Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Enabling extremists

MSNBC has just demonstrated that it didn't need to have Michael Savage anchoring one of its shows in order to play the approving host to right-wing extremism.

On Tuesday's Joe Scarborough show, national audiences were treated to a good ol' fashioned anti-immigrant hatefest, replete with standup performances by Pat Buchanan and a famous white supremacist named Jared Taylor.

The topic was whether it was time to clamp down on immigration in order to prevent the white majority population from being overwhelmed into permanent minority status. There were token liberals on the program, but they were given the usual liberal treatment -- allowed to speak once briefly before being rudely interrupted, and thenceforth allowed only to shout occasional potshots from the sidelines. Buchanan, Taylor and NewsMax's James Hirsen, with Scarborough busily enabling them, largely dominated the affair. You can read the transcript for yourself.

The most interesting aspect of this is the inclusion of Jared Taylor, as well as his treatment. Some background: Jared Taylor is one of the leading lights in what is known generically as the "academic" wing of the white-supremacist movement. His magazine, American Renaissance, is one of the leading publications in this field. It is also designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of its certified hate organizations (it's under the Oakton, Virginia, listing).

In fact, the most recent SPLC Intelligence Report listed Taylor as one of its "40 to Watch," compendium of the people likely to be at the forefront of right-wing extremism in the next few years:
In his personal bearing and tone, Jared Taylor projects himself as a courtly presenter of ideas that most would describe as crudely white supremacist -- a kind of modern-day version of the refined but racist colonialist of old.

And indeed, that is the stock-in-trade preferred by Taylor, who carefully avoids epithets, writes in language that approximates that of academia, and generally seeks to put a rational and well-argued face on anti-black racism.

Taylor is a Yale graduate who worked for 17 years in Japan, is fluent in that language, and greatly admires his former hosts. The reason for that admiration is instructive -- the Japanese, Taylor told British journalist Nick Ryan, "think with their blood, not their passport."

Taylor entered the active racist scene in 1990, when he began publishing American Renaissance, a magazine that focuses on alleged links between race and intelligence, and on eugenics, the now discredited "science" of breeding better humans.

"Never in the history of the world has a dominant people thrown open the gates to strangers, and poured its wealth out to aliens," Taylor wrote in his magazine, under the pseudonym Thomas Jackson, in 1991. "All healthy people prefer the company of their own kind." Blacks, Taylor writes, are "crime-prone," "dissipated," "pathological" and "deviant."

Taylor, whose 1992 Paved With Good Intentions: The Failure of Race Relations in Contemporary America makes similar points in a book format, went one further in 1993, speaking at a conference of the racist Council of Conservative Citizens*. (Today, Taylor's New Century Foundation*, which publishes American Renaissance, is intimately related to the council through "common membership, governing bodies, trustees and officers," according to the foundation's tax forms.)

In the late 1990s, he came out with The Color of Crime, a booklet that tries to use crime statistics so as to "prove" that blacks are far more criminally prone than whites. That racist booklet is now a staple of white supremacists like former Klansman David Duke.

One thing that separates Taylor from much of the radical right, however, is his lack of anti-Semitism; he told MSNBC-TV interviewer Phil Donahue in 2003 that Jews "are fine by me" and "look white to me." That view may be related to his wife, who some in the movement have said is Jewish.

Evelyn Rich became well known because of her 1985 and 1986 interviews of Duke, conducted as part of her dissertation research, and was perceived by many as an anti-racist. (The recorded interviews, in Tulane University's archives, were used by anti-Duke forces to make radio ads attacking Duke during his run for Louisiana governor in 1991.) As a result, Taylor's marriage to Rich has shocked many of those who know about it.

Today, Jared Taylor's conferences are well-attended, suit-and-tie affairs that reflect his international reach. In 2002, speakers included Nick Griffin, leader of the neofascist British National Party, and Bruno Gollnisch, who was then second in command of Jean Marie Le Pen's immigrant-bashing National Front in France.

The ADL's report is equally unsparing:
The stated purpose of the journal was to create "a literate, undeceived journal of race, immigration and the decline of civility." AR held that "for a nation to be a nation -- and not just a crowd -- it must consist of people that share the same culture, language, history and aspirations." Under Taylor's stewardship AR has largely skirted overt racism and stereotypes; its authors use apparently scientific, sociological and philosophical arguments to demonstrate the purported superiority of the white race and the threat nonwhite minorities pose to American society. It has tried, in other words, to make racism appear to be entirely reasonable. Contributors make considerable use of facts and statistics derived from reputable sources, but use them out of context or extrapolate exaggerated conclusions; their articles emphasize information that supports racist positions while ignoring or downplaying information that does not. To buttress their "proofs," Taylor and his colleagues expound on the shared ethnic and racial heritage to which they attribute all of the nation's achievements. Social problems are inevitably attributed to the weakening of this racial heritage by intermarriage.

The emphasis AR places on clear and hierarchical divisions of races leads the publication to bizarre and even grotesque interpretations of history. In August 1992, for instance, AR published an interview with University of California Professor Arthur Jensen -- referred to by the journal as a "pioneer" and "the world's best-known scholar in the field of racial differences in intelligence."1 Jensen attempted to explain why eugenics has fallen out of favor.

Jensen: I think that World War II was really the main turning point in this... revulsion against the Nazi Holocaust. People pointed to that as an example of what would happen if we recognized our differences. Of course it's very inapplicable really, because the group that was persecuted there was the group that was doing very well in Germany and around the world.

AR: It's my understanding that in fact there's no record that Hitler even said that Jews were inferior anyway.

Jensen: That's right, yes. They had other reasons for their views. But this [the Holocaust] was still given as an example of the result of making racial or ethnic distinctions between groups.

Oddly enough, not a scintilla of this background was made available to any of Scarborough's viewers. As far as anyone watching the program knew, Taylor was an ordinary mainstream white guy from an acceptable conservative magazine. Especially since he had Pat Buchanan firmly in his corner.

At one point in the program, Taylor even offered a defense against the charge that he was racist:
I have been called a racist twice already, so I would like to respond to that.

What these people are, in effect, saying is that white people do not have a right to be a majority in their own country, whereas, in both of their countries, in Mexico and wherever in the Middle East you have come, Mr. Hamud, you have a majority and you would be furious if people were coming into your country, demographically and culturally changing it.


TAYLOR: You are setting up double standards and accusing me of racism, whereas I simply wish to preserve the country of my ancestors. And there is absolutely nothing wrong of that.

Anyone familiar with either David Duke or the white supremacists in the neo-Confederate movement is all too familiar with this tactic, hiding behind the skirts of legitimate heritage interests in the name of exclusionist and racist policies. But then, that too was the theme of Buchanan's own The Death of the West, which was little more than a repackaging of key portions of David Duke's My Awakening. In fact, Buchanan's thesis -- that "white" American culture is in danger of being overwhelmed by brown people -- had been the centerpiece of Duke's organization between 1992-96.

But you would never know any of this from watching Scarborough's show.

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