A few weeks ago a well known Islamophobe and professional instigator, Pamela Geller, held what she pretended was a contest to “Draw the Prophet Muhammad.” In reality the affair had nothing to do with art or free expression, but was a deliberate attempt to incite violence.
Geller’s hate-fest was praised as a courageous expression of liberty by sympathetic bigots at Fox News. They regarded her repugnant message as patriotic and celebrated the death of the two idiots that Geller was successful in provoking into senseless violence. But if you want to know what the same Fox News blowhards who revere Geller really think about free speech, just keep watching and they will reveal their true disgust for the First Amendment when it protects speech that they don’t like.
Last week Eric Bolling delivered a commentary about an art exhibit by students at a New Jersey high school. The exhibit was called “Law Enforcement – Police Brutality.” It was a subject chosen by the students and was open to, and included, opinions from all sides of the debate. Bolling, of course, focused solely on the work that was critical of the police, and he was not shy about expressing his desire for censorship.
Bolling: OK, I get the idea of free speech but … hey, teachers at Westfield would you put up an art exhibit showing teachers abusing students? I don’t think you’d do it. Nor should you have done this. I’d like to see that thing taken down.
Judging by this comment it is not particularly clear that Bolling really does “get the idea of free speech.” These students have every right to express their own opinions of significant current events that affect their communities. Suppressing the artwork they produce is a clear breach of those rights. But hypocrites like Bolling continue to expose themselves as having variable principles that permit freedom only to those with whom they agree. This is illustrated best by what Bolling himself said a couple of weeks prior in defense of Geller and her hate exhibit.
Bolling: Free speech is protected no matter how inciting it may be. We’re becoming too politically correct. We worry that offending Muslims somehow overrides our won Constitutional rights.
It should surprise no one that Bolling never suggested that Geller’s exhibit should be “taken down,” nor that he never stood up for the students’ free speech “no matter how inciting it may be.” To Bolling and his Fox News cohorts, Geller’s anti-Muslim bigotry makes her a standard bearer of American virtue, but the students’ concerns about abuse of power by law enforcement makes them snotty little delinquents who should be neither seen nor heard.
On a side note, why is Fox News so obsessed with demeaning high school students? Check out this previous attack on students in Vermont after they defended their state from disparaging remarks by a Bill O’Reilly producer.
Icing on the flake: The following day, Bolling responded to criticism he received for his overt hypocrisy. In his whiny, self-defense he insisted that he is a stalwart proponent of free speech and all that he meant to convey was that he also had the right to say that he didn’t approve of the student art show. However, there a couple problems with that “clarification.” First, he didn’t say that he didn’t approve, he said that he would like to see it taken down. Second, he never acknowledged that critics of Geller’s phony exhibit also have a right to disapprove. He still regards them as anti-free speech, once again proving that his rights are legitimate and everyone else should shut up.
Remember Glenn Beck? Remember that guy who used to rant about caliphates and Agenda 21 conspiracies and presidents who hate white people? I know it has been a while (like maybe twenty or thirty minutes), but if you can reach back in your memories to that time that Glenn Beck was dispensing certifiably insane lectures on the end of civilization, you may be interested to know that he’s still doing it.
Yes, even though Beck has undergone revelations that such nonsense was destructive, he still persists. Even though he has apologized and claimed to have had epiphanies showing him the evil of his ways on at least two occassions:
June 7, 2013: For any role that I have played in dividing, I wish I can take them back. January 22, 2014: I think I played a role, unfortunately, in helping tear the country apart.
And even though he claimed that his “craziness” was the product of his diseased mind:
November 11, 2014: I had begun to have a string of health issues that, quite honestly, made me look crazy. And, quite honestly, I felt crazy because of them.
The lunacy continues in the bowels of his Texas studio where today he unleashed some of his most vicious rhetoric to date aimed at First Lady Michelle Obama.
The impetus for this flow of vitriol was Obama’s inspirational commencement speech at Tuskegee University in Alabama (video below). It was a well-received address that began with uplifting praise for “all of you will take your spot in the long line of men and women who have come here and distinguished themselves and this university.” She continued with heartfelt personal stories of how she and her family were subject to many of the same hardships that African-Americans, and other oppressed minorities, have suffered due to prejudices that were ingrained in the culture of a nation divided by race.
Despite these hardships, Obama assured the students that this country holds great promise for them and that they must never give in to bitterness or cynicism. She used the example of the famous squadron of Tuskegee Airmen who distinguished themselves in World War II:
“Now, those Airmen could easily have let that experience clip their wings. But as you all know, instead of being defined by the discrimination and the doubts of those around them, they became one of the most successful pursuit squadrons in our military. They went on to show the world that if black folks and white folks could fight together, and fly together, then surely — surely — they could eat at a lunch counter together. Surely their kids could go to school together.”
Obama also spoke movingly about some of the outright bigotry that welcomed her and the President into national politics:
“Back when my husband first started campaigning for President, folks had all sorts of questions of me: What kind of First Lady would I be? What kinds of issues would I take on? Would I be more like Laura Bush, or Hillary Clinton, or Nancy Reagan? And the truth is, those same questions would have been posed to any candidate’s spouse. That’s just the way the process works. But, as potentially the first African American First Lady, I was also the focus of another set of questions and speculations; conversations sometimes rooted in the fears and misperceptions of others. Was I too loud, or too angry, or too emasculating? (Applause.) Or was I too soft, too much of a mom, not enough of a career woman?
“Then there was the first time I was on a magazine cover — it was a cartoon drawing of me with a huge afro and machine gun. Now, yeah, it was satire, but if I’m really being honest, it knocked me back a bit. It made me wonder, just how are people seeing me.
“Or you might remember the on-stage celebratory fist bump between me and my husband after a primary win that was referred to as a “terrorist fist jab.” And over the years, folks have used plenty of interesting words to describe me. One said I exhibited “a little bit of uppity-ism.“ Another noted that I was one of my husband’s “cronies of color.” Cable news once charmingly referred to me as “Obama’s Baby Mama.”
“And of course, Barack has endured his fair share of insults and slights. Even today, there are still folks questioning his citizenship. “
However, the lesson from this that Obama conveyed to the students was expressed in her realization that “if I wanted to keep my sanity and not let others define me, there was only one thing I could do, and that was to have faith in God’s plan for me. I had to ignore all of the noise and be true to myself — and the rest would work itself out.”
The overwhelming theme of the speech was victory over adversity, and the benefits of being true to oneself and committed to a path of harmony, service, and success, personally and professionally. But somehow Glenn Beck got a very different message. He castigated Obama for failing to solve all problems associated with race relations (video here if you have the stomach for it). He said that “they could have changed race relations forever. But they took us back to the 1960’s on grudge politics.” Of course, he never explained how the Obamas could change everything forever, or how they turned back the clock, but validating anything he says has never been a part of his shtick.
Beck was disturbed that Obama spoke about the very real tribulations faced by victims of prejudice. He surely would prefer that she had ignored such unpleasantness. But worse, he accused her of exacerbating racial strife and being ungrateful for the progress that has been made. He insisted that she had no right to lament the difficulties that she endured, and which many still endure, because her husband was elected President with votes from white people. In Beck’s world, progress means that all transgressions, past and present, are irrelevant. The only thing you should feel now is gratitude for the benevolence of all the white people who made your success possible.
According to Beck it is white, conservative, Christian men who are the victims of discrimination today. Somehow, in his severely warped brain, he believes that African-Americans who talk about the real strains of bigotry are self-absorbed whiners, but the beleaguered Caucasians of America have righteous grievances of social injustice. And if that weren’t delusional enough, he lashed out at Obama for fomenting violence and deigned to speak in her voice:
“The worst thing you can do is riot in the streets. She’s saying the opposite. ‘I know what you feel because I felt it, and even I’m the President’s wife and I still feel invisible. I feel like we’re not being heard. So I’m not only validating your feeling, I’m here to tell you it is happening.’
“And that’s why people are rioting in the streets. She is encouraging this kind of behavior.”
For Beck to pretend that he has any concept of what Obama has gone through in her life is repulsive in the extreme. But more importantly, his attack on her misses the whole point. She is speaking for millions of Americans who have suffered at the hands of bigots. And she is telling them to have faith in themselves and their ability to prevail through hardship. Beck played some clips of Obama’s speech, but never any of those where she told the students that their future was in their hands and that they can succeed with a positive outlook.
The fact that Beck came away from this with the notion that Obama was advocating violence and rioting is the best possible evidence of his overt animosity and inbred hatred. It affirms precisely what Obama was talking about. It affirms all of the worst that can be attributed to bigots like him. And it demonstrates that his prior testimonials that he has seen the light and doesn’t want to be a divisive figure anymore, doesn’t want to tear the country apart, were all lies. But then, we knew that already. He has never stopped being a hate mongering spokesman for the worst elements of our society, and it’s fair to assume that he never will.
This week Hillary Clinton revealed some details of her platform on immigration. She expressed support for a pathway to citizenship and a policy that…
“…treats everyone with dignity and compassion, upholds the rule of law, protects our border and national security, and brings hard-working people out of the shadows and into the formal economy so they can pay taxes and contribute to our nation’s prosperity.”
That is a position that most recent polling shows is favored by most Americans. This puts the Republican Party in a bind of their own making due to their long-standing opposition to Latino issues and to what they falsely call amnesty. And as if to exacerbate that problem, Fox News weighs in with a dishonest and cynical approach to journalism that tries to cut both ways.
On the the Fox News Latino website, Fox posted a report on Clinton’s policy address with a headline reading “Hillary Clinton makes deportation protection, path to citizenship central to campaign.” That’s a fairly straightforward description of the remarks Clinton made and treats the subject seriously and without prejudice.
Now lets travel over to the Fox Nation website to see how they covered the same story. Their headline reads “Hillary Clinton Vows to Expand Obama Amnesty to More Illegals.” That begins by lying about the Obama policy which contains nothing even resembling amnesty. For the record, amnesty is a “general pardon for offenses,” however, the Obama doctrine is one that contains considerable prerequisites for eligibility and takes years to satisfy.
More offensive is the use of the term “illegals” to describe undocumented residents. Most reputable news agencies have banned the use of the word as an epithet that does not properly describe the subjects it is insulting. Fox News Latino is among those who have banned the term. But Fox News and Fox Nation use it routinely.
What is happening here is something that News Corpse has documented in the past. Fox News is attempting to pander to Latinos, the fastest growing demographic group (and voter bloc) in the nation, by treating issues that affect them in a more balanced way on their Latino-themed website. At the same time, Fox is resorting to their standard stance of overt prejudice on their main outlets so as not to alienate their bigoted audience that is clamoring for an electrified border fence with a fiery moat stocked with alligators.
This is a cynical attempt to con the Latinos segregated on the Fox Latino site into believing that Fox News has their interests at heart. But a quick look at the rest of Fox News reveals that their bias is openly on display. This phony media strategy is also an effort by Fox to repair the damage that Republican candidates do to their electoral prospects by maligning a critical community of voters. The GOP cannot win a national election without a substantial percentage of the Latino vote, and if the candidates are too beholden to their Tea Party constituency to show these voters respect, Fox has taken on the responsibility of cleaning up their mess.
Fox News must think that Latinos are pretty stupid if they believe that they will fall for this ruse. In the end Fox will not only fail to lull the Latino community into compliance, they will earn their enduring distrust. After Obama’s reelection in 2012, the Republican Party did an exhaustive study of what went so horribly wrong. One of the main conclusions was that the party failed to reach out to minorities and women, and that they would have to improve upon that in the future. Since then their outreach programs have mainly served to drive more minority voters away, except when they weren’t ignoring them completely. And the fact that Fox News still finds it necessary to engage in this sort of duplicity is proof that the party continues to fall behind in the race to represent all of America.
First things first: Freedom of speech is a cherished liberty among all Americans and most citizens of the rest of the world. It is the bedrock upon which all other freedoms rest. Preserving it is critical for civilized societies to exist. And it must be honored for all speech, especially that which is regarded as unpopular or offensive.
That said, in the practice of defending free speech we must be able to distinguish between actual expressions of genuine thoughts and beliefs, as opposed to cynical exploitation aimed at inflaming emotions and inciting violence. Just as shouting “fire” in a crowded theater when there is no fire is not protected speech, staging events meant to cause harm is not an excusable act under the First Amendment.
Hypocrites who pervert the notion of free expression need to be called out. They are often easy to spot. They complain bitterly when they are not allowed to malign and insult others with impunity. And while they insist that any derogatory speech directed at their heroes be condemned and suppressed, they outright lust for words and pictures that offend those whom they don’t particularly like. That’s how they can justify support for blatantly repulsive speech against Muslims or other enemies of right-wingers, but the slightest perceived slur aimed at Christians or other conservatives is an abomination. [Just ask the Dixie Chicks and the casualties in the War on Christmas]
The affair in Garland, Texas was advertised as “The Inaugural Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest.” But lest anyone mistake it for a legitimate exercise in free speech, the facts about its organizers and purpose must be known.
The event was a project of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a virulent anti-Islamic operation that has been been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. It is run by notorious Islamophobes, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. Geller & Co. have often produced media-centric events to promote an overtly bigoted agenda, of which the event in Garland is just the latest example.
To underscore the evil intentions behind this gathering, note that the venue chosen was the very same venue where Muslims held a conference in January of this year with the stated mission of making it clear that terrorists like ISIS and Al Qaeda are “enemies of Islam who are hurting Muslims and neighborly relations toward the world.” That event was heckled by right-wing protesters who apparently object to peaceful Muslims who repudiate terrorism.
Geller admitted that she picked this site as a response to the previous, pro-peace event put on by area Muslims. Which also raises the significance of the fact that the Garland community has a growing Muslim population. Consequently, holding an openly hateful event in such a community is purposefully provocative.
So can this rightly be called a “free speech” event when the primary activity is an alleged “art” contest that the producers know will be inflammatory; the site was chosen as a deliberate poke in the eye; the community is home to those the organizers wish to offend; the guests include international anti-Islam activist Geert Wilders; and the participants are professional hate mongers? Wouldn’t it more more correct to call this a deliberate provocation intended to incite violence?
There was obviously no intent on the part of Geller and her hate brigade to engage in a sincere public discourse. It is far more likely that she got exactly what she wanted when a couple of would-be terrorists showed up with guns blazing. Sadly, what isn’t being reported in the media is that the leaders of the broader Muslim community at large condemned the shooting and expressed unreserved support for the free speech rights of Geller et al. They also counseled other Muslims in the area to refrain from even showing up to protest the event, in order to preserve the peace. In that effort they were successful as there was no onsite protest. The only alleged Muslims who showed up were, unfortunately, the gunmen.
It’s really too bad that there are people like Geller whose sole purpose in life is to create chaos and disharmony. And it makes it all the worse that they twist cherished principles like freedom of speech to incite violence. It is also too bad that there are idiots who will take the bait and give the hate mongers what they yearn for. Yes, Geller is just as entitled to free speech as anyone else. But she is coming awfully close to that line where she is shouting “fire” and hoping that innocent people get trampled.
The repugnant race baiters of the right have made it their mission to define anyone who alleges racism as instigators of civil disorder, promoters of racial division, and, in a display of epic hypocrisy, as racists themselves. It doesn’t matter how obvious the occurrence of bias, it can’t possibly be credible to the bigot apologists who believe that racism ended when valiant white saviors freed the slaves a hundred and fifty years ago. And these racism deniers came out in force following Obama’s appearance at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner.
Leading the pack are the hate-mongers on the Fox News community website, Fox Nation, where they recently featured a story about why “We Must Destroy ‘The Black Community'” With a headline like that it hardly matters what the substance of the article says (it argued, wrongly, that there is no need for any communities of commonality), the point is made to an audience that eats up openly hateful messages. They have abandoned their dog whistles for bullhorns.
In a continuance of this ugly messaging, Fox Nation served up another headline reading “If Only President Obama Weren’t Black.” The author is Erick Erickson, one of the most hostile promulgators of prejudice in the media, and a Fox News contributor. The opening paragraph of the article, that is ostensibly a critique of President Obama’s comedy routine at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, says…
“Over the weekend, most of the worst people in the world gathered together in Washington, D.C. as a circle of jerks to sing each other’s praises. Sadly, there was no Samson to tear down the columns and collapse the roof on the Philistines of Washington. But there was a President of the United States willing to make jokes about the ‘F-word’ and an Imperial Court to worship him.”
Notice how Erickson begins the paragraph by making a sexual reference to “circle jerks” (slang for group masturbation), and ending with his sudden, and oh-so moral, offense to Obama making jokes about the “f-word.” Erickson is the cretin who once called retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter a “goat-fucking child molester,” so we know his objections to profanity are sincere.
The thrust of this article is Erickson’s contention that Obama “assume[s] the opposition to him is because of his race.” But nowhere in the article does Erickson provide evidence that Obama holds that view. The entire premise stems from the part of Obama’s address where Keegan-Michael Key portrays Luther, Obama’s anger translator. It is important to note here that the character is NOT Obama’s “black” anger translator. However, that adjective was inserted by Erickson to color his tirade against the President. It is his attempt to fuel the racist stereotype of the angry black man.
For the rest of the article Erickson rattles off a list of political issues that he asserts are unpopular, and then he infers that Obama regards them as such because of his race. Everything about that is flat out wrong. Many of the issues (e.g. a nuclear deal with Iran, ObamaCare) are not unpopular at all. And to the extent that a minority of Americans may oppose them, Obama has never suggested that their opposition was racially based. That is an invention of the right and of Erickson’s own bigotry. Erickson goes on to declare that…
“If only President Obama weren’t black, maybe he would realize that people don’t dislike him because he is black, they dislike him because he is a self-absorbed ass.”
There’s some more proof of Erickson’s moral superiority and objection to profane incivility. But more to the point, by suggesting that Obama’s perspective would be different if he were not black, Erickson is contradicting his whole premise. He is, in fact, asserting that being black is inherently significant and has a critical impact on the affairs at hand. So his argument that race shouldn’t enter into it is in tatters by his own admission. And, by the way, Erickson’s theory is that Obama would have a much better assessment of the matter if he were white, because, you know…
While Obama himself has not blamed racism for the opposition he has faced for the last six years, it has always been a primary motivator of many of his critics. The birther controversies, the allegations of Muslim faith, the false associations with Black Panthers and other radicals, the talk of reparations, the accusations of treason and complicity with our enemies, and the depictions by Tea Party signs of Obama as an ape or tribal witch doctor, are just a few of the representations that have flooded the anti-Obama mediasphere.
The Fox News racists are so obsessed with the notion of being called out for their racism that they are now inventing occurrences of it. No, the President did not inject racism into this discussion. But yes, his critics, like Erickson are profoundly racist. And the advice that I keep giving them (though they never seem to listen) is: If you don’t like being called a racist, stop being racist. It really is that simple.
Anyone who has used social media for twenty minutes has seen unfortunate miscommunications that can result in unintended embarrassment or worse. Sometimes they are caused by typos, sometimes by poorly thought out ideas, and sometimes by unmanaged anger. It remains to be seen what caused this disturbing comment by the official Twitter account of the Senate Republicans:
“150 years ago today the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. America is forever indebted.”
Was this simply a cringe-worthy mistake? Did the author of this tweet intend to say that Lincoln’s assassination was something that deserved the gratitude of the American people?
The worst kind of rhetorical mistake someone can make is one that reinforces the most negative impressions that are already present. The Republican Party has long struggled with charges of racism, and for good reason. They have opposed many of the landmark reforms to civil rights laws. They advocate policies on social welfare, taxes, voting, employment, housing, etc., that are invariably detrimental to minorities and other victims of discrimination. They defend outright demonstrations of prejudice by law enforcement and private citizens. They have been caught fraternizing with unsavory characters associated with known hate groups. In many cases they have been discovered to be members of those groups themselves.
Speeches and signs at Tea Party rallies have too often expressed blatantly racist sentiments. Too many Republicans have articulated messages that coincide with segregationists, secessionists, and the neo-confederacy that Lincoln fought to eliminate. It is difficult ignore these instances of GOP support for, or tolerance of, such distasteful opinions. The primary media outlet for the right, Fox News, is rampant with expressions of racism from both on-air personalities and viewers.
And that is what makes this tweet so troubling. While there is a good chance that it was merely a case of extremely bad grammar, it also represents the true feelings of many people on the far right, many of whom hold positions of influence in politics or the press. It also doesn’t help that the tweet features a statue of Lincoln that has its own controversy. They could have used the famous Lincoln Memorial in the National Mall, but instead chose the Freedman’s Memorial in Lincoln Park that depicts a supplicant black man in a loin cloth and chains kneeling at Lincoln’s feet. That is hardly an image that projects emancipation.
So does this tweet mean that the Senate Republicans are racists? Not by itself. But it does express, whether intended or otherwise, a way of thinking that has dogged the GOP for decades. And even after the posting of this tweet produced hundreds of responses calling attention to the ugly, but obvious, interpretation, it remains online without clarification or apology. That is a message in itself.
The cable “news” network that is number one with racists has become a partner with some of the most vile white supremacist organizations in a campaign to intimidate and malign a college professor in Arizona. Fox News was the first national media outlet to condemn a course at Arizona State University called “U.S. Race Theory & the Problem of Whiteness,” and their hostility has inspired a crusade of bigotry.
The course itself is a non-controversial exploration of race and the privileges of the majority. It is not, as Fox News characterizes it, an attack on white Americans. Part of the purpose of college is to get an expanded perspective of the world and to challenge preconceptions. However, Fox attacked this class based on nothing more than its name. They did no investigation into the actual curriculum. Having been alerted to the issue by an extremist right-wing organization, Fox’s Elisabeth Hasselbeck led the outcry by stating on Fox & Friends that the class was “unfair and wrong.” She provided no support for her criticisms.
Subsequent to the “reporting” on Fox, the professor involved became the target of an organized campaign of hate. USA Today reports that…
“According to university records recently obtained by The Arizona Republic, assistant professor Lee Bebout has received dozens of hostile and hate-filled e-mails about the class, and Tempe police say the instructor suffered harassment when fliers were distributed on campus and in Bebout’s neighborhood with ‘Anti-White’ printed over a photo of Bebout, who is white.”
Beginning on the day the segment aired on Fox, Bebout began receiving hate mail and threats that contained overtly violent rhetoric. For instance, one letter said “I look forward to your suicide,” and another wrote “I’d enjoy seeing you swing from a light pole.” The fliers were labeled “National Youth Front,” which describes itself as a “youth organization dedicated to the preservation of all White people.” Further escalating the imminent risk of harm, Bebout’s photo was posted on white supremacist websites along with those of his family, his contact information and other personal details.
Hasselbeck’s segment on Fox & Friends featured an interview with Lauren Clark, an ASU student who did not enroll in the class. Clark is also a representative of a group called Campus Reform, whose mission is to expose liberal “bias and abuse on the nation’s college campuses.” It is a project of the ultra-rightist Leadership Institute (LI). Other alumni of LI include Karl Rove and James O’Keefe. Their funding comes from a narrow cabal of conservatives including the Heritage Foundation and the Koch brothers.
Clark alleged that the course was inappropriate because it “suggests an entire race is the problem.” How she came to that conclusion without taking the class, or ever talking to the professor, can be easily explained by her obvious ideological prejudices. In truth, the class is described by the university in a statement that says that it…
“…uses literature and rhetoric to look at how stories shape people’s understandings and experiences of race. It encourages students to examine how people talk about — or avoid talking about — race in the contemporary United States.”
This is precisely the sort of discourse that enriches the academic experience and benefits students. But Fox News distorted it to turn it into a racial controversy. They did this without the slightest bit of research or factual basis. They supported their false assertions with the help of a representative from an openly biased organization who was equally uninformed as to the facts. And the result was a campaign of threats and intimidation aimed at the Arizona school and the teacher by national white supremacists.
This was a foreseeable series of events thanks to Fox News and their openly bigoted agenda. It was something that could easily have been avoided with a little research. But Fox never conducted an investigation, never sought to get a response from the school or Prof. Bebout, and never disclosed the biases of their Koch brothers-funded guest. In short, they did none of things that an actual journalistic enterprise would do. Is anyone surprised?
Todd Starnes has a unique role at Fox News as the protector of the heritage of white Christians. Most of his “dispatches” are about some imagined discrimination against this powerless majority. However, they are also mostly bogus fantasies that are later debunked by real journalists. In one case, Starnes hyped a fake story that was planted by the publisher of his new book.
In his latest harangue, Starnes is aghast that President Obama didn’t clear his busy schedule to visit the two injured police officers in Ferguson, Missouri. His brief sermonette titled “Gov’t-Sanctioned Mobs Lay Siege to Ferguson While Obama Jets Off to Hollywood,” is crammed with viciousness and vituperative insults. The best way to demonstrate the idiocy and ignorance of this screed is to let it speak for itself. So here is every word of it with commentary:
Starnes: Whether they admit it or not, the protesters in Ferguson, Missouri got what they wanted this week. Two police officers ambushed.
This overtly racist opening line is evidence of a severe mental impairment. Starnes’ unsupported assertion that peaceful protesters wanted officers to get shot is the sort of bigotry that is generally seen in dispatches from the Ku Klux Klan.
Starnes: Blue Blood spilled on the streets, the latest casualties in a government-sanctioned war on law enforcement.
How dramatic. You have to wonder if Starnes is aware that “blue blood” usually refers to the upper-class elites that police are often shown to be protecting to the exclusion of every other citizen. And the “government-sanctioned” quip is utterly delusional. He doesn’t bother to identify the agency that is sanctioning this imaginary war on law enforcement.
Starnes: At some point you have to wonder when the police are just going say, “You know what folks? Just patrol your own blasted streets.”
Of course. Because that’s what all good police officers say who have encountered the risks associated with their jobs. What Starnes fails to grasp is that cops have been targets of criminal types since the beginning of policing. It’s a good thing that most officers have more dedication and integrity than cowards like Starnes.
Starnes: For months now, the White House has used Ferguson to advance a false narrative about racism in America. “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” — a lie. A bald-faced lie.
Actually, the White House has never uttered the words “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” much less advanced any narrative associated with it. Starnes is apparently unaware that it was the Obama Justice Department that found insufficient evidence to press charges against officer Darrel Wilson. But Starnes is equally unaware that the narrative of racism in America is not “false.” That fact was also in the Justice Department’s report, along with documented proof.
Starnes: Instead jetting off to Ferguson on Air Force One to console the officers and deliver a pro-law enforcement speech, President Obama flew right over Ferguson on his way to Hollywood, where he made a case for moral equivalency on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
Actually, Obama made a case for the rule of law and respect for law enforcement when he said that “there was no excuse for criminal acts.” He called for the arrest of the perpetrators and the marginalization of “people who resort to violence.” And by doing it with Jimmy Kimmel he reached a much larger audience with that message.
Starnes: He also tweeted: “Violence against police is unacceptable. Our prayers are with the officers in MO. Path to justice is one all of us must travel together. – bo” With all due respect, Mr. President – that’s a bunch of BS.
This is a perfect example of how Obama cannot win with blockhead partisans like Starnes. Even when he makes exactly the sort of statement that is appropriate for the circumstances, they will simply dismiss it and resume insulting him.
Starnes: There’s a war on cops – government-sanctioned mobs out to satisfy their bloodlust. And that’s all you’ve got? A hundred forty characters and a late-night punchline?
First of all, that aint all he’s got, it’s just all you heard. Starnes conveniently filters out anything that doesn’t fit his hateful biases. Secondly, Starnes should be more careful with his rhetoric. Parsing his closing sentence would suggest that he is defining cops as “government-sanctioned mobs.” Ironically, that’s just how some people in minority communities see them when they are discriminated against and mistreated as numerous studies have shown occurs with unfortunate frequency.
The saddest part of this is that it is just another chapter in the ongoing parade of bigoted commentaries from Fox News and other rightist media. They have an obsession with castigating minorities, denying racism, and lecturing the victims of their hate as to how they should respond when mistreated (aka “whitesplaining”). And by pretending that problems don’t exist, and lying to their audience, Fox News et al are only making the problems worse.
For several year now the mantra that has been chanted on Fox News and other right-wing media is that racism is a thing of the past. America’s shameful legacy of prejudice was allegedly buried sometime between Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a bus and Barack Obama’s election to the presidency. Never mind the continued instances of discrimination in hiring, housing, and education, or the horrific violence and intimidation that persists, or the many chapters of the KKK and other congregations of bigots that flourish in many parts of the country.
For some people the fact that a little more than half of America’s voters chose an African-American president is evidence that the old hatreds have disappeared. But anyone who believes that just needs to ask themselves “What about the other half.” The presence of racism is visible to anyone with eyes and ears and a mind uncluttered by political partisans trying to eliminate a thorny campaign issue. You need look no further than the video that popped up this week showing members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma to understand the depth of the problem that still persists.
The evidence notwithstanding, there are still deniers that either refuse to acknowledge the existence of racism, or excuse it as a trivial matter that doesn’t really interfere with anyone’s pursuit of the American Dream. And last night on Megyn Kelly’s program on Fox News she managed to dismiss the obvious occurrences of institutional racism in Ferguson, Missouri, that were outlined in a report by the Justice Department. Reacting to a portion of the report that addressed racist emails by Ferguson police officers, Kelly said that…
“There are very few companies in America [where] you won’t find racist emails.”
That was her defense of the Ferguson PD? First of all, a police department isn’t a “company.” And while there is no justification for Brewski Barn employees to be exchanging racist emails, law enforcement officers must be held to a higher standard. The inherent power that comes with the badge, not to mention the Constitution, requires unambiguous fairness and equal treatment. The fact that Kelly can wave off racist emails by the police is disturbing all by itself.
However, Kelly’s remarks have another component that must not be ignored. She is flatly asserting that most American companies are harboring racist employees. But didn’t Fox News declare that racism is over? What about these declarations of America’s racial harmony:
Eric Bolling: I don’t think there’s racism.
Bill O’Reilly: We are not a racist nation. […] Fair-minded Americans should be deeply offended, deeply offended that their country is being smeared with the bigotry brush.
Steve Doocy: I don’t know that Barack Obama could have been elected president if he was living in a racist nation.
Ann Coulter: Unfortunately for liberals, there is no more racism in America.
Republican National Committee: Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stance and her role in ending racism.
There you have it, racism is kaput. And yet Kelly explicitly states that racist emails can be found at all but a few of American companies. So which is it? Has America solved its race problem and embraced its rich heritage of diversity? Or are there legions of bigots firing off offensive messages on business computer networks seemingly free of any shame or concern about being caught?
Either way, Kelly’s points are utterly absurd. If she’s right about the racism at most American companies, how does that excuse the racism at the Ferguson Police Department? Although it was her intent to refute the Justice Department’s report, she has only succeeded in affirming the need to better scrutinize the behavior of local police departments. And for good measure she has opened the door to more reflection on the overarching problem of racism across the nation at all of these companies she has just called out.
Sadly, Kelly’s objective was to dispel all criticism of racism, whether it be imposed by cops or accountants. Her argument is that since racism is so prevalent at workplaces across the nation, why should anyone bother about it by police officers? The idiocy of that argument is self-apparent. And it’s almost as stupid as her colleagues at Fox who say that racism doesn’t exist anymore.
This past weekend marked the 50th anniversary of one of the most iconic events in America’s history. In 1965 hundreds of protesters organized a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to demand an end to the institutional racism that kept African Americans from exercising their right to vote. The marchers were met on the Edmund Pettus Bridge by state troopers who beat them with nightsticks, trampled them horses, assaulted them with water cannons, and left many of the peaceful marchers severely injured.
John Lewis, now a U.S. congressman, was among those who suffered at the hands of the segregationist southern establishment. The televised images of the brutality directed at the marchers played a significant role in elevating the civil rights crisis to a national priority.
So how did Fox News choose to cover this historic commemorative occasion? This morning on Fox & Friends the Kurvy Kouch Potatoes devoted the whole of their Selma segment to complaining about a photo that appeared in the New York Times. Later, the ladies of “Outnumbered” did the same thing. The photo in question was of President Obama walking arm-in-arm with some of the figures who participated in the original march fifty years ago, including Rep. Lewis. But the Fox crew completely ignored the cultural importance of the event in order to play out their obsession with being victims of the “liberal” media.
Dispensing with any discussion of the state of civil rights in the intervening years, Fox focused on their allegation that former president George W. Bush had been deliberately cropped out of the photo that appeared in the New York Times. To them this was further evidence of how the liberal media distorts the news and robs conservatives of their rightful place as champions of civil rights.
There are two small problems with that characterization. First, the Times did not crop the photo at all. They printed the entire photo that had been supplied to them. The photographer had quite reasonably framed the photo to put President Obama in the center, thus missing Bush who was far off to the side. Other photos were taken of the event that show Bush, however, in order to reveal the whole front line of the march, the picture would have either consumed the entire width of the paper or been reduced so that no one could have been recognized.
The second problem is that the notion that Bush is an indispensable component of any photo of a civil rights march is ludicrous. In his eight years as president, Bush attended only one of the annual meetings of the NAACP. His Justice Department investigated the organization with an aim to remove its tax-exempt status. He opposed affirmative action and other legislative remedies to racism. And he appointed Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts who wrote the majority opinion striking down provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that was a direct result of the original march in Selma.
Why the Fox regulars regard Bush as being entitled to a place of honor at this march is a mystery. But even worse is the fact that they would feature this phony assertion of liberal media bias to the exclusion of any substantive reporting on the issues that led to the march in 1965 and the importance of its 50th anniversary this weekend.
This is typical of Fox’s perverse editorial stance on civil rights issues. On their Fox News Sunday program they hosted Kimberly Strassel of the Wall Street Journal (another brick in Rupert Murdoch’s media empire) who complained that Obama called for renewal of the Voting Rights Act. Just to be clear, she was against talking about voting rights in a speech commemorating an historic march for voting rights. Also notable is that Fox News failed to mention that not a single member of the current leadership in Congress attended the anniversary event in Selma.
And yet, Fox found time on multiple programs to gripe about a non-story concerning the cropping of a photo that never happened. That’s what Fox regards as newsworthy. And everybody knows that civil rights begin with exalting white Republicans who never did a damn thing to advance them.