I keep having to explain a principle I arrived at a few years ago when I realized the modern conservative movement is grounded almost entirely in a contrived sense of grievance, predicated on a false victimhood of its supporters. (That’s not to say some haven’t genuinely suffered some wrongs, but they consistently focus on imaginary ones instead.)
The clarifying moment for me in realizing how to deal with this was the stupidity of when right-wing media claimed Barack Obama was having a “hip hop barbecue” at the White House. Obviously, this met all of the signature tropes of such efforts: it was a lie, was a transparently racist dogwhistle, and featured absurdities demonstrating a profound cultural illiteracy — in this case, asserting that Common is a gangster rapper. Forsooth.
My conclusion then was simple: give them what they want. They’re going to accuse you of it anyway, at least do the right thing and give them a reason to pretend they’re victims. Eventually, Obama did have a Hip Hop BBQ of sorts, and it was glorious. What could the right wing media outlets do, except say “he’s at it again!” Who’s gonna pretend to get outraged twice?
Now, of course, there are limits. No matter how desperately the right may have craved Death Panels back then, we can’t give them the true version of that lie they created. But for the most part, if the fact-free media and its credulous supporters want to pretend they’re being wronged, we should follow improv rules and say, “Yes, and…” and be sure to double down.
If they said you had a Hip Hop BBQ, then you damn well ought to have one.