Yes, Virginia, it was a hate crime

GOP Rep. Foxx calls the gay-bashing murder of Matthew Shepard a "hoax." Is she lying or just ignorant?

Published April 30, 2009 1:08PM (EDT)

I had to talk about this on MSNBC's "Hardball" tonight: the despicable claim by North Carolina GOP Rep. Virginia Foxx that Matthew Shepard was murdered in a robbery, not because he was gay, and thus shouldn't lead to hate-crime legislation. She called the hate-crime claim a "hoax" – with Shepard's courageous and heartbroken mother Judy sitting right there.

The cruelty and cluelessness of a growing number of Republicans is approaching the level of hoax. Also today, our national poster child for stupid, Rep. Michele Bachmann, claimed the last swine flu outbreak was also under a Democrat, Jimmy Carter, in 1975. Of course, Carter was elected in 1976. Foxx also stood out because she cited Glenn Greenwald in her rant against hate-crime legislation, claiming he agreed with her -- but she was citing a Greenwald column on hate-speech legislation, a very different legal animal. Again: Dissembling? Or dumb?

To her credit, my conservative sometime-sparring partner Michelle Bernard noted on "Hardball" that Foxx's remark was another piece of bad news for the GOP on a very bad week, likely convincing more voters that the party is intolerant and/or ignorant, and explaining why people like Arlen Specter (and Olympia Snowe?) are heading for the exits. Coming within 24 hours of Specter's defection, it's just more evidence of the Republican party's growing crackpot strain.

Bernard and I also happened to agree strongly about the fabulous first hundred days enjoyed by First Lady Michelle Obama. We talked about the moving Sojourner Truth ceremony that I wrote about earlier today. If Barack Obama had a good 100 days, Michelle Obama arguably had a better one.

I'll write tomorrow about Obama's mixed messages on the issue of torture and state secrets– against torture, strongly, but still calling the decision to authorize it a "mistake," instead of what I call it: A crime. Glenn Greenwald will likely get there first, since I'm still traveling. Can I also say I enjoyed the fact that the two best questions of the night, on torture and state secrets, were asked by my friends and Salon alums Jake Tapper of ABC and Michael Scherer of Time. And Mike Madden's great story is here.


By Joan Walsh

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