What happened Tuesday at the RNC causing a bunch of angry attendees to loudly shout “USA, USA” as a Puerto Rican speaker took the stage, forcing chair Reince Priebus to demand order on a chaotic floor?
The incident occurred as speaker Puerto Rico National Committeewoman Zori Fonalledas was taking the stage to announce John Boehner’s appointment as permanent convention chairman. But the actual specifics of the chanting, and the reasons behind it, are in dispute.
According to the heavily right-leaning Washington Examiner, the liberal media is framing the mostly-as-of-now unheard of incident as a racist one when it was indeed a matter of outburst over the treatment of the conditionally welcome fan favorite Ron Paul. The paper says that Paul supporters were merely protesting the refusal to seat delegates, which in turn sparked a loud dispute with Romney supporters:
“The Paulites began chanting ‘Point of Order,’ trying to stop the proceedings so they could have a roll-call vote or even a debate. They also chanted ‘Seat Maine Now,’ in this period … Some Romney backers from delegations near Maine responded – for better or worse – by chanting “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” over the Paulites’ chants.”
Jack Hitt of Harper’s was not nearly as certain the chanting was solely due to a dispute over Ron Paul. Hitt acknowledges the Paul-based argument but describes the bizarre outburst from a different perspective, one he says was as ugly as the video below seems to suggest:
“The chanting carried on for nearly a minute while most of the other delegates and the media stood by in stunned silence. The Puerto Rican correspondent turned to me and asked, ‘Is this happening?’ I said I honestly didn’t know what was happening — it was astonishing to see all the brittle work of narrative construction that is a modern political convention suddenly crack before our eyes.”
Hitt suggests that the chanting may have started over Ron Paul, but the choice of the words “USA, USA” and Priebus’ reaction suggest that the outburst rapidly morphed into something else, something more like … well, what it looks like:
“None of us could quite believe what we were seeing: A sea of twentysomething bowties and cowboy hats morphing into frat bros apparently shrieking over (or at) a Latina. RNC chairman Reince Priebus quickly stepped up and asked for order and respect for the speaker, suggesting that, yeah, what we had just seen might well have been an ugly outburst of nativism.”
Watch the video below of Fonalledas, and closely watch the faces of the delegates and attendees as well as that of Priebus. Do you think the crowd was angry over Ron Paul, or did an element of xenophobia take over loudly and quickly?
[Hat tip to Daniel Albanese at The Dusty Rebel]