Tag Archives: Current Events

What It Takes To Be A Fox News Expert

[UPDATE]: Welcome, Crooks & Liars!

By now you’ve no doubt heard of the Fox News terrorism “expert” who made ludicrous claims about the Muslim population of Britain, in particular that

[…] in London “Muslim religious police” beat “anyone who doesn’t dress according to Muslim, religious Muslim attire”.

and that Birmingham is

a “Muslim-only city” where non-Muslims “don’t go” […]

This of course prompted the hilarious #FoxNewsFacts hashtag on Twitter, which has mocked Fox News and Steve Emerson for days. This is all very cute but Emerson is a far more nefarious figure than merely the buffoon who trusted a bad source. And media coverage of a Twitter hashtag has completely overlooked the bigger story here, which is that Fox News has been promoting a professional hatemonger and, it appears, scam artist.

Four years ago during the Murfreesboro mosque controversy our local fishwrap profiled Emerson, who profits from spreading fear and hate of Muslims (warning, link has one of those obnoxious auto-start video ads which I despise, so you may want to turn the sound off):

Steven Emerson has 3,390,000 reasons to fear Muslims.

That’s how many dollars Emerson’s for-profit company — Washington-based SAE Productions — collected in 2008 for researching alleged ties between American Muslims and overseas terrorism. The payment came from the Investigative Project on Terrorism Foundation, a nonprofit charity Emerson also founded, which solicits money by telling donors they’re in imminent danger from Muslims.

Holy grift, Batman! Emerson founded a tax-exempt organization to solicit donations from the gullible, which are then funneled to his for-profit corporation? How is this not fraud?

Emerson is a leading member of a multimillion-dollar industry of self-proclaimed experts who spread hate toward Muslims in books and movies, on websites and through speaking appearances.

Leaders of the so-called “anti-jihad” movement portray themselves as patriots, defending America against radical Islam. And they’ve found an eager audience in ultra-conservative Christians and mosque opponents in Middle Tennessee. One national consultant testified in an ongoing lawsuit aimed at stopping a new Murfreesboro mosque.

But beyond the rhetoric, Emerson’s organization’s tax-exempt status is facing questions at the same time he’s accusing Muslim groups of tax improprieties.

“Basically, you have a nonprofit acting as a front organization, and all that money going to a for-profit,” said Ken Berger, president of Charity Navigator, a nonprofit watchdog group. “It’s wrong. This is off the charts.”

So, profiting from spreading fear and lies… sounds about right! And the wingnut welfare gravy train rolls on.

You can read a few of Emerson’s other greatest hits here. My favorite?

In 1998, Emerson helped push a story that claimed that a “senior Pakistani weapons scientist who has defected” was saying that “Pakistan was planning nuclear first strike on India” (Observer, 6/28/98). The supposed scientist turned out to be “a former low-level accountant at a company that makes bathroom fixtures” (San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/3/98) and a fraud (USA Today, 7/7/98)–but not before Emerson’s behind-the-scenes promotion of the bogus tale helped push rivals Pakistan and India closer to nuclear war (Extra!, 1-2/99).

This is what passes for an “expert” on Fox News. Why other journalists aren’t seriously offended that this kind of hackery is going on in their midst is beyond me. They’re letting Fox News discredit an entire profession.

4 Comments

Filed under FOX NEWS, media, right-wing hate

The Question Must Be Asked

Gotta wonder if we’d all be Charlie if Islam weren’t in the equation. Hard to tell, of course. But we do have recent history to inform us as we ask the question.

Were we all Unitarians when a gay-hating, right-wing crazy shot up a Unitarian Universalist church in East Tennessee? No, we were not.

Were we all Planned Parenthood when an anti-abortion extremist murdered Dr. George Tiller as he handed out programs at his church? No, we were not. (Indeed, Bill O’Reilly, who ginned up much of the hatred of Dr. Tiller with a string of violent hyperoble, claimed any attempt to blame him for the murder was typical liberal propaganda).

So clearly it’s not the violent act which has spawned this outpouring of support.

And don’t tell me it’s all about free speech, either. No one on the right seemed to notice when Gov. Bill Haslam passed this law back in 2011.

I really think there’s a lot of hypocrisy going on in this discussion of the tragic events in Paris. Maybe we’ll get around to talking about that some day, too.

11 Comments

Filed under Housekeeping

I’m Not Charlie, or, Why Does Everyone Have To Be So Mean?

I don’t believe in censorship. Nor am I calling for censorship. But I don’t understand why we, collectively, don’t ask people to show a little self-censorship when it comes to being offensive, intolerant and bigoted.

Lord knows we expect it of blowhards like Rush Limbaugh when they go on one their racist or sexist tirades.

Lord knows we expect it of all the homophobic preachers and NOM activists who have unleashed a torrent of anti-gay bigotry as marriage equality has spread from state to state.

Lord knows we expect it of ubiquitous purveyors of hate speech like Ann Coulter.

Lord knows we expected it of Bill Hobbs when he published that “Mohammed Blows” cartoon on his blog back in 2006.

But for some reason now that idle threats have turned into a despicable, vile, violent act of murder, suddenly it’s okay? Suddenly we have an obligation to spread the same offensive, anti-Muslim images because, freedom? Seriously?

You want to defend free speech? Then take up the cause of the Al Jazeera journalists jailed in Egypt.

You want to fight terrorism? Then condemn the bombing of the Colorado Springs office of the NAACP two days ago (something which the mainstream media has given little attention to, in light of their “if it bleeds, it leads” SOP.) Get to work fighting the poverty, inequality and injustice (yes, even in France) that breeds these diseases. Republishing cartoons that show Mohammed being sodomized is the lazy way out. Reprinting offensive materials to show you won’t be bullied doesn’t prove you’re free, it shows you haven’t evolved beyond the maturity of a kindergartener.

I don’t get it. I don’t get why we don’t expect better of ourselves and others. If lowering yourself to a level where offending people is your best show of support for victims of violence, if that’s the best way you can stand up for freedom, you’re doing it wrong.

The world needs to grow up and fast, because we’re not going to get many more chances to get it right.

16 Comments

Filed under Current Events, free speech, media, Media, terrorism

What We Do Here In Nashville

Nashville’s chief of police Steve Anderson wrote an incredibly thoughtful response to a critic of the department’s handling of #BlackLivesMatter protests here.

Here in Nashville, protestors were allowed to (briefly) shut down major roadways, including I-24 running through downtown. Here’s how the first night of protests, back in November, went:

Instead of responding with arrests or tear gas, Anderson shut down I-24 to allow the demonstrators to stage their protest safely. As he told reporters during a press conference, it was his duty: “We have to safeguard life, even if people put themselves in some peril.” Anderson further noted that arresting protesters one by one would have taken hours; instead, after about 25 minutes, police reopened the highway, and protesters continued on their way.

[…]

In essence, Nashville’s police department made a decision to treat the protests like a parade, an event at which the law enforcement role is to provide security, not confront danger. Officers even greeted protesters with hot chocolate when they showed up at the police department. When the protesters went off script, taking to the highway unexpectedly, the police response didn’t vary. According to Anderson, a group of ministers showed up the following day, “bright and early, just to tell us how proud they were of what went on last night”—a response that he attributed to the close relationships between the department and community groups.

“In Nashville, if you want to come to a public forum and express your thoughts, even if they’re against the government, you’re going to get your First Amendment protection, and you’re going to be treated fairly by the police officers involved,” Anderson said. “That’s what we do here in Nashville.”

A few folks of a more punitive inclination weren’t happy about that, and Chief Anderson shared an email he received about it, which our local paper has reprinted. The critic wrote that he (or she) raised their children to respect the police, wondered if the MNPD was getting pressure from Mayor Dean to not make arrests, and criticized the response as “putting the department at disharmony from the majority of the citizens.”

After assuring the writer that the department’s response was made without any interference from Mayor Dean, Chief Anderson wrote:

As imperfect humans, we have a tendency to limit our association with other persons to those persons who are most like us. Unfortunately, there is even more of a human tendency to stay within our comfort zone by further narrowing those associations to those persons who share our thoughts and opinions. By doing this we can avoid giving consideration to thoughts and ideas different than our own. This would make us uncomfortable. By considering only the thoughts and ideas we are in agreement with, we stay in our comfort zone. Our own biases get reinforced and reflected back at us leaving no room for any opinion but our own. By doing this, we often convince ourselves that the majority of the world shares opinion and that anyone with another opinion is, obviously, wrong.

In other words, your is not the majority opinion. And then this little nugget:

It is somewhat perplexing when children are injected into the conversation as an attempt to bolster a position or as an attempt to thwart the position of another. While this is not the type of conversation I ordinarily engage in, here are some thoughts you may find useful as you talk with your son.

First, it is laudable that you are teaching your son respect for the police and other authority figures. However, a better lesson might be that it is the government the police serve that should be respected. The police are merely a representative of a government formed by the people for the people—for all people. Being respectful of the government would mean being respectful of all persons, no matter what their views.

Exactly. Because government isn’t a building somewhere, it’s people. Of the people, by the people, for the people.

Thank you, Chief Anderson, for reminding us all of that. Kudos.

4 Comments

Filed under Current Events, Nashville, racism

Rich Lowry: Asshole Of The Day

The editor of the conservative National Review, on Twitter tonight:

RichLowry

This, of course, is in reference to the killing of two New York City police officers today by a crazy person who had earlier in the day shot his girlfriend and ended up shooting and killing himself.

Trying to tarnish an entire national movement by highlighting the horribles words or actions of a few individuals is, of course, a favorite political pastime. It’s not something that legitimate pundits and journalists usually indulge in. But then, National Review has always been known more for demagoguery than reasoned intellectual discourse.

[Update]:

Memory hole, June 2014:

Jerad Miller, 31, then covered the officers with a Gadsden flag — a yellow banner with a coiled snake above the words “Don’t Tread on Me” — and placed a note with a swastika symbol on one officer’s body, according to police officials speaking at the news conference.

Someone remind me: was the Tea Party asked to answer for Jerad and Amanda Miller, who struck down two police officers as they ate pizza on their lunch break?

2 Comments

Filed under conservatives, gun violence, National Review

Set-Up Like A Bowling Pin

It’s obvious Robert McCulloch’s delayed announcement of the grand jury decision was a strategic move designed to shift the national narrative away from the decision itself and toward the reaction to the decision.

Now the national narrative is, “violent black people are rioting in the streets.” When our TV screens are filled with pictures of fires and mobs overturning cars, the media is justifying police brutality. It’s reinforcing the “angry/dangerous/scary black people” stereotype that is to blame for shootings of black teens like Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and Renisha McBride in the first place. Protestors of all races hoping to start a national conversation about police misconduct, militarization of local police forces, the value of African American life, etc. were set up. And they walked right into it.

It’s a damn shame, too. Wouldn’t it have been lovely if instead of the fires and overturned cars and blocked interstates in places like Nashville we had positive, peaceful images of resistance? But that requires discipline, and that comes from leadership. Sadly, it’s something we don’t have — even President Obama’s message seemed lackluster and resigned.

I keep hearing the looters and violent protestors were not from Ferguson, and that may be true. But this wouldn’t be the first time outside agitators came in to discredit a legitimate protest movement. Those who want real change need to take a cue from protest leaders of past generations. None of this is new. We’ve seen it all before: how a media storyline is crafted and manipulated, how outside forces can disrupt, how a powerful television image is used to further an agenda.

Sad. Y’all were set up like bowling pins.

9 Comments

Filed under racism

Welcoming Our Republican Overlords

Take heart, Democrats. Last night was actually good news. Great news, in fact.

For the next two years the Republican Party will once again remind America that they are completely incapable of governing. Any notion the punditry may hold that Republicans will somehow strike a moderate tone (yes, I’ve actually heard that!) will instantly be dashed by the foamy-mouthed Tea Party rabble-rousers proclaiming their mandate. “I’m not going to be ignored, Dan!”

Nope, there will be no controlling Ted Cruz and his ilk (the best assessment of Cruz I’ve ever read comes from Jon Stewart, who observed the Texas senator “appears to have been bitten by a Machiavellian spider. That dude is distilled ambition.” Yup, couldn’t have said it better myself.) We’ll be treated to two years of debt-ceiling-fighting, Obama-impeachment-loving, Obamacare-repeal-wanting, Benghazi-fear-stoking BS. And in 2016, when the electoral map is as favorable to Democrats as it was for the Republicans this election, we’ll be able to not only keep the White House but we’ll also take back the Senate, as a disgusted electorate remembers why they hate Republicans. This time we’ll get a filibuster-proof majority, too.

So, that’s my take on things. Bring it on, Republicans. And maybe, maybe, Democrats will finally learn how to run on their accomplishments, instead of running from them.

Meanwhile, there was a lot of good news out of election night:

• Tough gun control measures easily won in Washington State.

• In Tennessee, voters overwhelmingly approved ballot measures allowing sales of wine in grocery stores. We will need this as we ponder the cognitive dissonance that returned abortion-for-me-but-not-for-thee hypocrite Scott DesJarlais to Washington while at the same time passing the anti-choice Amendment 1 constitutional amendment.

• Minimum wage increases passed in Arkansas, Illinois, South Dakota and Nebraska.

• Personhood amendments failed in Colorado and North Dakota. This is the third time Colorado voters have said no to this crackpot idea, by the way.

So, it wasn’t all bad news. Take heart!

26 Comments

Filed under Election, Republican Party