Is all this hyperbole necessary?
There are those who say nuance and thoughtful debate are sadly lacking in American politics, but sometimes indignation and outrage are called for.
For instance who could blame the pro-school voucher American Federation for Children for being angry when it discovered, as it said in a press release, that “The Louisiana Federation of Teachers is using Twitter to accuse the Black Alliance for Educational Options of being racists!”
Except, that’s not quite true.
At least the AFC’s news release doesn’t cite any hard evidence.
What is true is that in a series of Twitter exchanges on Aug. 30, as most of the state was paying more attention to Hurricane Isaac, the LFT was tweeting like crazy in a back-and-forth with critics about books and curricula reportedly used by some private schools that have been approved to accept students whose tuition will be paid using state-funded vouchers.
LFT points to reports that books used by some approved voucher schools tend to cast the Ku Klux Klan as more of a benevolent society than an anti-black, anti-Jewish terrorist group.
Thus, one could perhaps understand why LFT tweeted: “In Louisiana a black educational interest group endorses teaching that the KKK is good.”
Except it doesn’t.
There’s no evidence that BAEO thinks well of the Klan or that it directly endorses a pro-Klan curriculum. The organization does support the state’s voucher program, which was rushed through the last legislative session by Gov. Bobby Jindal.
But it’s a bit of a leap to say BAEO endorses everything taught in each of the 118 voucher schools.
Pressed on whether LFT went too far, spokesman Les Landon said 140-character Tweets are no way to debate. But he didn’t apologize.
And speaking of not apologizing, Jindal made clear in tweets last week during a visit to New Hampshire (yes, 2016 is just around the corner) that he doesn’t think the U.S. Embassy should have apologized for free speech rights as Muslim furor grew over an anti-Islamic film made in the United States.
Only the embassy didn’t apologize.
“The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”
That was the statement. One could debate whether it was strong or weak or whether it was the best way to try to prevent the violence that would follow. But a condemnation of religious bigotry is hardly an apology.
And speaking of apologies, perhaps we are owed (another) one from Sen. David Vitter. After all, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington says he has committed extortion.
Except, that’s an exaggeration at best.
Vitter made CREW’s annual list of the most-corrupt members of Congress last week because earlier this year he openly moved to block a salary increase for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar until Salazar approved new deepwater petroleum drilling permits at a rate of six per month.
CREW complained to the Senate Ethics Committee, which declined to charge Vitter with an ethics violation. Vitter, according to an Associated Press account in March, claimed the committee validated his action.
Except, it didn’t.
Panel leaders from both parties chided him in a letter. The committee frowned on using the pay raise block to try to spur a specific action rather than influence policies.
Validation? No. But extortion? Hardly.
Somebody may owe somebody an apology.
Except, it isn’t likely to happen.
Kevin McGill covers government and politics for The Associated Press in New Orleans.