It’s Friday evening as I begin this post; so Twitter is still abuzz with President Biden’s speech, along with the latest in the MAL-Trump-Espionage investigation. Yep, I’m using the “E” word. MAGA needs to get used to it; they should be called out regularly for defending it.
Which brings me to the topic of today’s column. There was something bugging me as I was writing the previous post and into Friday morning. Here’s the image people on the right were posting to represent the speech:
This is a tweet from Marjorie Taylor Greene, but the same image was posted from Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and many, many others.
It hit me it was photoshopped, because I didn’t remember seeing anything that looked like that as I watched the speech. Then yesterday afternoon I saw this tweet of the source image:
Actually this what Biden’s speech looked like- it appears Greene hates America so much she erased the American flag from the image pic.twitter.com/1aEtoHa4J2— (((DeanObeidallah))) (@DeanObeidallah) September 2, 2022
I don’t know who created that photoshopped image, but the RW punditry and elected politicians were more than happy to run with it.
Now go back and look at Greene’s tweet again. She’s talking about the imagery of the speech and how it was carefully “chosen.” She’s not wrong about the “chosen” part, but she kinda doesn’t mention to her followers that SHE and whoever created the image in the first place darkened it to make it look more sinister, removed the flag to make it look anti-American, and increased Biden’s size relative to the background, again to make him look more menacing/larger than life.
This is the kind of thing–yes, I’m going to say it–fascists do to rile up their followers. They paint the other side as irredeemably evil.
So in a speech where Biden is calling out the “semi-fascists” on the right, the right proves they’re not just semi-fascists but straight-up fascists by manipulating the imagery and then calling him out for his imagery.
And, again, it wasn’t just the fringiest of the GOP extremists like MTG and Lauren Boebert tweeting out that image; Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jim Jordan, Kevin McCarthy (who retweeted Jordan’s tweet), Marsha Blackburn (who retweeted Ward Baker‘s tweet. Baker’s tweet says that image should be used in GOP campaign ads. Nice, right?), Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton, Ron Johnson, and Louie Gohmert (you’re gonna wanna click on Louie’s tweet because he had a lot to say to go along with the doctored image). (There are doubtless more, but I couldn’t stand being in the fetid swamp of GOP Twitter for much longer… ugh!)
Thanks to our Site Queen and Fabulous Fact-Checker, Tiff, we know what the president was saying when the screenshot was taken (with 99.9% accuracy!):
American democracy only works only if we choose to respect the rule of law and the institutions that were set up in this chamber behind me, only if we respect our legitimate political differences.President Biden Speech The Continued Battle for the Soul of of the Nation, Sept.1, 2022
In that clip, when his hands are raised with his thumbs extended outward, it’s because he’s gesturing back at the building behind him. He’s not lifting them as if to bang them on the podium, as the right implies when they describe his “angry” and “unhinged” speech, accompanied with their doctored image.
So in spite of all the hyperventilating reaction to Biden’s speech from the right, that point in it was an innocuous comment that isn’t partisan at all. So who’s shocked the right decided to mischaracterize it?
We also had RW pundits doing joke videos…
For the record, if you want to be taken seriously and feel you’re being unfairly called a fascist, maybe you shouldn’t fall into fascistic behavior…? (For the record, it’s not the joke itself that makes it fascistic here. It’s the gaslighting and comparing Biden’s speech to Hitler that’s the problem, since it was nothing like Hitler’s speeches.)
In case you missed the speech, you can watch it by clicking on the link to it under the quote. And if you’d like to read the text, you can find that here.
Before closing, I’d like to share this tweet and video from Chip Roy, which he took as he stood in front of Independence Hall.
First, let’s look at the words he typed to accompany his video: “I give you Independence Hall, unsullied.”
He’s standing in front of it in the daylight, without the patriotic red, white, and blue lights (which, I guess, MAGA republicans no longer find “patriotic,” but rather “satanic.”) Was he simply talking about the color scheme, or was he also suggesting in that line that, somehow, President Biden had “sullied” the site with his presence and his “hateful” speech?
“@JoeBiden, you desecrated these hallowed grounds, even as Americans suffer under your policies. Enough, It’s time to #StandUpForAmerica”
So, yes, he is saying that Joe Biden “sullied” and “desecrated” the site by giving a speech about unity while calling out that which threatens it: those who wish to undermine our republic with lies about election fraud, as well as other things.
Now watch the video…
Here’s my transcription of his statement, with my comments interspersed.
CHIP ROY: Hey everybody, it’s Chip Roy from TX-21. I’m here in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. You know, I was here two years ago this month, uh, in the fury of what was going on in the summer of 2020: monuments getting torn down around this country.
Me: what does that have to do with Independence Hall? Nobody was threatening to tear it down. Also, he kinda skips the part where the monuments being torn down were mostly statues to Confederate Generals…
CHIP ROY: I came here because this building matters.
Me: Yes, it does. President Biden said that in his speech…
CHIP ROY: Independence Hall matters. Not because of the bricks. Not because of the mortar, but because of the ideas that we embraced inside that building. And not just the ones we know. All men are created equal. Uh, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Not just those things, but the fact that people were willing to pledge their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to fight for something they believe in.
Me: Well… now we get to the real point, don’t we?
CHIP ROY: To stand up for something bigger for their kids and their grandkids. And to be a beacon of liberty for the world. And to set up a government that people could follow. As Franklin said, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Me: I’m sensing a “but” here…
CHIP ROY: We have a question before us today: “Are we gonna keep it? Are we gonna keep the republic? Are we gonna stand up for the country that we love and we believe in, and stop dividing each other, stop separating all the things that hold us together? Are we gonna stand up as Americans, united, and are we gonna choose freedom, or are we gonna fracture, as we look ahead to America, 2026, our 250th birthday?
Me: That’s kinda up to the meatheads who are threatening riots in the streets if Trump is indicted, or those promising Civil War if they don’t get their way in the upcoming election, isn’t it? It’s up to the people who incited an insurrection against our own government because of a lie told by Trump and repeated by politicians like you, Chip, and the RW media. In spite of all the assertions from the right that Biden isn’t being sufficiently unifying, the threats of fracturing this great nation are coming from YOUR side.
CHIP ROY: I choose freedom! I choose unity!
Me: Really? Then you’ll be working with President Biden and the democrats to come up with meaningful solutions to some of our nations problems? (Insert uproarious laughter here.) Sure, Jan. You don’t mean “freedom” or “unity” the same way Biden did in his speech. You mean the “freedom” to do (or not do) whatever you want, without having to bear any responsibilites for your choices and their outcomes (like refusing to wear a mask or get a vaccine during a pandemic). Or the freedom to tell other people how they will live their lives (no abortion! no contraception! no gay marriage! no trans rights!). And “unity”? You don’t mean that word in the way Biden did, either. Because you demand the unity of the one true way, YOUR way. As long as everyone else bows to YOUR will, then we’ll have your kind of unity.
CHIP ROY: I choose the America that I love, that I wanna pass down to my kids and grandkids. That’s why I’m proud today to be here, in front of Indpendence Hall. Bring my son to see it. And to stand up for the liberty and values we believe in.
Me: Um… right.
It’s funny how context applied to the words he says–similar words to what Biden said in his speech, but quite different in meaning–colors the actual threat in what he’s really saying: if I don’t get the America that I want, then I’m going to fight to get it. That sounds noble, until you think about what America he loves and wants. And then it doesn’t sound so noble, does it? It sounds pretty terrible if you aren’t a white, straight male.
Just to put a finer point on it, here’s Chip during a House Judiciary Committee hearing regarding violence against Asians. He spent his time suggesting cracking down on hate speech might be a violation of free speech, that lynching was good, and that the Chinese Communist Party was responsible for Covid-19. IOW, he spent his time addressing his own hobby horses, rather than trying to seek out solutions to the problem of discrimination and violence against Asian Americans. In fact, he pretty much perpetuated the reasons some people have for being violent against Asian Americans.
I’m calling these people out because most are elected officials, elected to represent everyone in their districts or states. All whine about Biden not being unifying, when they go out of their way to sow discord and animosity by using deceit.
This is at the heart of MAGA republicanism, and this was what President Biden was warning us against Thursday night. Fighting for our nation is noble; fighting for a lie is not. Fighting for acceptance for all is noble; fighting for only acceptance of your own group is not.
There’s an old joke about the Foo Bird. The punchline is, “If the Foo shits, wear it.”
Well, esteemed MAGA republicans, you’ve been called out as the fascists that you are. And you get to wear that Foo shit for the rest of your lives.