Friday, October 29, 2010

Dangerous Territory

The Republicans are not even in power yet, but this is what we have to look forward to - Intimidation - Threats of Government halts and takeover - Being detained by militia members for being a journalist and asking questions - Getting wrestled to the ground and having your head stomped on for protesting - A whole media outlet spewing racism, homophobic, and Islamophobic hate-speech. A political party that declares it's number one goal is to defeat the President rather than work with him to make America a better place for all Americans during this time of war and economic hardship. This is not the America I want. Why would anyone want that kind of America?

Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, has embraced the sentiment of Rush Limbaugh's hope that President Obama fails. In an interview with Major Garrett (former Fox News White House Correspondent who thought it was a better career move to be in print/ web journalism than work for Fox News), McConnell says: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." Really? Nothing more important to work on, Mitch? How's those wars coming, pal? The economy in good shape, buddy?

Two years of this nonsense from the Republicans! And on top of that, lying to the American people - fooling them into thinking that it's President Obama and the Democrats in Congress that aren't fixing this country. Republicans have voted largely in lock step against the President and against the best interests of all of us by living up to their moniker as the Party-of-No!

But what gets people upset? Juan Williams gets fired from NPR? Who gives a damn? Juan Williams should have known better. All people in the media should know better, especially in the last few months. Helen Thomas found out you can't talk bad about Jews when she got fired for saying they "should get the hell out of Palestine." Rick Sanchez got fired from CNN because he had a bug up his ass from Jon Stewart making fun of him and went on the radio and said: "I'm telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they -- the people in this country who are Jewish -- are an oppressed minority? Yeah." So why shouldn't people in the media be held liable if they make inappropriate comments about other religious groups? This is what Juan Williams, who worked for NPR and Fox News at the time, said on Bill O'Reilly's show:

"I mean, look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

Is this a free speech issue? No! Juan Williams can say what he wants to say but, like everyone else, he represents the company he works for. He made the mistake of thinking that since Fox News was paying him to be on O'Reilly's show, what he had to say didn't matter to NPR. Maybe he does feel the way he feels, but he shouldn't have said it, especially if it was just pandering to Bill O'Reilly and his audience. The real question I have is why Juan Williams feels that way? Perhaps he's been watching Bill O'Reilly's Anti-Muslim network and listening to other Islamophobic hate-speech that's been popular lately. Why would he get nervous?

It's not even an issue that what Juan Williams said was politically incorrect, because it's just incorrect. What does, "identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims" even mean? Their "garb?" Is it their style of dress? Are they carrying the Koran? Because the 9/11 terrorists, the shoe bomber, the underwear bomber, and the Times Square bomber didn't look all that different from anyone else. In fact, they made sure that they blended right in. So, I would think that if Juan Williams did see a person who did 'look Muslim,' my guess is that he should safe, and likely that Muslim would fear Juan Williams just as much. What Juan Williams said was wrong, but lucky for him, it turns out Fox News doesn't feel the same way about Islamophobia that NPR does.

NPR takes a stand and fires Williams and then Fox News hands him a $2 million contract to represent Fox News. Of course, Williams and others take the opportunity to slam NPR. Williams telling the Baltimore Sun: "...there's an emotional disconnect, because the way it feels to me is like I just got fired and I'm not even sure what I did wrong." Well sure, how could you feel like you've done something wrong if, on top of being an ignorant bigot, you are rewarded $2 million? Williams goes on in the interview to proclaim, despite all evidence to the contrary, that Fox News is not racist: "Just consider the idea that Fox allows me the opportunity to sit in for Bill O’Reilly on their No. 1 show. That’s the franchise. That’s the moneymaker. If that show falls in the toilet, it’s bad for the whole lineup. And yet Fox allows a black guy with a Hispanic name to sit in the big chair and host the show." You mean like how it says a lot about the Republican party that they choose Sarah Palin to run for Vice President in 2008! Really? Fox News is not racist?

Does Juan Williams watch Fox News? Or is there that same disconnect where he doesn't think that what they do is wrong? Like his pal, Bill O'Reilly? Bill O'Reilly didn't just say something once to upset the ladies at The View. When he said, "Muslims killed us on 9/11," this was his typical Islamophobic hate-speech that he spews nightly on The Factor. Nearly every night, O'Reilly discusses what he calls 'The Muslim Problem,' where is fond of throwing out zingers like, "the most unattractive women in the world are probably in the Muslim countries," "we can't kill all the Muslims, so we want to win as many hearts and minds of good, moderate Muslims as we can," and his claim that the media "doesn’t target Muslims because they might get their house blown up.”

It's not just Bill O'Reilly on Fox News, either. The next day Brian Kilmeade on the program Fox and Friends defended O'Reilly's statement on The View by saying, "They were outraged that someone was saying that there was a reason there was a certain group of people that attacked us on 9/11. It wasn’t just one person, it was one religion. Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims." Yeah, just like all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. Except NOT all Muslims are terrorists and NOT all terrorists are Muslim while not all racists work for Fox News, but...

Those at Fox News should be held accountable for its part in this wave of Islamophobia hitting the nation. They should be held accountable for filling the heads of troubled Americans, sick and afraid due to economic and social conditions, with this disgusting bigotry. They should be admonished for the network's deplorable, incendiary rhetoric and cowardly behavior by practicing hate-speech and then claiming innocence when those who in the audience turn that hate-speech into hate-crimes. Besides pushing an Anti-Muslim agenda, Bill O'Reilly has blood on his hands over the murder of Dr. George Tiller, a reproductive services provider who performed abortions, whom O'Reilly had spent years enflaming his Anti-Choice audience by referring to Dr. Tiller as "Tiller the Baby Killer." While Bill O'Reilly didn't actually pull the trigger, he certainly did all he could to help ensure it. In July, Byron Williams, an unemployed ex-felon and big fan of Glenn Beck, was influenced to arm himself and drive to the offices of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU, two groups Beck constantly attacks on his radio and television program. After his car was pulled over by police for swerving, it was then that the 45-year-old burst from his car, bullet-proof vest on and guns a blazing, beginning an action movie-like shootout with California police. Later in an interview, Byron Williams told Media Matters that he was influenced to violence by the rantings of Glenn Beck and Mike Savage and that his intention was to "start a revolution."

Juan Williams may not understand it yet, but others at Fox News know exactly what they are doing. Former Fox News employee, Major Garrett, now free to express his view without fear of recrimination said on MSNBC's Morning Joe with Joe Scarborough:

"For a certain amount of marketing points of view, Fox actually wants to keep that polarization. They can say look, we're different. We're dramatically different, you can see how we're different. And if you like that difference you better come over here and you better stay here. That is an embedded part of the marketing that surrounds what happens in the news division at Fox. It's been incredibly successful."

Tell the audience what they want to hear and they'll tune in. If need be, turn up the heat or raise the stakes. If things get out of hand, if someone should be incensed towards violence, then claim ignorance.

Fox News knows what its intent is and it's not reporting the news or truth or facts; it's about making money by pandering to an audience of Right-wingers who fall somewhere in the categories of racist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, Homophobic, xenophobic, Anti-women's rights, anti-gun control, war mongering, oil thirsting, Evolution denying, climate change denying, militia joining, Christian extremists who fear and hate the blacks, the gays, the Muslims, the Jews, the Mexicans, the Commies, the Socialists, the IRS, the Doctors who perform abortions, the women who undergo abortions, the police, the government, the President, and, oh yeah, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid. Do they realize that they are puppets to the corporations? No. Would they care if they did? Maybe. But I'm sure they would find a way to blame Obama.

I'm worried about the elections. I'm worried that the Republicans and the Tea Party crazies will take over government. I'm worried that the little progress we've made these last two years, thanks to Republican obstruction, will be halted and reversed. I'm worried that the Tea Party and Birther movements will waste valuable time in their bullshit attempts at Impeaching our President and demoralizing the American people. I even worried what will happen if the Republicans don't take over Congress. These are people that don't want to compromise. These are people that can't be reasoned with. With everyday that passes, everything I hear from the right makes me think less about them. The things they believe and the things they unabashedly say reminds me of that Department of Homeland Security Report on Rightwing Extremism and how when it came out in April 2009 the Right picked up the slogan "Proud To Be A Right-Wing Extremist" and put it on buttons, t-shirts, and bumper stickers. That DHS Report makes these important points:

"...rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues. The economic downturn and the election of the first African American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalization and recruitment."

"The current economic and political climate has some similarities to the 1990s when rightwing extremism experienced a resurgence fueled largely by an economic recession, criticism about the outsourcing of jobs, and the perceived threat to U.S. power and sovereignty by other foreign powers."

"The high volume of purchases and stockpiling of weapons and ammunition by rightwing extremists in anticipation of restrictions and bans in some parts of the country continue to be a primary concern to law enforcement."

"Rightwing extremists are harnessing this historical election as a recruitment tool. Many rightwing extremists are antagonistic toward the new presidential administration and its perceived stance on a range of issues, including immigration and citizenship, the expansion of social programs to minorities, and restrictions on firearms ownership and use. Rightwing extremists are increasingly galvanized by these concerns and leverage them as drivers for recruitment. From the 2008 election timeframe to the present, rightwing extremists have capitalized on related racial and political prejudices in expanded propaganda campaigns, thereby reaching out to a wider audience of potential sympathizers."

"Historically, domestic rightwing extremists have feared, predicted, and anticipated a cataclysmic economic collapse in the United States. Prominent antigovernment conspiracy theorists have incorporated aspects of an impending economic collapse to intensify fear and paranoia among like-minded individuals and to attract recruits during times of economic uncertainty. Conspiracy theories involving declarations of martial law, impending civil strife or racial conflict, suspension of the U.S. Constitution, and the creation of citizen detention camps often incorporate aspects of a failed economy. Antigovernment conspiracy theories and “end times” prophecies could motivate extremist individuals and groups to stockpile food, ammunition, and weapons. These teachings also have been linked with the radicalization of domestic extremist individuals and groups in the past, such as violent Christian Identity organizations and extremist members of the militia movement."

"Debates over appropriate immigration levels and enforcement policy generally fall within the realm of protected political speech under the First Amendment, but in some cases, anti-immigration or strident pro-enforcement fervor has been directed against specific groups and has the potential to turn violent."

"Fear of Communist regimes and related conspiracy theories characterizing the U.S. Government’s role as either complicit in a foreign invasion or acquiescing as part of a “One World Government” plan inspired extremist members of the militia movement to target government and military facilities in past years."

So, when I hear Republicans and Tea Party Republicans talking about "Second Amendment Remedies" and keeping violence "on the table," I worry. When I hear the potential Speaker of the House, John Boehner, will be campaigning on the behalf of Rich Iott, Ohio Congressional candidate and Nazi reenactor, I worry. When people talk about overthrowing the government and our President, I worry. The elections this week will decide the future of this country and I worry. We are wading into dangerous territory here.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for this well-written piece on a glimpse into what life might be like if the Republicans gain control. It echoes my fears. I'm going to be sharing this article in threads. It needs to be seen everywhere.