How Breitbart's Faux-"Feminism" Smears Women, Occupiers
If the aftermath of Andrew Breitbart’s deranged rant at a crowd of protesters outside CPAC last weekend has proved one thing, it’s that Breitbart’s concern isn’t for victims or personal dignity—he’s just scoring political points.
The madness began after I took a video of Breitbart, a conservative blogger-star who is well-known for his distortions, shouting at members of the Occupy movement protesting the conservative gathering. Breitbart yelled at protesters to “Stop raping people”—including some very bewildered young women right in front of him—and called them “freaks and animals.”
He yelled, and kept yelling, until he was ultimately led off by some security guards.
The guy who ruined Shirley Sherrod’s career with baseless accusations, and who is now making himself out to be a defender of women against legions of Occupy rapists, called me a “scurrilous wench.” (Keith Olbermannhad some fun with that one. Now, Olbermann is doing nightly “rage mashups” of my video of Breitbart.)
Why? Because I dared to suggest that the blame for rape lies with the rapists, not with the places where they live and sleep, and that smearing an entire movement for the actions of a few criminals who infiltrated an encampment is disingenuous and irresponsible.
My Twitter reply page began to look more like a YouTube comments section as Breitbart and his minions descended. They spouted lots of nasty sexualized insults, and misogynistic or generally hateful comments that don’t bear repeating.
Dear trolls and members of the conservative press: Cut it out. It is not acceptable to play political football with rape. Ever.
I reported last fall on how Zuccotti Park, where the Occupy Wall Street encampment was based, dealt with sexual assaults. I talked with many women who were trying to help to make their community a safer place. I also sat in on a meeting where a rape victim spoke. She went to the police, but not at first. Not because Occupy pressured her not to, but because she, like so many rape victims, didn’t want to deal with the hassle or the scrutiny. But when she finally did go to the police, the Occupy community supported her fully and worked with her to draft policies about how to prevent and deal with attacks at the camp. (Those policies included encouraging victims to go to the police.)
From his comments to Uygur, it seems Breitbart would have us believe that there’s an epidemic of rapes within the Occupy movement now that the camps are mostly dismantled.
And while he suggests that the “thug-like” protesters (his term) were so dangerous that he hired a personal bodyguard to protect him, he still though it was a fantastic idea to walk up to them and yell in their faces.
What’s more, he claims that his seemingly impromptu, spittle-flecked rant against occupiers, who were already being beaten down the hill by police, was in fact a “stunt” to focus attention on “Occupy rapes.”
It’s a nice attempt at backpedaling, but here’s the problem—this “stunt” is not about the women at all. By Breitbart’s own admission, which he offered to Uygur, this is about getting back at the liberal media for supposedly smearing the Tea Party.
Yet the most revealing part of Breitbart’s rant actually wasn’t the “Stop raping people” part. Rather, it was the “freaks and animals” moment. By shouting such terms, he called a crowd that included plenty of women—which, statistically, likely included some sexual assault survivors—animals. His rant, by extension, is targeted at all the women of Occupy.
Breitbart is a classic bully who sees his opponents as less than human. As animals. As tools that he can use to get himself attention.
But take a step back. In this situation, Breitbart was (quite literally) the grizzled guy yelling at a crowd from a street corner. Do we debate the grizzled guy yelling at a crowd from a street corner? Do we invite him onto television shows?
We might, but when we do we’re in for a whole lot of nonsense.
So let’s encourage better behavior and move on to more important things.