U.S. Rep. Andre Carson and several other African-American congressmen leveled a charge that tea party protesters outside the U.S. Capitol building yelled "Nigger" at them as they walked through the crowd. The American Thinker's Jack Cashill takes a closer look at the Capitol Steps Conspiracy and concludes the claims of Carson and others were simply made up. Cashill reviewed audio and video clips from at least four sources, interviewed several eyewitnesses and analyzed media reports from the scene. The video above confirms his conclusion. The original report by African-American reporter William Douglas made the first claim of racial slurs being uttered. Cashill concluded: "Bottom line: the Douglas story would seem to meet the standards for libel. It is provably false, preposterously reckless, quite possibly malicious, and has caused real damage to publicly identified Tea Party leaders."
As Cashill reports, several members of the Black Caucus made a deliberate decision to use the Capitol steps to enter the building rather than the tunnel from their office building. This included Georgia's Rep. John Lewis, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, who claimed he was spat on by one of the protesters, Rep. James Clyburn and Carson. The only audible words that can be heard from the protesters is "kill the bill" referring to the health insurance reform bill. One of the protesters was shouting so loudly that vocal spray emanated from his mouth. Cleaver immediately confronted the man. Cleaver later put out a press statement falsely claiming that the man had been arrested by Capitol Hill police. Cleaver returned with a police officer in tow to the scene but was unable to identify the man so no arrest was made. Lewis and Clyburn never made no claims of the N-word being uttered. Only Cleaver and Carson made the allegation. Here's Cashill's take on Carson's claim:
Nor is there any reason to believe Congressional Black Caucus member Andre Carson (D-IN), one of only two Muslims in Congress and a member of the progressive caucus. If Cleaver actually thought that he heard the slur in question, and he may have, then Carson told a story too outsized to be anything but willful propaganda.
According to Brian Beutler in the Talking Points Memo posted at 5:41 PM on that Saturday, March 20, Carson had "a particularly jarring encounter with a large crowd of protesters screaming 'kill the bill' ... and punctuating their chants with the word 'nigger.'"
Although Carson claims to have been standing next to Lewis, Lewis again provides no confirmation. He is quoted only as saying, "People have been just downright mean." Regardless, it is Lewis who is the subject of Beutler's headline, "Tea Partiers Call Lewis ‘N****r.'" (For the record, Beutler, a recent Berkeley grad, has written for the American Prospect, The Nation, Mother Jones, and The Guardian.)
Carson claims that the incident occurred when the group was walking from the Capitol. The Cleaver incident allegedly occurred while the group was walking to the Capitol. The lack of any audio or video evidence of at least two incidents of a "large crowd" of protesters shouting racial slurs should have killed this story before it left the gate. Even without the contrary video evidence, Carson's charge is so at odds with the reality of America circa 2010 that it undermines the credibility of any media person who reported it with a straight face.
One of my correspondents, who was on the Capitol steps when the caucus members entered and exited, makes a sage observation: "And if what these congressmen said was true, wouldn't it be logical to think that there would have been many more Capitol Police officers escorting these gentlemen back into the Cannon building when they returned?" Videos show that there were only two police officers, and they were walking behind the congressmen when they left the Capitol.