Can We Ratchet Back the Reflexive Outrage Over Alcee Hastings's Cultural Appropriation Just a Tad Bit?

Over the weekend, disgraced and impeached former federal judge and current member in good standing of the House Democrat Caucus Alcee Hastings made a joke that involved the death of President Trump:


This is an example of the coverage it received:

Don’t get me wrong, I like my partisan outrage at least as much as the next guy. Hell, I average about four posts every day and I consider myself a connoisseur of prime outrage. But let’s be serious. This is an old political joke. I was offended that it was greeted by cheers instead of groans and the slap of faces into palms.


The difference between a misfortune and a calamity is this: If Gladstone fell into the Thames, it would be a misfortune. But if someone dragged him out again, that would be a calamity.

Gladstone is British politician William Gladstone (1809-1898). He and Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) were famous political rivals. Hastings is no more original in his humor than he was in the crimes that resulted in his impeachment.

And yes, we know what would have happened if anyone had told this joke about Obama or “I’m With Her.” They’d have been hounded to death and then their corpses dug up and desecrated. Let’s not forget the poor rodeo clown who wore an Obama mask while performing. The fact that the Democrats sought to deify Barack Obama, is not a sign that that is the standard to which the GOP should aspire:

If I’m going to go full flashing-siren status on my outrage-o-meter I want it to a) be able to create some collateral damage on the other side (usually by making the target look buffoonish) and hopefully fire up my own “tribe” (full disclosure, I’m an out and proud tribalist and I take pride in that designation). This does neither. You can’t make a guy who was impeached for corruption look more ridiculous than he is. The Congressional Black Caucus isn’t going to censure Hastings. The Democrat Caucus is kicking itself that it didn’t circulate the joke as a talking point. And worse than that, it degrades the value of wholesome, worthy outrage.


Guys, there is a lot out there to be outraged about. I’m talking about real stuff that might move the needle if enough of us start talking about it. For heaven’s sake, we have our own homegrown social media oligarchs banning political ads by GOP candidates. We have a sitting US senator advocating imposing what looks for the world like the Betreibsraten of Nazi Germany on US corporations. Alcee Hastings engaging in the cultural appropriation of a hoary old joke is not worth noting.


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