David Sirota Unhinged: Obama is George Zimmerman, Trayvon is Al-Awlaki
Throughout the last month or so, we kind of forgot about Salon.com’s David Sirota. We’ve been so preoccupied by his counterpart, Glenn Greenwald, that Sirota had mostly receded into the background, barely detectable by the naked eye.
And then sometime around mid-afternoon on Monday 15 July, 2013, David Sirota not only re-emerged, but he did so in a way that utterly buried the crazy-needle on the Histrionic Seismograph. It was a downpour of self-satirical outrage-porn so massive in its ridiculousness that experts are still attempting to parse whether The Onion infiltrated Salon.com by hijacking Sirota’s log-in privileges. I’m awaiting the word from conspiracy theorists as to whether Sirota’s post was a false-flag to distract from Greenwald’s blunder about Snowden’s “dead man switch” threat.
Are you sitting down?
Here we go. Sirota posted an article on Salon.com titled “George Zimmerman killed the presumption of innocence,” in which he compared George Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin to President Obama’s decision to take out al-Qaida terrorist Anwar Al-Awlaki. Again, President Obama is like George Zimmerman, while Trayvon Martin, the unarmed African American teenager whom Zimmerman shot and killed, is like the terrorist recruiter and plotter Al-Awlaki, who was killed by a U.S. predator drone in 2011.
Comparing Trayvon Martin with an accused terrorist, while comparing the first African American president with a man who’s universally despised by, among others, African Americans on the day after that man’s acquittal might be the most outrageously tone-deaf thing Sirota has ever written — and there’s a huge litter of candidates for that dubious honor.
Before we go any further, though, I’d like to emphasize that this won’t simply be a dissection of Sirota’s article. That alone would be too easy. There’s a very serious point to be made about the Sirota/Greenwald faction on the left, so bear with me and we’ll get into it presently.
Okay, so Sirota’s primary goal was to suggest that America has become a rogue, lawless empire. No wait, that was Greenwald’s point the other day. Yes, really. Sirota believes that the presumption of innocence has vanished and we’re all presumed guilty. Therefore we’re all subject to the furious, aggressive judgment of, I suppose, vigilante-justice and a murderous chief executive. While I agree that the gun culture has bred an insidious, entitled shoot-first mindset among gun fetishists, Sirota and others completely fail to recognize the context in which the president uses signature strikes. Agree or disagree, the administration believes the U.S. is at war against al-Qaida as well as its affiliates per the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). And so these are military attacks against a declared enemy. I’m not exactly sure how a neighborhood-watch doofus with an itchy trigger-finger who pursued and killed an unarmed teenager correlates to the wartime pursuit of an enemy that’s sworn to destroy the United States, but okay.
Here’s the section of Sirota’s post that jumped off the screen as being hysterically blind:
Remember, in the same year that saw Zimmerman kill Martin, Zimmerman’s president, Barack Obama, extrajudicially executed Anwar al-Awlaki and then his 16-year-old son, without charging either of the two U.S. citizens with a single crime.
The phrase “Zimmerman’s president, Barack Obama,” is particularly egregious. Sure, Obama is Zimmerman’s president insofar as he’s everyone’s president, but, naturally, that wasn’t Sirota’s intention. His intention was to cut both men from the same homicidal cloth. Obama, Sirota implies, is a Zimmerman-like president. Actually, he doesn’t just imply it, he comes right out and writes it with the subsequent line, “Zimmerman-like aggression against the Awlakis.” But actually, Obama is far worse in Sirota’s view since he’s responsible for the deaths of considerably more people — innocent people, according to Sirota. I’ll circle back to this later.
That aside, I fail to see how a sociopath who’s on video calling for fellow Muslims to kill Americans is anything like a kid who was armed with nothing but a bag of Skittles and some iced tea. Or perhaps Trayvon was also carrying the Underwear Bomber’s exploding briefs at the time.
It is, of course, no coincidence that, whether African Americans like Martin or Arabs like the Awlakis, those most affected by the Zimmerman Principle’s presumption of guilt tend to be people of color.
Unbelievable. Here, Sirota writes that the president killed Al-Awlaki in part because Al-Awlaki is a “person of color.” So President Barack Obama, on top of being a murderer and war criminal, is also a racist. Our African American president. A racist. Of course! I’ve always wondered why Obama hates brown people, so thank goodness we have David Sirota to tell us how the president is so completely filled with racial hatred that he’s using America’s military might to kill all of the colored people he hates. You know what? Al-Awlaki’s a person of color in the same way I’m a person of color. I’m a black-haired, olive-skinned Italian. I guess the president hates me, too [checks the sky for Hellfire missiles].
The serious issue here is that a considerable faction of left is treading on rapidly thinning ice right now. The other day I suggested that perhaps these people ought to check their optics because some of these positions, when tethered together, are beginning to look really, really bad.
1) They’ve relentlessly criticized the first African American president. I don’t want to skew off on this tangent, but suffice it to say, the ongoing, crazy-eyed, fist pumping array of grievances from this group aren’t thoughtful or fair policy disagreements. For years now, the line has been that President Obama isn’t just a bad president, he’s worse than George W. Bush. He’s a homicidal war criminal who ought to be prosecuted and convicted for his crimes. Most recently Cenk Uygur said that the president should be arrested and tossed in prison. Others, especially Greenwald, have spent nearly every post outlining the charges, usually beginning with the killing of Al-Awlaki, the killing of Al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son and continuing on down a familiar docket of trespasses against domestic and international laws.
2) Related to the war criminal charges, they also couldn’t wait to “Stand with Rand Paul” on the drones issue. Yes, Rand Paul: the states’ rights, nullificationist, tea party conservative who’s hired at least two racist staffers and once said he opposed one of the most crucial chunks of the Civil Rights Act — just like his crackpot father. Again, I wrote about this last week, but it bears repeating. By “standing with Rand,” it doesn’t just help Rand on drones (the usage of which he actually supports, by the way) but it offers him a heaping bucket of political capital with which to pursue his other radical policy goals, including a personhood amendment and nullification. It simply appears as though some liberals are standing with a racist.
3) And finally, comparing the first African American president with George Zimmerman, as well as comparing Zimmerman’s victim, Trayvon Martin, with a notorious al-Qaida operative is not only in extraordinarily bad taste, but it helps to clarify any suspicions raised by the previous two factors in this optics issue. I’m not personally suggesting that Sirota and the others are racists — I don’t know him personally and I really don’t know if he is or isn’t. However, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if such a conclusion became increasingly prevalent, and not just against Sirota alone but the other high profile members of the anti-Obama left as well. Quite simply, they’re doing it to themselves.
In that regard, the inability of the Sirota/Greenwald faction of the left to engage in smart, rational accountability will surely lead to more than a few observers to connect the dots, if they haven’t already. What we’re hearing from mostly white purists on the left is that the first African American president — an historic role model and a monument to racial achievement in America — is a thuggish crook who should be in prison (or worse), and this faction is willing to align with a white conservative politician with a shaky racial record in order to achieve its prosecutorial goal.
On Monday, Sirota’s article represented another awkward and thoughtless lurch in that direction. The only thing that could make his ineptitude more appalling is if he did it purely for the traffic — for link-bait. But knowing Sirota’s work, he probably wrote it from the gut. His dreadfully misguided gut.
Nevertheless, Sirota stepped in it. Big time. And based on his Twitter feed he has no intention of walking it back.