07/05/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Think Again: The Surprising Success of the Right-Wing Rant

Crossposted with the Center for American Progress

For once, got it right. "Dems Now Get Taste of Being Called 'Racist,'" said a screaming headline, and there's no denying it was true. How else to characterize a story in which ex-Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo and radio host Rush Limbaugh compared Sonia Sotomayor's opinions on race to those of the Ku Klux Klan.

David Duke found this to be a bit much. After all, he wrote, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, while Hispanic, was actually part and parcel of a Jewish conspiracy. Subsequently, Tancredo was asked if he wished to reconsider his KKK analogy. Alas, he declined. He also mentioned that he wasn't sure if the Obama administration hated white people.

Newt Gingrich also termed Sotomayor a "racist,"--a discovery he apparently felt so strongly about he announced it on Twitter it while visiting the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. Not long afterward, however, Gingrich apparently thought twice. In what was widely characterized as an "apology," he averred the word "racist" was perhaps an unfortunate choice, but that Sotomayor's words revealed "a betrayal of a fundamental principle of the American system--that everyone is equal before the law."

Forgive us if we are a little slow on the uptake here, but in fact, that's simply another way of calling the nominee racist. To be fair, it also implicates sexism as well. And even if Gingrich could be honestly judged to have dialed back the criticism ever so slightly on this inflammatory accusation, several other conservative minions of truth and taste, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, and Tucker Carlson clearly felt no such compunction...

You can read the rest of Eric Alterman and Danielle Ivory's analysis in their recent article, "Think Again: The Surprising Success of the Right-Wing Rant ."

Eric Alterman is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and a Distinguished Professor of English at Brooklyn College. He is also a Nation columnist and a professor of journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. His seventh book, Why We're Liberals: A Handbook for Restoring America's Most Important Ideals was recently published in paperback. He occasionally blogs at

Danielle Ivory is a reporter and producer for the American News Project. She lives in Washington, D.C.

This column was recently named as a finalist in the category of "Best Commentary -- Digital" for the Mirror Awards.