Chris Matthews is paid around $5 million a year by the kind folks at General Electric/MSNBC to pontificate on politics and to essentially act as a guardian of the establishment. So it makes sense that he would be not only stunningly, offensively ignorant of American history, but that his ignorance would be displayed in such a way as to flatter the ruling elite. In that respect, Matthews is typical of the DC commentariat — he makes up in blind worship of power what he lacks in actual knowledge — as he displayed during his most recent appearance on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, where he claimed that not only had the Kennedy clan saved us from nuclear war (after bringing the world to the brink of it due in part to the ill-conceived Bay of Pigs invasion), but that they actually “created the civil rights movement.” Sorry, Rosa Parks!
Though the stupidity starts at the beginning of the clip, the mind-numbing, make-your-brain-hurt ignorant adulation of the political class begins about three minutes in:
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
The problem with folks like Matthews, and the very thing that makes him so attractive to politicians and his corporate paymasters, is that they envision all social progress as something bequeathed to us mere peons by the state and our betters in the halls of Congress and the White House. Our benevolent political leaders — presidents and senators, kings and queens — in the view of the these courtiers are the drivers of history, with we serfs merely along for the ride.
That it was the people, through protests, boycotts and open defiance of state-backed discrimination that forced the government to grant concessions to basic human decency if only to head off the prospect of an actual revolution (and to counter anti-American Soviet propaganda) is apparently lost to this class of professional flatterers. To claim the civil rights movement was “started” by a bunch of white aristocrats from New England reveals an incredible historical ignorance and bias in favor of the powerful, and ignores the fact that watershed events like the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Greensboro sit-ins, all aimed at protesting government-backed segregation, occurred while John F. Kennedy was busy hanging out at country clubs enjoying the favored pastime of the idle rich and years before he became president.
That history is comprised of little more than the actions of elites is a view held not merely by U.S. officials and media sycophants, mind you. For instance, a few months ago I attended a luncheon here in DC where an aide to a Canadian premier remarked to those around him that Lyndon Baines Johnson had gotten a bad rap from ungrateful Americans given all he had done for minorities in this country, evidenced by the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Since it is rude to eavesdrop — and ruder still to call someone a f_cking idiot from across the table at these sorts of functions — I held my tongue, but couldn’t help but wonder if this official had ever considered the civil rights of those tens of thousands of African-Americans and other minorities drafted and sent off to kill and be killed in the jungles of Vietnam, much less the millions of Vietnamese who suffered the liberatory aftermath of the U.S. munitions dropped on their homes and schools.
Pondering these sorts of questions is probably why I’m just some small-time reporter with a blog, though, rather than a highly paid celebrity commentator. That said, here’s what a I propose: that from here on out, the term “Chris Matthews” become synonymous with “pompous, historically ignorant windbag” — if it isn’t already. Come on folks, through the power of the people we can make this happen.