Recently I was advised to check out Instapundit (again) for an unbiased view of the world. Instapundit is the blog name of an extreme right-wing law professor at the University of Tennessee.
Here is an example of how Instapundit, Fox, Michelle Malkin, and others manipulate the truth in order to manipulate the electorate, and one reason I don't check out Instapundit for reliable information. It comes from Blogcritics.org:
InstaPundit Glenn Reynolds, fascist hatemonger
The Blogosphere has its own little right-wing outpost of disinformation, and a center of it is InstaPundit, authored by Glenn Reynolds. While careful, as is Bill O'Reilly, to execute a few liberal-seeming flourishes here and there, so as to maintain the illusion of neutrality, Reynolds consistently filters the news for his many readers through a conservative strainer, sometimes delivering the Republican National Committee party line almost as reliably as the Washington Times.
Recently the right-wing consensus about the reporting on Arnold Schwarzenegger's "racist connections" was that the charges were hurting the Republican candidate for CA governor, so therefore Cruz Bustamante, his main opponent, needed to suffer a similar accusation. So Reynolds set forth to play his notes on the right-wing Wurlitzer.
As usual, the facts didn't matter. The facts about Schwarzenegger are virtually undisputed. Schwarzenegger made a point of pubilcly praising his friend Kurt Waldheim, even after the ugly facts about Waldheim's past became common knowledge. Schwarzenegger declined to leave or distance himself from the organization U.S. English when the founder and leader of that group was revealed to have written an official (but intended to be secret) memo stating a clear white-supremacist agenda.
These are rather clear "racist connections"--they are not made up, they are not stretched, they are not dragged out from the distant past. The allegations do not attempt to tie Schwarzenegger to a friend of a friend of Waldheim--to this day, Schwarzenegger has refused to personally distance himself from Waldheim. Schwarzenegger could easily remove himself from participation in U.S. English and his implicit association with that group's founder. He has refused.
These stubborn facts, not smears, formed the basis of serious questions about Schwarzenegger's suitability to govern a multi-racial, multi-ethnic state.
Because Schwarzenegger, inexplicably, refused to distance himself from these connections, the right wing needed to smear his opponent with similar charges to level the playing field. Many right-wing researchers set themselves to the task, and they found their nugget of gold in this phrase:
"Por La Raza todo. Fuera de La Raza nada."
That statement was found in a document on a website related to a student group called MEChA that Bustamante once belonged to when he was in college. And the right wing was able to use those nine words to start a very successful smear campaign. How? They simply mistranslated the words.
That's it. That's all it took to get it started.
Prepositions can make for odd Spanish to English translations if you want them to. For example, in Spanish you can walk "por la playa." Walk "for the beach"? Actually, it means walk "on the beach." Or "along the beach." Or maybe even "across the beach."
But it definitely doesn't mean that you are walking "for the beach." Because that doesn't make sense.
"Por" has different meanings in Spanish than "for" does in English. (To make things harder, Spanish has another word that sometimes means "for": "para.")
A correct translation of the nine words would be:
"By means of La Raza, everything. Outside La Raza, nothing."
Or, as Ted Barlow at Crooked Timber points out that MEChA phrases it in their actual slogan, "La union hace la fuerza (Unity creates power)." A very typical sentiment for a club such as MEChA. ("La Raza" also does not translate directly to English as "the race" as English speakers use the term "race.") It is a standard "strength through unity" sentiment that you will also find expressed by Black Student Unions and Gay and Lesbian Alliances and even, oh, let's say, political parties.
However, what if you "translated" the nine words in a way that didn't account for the multiple meanings of "por" in Spanish and the expansive meaning of "La Raza"? What if you claimed the phrase meant "For the race, everything. Outside the race, nothing"? Suddenly the group isn't trying to encourage unity within the group, but instead trying to claim "everything" (in the world?) for itself--for its "race."
And that's kind of...Nazi-like. Bingo.
It was that easy. It didn't matter that if the proficient Spanish speakers of MEChA had meant "for the race" they would have written "para la raza" (the other wouldn't have meant that), or that even a simple-to-do computer translation of "por La Raza" results in "by the race."
Who can be bothered with details? MEChA = KKK, that's the important thing.
And Glenn Reynolds played his part by posting this on August 16:
IF YOU WANT TO BE GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA, Tacitus advises, it's best to renounce your past connections to fascist hatemongers.
"Fascist hatemongers"? Did Glenn Reynolds know that there was no credible support for this smear, which he delivered to his tens of thousands of daily readers, and which the rest of the right-wing blogosphere echoed with glee? I don't know. But in a cult, facts don't matter anyway. You play your part. You do what the cult needs. And the cult needed Bustamante to be a racist hypocrite.
Reynolds just played his part.
As did the rest of the right-wing Wurlitzer. Ted Barlow at Crooked Timber writes:
I did a google seach on "For the Race, Everything. For Those Outside the Race, Nothing" and MEChA. Maybe someone can correct me, because I couldn’t find a MEChA site which used that phrase. They seem to think that their slogan is "La union hace la fuerza (Unity creates power)."
I did get a lot of hits, though, from such diverse sources as:
The Conservative Crust
And FrontPage Magazine
Hmm. I wonder why those right-wing sources just happened to have a mistranslation of those nine words...
From this shocking "For the race, everything" point, it was pretty easy to find a link-to-a-link-to-a-link (a familiar tactic), and "discover" that Bustamante was associated with a group listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a "hate group." Of course, MEChA isn't listed there (because they really don't advocate hate), but an offensive group called Voz de Aztlán is listed there, and someone who linked to MEChA also linked to Voz de Aztlán, so there you go: Bustamante is associated with a hate group.
(I kid you not, the blogger whom Glenn Reynolds found worthy of linking to on the subject of Bustamante's association with "fascist hatemongers" used the term fellow travelers to make these connections. Know any other fans of Joe McCarthy?)
Through the magic of mistranslation (oops!) and "discovering" that almost any page on the web links-to-a-link-to-a-link to something scandalous, a Latino candidate who has never actually been associated with any racist group becomes the moral equivalent of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who praised Kurt Waldheim at his wedding (and left that praise to stand to this day, unrenounced) and remains an advisor to U.S. English, which was founded by an unabashed white supremacist. Six of one, six of the other, right?
And Glenn Reynolds played his part, only too happy to toss out the words "fascist hatemongers" if it will smear the opposition. Sure, he later linked to people who suggested that Bustamante wasn't associated with fascist hatemongers, but do you really think the goal was to have a discussion that led to the truth?
The point of the right-wing Wurlitzer is to get the stories into the mainstream media, not to convince everyone the stories are true. Inevitably, the stories are not true. But if a false claim about Bustamante can suck up the oxygen in the zero-sum game that media coverage is (there is only so much ink, and only so much air time, and only so much attention on the part of the audience), that's a net win for the right wing.
So score one for InstaPundit Glenn Reynolds, fascist hatemonger.
Why do I call him that? I dunno, I figure I'll find somebody who agrees, and then I'll link to that.
Because that's how it works in the Blogosphere.