Michelle Malkin has big brass balls, as my idol Stephen Colbert likes to say. (Yes, women can have balls!) The conservative columnist of Asian descent who defended Japanese internment and anti-Muslim racial profiling, the defiant woman of color who’s made her name opposing political correctness and identity politics, is suddenly playing the victim card, complaining that I didn’t defend her from online misogyny when I defended Kathy Sierra.
At least that’s what I think she’s saying.
The issue first came up when I was on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” Sunday morning, with Arianna Huffington and Townhall columnist Mary Katharine Ham, to discuss the Sierra mess. (The video is here). Finally, I thought, something about which the left and right can agree: Online misogyny is bad. But Ham took the opportunity to slam me for not defending Malkin when she’s faced sexist abuse. Then Kurtz read a Malkin blog post he said was criticizing me for not defending her, and I replied:
“Oh, come on, Howie. I mean, I’m sorry that I didn’t say something about Michelle Malkin. Certainly she doesn’t deserve that treatment, but she has gotten plenty of attention for it. I wasn’t suggesting that it only happens to progressive women or that when it happens to progressive women, it matters. The really interesting thing for me was that Kathy Sierra is a tech blogger. She is blogging about making software better for people. She is blogging about making the Web a better community, not about politics, not about Dick Cheney, not about Condi Rice. And she is getting the same kind of sexualized belittling comments. So that is what really jumped out at me. I certainly would never say that what Michelle endures is acceptable at all.”
But Ham continued: “I think there is a special kind of abuse reserved for women who don’t know their place, which you think is in the Democratic Party.” “I resent that,” I told Ham, and I explained that what happened to Sierra shook me out of my complacency about online sexism directed at me and other political writers. I concluded: “It’s not a matter of left or right.”
Now Malkin herself is complaining about what I said on CNN. “Walsh also argued that the reason she decided to pay attention to misogyny in the blogosphere now is because Sierra is a ‘techblogger’ trying to ‘make the web a better community.’ As opposed to us Christofascist wingnut women bloggers who deserve what we get because we’re just trying to use the web to spread poisonous conservative ideas.” She complains that “no one put our pictures in the NYTimes for weathering epithets, sexist putdowns and death threats — many of which, unlike Sierra’s, were signed and endorsed by major bloggers — and not just random, obscure, anonymous commenters.” She then links back to her original post, the one Kurtz read Sunday, in which I actually don’t see any mention of me. But the post was intriguing, anyway.
For one thing, despite her claim about “epithets, sexist putdowns and death threats … signed and endorsed by major bloggers,” I didn’t see anything of the kind. Instead, I found a lone Haloscan comment from a year-old Eschaton thread about Malkin’s husband, Jesse. Posted by “The Aluminum Sombrero,” it reads: “Let’s sexually torture, rape, murder and dismember the Malkin family.” OK, that’s disgusting. I clicked on the thread and, indeed, the comment was still there, immediately followed by one chastising “Aluminum Sombrero” for such filth. After that, the thread died, until right-wingers began posting there a couple of weeks ago. When I e-mailed Duncan Black (Atrios) to ask about it, he said he hadn’t seen it, and he deleted it, and posted this: “That comment was just brought to my attention, and I’m going to delete it as soon as I finish writing this. I’ve never seen it, or someone named ‘the aluminum sombrero,’ previously. I get about 6000 comments per day and can’t possibly read them all.” Malkin linked to gross comments in another Eschaton thread and in a Political Animal thread in the same post. She shared a lot of filthy e-mail that I’m sorry she received. (I didn’t think to save mine from the Freeper Creepers.) But I saw no “epithets, sexist putdowns and death threats … signed and endorsed by major bloggers” in anything she linked to. Why claim to be a lefty-blogger victim?
Most of us know that online misogyny is a bipartisan problem. The Freepers were vile, but one of the nastiest things ever said about me online — the only time I can remember being called the c-word — came from a lefty gay male blogger after I defended Andrew Sullivan when other lefty gays “outed” Sullivan for his online dating preferences. Go figure that one: a liberal feminist attacked by a lefty gay man for defending a conservative gay man. It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. I usually shrug it off, as I will Malkin’s attempt to bait me. After this.
But in case there’s any doubt: Feel free to attack Michelle Malkin as a lousy writer, a third-rate thinker, a talent-free provocateur, or all of the above. But it’s wrong to attack her for being a woman or Filipina. Is that clear enough, Michelle