debate:
Fact get caught in Romney's throat like marbles. Somebody give that man the Heimlich. Pick it out man, geesh!
When are they going to ask Rick "The Risen" about the devil? [This is one of three times where Blow used "The Risen" to refer to Santorum.]
Hey look, Rick "Niggerhead" Perry is in the audience!!! That's so sweet...
Panicking! Have to blog abt this debate and so far I have nothing. Can somebody check Santorum's head for 6's on TV? Give me something.
Santorum: We need a new president or "we are going to have a cataclysmic situation." < There he goes w the crazed/scary talk...
His attack on Romney for his church's belief in wearing religious undergarments is certainly far more disrespectful than any of these of course. The more interesting point about Blow's Mormon bashing this week is that just a few days earlier, he wrote a lengthy discussion of the Martin-CNN dust-up in which he sided with Martin's critics on account of abuses, both physical and verbal which gays have sometimes faced at the hands of bigots. An excerpt from his piece, headlined "Real Men and Pink Suits."
I follow Martin on Twitter. I know that he likes to joke and tease. I have even joked with him. So I can believe that, in his mind, he may have thought that these were just harmless jokes in which the violence was fictional and funny.
But in the real world — where bullying and violence against gays and lesbians, or even those assumed to be so, is all too real — “jokes” like his hold no humor. There are too many bruised ribs and black eyes and buried bodies for the targets of this violence to just lighten up and laugh.
We all have to understand that effects can operate independent of intent, that subconscious biases can move counter to conscious egalitarianism, and that malice need not be present within the individual to fuel the maliciousness of the society at large. [...]
Whatever was in Martin’s heart, what was in his Twitter messages wasn’t helpful. They may not lead directly to intimidation or violence, but they may add to a stream of negativity that feeds a culture in which intimidation and violence by some twisted minds is all too real. I don’t believe that Martin wanted that.
How someone who wrote the preceding column can turn around and tweet a joke about Mormon underwear is really rather baffling. Surely if Roland Martin's tweet can contribute to a "maliciousness of the society at large" against gays (a rather tenuous assumption) so too can Charle's Blow's quips against Mormon clothing choices do the same for the long-standing climate of intolerance and bigotry against Mormons.
Even if he isn't aware of the fact that it was legal in the state of Missouri to forcefully expel or kill Mormons until 1976, surely Blow, who writes frequently about the subject of public polling, must be aware of the fact that Mormons are the most distrusted Christian sect in this country, largely due to criticisms of their beliefs and practices.
Whatever his motivation, it's rather apparent that Blow's concern about pundits contributing to "a stream of negativity" is pretty limited, his grand rhetoric about tolerance notwithstanding.
Given the large helpings of hypocrisy which his editors at the New York Times opinion page serve fresh each day, we can't expect Blow's bosses to come down on him for making a mockery of his own moral standards. We should expect them to do so about his crass, unprofessional behavior.
Of course, since the Times has not asked Blow's colleague Paul Krugman to apologize for numerous offensive remarks that he's made over the years, that seems about as likely as seeing Roland Martin parading around next year's Super Bowl in a pink tuxedo.
Hat tip: Ace of Spades.
Disclosure: I was raised Mormon but do not currently identify with that belief system any more.
Tags: 2012 Presidential, Charles Blow, mitt romney, Mormonism, New York Times, new york times columnist, racial minorities, rick santorum, Roland Martin, single parent households, york times columnist