Saturday, November 04, 2006

What You Don't Know

Huffington Post
Mike Stark
What You Don't Know

I read. A lot. About politics.

Over the summer I read about George Allen's troubles with common decency, and in particular, race. I learned that Allen opposed an official celebration for Martin Luther King's birthday, but he supported an official celebration of the Confederacy. He sought out, and posed for pictures with, white supremacists.
He kept a Confederate Flag and a noose in his office. And then, who can forget, he called a dark skinned University of Virginia student "Macaca."

Well, it didn't take any great leap of faith for me to put all this evidence together and suspect that George Allen was a very bad man -- and almost certainly a racist. So when I heard he was coming to Staunton, a town about 40 miles away from my home in Charlottesville, VA, I decided to make the trip. I was appalled that nobody in the dilapidated Fourth Estate had thought to themselves, "Sheesh, he called the kid "macaca," a racial slur. I wonder what other slurs Allen has used... Hmmm... One slur has particular relevance in this country..."

In late August this year, I learned from George Allen's campaign web site that he'd be in my neck of the woods. I decided to attend a couple of his events that day and ask the questions that, evidently, the media didn't think were relevant.

So I introduced myself to the Senator, listened to an excellent speech he gave to an all-white audience, and approached him as he was engaged in some retail politics. He had just finished having his picture taken with some supporters when I reached out my hand and said:

Me: "...given what's been in the news, I think some of us at the law school have some other questions on our mind. Have you ever used the word, 'nigger'?"

Allen: "Oh listen..."

Me: "Have you?"

Allen: "No"

Me: "You never have in your life?"

Allen: "No"


The conversation continued with me asking about the confederate flag and the noose he kept in his office.

A staffer, David Snepp, inserted himself between the Senator and I, invaded my personal space and told me that I couldn't ask these questions because the event was for "real journalists" only.

Real journalists. Ponder that.

Now it's three months later. I've asked the Senator some more difficult questions and the media, when not lying of their own volition, are swallowing the campaign's story without the slightest degree of skepticism. They repeat every falsehood uttered by power and authority without question.

They've asserted without evidence that I coordinated with, first, the DSCC and then later, with the Webb campaign.

I've coordinated with nobody. I am a private citizen. I am a constituent of the Senator's. And I am a person concerned about the trajectory of our country. I've attended public Allen events on my own initiative.

A little more on that... At the Staunton Allen event, I noticed a young man taking still photos of the event. I had noticed him earlier with a video camera. I approached him and asked if he was working for Senator Allen. He said no -- that he was actually working for the Webb campaign. I told him to put away his still camera and get out his video camera -- I explained what I was about to do. He got the video camera out.

After I asked the Senator if he had ever used the n-word, he asked me to step aside so that he could conduct his media event. He promised to answer my questions when he was finished. Snepp fetched the hotel management and had them ask me to leave the premises. I tried to make the case that the Senator had indicated that he wanted to continue our conversation, but the manager was insistent, so I heeded his request.

His campaign schedule had been posted to his web site, so I knew he was going to do a meet and greet in downtown Staunton next. I drove to that location, hoping to follow up with the Senator there. While waiting, I called the Webb campaign headquarters and let them know what I had done previously. I told them that it was critically important that they give me the video guy's cell phone number so we could coordinate the next steps -- so he could shoot video of my follow-up questions.

The Webb camp refused. They said the candidate didn't want to engage in that kind of politics.

I later asked if I could get the video of my questions to the Senator. I wanted to put it up on YouTube. The Webb campaign never returned my calls.

Today, the Allen campaign is spinning whatever lies they can about me being connected to the Webb campaign. There is no evidence to support the allegation, but the media is more than happy to repeat it. Why aren't they so willing to repeat the allegation that the Senator spit on his first wife? Why aren't they reporting that the Senator refuses to address the nature of his arrests in Charlottesville in the 1970s?

What has happened to our media?