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.
The Nazi-baiting doctor currently on leave from Fox News, Ben Carson, who thinks that ObamaCare is “the worst thing since slavery,” has stepped in another pile of bull manure on his way to the Republican primary for president of the United States.
Carson was interviewed by wingnut schlock-jock Steve Deace this week and was asked about his position on the recent court rulings overturning bans on same-sex marriage. His answer demonstrated a pitifully weak grasp of the Constitution and marks him as just another ignorant Teabagger spewing falsehoods and animosity toward those with whom he disagrees.
The issue that got Carson riled up was the spate of court rulings, many by Republican-appointed judges, affirming the right to marry without regard to sexual orientation. He began by praising the state referendums that explicitly imposed legal barriers to marriage for those of the same sex. According to Carson, such referendums should take precedence over liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. Presumably that would apply to states banning marriage between people of different races. But then he goes even further, advocating federal tyranny over the independent judiciary:
“Thirty-two states have indicated that marriage is between a man and a woman, and a few judges have come and overturned that. That, as far as I’m concerned, is unconstitutional, and Congress actually has oversight of all what they call the inferior courts, everything below the Supreme Court, and that’s where those overturns have come. And when judges do not carry out their duties in an appropriate way, our Congress actually has the right to reprimand or remove them.”
First of all, Carson’s assertion that it is unconstitutional for judges to overturn laws that they conclude violate the Constitution is pitifully stupid. Validating the constitutionality of legislation is a core function of the judiciary. This guy may have scored high marks in medical school, but he clearly knows nothing about law.
Secondly, Carson’s eagerness to appoint the Congress as overseers of the judiciary is both wrong and dangerous. This country was established with three separate branches of government and the Founders never intended for Congress to be able to “reprimand or remove” judges for anything less than a serious breach of ethics. Congress has no authority to impeach a judge because they don’t agree with his opinions.
To date, twenty-five states have had same-sex marriage bans overturned in the courts. That suggests a fairly mainstream school of legal opinion on the subject. Consequently, it would impossible to argue that all of those judges were guilty of some sort of ethical breach in arriving at their decisions. The Supreme Court just agreed to hear a case on the matter later this year.
The risk in Carson’s position is that it would would put every judge in legal jeopardy every time they issued a ruling that was adverse to some politician’s bigotry. On a policy level it is an unconstitutional intrusion on the independence of the judiciary. But on a personal level it reveals Carson’s ugly prejudices and a desire to oppress people who don’t adhere to his religious doctrine. And the Tea Party fruitcakes think this guy would make a good president?
Ever since the civil rights movement began in the United States, white politicians and pundits have arrogantly imposed their judgment on the legitimacy of the advocates and activists fighting on behalf of African-Americans. Whether it was Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Huey Newton, Jesse Jackson, Medgar Evers, Nelson Mandela, Al Sharpton, they hated them all. There were concerted efforts to discredit them and to limit their influence.
Suffice to say that conservative bigots will never be satisfied with any spokesman for racial equality. And the ones they hate most will be the ones who are most effective. It is therefore necessary, from their perspective, to belittle not just individuals, but entire movements.
Case in point: This week Bill O’Reilly sought to generously bestow his wise council on the naive and misled protesters filling the streets after the tragic killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri and New York. According to O’Reilly these anguished citizens were nothing but dupes to an orchestrated cabal of self-serving social disruptors. His Talking Points segment was titled “Who is organizing the racial protests breaking out across America?” And who would be better qualified to answer that question than Bill O’Reilly?
In short, O’Reilly deprecated the protesters as “a group of professional agitators who use social media to organize street confrontations.” He asserted that the marchers were plants controlled by a few rabble-rousers with fanciful names like “This Stops Today,”“Hoodies for Justice,” and “Communities United for Police Reform.”
O’Reilly: The demonstrations you are seeing are not – ARE NOT – spontaneous dissent from regular folks. Rather they are well-planned disruptions from professional anti-establishment provocateurs. […] As soon as the Garner grand jury decision was announced social media messages were blasted instantly with hashtags like #ICantBreathe and #BlackLivesMatter.
There you have it. The fact that people began to quickly communicate their displeasure at having seen an obvious miscarriage of justice is proof that the whole endeavor was a fraud. It is impossible for “regular folk” to express themselves and join like-minded people in public demonstrations of anger and grief. So obviously it was orchestrated by alliances of evildoers who, as O’Reilly said, were “designed to create chaos.”
If it weren’t enough for O’Reilly to smear the protesters with malicious intentions, he invented straw man allegations that he could righteously shoot down. For instance, he said that “The claim that American police are hunting down young black men is a lie.” Of course it is. But it is only O’Reilly who ever made that claim. No one protesting the recent killings by police officers ever suggested that their victims were hunted down. The problem is that the victims’ rights were ignored, as was the administration of justice following the tragic events. Nevertheless, O’Reilly went on to slander the protesters as being the stooges for outside agitators.
O’Reilly: The Factor has learned that the SEIU labor union is deeply involved in the protests, as are a number of other groups funded by the shadowy radical George Soros.
O’Reilly never explains how he learned of these nefarious associations or offered any proof of it. In all likelihood he just assumed that two of his favorite targets for derision were responsible because, well, why not? In O’Reilly’s view American workers are always trying to destroy the country, and Soros is behind every evil, progressive occurrence in the world anyway.
In the course of his lecture, O’Reilly engaged in the dissemination of falsehoods that has become his hallmark. He backed up his contention that the police are innocent victims of scandalous attacks by citing faulty data about the shooting deaths of blacks and whites by police. However, his allegatins were soundly refuted by PolitiFact, who examined the issue in detail.
No matter how much he wants it, Bill O’Reilly can never be the authority who decides which civil rights leaders are legitimate. And he cannot be taken seriously when he makes blanket declarations that tens of thousands of people of all races who pour into the streets to protest injustice, are merely pawns of some imaginary conspiracy of anarchists. His arrogance is staining the admirable actions of concerned citizens who seek to make manifest the ideals articulated in the preamble to the United States Constitution: “To form a more perfect Union.” But then, maybe the word “union” threw him and he’s afraid the Founders were working with SEIU and George Soros.
This evening’s news that a New York grand jury could not find cause to indict a police officer, despite having video of him choking the victim, Eric Garner, is calling into question (again) the inadequate and unfair administration of justice as it is applied to African-Americans and other minorities.
This outcome is inexplicable. It is such a shocking miscarriage of justice that even some of the most stalwart conservatives are having trouble coming to terms with it. For starters, Bill O’Reilly said that Garner “did not deserve what happened to him.” And many of his colleagues on Fox News agreed.
Bill O’Reilly: Upon seeing the video that you just saw and hearing Mr. Garner say he could not breathe, I was extremely troubled. I would have loosened my grip.
Charles Krauthammer: From looking at the video, the grand jury’s decision here is totally incomprehensible. It looked as if at least they might have indicted him on something like involuntary manslaughter at the very least … The crime was as petty as they come. He was selling loose cigarettes, which in and of itself is absurd that somebody has to die over that.
Judge Andrew Napolitano: There was ample evidence to indict; and the grand jury made a grievous error by not doing so.
Greta Van Susteren: We don’t do the death penalty for selling cigarettes illegally on the street.
[Just added] Glenn Beck: How this cop did not go to jail and was not held responsible is beyond me.
Garner was strangled by an officer, Daniel Pantaleo, using a chokehold that violates the police department’s guidelines. His offense was selling single cigarettes, a crime on the order of jaywalking. And he cried out several times that he couldn’t breathe. It is absolutely unconscionable that a man can be killed under these circumstances without anyone being held to account by a court of law. The grand jury’s only role is to ascertain whether the evidence supports remanding the case for trial. They do not decide guilt or innocence. But if this video isn’t sufficient evidence to warrant a jury trial, then what on Earth is?
While the right-wing Fox News pundits above were moved to disagree with the grand jury’s decision in the hours following its announcement, a more recognizable Fox narrative eventually began to unfold. It took some time but they figured out ways to blame the victim as a criminal who was resisting arrest and was in poor health to begin with. Simultaneously they exonerated the cop as doing his job by confronting a much larger man and using a “safety belt” hold that doesn’t choke (in complete contrast to the video evidence). Now that’s the Fox News we know.
In the meantime, Republican pols came out of the gate swinging with New York congressman Peter King thanking the grand jury and attributing Garner’s death to his asthma. And the GOP congressman representing the Staten Island district where the death occurred also praised the obviously broken system. Rep. Michael Grimm said that…
“There’s no question that this grand jury had an immensely difficult task before them, but I have full faith that their judgment was fair and reasoned and I applaud DA Donovan for overseeing this case with the utmost integrity.”
It is fair to assume that Grimm’s opinion does not represent many of his constituents. And ironically, Grimm himself is currently under a 20-count indictment for business and campaign violations of law. When a man like Grimm is your defender, while Bill O’Reilly and other Fox News pundits have sympathy for the victim, there is something terribly wrong. Grimm was just reelected last month. Here is Rep. Grimm threatening to throw a reporter off of a balcony:
Every now and then a politician will surprise people by saying something that is manifestly true. However, they often only resort to that strategy when it is also unarguably obvious or they have an absurd explanation for why the truth is what it is.
Sen. Rand Paul (KY-Tea Party) made just such a pronouncement yesterday while on the campaign trail for his Kentucky colleague, Mitch McConnell. The glaringly evident observation that Paul issued was that “The Republican Party brand sucks.”
No, really? Who knew? Well, pretty much everybody except for GOP chair Reince Priebus and most of the cult-bound viewers of Fox News. Notwithstanding all of the media pouncing on President Obama’s low approval rating in recent polls, his 41% looks awfully good compared to the GOP’s ranking down in the low teens. So it’s understandable that Paul would seek to provide a tortured interpretation of reality to explain the public’s distaste for his party. And apparently it’s all the fault of colored folk.
Paul: For 80 years African-Americans have had nothing to do with Republicans. Why? Because of a perception. The problem is the perception that no one in the Republican Party cares.
Indeed there is a perception among African-Americans (and Latinos, and women, and gays, and youth, and seniors, and workers, and the poor) that Republicans don’t care about them. But it is a perception based on political reality. The GOP’s policies have been aimed straight at the heart of Americans who are not wealthy or otherwise privileged. When Republicans oppose raising the minimum wage, and cutting social security, and advocating tax reform that puts more money in the pockets of the rich while incentivizing corporations to send American jobs overseas, there will be a perception resulting from such deliberately harmful legislative practices.
What’s more, if African-Americans have had nothing to do with Republicans for 80 years, it may have something to do with the fact that throughout all of that time the Republicans have tried to suppress them by opposing the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act, and other measures aimed at insuring a more equal society. Even today the GOP has been fiercely fighting to impose obstacles to voting for minorities and other citizens they fear will vote against the GOP. Why on Earth would any of these disenfranchised Americans have a positive perception of Republicans?
Paul, it should be noted, is specifically among those who have advocated for policies harmful to African Americans. In an epic debate with Rachel Maddow he argued his position against parts of the Civil Rights Act, although he later denied he ever took such a position. This disparity is certain to come up again should Paul enter the primary for the GOP nomination for president in 2016, as many expect that he will.
So it is small wonder that the Republican Party brand sucks. It is more surprising that anyone might still hold it in high regard. But for Paul to carry this message as if he were positioned to fix the branding is ludicrous. And the notion that the GOP’s problems are merely related to perceptions, rather than substantive differences with their historical and current platform, is really just another example of why the party is so out of touch.
It was just four months ago that Fox News was covering the “second American revolution” at the ranch of tax-cheat Cliven Bundy. While the network was uniformly supportive of Bundy’s refusal to pay customary grazing fees, it was Sean Hannity who took the lead, featuring Bundy on his program numerous times, heralding him as a hero, and fiercely defending the militia movement’s embrace of armed opposition to law enforcement.
At that time, in the view of Hannity and other conservatives, it was the feds who were overstepping the bounds of decency and behaved like jackbooted thugs. To them it was the manifestation of a dictatorial state trampling on freedom and crushing liberty. Hannity milked the controversy for everything he could squeeze out in regular segments that he called “Government Gone Wild.”
From the right-wing perspective, the government went wild when it responded to a flagrantly delinquent white man in the cattle business who wants to mooch off of federal lands for free. Bundy has a vested interest in this as he owes over a million dollars in fees. Then, when this businessman assembles a posse of armed militia members to confront the tax collector, Hannity and his ilk line up behind the law-breaker and whine about government overreach. Here’s Hannity to Karl Rove:
“Let’s start with the Cliven Bundy situation. All right, maybe he owes grazing fees money. Do you surround his property with snipers and shooters, sharp shooters and tasers and dogs and 200 agents? Is that the way to handle it?”
“No,” says an obedient Rove. After all, it’s just a measly million dollars in grazing fees. And for the record, the federal agents of the Bureau of Land Management did not arm themselves until after they were confronted by Bundy’s militia who swore to kill those who came to enforce the law.
Jump forward to today and it’s the people going wild. The government is now believed to be acting appropriately by shooting an unarmed teenager to death. And his only crime was an allegation (unconfirmed) that he pocketed a few cigars. Then militarized police confront justifiably angry citizens who have no personal stake in the matter other than to insure that justice is brought to bear.
The presence of urban tanks, assault weapons, riot gear, tear gas, and other aggressive means of crowd control, are not considered to be indicative of a government gone wild anymore. Is it because the victim in this case is a poor, black kid, rather than a well-to-do white rancher?