Home / "serious" conservative thought / The “Crisis Actor” claim — a classic Dixie dog whistle

The “Crisis Actor” claim — a classic Dixie dog whistle


https://archive.org/details/jointreconstruct00congrichWhite supremacists are the opposite of intelligent. To get their way in the U.S. they rely on a combination of structural racism, lies, violence, projection and a fanatical enthusiasm for returning to their own vomit again and again and again.

That’s why the right wing is claiming some of the students who survived the mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are crisis actors.

Sixty-one years before teens at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., would survive a mass shooting only to be labeled “crisis actors,” the nine African American teens who braved racist crowds to enroll in Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas were also accused of being impostors.

False rumors that the Little Rock Nine were paid protesters even forced the NAACP to issue a statement condemning the stories as “pure propaganda.” The students were not, in fact, “imported” from the North, said the NAACP’s Clarence A. Laws, but rather the children of local residents, including veterans.

The crisis actor slur dates back to shortly after the Civil War, when former slaves who testified before Congress were slandered by Southern politicians as stooges paid to lie about their experiences, according to Boston College history professor Heather Cox Richardson.

In December 1865, six months after the war’s end, Congress convened a special Joint Committee on Reconstruction to “inquire into the condition of the States which formed the so-called Confederate States of America, and report whether they, or any of them, are entitled to be represented in either house of Congress.”

Discrediting an individual or a group in this way isn’t restricted to African-Americans. There’s a strong echo of the Holocaust denier in these claims. And the persistent theory that girls and women who say they are victims of sexual assault are lying, because apparently we receive fabulous prizes for doing so.

What the students from Parkland have in common with the students from Little Rock, is that the right wing wants them to shut up. Don’t challenge the right of whites to discriminate against African-Americans easily morphs into don’t challenge the right of whites to stockpile murdersticks for that race war that’s been going to kick off any minute now since at least the end of the Civil War.

The lie also allows the white supremacist to paint victims as villains. Victims — even the white supremacist sort of understands — shouldn’t be attacked. However, people who are paid to lie and stir up trouble are fair game. Morally flaccid whites don’t challenge these claims and may even validate them by publishing them unchallenged in the name of balance.

While the paid liar slur is more commonly used against people who are not male or sufficiently white, no one is safe from this frame-up. It’s why a white  17 year old boy named David Hogg has been the target of death threats and called a bully by the red-faced buffoon who created the Red State Strike Force.

And of course there’ll be claims that shadowy Jewish masterminds are bankrolling the whole thing.

As Ward explained, there’s a long and ugly history of white nationalists cooking up claims about a Jewish conspiracy to control American politics, one that he traces back at least as far as the civil rights movement.

“Imagine now that you’re a segregationist and you are raised on the idea that black people are completely inferior to you in every way,” he explained. “How do you then explain their success? How do you explain that they were better organizers, and smarter in their organizing and mobilization, than you who are supposed to be superior?”

The answer that many segregationists landed on, he said, was “a global conspiracy by Jews” who are secretly pulling the strings.

The Parkland conspiracy theories of today work like the old-school white supremacist theory that Jews were secretly running the civil rights movement: Conservatives, unable to accept that people they see as inferior (in this case, teenagers) can think for themselves, have instead landed on the idea that some brilliant Jewish mastermind is behind all this. The rapid embrace of this particular conspiracy theory becomes more disturbing when one considers that five of the 17 people killed in the Parkland shooting were Jewish.

By way of variety NRA board member Charles Cotton pointed to Michael Bloomberg and Hollywood.

“I’m so sick of buzz phrases,” Cotton groused. “No one is ‘giving up’ anything, but the reality is we could well see bump-stocks ‘taken away’ because the votes are probably there. Wake up people and see what’s happening!!!!”

He blamed wealthy gun-safety advocates like former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Hollywood producers and celebrities were helping the media promote the teens — who became activists after watching their friends and classmates gunned down — appear more sympathetic.

“Bloomberg and Hollywood are pouring money into this effort and the media is helping to the fullest extent,” Cotton said. “We’ve never had this level of opposition before, not ever. It’s a campaign of lies and distortion, but it’s very well funded and they are playing on the sympathy factor of kids getting killed.”

Because being a white supremacist also means never passing up on a chance to stir up hostility towards Jewish people.

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