Here we go again. The latest poster conservative for political-correctness-run-amok in a country careening downhill on left-wing, Democratic cruise control is Republican congresswoman Virginia Foxx.
Mrs. Foxx’s impropriety: The thought crime of arguing against “hate crime” laws by pointing out that Matthew Shepard - the tragic icon attached to the legislation - represents a salient argument against enacting them.
Mr. Shepard, the gay Wyoming teenager robbed and savagely beaten to death by drug-addled thugs in 1998, is the emotionally charged posthumous force behind the movement to pass hate crime laws. He got that way after a relentless, decadelong mainstream media, Madison Avenue and Hollywood propaganda campaign to make his death a symbol of just-beneath-the-surface sadistic intolerance toward homosexuals.
Three films, a documentary, a play and songs by Melissa Etheridge, Tori Amos and Elton John have made the gay-martyr case a high truth of pop culture. The thematically related “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Brokeback Mountain” reinforced the narrative that gays like Mr. Shepard are regularly isolated for cruel and unusual attacks.
But the congresswoman is not buying the Hollywood hype. “The hate crimes bill was named for [Shepard], but it’s really a hoax that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills,” Mrs. Foxx said on the House floor last week. Immediately, Democrats sought out their unapologetic allies in the media to force Mrs. Foxx into a perfunctory, skin-saving apology.
“The term ‘hoax’ was a poor choice of words used in the discussion of the hate crimes bill,” she said. “Referencing these media accounts may have been a mistake, but if so, it was a mistake based on what I believed were reliable accounts.”
Even though she had the facts to make a strong case, Mrs. Foxx apologized. She realized that the PC media cabal had another sucker conservative in its cross-hairs. Yet apologies are never enough as the Democrat Media Complex trotted out Mr. Shepard’s mother, Judy, to make sure that no one else can raise an objection to the controversial legislation.
Mrs. Foxx has been “apologizing for semantics, but not her sentiment, her insensitivity or her ignorance,” Mrs. Shepard told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. “Everyone knew Matthew’s murder was a hate crime, but it couldn’t be prosecuted as a hate crime. We couldn’t call it a hate crime. Getting this bill passed in the House brings gay rights up to the level of equality.”
Judy Shepard like other tragic symbols Cindy Sheehan, the Jersey Widows and Max Cleland are trotted out by Democrats to make their arguments not with facts and reason but with the threat that if you disagree with them, you will be publicly shamed as a “hater.” This pathetic strategy works as Mrs. Foxx’s instant apology illustrates.
While the basic facts of the Shepard case are accepted and the culprits are in prison for life, the motivation for the crime - as with most crimes - is not easily decipherable. But in 2004, ABC News stumbled upon a story that raised some doubt about the cut-and-dry narrative that’s been relentlessly pushed by the identity-politics obsessed.
Elizabeth Vargas interviewed murderers Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson along with the cast of characters involved with the case. Mrs. Vargas appeared on “The O’Reilly Factor” to summarize her story:
“The prosecutor who prosecuted these crimes says that he never believed it was a hate crime. He believes it was a drug crime. Aaron McKinney, according to Aaron McKinney himself and to several other witnesses, was coming down from a five-day methamphetamine binge. He freely admits he not only used methamphetamine but dealt them, sold them. Five days up with no sleep, strung out on drugs, desperate to buy more, desperate to rob somebody to get money to buy more drugs. This was the motive, according to Aaron McKinney and the other witnesses.”
One needn’t bring in medical experts to explain that a five-day drug binge is not good on the body, mind and soul. Meth-fueled violent crime is a sad cliche of modern American life, yet hate crime advocates who use Mr. Shepard as their ultimate weapon want to overlook the obvious and insist on arguing the unprovable. When the case that is used to make the case for hate crime law is so fundamentally weak, what does it say about the law’s very premise?
No one will ever know exactly why Matthew Shepard was killed. It’s too bad that most of his advocates are against the death penalty. Because McKinney and Henderson deserve a fate worse than life behind bars.
Mrs. Foxx joins me and gay journalist Andrew Sullivan as public figures who refuse to accept the Shepard mythology. We choose not to impugn Mr. Shepard’s memory or grant his murderers committed a “hate crime,” when it cannot be proved. The left will not accept this because it is built around divisive identity politics. It dismisses “E Pluribus Unum,” America’s formerly helpful marketing slogan, and promotes strategies that ensure the fault lines of ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation are exploitable for political gain.
On college campuses, in newsrooms and now in the highest corridors of power, with Barack Obama in the Oval Office, the politically correct left is wielding its weaponry with the confidence that it can take down any group, anyone or anything. The thought police are now officially in charge.
The real hate crime these days is the Orwellian intimidation wielded by the left against those that don’t think the way they do. It’s worse than waterboarding.
Andrew Breitbart is the founder of the news Web site www.breitbart.com and is co-author of “Hollywood Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon - the Case Against Celebrity.”