Saturday, July 21, 2007

Normalizing white supremacy

-- by Dave

Something kept popping up while I was researching Bill O'Reilly's remarks comparing DailyKos to the Klan and neo-Nazis. It was kind of a repeating theme, the kind of note that keeps popping up enough to create a pattern -- in this case, a very telling one.

While I was cruising through far-right racist websites -- something I do with some regularity anyway -- I kept running across a familiar theme: white male Christians are under siege, an "endangered species," and "white culture" is likewise on the brink of vanishing in a swamp of brown people.

Even though we've been hearing this pap from the white-supremacist right for lo these many decades now (really, this meme dates back to the early 20th century), and it has been a standard plaint of neo-Nazi and Klan websites for most of their existence, there was a reason it kept popping up on my radar: I was looking for material relating to Bill O'Reilly.

And it is a familiar claim because it's one we heard not too long ago from O'Reilly himself:
Bill O'Reilly: But do you understand what the New York Times wants, and the far-left want? They want to break down the white, Christian, male power structure, which you're a part, and so am I, and they want to bring in millions of foreign nationals to basically break down the structure that we have. In that regard, Pat Buchanan is right.

O'Reilly, in fact, is one of the major media figures responsible for whitewashing the reality that Buchanan's recent work has finally tipped the scales into outirght white supremacist extremism. O'Reilly, in fact, had previously hosted Buchanan in 2005, an interview in which they discussed Buchanan's "Decline of the West" thesis.

Indeed, as Media Matters has observed, the decline of white male dominance is a frequent concern of O'Reilly's:
-- On the May 16, 2006, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly claimed that The New York Times and "many far-left thinkers believe the white power structure that controls America is bad, so a drastic change is needed." O'Reilly continued: "According to the lefty zealots, the white Christians who hold power must be swept out by a new multicultural tide, a rainbow coalition, if you will." O'Reilly's comments came during a discussion of opposition by the Times and others to deploying the National Guard to help secure the border.

-- On the May 1, 2006, edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor, O'Reilly alleged that the "organizers" of nationwide pro-immigrant protests had a "hardcore militant agenda of 'You stole our land, you bad gringos,' " and that the protest organizers were seeking to "take it back by massive, massive migration into the Southwest.' "

-- On the April 12, 2006, broadcast of his radio show, O'Reilly claimed that on the April 11 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, guest Charles Barron, a New York City councilman, had revealed the "hidden agenda" behind the current immigration debate. O'Reilly told his listeners: "[T]he bottom line is Charles Barron said last night is there is a movement in this country to wipe out 'white privilege' and to have the browning of America." O'Reilly suggested that this "hidden agenda" included plans to let "people who live in the Caribbean, people who live in Africa and Asia ... walk in and become citizens immediately."

From the May 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: Reluctantly, and I mean reluctantly, "Talking Points" is going to support this legislation. It's the best we can get and does improve the situation. But make no mistake, it's not fair. It drastically alters the United States of America. And there will be unintended consequences all over the place.

The new census report says America's now one-third minority. And in four states -- California, New Mexico, Texas, and Hawaii -- whites are the minority. So with the infusion of as many as 20 to 30 million new citizens in the next 10 years, the landscape of America will absolutely change.

Compare all this, if you will, with the kind of rhetoric you can find at Klan sites like the Knights' Party [warning: racist site], which opens its official platform with the following as its top items:
The recognition that America was founded as a Christian nation.

As James Madison, known as the "Chief Architect of the Constitution" stated; " We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves to control ourselves to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God."

The recognition that America was founded as a White nation.

America was born as an extension of White European heritage. Those who formed the very ideals that we cherish such as freedom of speech, trial by jury, innocent until proven guilty, free enterprise, etc. were of White European heritage. All of the early laws of the United States from its very inception restricted citizenship to White people and all of the early charters, laws, compacts, etc were signed into effect by White people.

This particular site is hardly alone in voicing these beliefs as being among the most important sources of their political involvement. Visit Stormfront, or the National Socialist Movement site, or David Duke's website, and you'll not only be able to find similar statements, you'll discover that they are prominent and pervasive throughout the sites.

None of these sites (except the commenters at Stormfront) cite O'Reilly in these rants; he is only occasionally a source for them on this. Rather, it's evident that he is channeling them. What O'Reilly provides for them is confirmation of the self-evident truth of their core beliefs -- as well as encouragement that their message is spreading and being adopted by more and more Americans.

Now, O'Reilly has on various occasions attempted to make clear he is not on the side of white supremacists, particularly the anti-Semitic types that populate the Klan and neo-Nazi organizations -- O'Reilly being an outspoken defender of Israel. And there is no real evidence that he sympathizes with the kind of naked bigotry that is the essence of hate groups.

Yet there is no question that O'Reilly has nonetheless appropriated -- almost certainly from secondary sources like Buchanan, who in fact cites extremist sources in his published work -- the longtime core message of white supremacists and transmitted it, stripped of the obvious bigotry but still containing the core idea, to his broadcast audience of millions.

As one of my regular commenters, s9, observes in the comments to the previous post:
It's obvious what Billo is doing: exaggerating the threat of extremism among mainstream liberals while simultaneously communicating the extremism of the racist far right in comfortable terms for mainstream conservatives. What explains this behavior? That's what I think it's important to note.

The reason Billo is exaggerating the threat of extremism among mainstream liberals is that he's agitating, softening the ground in advance, for an extremist backlash against the "secular-progressives" that he (and people like our own Whiteman) hate so much.

It isn't just Billo doing this, of course. Guys like Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin have started cranking up the rhetoric lately too. It's clear they're all looking forward to having the opportunity to take out their frustrations in a decentralized campaign of discrimination against 'liberals' in the aftermath of the next major mass-casualty terrorist attack in the U.S.

This strikes me as precisely right. Blaming "secular progressives" for everything amiss with America has been a long-running O'Reilly theme -- they are, after all, the Enemy in his self-proclaimed Culture War. Recall that interview with Buchanan two years ago:
O'REILLY: All right. Now, the secular progressives who were at the forefront of promoting this kind of behavior -- and I'm going to ask you why in a minute -- will point to the declining pregnancy rate among teens. It's going down. Crime rate's going down. Education scores are going up.

And they're going to say, "Hey, we can digest this kind of stuff, and it's not going to have a pernicious effect on our society." How do you answer that with the stats?

BUCHANAN: Well, take a look at the stats. You have something like more than two thirds of all African-American children are born out of wedlock. It was only eight percent in the 1940s. Something like a third of white children and 40 percent of Hispanics or maybe 50 percent. And you've got all these attendant social problems.

Now I'm not saying we lose every battle. You know, the battle of gay marriage, you win it at the ballot box. But the idea you'd be talking about homosexual marriages -- in the 1950s nobody would believe it.

So I think what is happening is there's no doubt that the left is making tremendous progress. We win some battles, but I believe we're losing the war.

O'REILLY: Now, the vanguard, the panzers of the left, are the press, the elite media, The New York Times, L.A. Times, L.A. Times column by this nut -- what's his name? -- Robert Scheer -- attacks the Catholic Church for opposing gay marriage and saying the pope is an awful guy. And they're all a bunch of hypocrites.

I've never figured out why The New York Times and The L.A. Times or even network news, which doesn't actively promote secular progressivism but certainly is comfortable with it, why they want to change the society in that direction. Do you know why they do?

BUCHANAN: Well, do I know exactly why? I'm not exactly sure, but I can tell you this.

The elites, you mentioned the media elites. But you take the culture elites in Hollywood and New York. You take the academic elites. All of them have been converted to what we used to call the counterculture in the 1960s.

This is all-too-familiar far-right scapegoating -- commies, brown people, liberals. It's not just O'Reilly: Limbaugh, Savage, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, and dozens of lesser right-wing lights have all been indulging eliminationist rhetoric directed at these targets for some time now.

And that, folks, is hate. O'Reilly isn't just fantasizing and distorting and misinforming the public when he accuses DailyKos of hatemongering -- he's projecting.

After all, it's clear: When it comes to the ideas you find at Klan and neo-Nazi sites, the person most "just like" them is Bill O'Reilly himself.

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