The cable “news” network most closely associated with the white supremacism of Donald Trump and the alt-right is living up to its heinous reputation. On Friday the Fox News program “The Five” broadcast a segment attacking one of America’s most honored civil rights organizations. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has been providing legal services to victims of prejudice for decades. So obviously Fox News had to invent some BS to charge them with.
The program’s cast mined the dregs of the ultra-rightist Washington Free Beacon for their material. And they sought the support of the Family Research Council, a notorious hate group, for confirmation. The SPLC responded with a demand for a correction and a detailed itemization of what Fox News got wrong.
The Fox News segment began with a diatribe by co-host Greg Gutfeld. He rattled off some falsehoods that portrayed the SPLC as charlatans and associates of violent nutjobs. His rant began with the charge that the SPLC was “a hard left outfit that loves to label people as extremists.” Then he dived deeper into the barrel of outright lies (video below):
“This poverty center has loads of [money]. A $320 million endowment and chucks almost 20% of it into offshore equities. Cayman Island stuff. I don’t understand it. So this poverty group sits on a pile of offshore dough. That’s like a personal trainer with a gut. Or a priest with a harem.
“The Center paid out $20 million in salaries in 2015 but provided just 61 grand in legal assistance. So the Southern Poverty Law Center appears to have no poverty and do virtually no law. It’s the most misleading name since the Democratic Party.”
The SPLC’s letter to Fox News addressed Gutfeld’s allegations and plainly showed them to false. All of the information was publicly available and posted on the group’s website. For instance, with regard to the charge that they spent only $61,000 on legal assistance, the Center replied that:
“That figure represents the amount that the SPLC spent on its own corporate legal services, not the amount it spent providing legal services for others. The same page of the SPLC tax returns that lists the $61,000 figure for internal legal services, shows that the SPLC spent more than $1.8 million on out-of-pocket case costs for litigation brought on behalf of its clients.”
The letter goes on to point out that they spent more than $15 million on initiatives on behalf of their clients. That’s a far cry from the $61,000 Gutfeld dishonestly reported. The whole segment was a smear job filled with easily disproved assertions. Clearly Fox News didn’t do even the most cursory research before broadcast. Consequently, the SPLC is demanding that Fox “acknowledge on the air its errors in the story.” But don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.
On Friday night, Donald Trump used the weekend, as well as Hurricane Harvey’s tragedies, to bury his latest despicable act. In seeking to satiate his racist base, Trump awarded the notorious birther and disgraced former sheriff, Joe Arpaio, a pardon for his federal crimes. Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt for violating a federal court order to stop racially profiling Latinos. He was found to have deliberately breached the constitutional rights of American citizens.
The fact that Trump thinks these are pardonable offenses is definitive proof of his bigotry and support for fellow bigots. The white supremacists who make up much of his support were elated at the whitewashing of Arpaio’s vile criminality. (With an emphasis on “white”) But Trump’s exacerbation of the racial division for which he is largely responsible has not gone over well with everyone. Patriotic Americans who value equality and justice will not forget this affront to the rule of law.
One critic, a professor at Harvard University, makes a credible case that Trump’s pardon could itself be an impeachable offense. Add it to the list: Russia, obstruction of justice, financial corruption, the Emoluments Clause, cover ups and perjury, sexual harassment and assault.
As for Arpaio, he also has a list offenses. And his acceptance of Trump’s pardon carries with it an implicit confession of guilt. That can be used in civil cases against him going forward. The Phoenix New Times has been on the front lines of the Arpaio assault on humanity for twenty years. They posted a series of tweets linking to the horrific record of Arpaio’s unlawful regime. Here is just a taste of what they have been reporting for years:
The Phoenix New Times has many more examples of this official misconduct and heinous brutality. And by pardoning a cretin like Arpaio, Trump is effectively making himself complicit with those crimes. He is intentionally aligning himself with Arpaio’s disdain for the rule of law. And it is very likely he is also setting the stage for future pardons of his family, his partners in crime, and perhaps himself. Based on on his behavior to date, you can’t put anything past him.
Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch broke many barriers during her tenure as head of the Justice Department. Not the least of which was being the first African American woman to hold the position. She has been a committed advocate of civil rights for decades. And she has always supported peaceful, legal efforts to advance the cause.
That makes the recent headlines in the right-wing media all the more troubling. Lynch recorded a video message (posted below) upon leaving the Justice Department when President Obama’s term as president expired. It is an inspiring appeal to all Americans to continue the struggle for equal justice under the law. The brief statement serves as a reminder that the fight for equality has “never been easy.” Here are her remarks in full:
“I know that this is a time of great fear and uncertainty for so many people. I know it’s a time of concern for people who see our rights being assailed, being trampled on, even being rolled back. I know that this is difficult. But I remind you that this has never been easy.
“We have always had to work to move this country forward to achieve the great ideals of our founding fathers. And it has been people, individuals, who have banded together. Ordinary people who simply saw what needed to be done and came together and supported those ideals who have made the difference.”
“They’ve marched, they’ve bled and yes, some of them died. This is hard. Every good thing is. We have done this before. We can do this again.”
It seems hard to believe that anyone could find fault in that positive message that exalts American values. But conservative bigots and their media outlets would not be deterred from doing just that.
The ultra-rightist, conspiracy theory website, WorldNetDaily, took the lead with an article that heinously misrepresented Lynch. They maliciously turned her words into a call for blood and death. WND clipped the part where Lynch honored those who sacrificed so much to bring about equality and gave it a new and hateful meaning. They headlined their story “Loretta Lynch: Need more marching, blood, death on streets.”
Obviously Lynch was not advocating for more blood and death. That’s an interpretation that can only be made by a blindly partisan and deliberately dishonest bigot. She was saluting heroes from the past who advanced the cause of liberty. People like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, whose mission was always one of peaceful protest. The violence came from the opponents of equal rights for all.
After WND published their hit piece it circulated throughout the right-wing echo chamber. Most prominently, it was featured on the Fox News community website (and lie factory), Fox Nation, with the same headline. And it didn’t stop there. The wingnut network embraced this slanderous theme. It was also published on a variety of right-wing sites including Alex Jones’ Infowars, the Gateway Pundit, and the Drudge Report.
This is how the alt-right, white supremacists distribute their hate-speech. And it isn’t a coincidence that all of these outlets are on Donald Trump’s favorites list. His presidency has emboldened the worst elements of our national character. When Klan groups openly celebrate the election of Trump, someone they regard as one of their own, it should set off alarms. But Trump’s tepid response to his most fervent and vile followers continues to serve as encouragement to the racist right. And the smears against Lynch are just the latest examples of how committed bigots will distort reality to further their mission of hate.
During the presidential campaign there was considerable anxiety about the way that Donald Trump was shaping his political ideology. It seemed to be frighteningly similar to the authoritarian regimes he admires. His casual advocacy of policies that reek of dictatorship worried civil libertarians and Constitutional experts. But now those concerns appear to have been fully justified.
CNN’s Jake Tapper reported Sunday that the Trump administration is considering the sort of “extreme vetting” that he threatened in the campaign (video below). Tapper’s sources revealed:
“…the preliminary idea being kicked around in the U.S. government right now. And that would be to ask foreign visitors to the U.S. to provide the names of websites and social media sites that they visit, and to provide all the contacts on their cells phones. And if a foreign visitor refuses to turn that over they would be denied entry.”
This sort of invasive screening is both ineffective and contrary to the values of a free society. Probing personal information in order to discriminate against people for their political beliefs might be done in totalitarian regimes like Russia, but not in America. What’s more, once this policy is in place, all an aspiring terrorist would have to do is get a new phone before boarding the plane. And when asked about websites and Facebook pages, provide only those without any controversial content. How hard is that?
In the meantime, every innocent traveler would be subject to this invasion of privacy and potential harassment. There is no mention of what would be done with the private data after scrutiny at customs. And a regime that would demand to see it would also be likely to store it and use it against perceived political foes. That could include diplomats, journalists, and even members of Congress.
Tapper was careful to append a disclaimer of sorts to his story. He added “Again, this is a preliminary idea being discussed by the White House and the Trump administration.” However, there are already reports of these tactics being implemented. Caroline Mortimer of the UK’s Independent reports that:
“US border agents are checking people’s Facebook pages for their political views before allowing them into the country, an immigration lawyer has claimed. […] The [American Immigration Lawyers Association] said border agents were checking the social media accounts of those detained and were interrogating them about their political beliefs before allowing them into the US.”
To reiterate, these abusive tactics are being carried out against legal residents of the U.S, with valid visas. Some have lived in the U.S. with their families for many years. So if people like this can be treated so shamefully, just imagine how refugees will be treated. People fleeing terrorism, who have already endured unthinkable suffering, will be harassed and humiliated. And following that they could still be sent back to their native country and an uncertain future. Many would be marked for death as a result of their attempt to escape.
This is not the promise of freedom that is carved on the base of the Statue of Liberty. It is a decree of oppression from the new regime in Washington that is taking its cues from Vladimir Putin. And if it is allowed to stand, the American people may soon notice their own freedoms withering away. If Trump and his politburo get away with this, what’s to stop them from doing worse in the future?
This morning a Baltimore police officer was acquitted of four charges related to Freddie Gray, an African-American who died in police custody in 2015. That was just one of many recent incidents involving police use-of-force (i.e. Walter Scott, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice) that resulted in a tragic and unnecessary fatality. These deaths inspired the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter movement as an attempt to raise awareness of the problem.
From the start, Fox News has been dismissive, or outright hostile, to #BlackLivesMatter and it’s representatives. They pushed the insensitive and disingenuous alternative of “All Lives Matter” and labeled the black activists racists and anti-police. However, saying that “black lives matter” is no more exclusive of concern for other lives than saying “save the whales” means screw all the other marine mammals. It is just a way drawing attention to a serious problem.
What Fox News considers to be a serious problem is the exercise of free speech by American citizens, particularly those in the entertainment industry. Their target this morning was Beyonce, who will be performing in concert in Pittsburgh next week. Some of her recent appearances and videos have carried the message of #BlackLivesMatter, which has drawn criticism from right-wing pundits and politicians.
On Fox & Friends today, co-host Ainsley Earhardt invited Robert Swartzwelder, the president of the Pittsburgh Fraternal Order of Police, to explain why he is filing a labor complaint on behalf of officers potentially being “forced” to work the concert. She introduced the segment saying that…
“Beyonce backlash is brewing. The singer’s apparent anti-police message has gotten the attention of Pittsburgh officers, many of who plan to boycott the singer’s upcoming concert in their town. There is just one problem. The city might force those officers to work security at her concert on May 31st.”
Earhardt’s bias was plainly stated in her opening by referring to an “anti-police message.” When she asked Swartzwelder about the looming boycott (which he said was not a boycott) he characterized it as ordinary and uncontroversial, and that officers regularly decline certain assignments such as traffic detail. Which is, of course, a ridiculous comparison. No officer has ever cited their objection to the political position of an automobile as a reason for not wanting traffic duty.
Swartzwelder went on to say that officers were offended by “various references in Beyonce’s music” that “all police officers engage in police brutality,” which Beyonce has denied. In the view of Swartzwelder, and Fox News, any criticism of the police is a criticism of all police and is, therefore, unacceptable. And Earhardt was sympathetic saying…
“I get it. I understand. You watch the video and you’re saying she is anti-cop rhetoric, you see the anti-cop images. So if she’s gonna be anti-cop why would we wanna go work her concert?”
While Earhardt did inquire as to whether the police “have an obligation to the people” that would “trump your feelings toward Beyonce,” she buried it under the false premise that Beyonce is against the police. The larger point is that the police do indeed have an obligation to the people. The security services that they provide are not just for the safety of the artist, but also the rest of the community. Their service ought to blind to politics and driven by a commitment to the ethical codes of conduct of their profession and their sense of duty.
Officers should not have the ability to veto an assignment based on their political prejudices. You never see them refusing to provide security during a KKK rally, so why should they be able to put an artist and the community at risk simply because they disagree with a perceived political opinion? Aren’t they validating their critics? And more importantly, what does it say about those who refuse to serve?
The outrage meter is once again spinning off the dial at the Fox News community website, Fox Nation. This time they are fretting over the threat to traditional American values caused by a TV commercial for Campbell’s Soup (video below).
The objection to the fearsome soup advertisement was that the people featured enjoying a hot bowl of Campbell’s goodness were a gay family with two fathers and their young son. They sat at the dinner table mimicking Darth Vader’s famous line, “I am your father,” as they fed the boy. Most people would find it a heartwarming presentation of family life in an American home.
However, the Fox Nationalists considered the ad an abomination and posted a link to a right-wing website that accused Campbell’s Soup of “Pushing [A] Gay Agenda.” Because obviously, just showing a gay family is a provocative act that will result in hapless saps being indoctrinated into a deviant lifestyle against their will. Think of all the marriages that will be dissolved after watching this ad. And what about the damage done to the wholesome reputations of both Campbell’s and Star Wars?
The comments of the Fox Nationalists are at once horrifyingly bigoted and endlessly comical. The ad, they say, makes them ill, and promotes an unnatural, anti-God culture. They pledge to never buy Campbell’s soup again, switching to Progressive (which is actually Progresso, but still too close to sounding socialist). They are convinced that the ad (which I doubt any of them have seen on TV unless they’re watching the LogoTV network on cable) will destroy the Campbell’s Soup Company because America cannot abide such tolerance for diversity, which is evident by their rejection of television programs like Modern Family (the #8 ranked show among viewers 18-49).
This isn’t the first time that such an insidious threat has been forced on the American public by dastardly marketing villains who seek to shove multiculturalism down the nation’s throat. Last year they went berserk over an allegedly controversial Cheerios commercial that featured a bi-racial family with an adorable mixed-race daughter. And they also lost their lunch when Coca-Cola produced an ad for the Superbowl that featured a variety of people from different ethnic and national backgrounds singing “America the Beautiful.” What could be uglier?
The inbred prejudices of the rightist Fox News audience are fairly predictable. They simply hate anyone that doesn’t conform to their narrow definition of a traditional, conservative, white, Christian, American. Unfortunately for them, that definition is outdated and irrelevant in the twenty-first century. And one of the best demonstrations of how detached they are from reality is the treatment this issue got by Stephen Colbert, whose commentary was devastating and includes the Campbell’s ad in full.
Andy Hallinan is the owner of a gun store in Florida who has had enough of the senseless violence that his products cause. Well, that is if said violence is committed by a devotee of a specific religion – in this case Islam – to which he is virulently opposed. His solution to the problem is to deny service to all Muslims.
Announcing the implementation of this flagrantly biased policy, Hallinan posted a video on YouTube (see below) that reeks of both bigotry and ignorance in painfully huge doses. Not surprisingly, Fox News promoted this revolting diatribe on their Fox Nation website. Hallinan begins by warning his fellow fear-infected viewers that…
“We’re in a battle, patriots. The leaders of the country want you to believe that this [Confederate] flag represents white supremacy, hatred, and intolerance. That’s not true.”
Hallinan then delivers an abbreviated remedial history of the flag that ignores the contemporary embrace of it by openly racist people and organizations, including the KKK and white supremacists. He entirely leaves out the fact that the flag had virtually disappeared from public display for nearly a century after the Civil War until it was removed from mothballs as the banner of southern segregationists in the 1950’s and 1960’s. [Side note: Hallinan also seems not to have noticed that, in his hasty patriotic zeal, he hung his flag upside-down (notice the stars)]
He goes on to whitewash the flag’s symbolism as representing “nothing but the rich heritage of the South and the willingness of patriots to stand up against tyranny of all sorts.” By that he must mean the rich heritage of slavery and standing up against the tyrants who fought against it under the flag of the United States of America.
After insisting that he is not a racist, Hallinan asserted that “Racism was on the decline in America until Obama took office.” Perhaps he missed the obvious subtext of his own statement, which is that the emergence of the country’s first African-American president brought out the racist cockroaches who had slithered under the floorboards as advancements in civil rights made it more difficult for them to showcase their hatred in public.
Then this “not-racist patriot” inserted video clips of civil disturbances in Baltimore to shore up his claim that he isn’t racist by presenting images of African-Americans engaged in riots following the tragic and unexplained death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. Hallinan never brought up the reasons for the protests, nor did he show the vast majority of protesters who were peaceful. Clearly his intent was to leave a decidedly negative impression of the protesters. And he wasn’t through yet.
“Our leaders are telling you that the cross is a symbol of intolerance and hatred, bigotry, anti-homosexuality. Don’t believe their lies. Our leaders are telling you that Islam is a peaceful religion, full of tolerance and love and hope. Don’t believe their lies.”
I wonder which leaders he is referring to that are making those charges against the cross. He doesn’t say. But he does reveal more of his rancid prejudice with his ridiculous and contemptuous perception of Islam. Hallinan then warned his viewers that they are in “a battle with extreme political correctness that threatens our lives.” Who knew that political correctness could be a mortal foe?
This is when Hallinan got to the meat of his presentation. Saying that he “will not train and arm those who wish to do harm to my fellow patriots,” he declared his store a “Muslim-Free” zone. That course of action is so patently idiotic that it is hard to know where to begin. So let’s start with the fact that he is violating the Constitution by discriminating against people on the basis of their religion. Apparently the patriotism that he espouses so freely is conditional when it comes to equal protection of the law.
What’s more, this moron doesn’t explain how he is going to determine the religion of his customers in order to discriminate against them. Maybe he only intends to discriminate against Muslims who look Middle-Eastern. But then he will likely also be denying service to brown-skinned folks who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jews, and even other Christians. Maybe he could use beards as an indicator. But then he would have to send away ZZ Top and the Duck Dynasty family. And of course, any European Muslims like the Tsarnaev brothers who bombed the Boston marathon would escape detection entirely.
Perhaps even more absurd is the fact that Hallinan is violating the favorite Amendment in the Bill of Rights for right-wing nut cases like himself. The Second Amendment says nothing about permitting the infringement of the right to keep and bear arms from people associated with a particular religion. Although it does include a qualification for “well regulated Militias,” which they generally like to ignore. In Hallinan’s perverted view, law abiding and patriotic American Muslims have no right to protect themselves or their families with firearms. Apparently Hallinan is unaware that the most frequent target of Islamic extremists like ISIS is other Muslims. And never mind the fact that many Muslims are currently serving with distinction in the U.S. military. Many have even given their lives defending this country.
Just for the record, Hallinan doesn’t seem to have any problem with selling guns to domestic abusers, rapists, drug traffickers, car-jackers, bank robbers, serial killers, suicides, or right-wing domestic terrorists. At least he doesn’t have a policy addressing any of those. And they occur with a far greater frequency than any Muslim violence. In fact, the sort of guns that he sells are responsible for about 30,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.
It is always somewhat depressing to stumble upon the sort of deranged idiocy that people like Hallinan represent. And unfortunately, there are way too many like him. They are the core audience of Fox News. They are the listeners of Glenn Beck. They are the disciples of evangelical hucksters like Pat Robertson. And they are the voters who are currently swarming around their Meathead Messiah, Donald Trump.
Hallinan closes his video screed by proclaiming definitively that Islam is evil and that our government is not to be believed. So apparently he has hostility for both in equal measures. Yet he still considers himself a patriot. The final frame of the video tells his frightened viewers to “Get armed. Get trained. Carry daily.” But of course he only means that if you are recognizably not Muslim, because Hallinan will not do business with you if you are.
The Supreme Court ruling that same-sex marriage must be recognized as legal in all fifty states has set off a right-wing, evangelical hysteria complete with warnings of civil war, natural disasters, and a general descent into the End Times. Anti-gay extremists have declared what amounts to a Teabagger Apocalypse.
Republican presidential candidates are vowing to ignore the Court’s ruling. They insist that it is unconstitutional, proving that they have no idea what “constitutional” means. They continue to press their religious argument that the United States should adhere to the principles of faith that they hold, rather than honoring America’s religious freedom. They are convinced that this decision will result in their arrest and incarceration, which the decision explicitly forbids.
Christianist activists go even further to assert that America has now gone past the point of no return. They say that God will smite our nation and its people for permitting the freedom to love one another in the way that nature made them. They believe that Christians will be subject to a horror worse than the Holocaust.
The question that none of them can answer is: Why is God so upset about marriage equality when he seems to have let other atrocities go by unpunished? If God were going to destroy America why didn’t he do it when we enslaved, brutalized, and murdered thousands of his children shipped over from Africa? Why didn’t he smite our young nation as it marched westward slaughtering the native inhabitants along the way? Why didn’t God get mad when we murdered hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians with nuclear bombs? Even from the Christianist perspective, how could God let America survive after legalizing abortion, which they believe is child murder? Apparently their God is tolerant of dead babies, but the thought of two consenting adults committing themselves to one another for life is deserving of total annihilation. (Or maybe God just has a more rational view with regard to when life begins).
In addition, God has also given immunity to Germany, which continues to thrive despite their abhorrent past; and Russia, the nation led by Stalin whose regime killed millions; and Mao’s China. And today he lets ISIS march through the Middle East leaving untold corpses and misery it its path. If God is judging us humans, and punishing us when we do wrong, what the hell is he waiting for?
The Christian extremists can’t answer that question. They can’t explain why God is itching to turn America to dust, but doesn’t seem to care much about Syria. They just continue to spew their foreboding messages of doom based on nothing but their imaginary fears and whatever they believe will fill the collection plate. That’s why they are now settling on marriage equality as history’s greatest abomination when there is no logic or reason to support such a claim.
In the conservative media there is a rush to idiocy, as Fox News wonders whether people will now be allowed to marry in groups, or to marry their pets, or to engage in pedophilia or incest. Glenn Beck is worried that this decision will result in him being thrown off of radio by Feds who he thinks can now regulate speech. Others vow to defy the law and, if necessary, resort to revolution.
Reminder: We’re talking about the legal status of a state of cohabitation, not killing babies, gassing Jews, or owning human beings. What kind of God do these people believe in who regards the definition of marriage as worthy of eternal damnation, but not those other atrocities? And what are they so worried about anyway? Isn’t Armageddon the final stage of man’s tribulations on Earth, after which the righteous rise to Heaven to sit at God’s side in paradise for eternity? Don’t they want that to happen, the sooner the better?
Given the absurdity of their thought processes, you have to wonder why anyone is taking them seriously. They can’t justify their outrage. They can’t even make sense of their own beliefs. If there is a judgmental God who values intelligence and reason, then the human race may actually have something to worry about.
[Addendum:] Much of the discourse that has developed in comments is focused on the question of whether the Bible or Jesus condemns, or even mentions homosexuality. That’s an interesting question, but it is not the one posed in this article. Near the beginning of the article the question is asked: “Why is God so upset about marriage equality when he seems to have let other atrocities go by unpunished?” And none of those posting their interpretations of scripture regarding the Bible’s stance on being gay answers that. Even if we were to accept the position that being gay is a sin, it still doesn’t explain why God would destroy America and its 360 million residents because a law honoring religious freedom (which is a founding principle of the country) is upheld by the high court to protect a minority of the population, when far worse atrocities went unpunished. Clearly the ultra-pious among us are feverishly struggling to find an argument that makes them feel comfortable holding a position that is patently irrational, even if it’s an argument that has nothing to do with topic at hand.
The ever-increasing hostility that has become the hallmark of cable news programming was ramped up this week by the undisputed heavyweight champion of rancorous hyperbole, Fox News.
The debate over Indiana’s new “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” set the scene for a bruising battle that ultimately escalated to a point that most partisans would regard as out of bounds. The legislation allows businesses to openly engage in bigotry against gays or any other party not afforded protected status under the law. Under federal law those parties include race, color, religion, creed, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, military or veteran status, age and disability (See clarification in comments below). The reasons these groups are included is that they have been victims of systemic discrimination, which the law endeavors to remedy.
However, the state of Indiana’s list of groups protected from discrimination is not as comprehensive and notably does not include sexual orientation. Consequently, it opens the door to legal prejudice. A battle royale on this subject took place Friday on Fox’s Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, where right-wing radio talker Mike Gallagher went for the knockout punch by asking “Would we force a Jewish sign maker to make swastikas?”
So Fox News is now comparing gays to Nazis. And who would ever object to a business owner wanting to be able to deny service to a such a reprehensible piece of human scum. The Nazi, that is. But the takeaway from the comparison is that a proprietor would be within his rights to have the same view of doing business with a gay patron.
This is wrong on so many levels. Let’s set aside the unfortunate fact that many bigots actually do hate gays and want no part of their business. It’s the legal aspect of this argument that is absurd. Gays are protected from discrimination in federal law, and businesses have obligations when they are licensed to provide services to the public. This debate should have been settled decades ago when it was decided that bigots could not refuse to let customers in a restaurant sit at their counters.
Nazis, on the other hand, have no such protection under the law and thus, no Jewish (or any other) establishment would be required to provide services to them. So the comparison is not only offensive, it is legally without merit. It is only raised by weasels who cannot form coherent arguments to support their advocacy of prejudice. Alan Colmes made a valiant effort to rebut Gallagher’s pro-hate tirade, but Fox makes the rules on their network so Carlson gets to tamp down reason with lies about there being other similar laws already on the record. (They are not similar and not nearly as broad).
This is just another example of how low conservatives will sink to protect what they regard as their right to be bigots. They shamelessly exploit emotionally unsettling scenarios that have no actual relevance to the subject. This not only taints the debate at hand, it insults and trivializes those who were victimized by the Nazis and are still being targeted by their modern day descendants. And leave it to Fox News to bring it all to us in heap of vitriolic acrimony while leaving out any relevant context.
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.