“Racism” is the last refuge of a scoundrel

Local Virginia reporter Elizabeth Holmes tweeted out the purported “white supremacist”/neo-Nazi stunt designed to taint Glenn Youngkin in the closing days of Terry McAulliffe’s desperate gubernatorial campaign. The reporter tweeted it out as a straight news story.

It’s funny in a Saturday Night Live sort of way, but SNL hasn’t been this funny since its heyday.

Observers more sapient than Elizabeth Holmes quickly sussed out the thing as a hoax, a phony, a stunt. In a matter of hours the Lincoln Project and self-described “progressive political communications strategist” or “Democratic operative” (per Will Sommer/Daily Beast) Lauren Windsor stepped forward to take the fall.

The New York Post reports that “members of McAuliffe’s campaign team were quick to draw attention to the stunt on Twitter and frame Youngkin’s supporters as white nationalists. Communications staffer Jen Goodman tweeted that the gathering was ‘disgusting and disqualifying.’” The Post has more along the same lines.

Observers have also tentatively identified at least two of the actors as Democratic staffers. You don’t have to be a cynic to surmise this was a Democratic stunt. On the contrary, you’d have to be a fool not to. Smells like Dem spirit!

In 1775 Samuel Johnson famously observed that “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” His statement has been interpreted with reference to the particulars of the British politics of his era, but that’s not how Boswell takes it in his Life of Johnson. Boswell explains that Johnson “did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak for self-interest.”

This particular hoax demonstrates something similar about imputations of “racism.” It certainly does so in this case. “Racism” is the last refuge of a scoundrel, including Terry McAuliffe and his campaign.

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