April 20, 2009

…and some other rumors too good to deny. 

“Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy, if possible. . . Such tactics will win every time.”
~Lt. Gen. Thomas Jackson

My habit of citing such authorities explains a bit about why the diligent Googler can find me denounced as a “white supremacist,” a “segregationist,” et cetera. How often have I wished to cite some appropriate bit of wisdom from John C. Calhoun’s Disquisition on Government or from the writings of Robert Lewis Dabney and decided against it, lest I provide more evidence for the “ransom note” banditti: “A-ha! See? We told you so!

The key to my notoriety, as I’ve explained to friends, has been my own relative silence on all this. When I was first labeled a “neo-Confederate” by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2001, my employers decided that it was best to ignore this, as a response would only lend publicity to the charge. So I was compelled to bite my tongue.

In the Internet age, a sort of online “phone game” inevitably ensued. The tale was elaborated with error and falsehood and guilt-by-association until many fools had convinced themselves that I was the intellectual heir of Theodore Bilbo (whose grandson I happened to meet, by pure coincidence, at a cocktail reception in Washington last fall).

See? There I go again. Never mind. My experience taught me a few valuable lessons. For one thing, I gained insight into what it is that outfits like the SPLC seek to accomplish, and how they go about it. The accusation of thought-crime is intended not merely to vilify and marginalize the target, but also force him to deny the charge, to denounce his friends, and to repudiate whatever species of deviation from acceptable liberal belief is involved in the accusation. No such defense ever prevails, of course: Who can believe a word those vile right-wingers say?

The fortunate circumstance of my enforced silence rendered the defensive option inoperable in my case, while affording me occasion to contemplate many things, including the potential advantages of a bad reputation. “There is no such thing as bad publicity,” they say, and my Google-enhanced notoriety has put me in a situation somewhat similar to Rhett Butler at the Twelve Oaks barbecue, where Cathleen Calvert shares this delicious gossip with Scarlett O’Hara:

“Darling, don’t you know anything? Caro told me all about it last summer and her mama would die if she thought Caro even knew about it. Well, this Mr. Butler took a Charleston girl out buggy riding. I never did know who she was, but I’ve got my suspicions. She couldn’t have been very nice or she wouldn”€™t have gone out with him in the late afternoon without a chaperone. And, my dear, they stayed out nearly all night and walked home finally, saying the horse had run away and smashed the buggy and they had gotten lost in the woods. And guess what”€””

“I can’t guess. Tell me,” said Scarlett enthusiastically, hoping for the worst.

“He refused to marry her the next day!”

“Oh,” said Scarlett, her hopes dashed.

“He said he hadn’t “€“er”€”done anything to her and he didn’t see why he should marry her. And, of course, her brother called him out, and Mr. Butler said he”€™d rather be shot than marry a stupid fool. And so they fought a duel and Mr. Butler shot the girl’s brother, and he died, and Mr. Butler had to leave Charleston and now nobody receives him,” finished Cathleen triumphantly. …

“Did she have a baby?” whispered Scarlett in Cathleen’s ear.

Cathleen shook her head violently. “But she was ruined just the same,” she hissed back.

Again, I suppose I’m not helping myself, quoting neo-Confederate propaganda like that, but you get the point. “With enough courage, you can do without a reputation,” as Rhett told Scarlett, and the “black-hearted varmint” was right. Once you’ve become a living scandal, there is a tremendous liberation to be had by ceasing to care what people say about you. This surely explains Kathy Shaidle’s fiddle-de-dee attitude toward Canada’s “human rights” commissars.

The publicity value of unrefuted rumor was a gold-mine discovery for a communications professional in the Internet age, and I’ve exploited my hard-won knowledge rather ruthlessly. I’m both a blogger and a consultant/mentor to others, and what is nowadays called “viral marketing” can sometimes resemble the gossipy habits of Cathleen Calvert.

How to become the object of “buzz” is a much-coveted secret in the online world, and part of the secret involves what might be termed opacity“€”a refusal to fully explain everything, so as to acquire an enticing aura of mystery. An ironic sense of humor is helpful to this method, and perhaps the reader will appreciate my satisfied smile when I got an email Monday with the delicious subject line:

Is Suzanna Logan a lesbian?

If so, we can blame Richard Spencer, but there’s no need to tell that whole gruesome story here, is there? I’m a latter-day Bilbo, Richard turned Suzanna gay, and everybody knows that this is all part of a right-wing conspiracy funded by a wealthy Greek playboy.

Whatever you do, don’t anyone deny a word of it. Especially not the part about our good friend Terry McAuliffe.


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