Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fox's mass leap to label Ft. Hood shootings 'terrorism' is classic ethnic/religious hysteria

-- by Dave

The meme had been brewing for a few days among some of the Fox News guests -- particularly Michelle Malkin -- brought on to talk about the Fort Hood shootings, but it was Bill Sammon, during the broadcast of the memorial for the slain soldiers, who apparently made it official at Fox: The Fort Hood shootings were a terrorist attack -- comparable to 9/11 and Oklahoma City -- by a radical Islamist engaged in Muslim "jihad."

Now, it's not only the conventional wisdom at Fox News, it's one of their major attack points -- they're claiming that because President Obama and the rest of the media aren't adopting their presumptuous and hysterical meme, they're being "soft" on terrorism.

The meme gained momentum when Glenn picked up Sammon's ball and ran with it the next day, declaring: "If you don't call [Hasan] a terrorist, it clears a path for ... an extremist terrorist plan." That night, Sean Hannity explored the question at length with Michelle Malkin, as you can see from the video atop this post.

For Malkin and Hannity, "political correctness" -- which they blame for the military's failure to stop Hasan -- is actually code for "the refusal to engage in ethnic and religious profiling". Because such profiling, it's clear, is what they think the military (and the government generally) should do to prevent future such shootings.

The worst offender, though, has been Bill O'Reilly, who -- as you can see below -- not only harangued Sally Quinn for her reluctance to declare Nidal Hasan a "terrorist," but then devoted his leadoff Talking Points Memo segment last night to chastising the president and the rest of the media for their reluctance to embrace the meme.

This exchange with Quinn was especially revealing:

O'Reilly: But you have a hard time saying the words "Muslim terrorist," and so does Obama. He has a hard time saying it. I don't know why you guys aren't saying it. You know, why, why?

Quinn: Well, I think, first of all, there are different kinds of terrorists. As I said, Timothy McVeigh --

O'Reilly: He's a Muslim terrorist! What do you mean, different kinds of terrorist? He killed people under the banner of jihad! That's who he is! What do you -- look, what do you want, him to come to your house with a strap-on bomb? The guy did it for jihadist reasons! "Allah Akbar!" That's the slogan! He mails Al Qaeda! Miss Quinn, you're a brilliant woman, and I'm not saying that facetiously. You are. A third-grader gets this, and you're resisting it! I wanna know why!

Quinn: Bill, you're making a very good case. I mean, he's Muslim, and he may well end up being a terrorist. We don't know for sure --

O'Reilly: I know for sure! Ninety percent of the people watching me know for sure! I don't know why you don't know for sure! What else do you need?

Quinn: I mean, you can call the guy who blew up -- you know, who shot up the Holocaust Museum a terrorist --

O'Reilly: Did he yell "Allah Akbar?" If he yelled "Allah Akbar," and he e-mailed Al Qaeda in Yemen, I'd call him that, Miss Quinn!

Quinn: OK, he's a Muslim terrorist.

O'Reilly: Thank you.

O'Reilly seems to have a peculiar idea of what constitutes "terrorism." His definition of the word seems to be "any act of violence by devout Muslims", or something along those lines.

That, of course, is quite a distance from the the legal definition of terrorism (from U.S. Code Title 22, Ch.38, Para. 2656f(d)):

(2) the term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents;

This term, in fact, perfectly describes Holocaust Museum shooter James Von Brunn, who was, beyond any serious doubt, a classic right-wing "lone wolf" terrorist.

It is in fact still not clear, however, whether the description fits Nidal Hasan's motives in shooting 13 people to death. It is true that all kinds of evidence is emerging showing that Hasan was increasingly becoming politically radicalized.

What that evidence doesn't establish, though, is that he engaged in this horrendous act on behalf of those radical beliefs, or whether those beliefs simply formed part of the context in which he acted. There certainly haven't been any organizational ties established. We probably won't have any idea until Hasan himself starts talking, or at least his attorneys begin preparing his defense.

It's important to remember what mass-murder profiler Pat Brown told Fox's Brian Kilmeade:

Brown: Well, Brian, actually, I think religion does not play a role in this. What we're actually looking at is a typical mass murderer.

Mass murderers are either two age groups. They are either teenagers, who are disgruntled with where they are in life, and don't think they're going to be anything -- those teenagers that say 'I'm being bullied and nobody likes me, and so let me take everybody out -- or they're middle-aged men who are going downhill in life -- they're having problems with people, personality issues, you know, going up against authority. For whatever reasons, they're failing, and then when they start failing they have to find something to hang their hat on, they have to blame something.

So he happened to pick what he picked. But I don't think it really has anything to do with him being Muslim or any kind of "jihad." I think he just wanted to kill people and this was his excuse.

Kilmeade: Well, he did yell out, "Allah," that's kind of an odd thing to yell out for somebody who was just unhappy with his success in life.

Brown: But he was already going downhill. He's a psychopath, and that -- he's gonna say something.

We should also keep in mind that other evidence points to the likelihood that Hasan's rampage was triggered not by Islamic radicalism but by rage at his fellow soldiers:

-- He was regularly abused by his colleagues in the military for being Muslim -- called a "raghead" and other such terms -- and had been seeking to get out of the military because the environment had become so hostile.

... There are also reports that he had recently been the victim of a hate crime: His car was vandalized, with the word "Allah" scratched into the paint, and he was reportedly extremely upset by it.

In other words, the Fort Hood shootings may well turn out to be a Columbine-like case of psychotic rage, rather than an ideological or political act of terrorism. And that's why people -- including the president -- are reluctant to make Fox's leap of judgment.

They may turn out to be right. But even if so, it doesn't excuse they broad-brushed, and destructive, fearmongering against an entire ethnic or religious group that their leap represents. And if they're wrong, then it will be too late to undo the damage they've already inflicted on Muslims serving in the U.S. military, unfairly tarring them with their presumptive brush.

The right, as we've noted, has been looking for excuses to scapegoat Muslims and Arabs with racial profiling for a long time -- since at least 9/11. Some of you may recall such previous incidents of hysteria as the various claims by hysterical right-wing nutcases on airline flights that their fellow Muslim passengers were secret terrorists preparing for another attack -- such as Annie Jacobson's flight of xenophobic fancy back in 2004.

As I noted then:

This has happened before in America. In the spring of 1942, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a similar kind of racial hysteria swept the Pacific Coast, focusing suspicion on anyone of Japanese descent, playing on long-established conspiracist beliefs that the Nikkei immigrants were traitors in waiting.

... The end result of this hysteria, of course, was that we violated the constitutional rights of some 120,000 Japanese-Americans, over 70,000 of them citizens, by rounding them up en masse and incarcerating them for the war's duration in concentration camps.

It's fitting, of course, that Malkin -- who penned an entire book defending this internment of an entire ethnic group based on hysterical fears, largely in pursuit of her thesis that racial, ethnic and religious profiling is perfectly justifiable in the post-9/11 world. Malkin has never dropped this theme, embarking at one time on an attempt at organizing vigilante "watchers" to keep an eye on the evil Muslims in our midst.

Of course, as I and many others explained at the time, all that the Japanese internment episode really demonstrated was the utter futility and waste -- not to mention the gross insult to the Constitution -- that such profiling actually represents:

Would racial profiling of Muslims and Arabs really gain us anything, security-wise, in the long run? And would any of it be worth the price?

Michelle Malkin would have us think it would. Her case, though, is built on faulty method, faulty logic, faulty "facts", and an obviously faulty moral compass. Her book is best left shunned, untouched, and eventually, ignored.

Unfortunately, it will not be, at least as far as the "conservative movement" is concerned. Even if utterly discredited, Malkin's meme will continue to recirculate among the Fox News right, as well as more extremist elements. At some point it will become "received wisdom" as a talking point for right-wing pundits and radio talk-show hosts.

Well, now it has. And the national discourse, as a result, is headed in a bad direction indeed.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Media reform and the ouster of Lou Dobbs: Yes we can

-- by Dave

Gosh. Looks like we won't have Lou Dobbs to kick around anymore. Except, of course, for when he lands that fat Fox Business Channel gig.

In the meantime, some congratulations are in order -- and, as Greg Sargent suggests, the left blogosphere in general deserves a great deal of credit in finally forcing one of the nation's leading hatemongers -- and disinformation specialists -- out the door.

That's especially the case with Media Matters, which really led the way. (MM has great retrospective of their own.) And the campaigns that organized to compel his ouster at CNN -- including Basta Dobbs, Drop Dobbs, and America's Voice -- should take a bow as well.

While we wait for the right-wing violins to cue their usual "Mean Liberals Went On a Witch Hunt" number, we should also take special note of what this means: It means that liberal activism to force our media to act responsibly works.

I know that a lot of time it feels like we're just shouting into the wind. It's that feeling of utter helplessness that ordinary citizens always get when they pit themselves against the power of big money and big corporations. Sure, we can document all the media misbehavior we like, but it's becoming so voluminous and steady now that it's hard to keep up, and it's even harder to spark outrage over it.

But eventually, if we keep pounding and pounding and working, it works.

The biggest job of all lies ahead, of course: Confronting Fox News, whose daily deluge of disinformation and fearmongering is so immense now that it makes Dobbs' contributions shrink to insignificance.

But it's true: Yes, we can do this. And we must.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Chuck Norris hears black helicopters whupping: Obama planning a 'one world order,' health-care bill means feds invade homes

-- by Dave

Chuck Norris seems to have been hanging out listening to his good buddy Glenn Beck a bit much these days.

He went on Neil Cavuto's Fox News show yesterday and regurgitated a lot Beck's talking points about how Obama is radically transforming the country, but took them the next logical step into militia-style black-helicopter territory.

What had him all worked up was Obama's pending trip to Copenhagen to help negotiate a global-warming treaty:

Norris: I really think he's going over there to try to create a one world order. And I think --

Cavuto: Well, what's your big worry?

Norris: My big worry is the fact is that we, as a nation, if we start having to be, ah, obligated to other countries. Like -- in this conference, they're going to try to take our money and send it to third-world countries, because we spend so much oil, and so other countries have suffered, and they want to give our money to these, uh, third world countries.

Neil, we have people here who are starving in our own country. I -- you know, my foundation, I have families who are making nine thousand dollars a year -- the kids that I'm teaching. Why aren't we trying to help the poverty in our own country?

Nevermind, of course, that we have this thing called to Aid to Families With Dependent Children and a host of other poverty-fighting programs -- aka "welfare" -- that work reasonably well in attacking poverty in the USA. Except that funding for these programs keeps getting cut by right-wing anti-tax nutcases who think like Chuck Norris.

No, what really is bothering Chuck is that looming New World Order. This is also why he doesn't believe in global warming: "I don't believe it for a second. I think it's a big con game that they're doing."

And if Obama indeed hands over our "sovereignty"?

Who knows what's going to happen. God forbid this happens in our country. Our country as we know it now will no longer exist, Neil, that's the whole thing right there.

A little later, he brought up health-care reform as a signal event in the New World Order takeover:

Norris: I'll tell you what, the thing that worries me the most is this health-care bill. And why I'm scared about it -- it's not about the health care. It's about the provisions that are in that bill.

One, is that if this thing passes, the government will have the right to come into our home and regulate how we raise our children. I found that in the bill.

Cavuto, to his credit, wasn't buying: "I don't believe that."

Give it a day or two. I bet Glenn Beck does.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Judge Napolitano does Beck one better, urges states to 'nullify' federal laws they don't like

-- by Dave

Glenn Beck -- who of course has a fetish about "extremist radicals" supposedly infiltrating the White House, while himself promoting far-right extremism on his show on a regular basis -- has been regularly plumping far-right "constitutionalist" theories about the 10th Amendment and states' rights for awhile now, including that hourlong segment complete with 1990s militia figures.

Mostly, though, Beck has been somewhat restrained about just how far down this path he would go, eschewing some of the more radical ideas that are part and parcel of this belief system, or at least declining to mention them to his audiences. But yesterday, filling in for the appendicitis-stricken Beck, Judge Andrew Napolitano opened the constitutionalist Pandora's Box wide and loosed all its ugly demons.

He opened the Beck program with a long rant in which he began (as is typical with "constitutionalists") with utterly false premises -- namely, that not only would the Obama "public option" health-care plan completely take over our health-care system, but the plan could put you in jail for failure to buy insurance. And from there, he sprang into advocating the repeal of the federal income tax and the "nullification" of federal laws by the states:

Napolitano: Last Saturday, at 11 o’clock in the evening, the House of Representatives voted by a five-vote margin to have the federal government manage the health care of every American at a cost of $1 trillion dollars over the next ten years.

For the first time in American history, if this bill becomes law, the Feds will force you to buy insurance you might not want, or may not need, or cannot afford. If you don’t purchase what the government tells you to buy, if you don’t do so when they tell you to do it, and if you don’t buy just what they say is right for you, the government may fine you, prosecute you, and even put you in jail. Freedom of choice and control over your own body will be lost. The privacy of your communications and medical decision making with your physician will be gone. More of your hard earned dollars will be at the disposal of federal bureaucrats.

It was not supposed to be this way. We elect the government. It works for us. How did it get so removed, so unbridled, so arrogant that it can tell us how to live our personal lives? Evil rarely comes upon us all at once, and liberty is rarely lost in one stroke. It happens gradually, over the years and decades and even centuries. A little stretch here, a cave in there, powers are slowly taken from the states and the people and before you know it, we have one big monster government that recognizes no restraint on its ability to tell us how to live. It claims the power to regulate any activity, tax any behavior, and demand conformity to any standard it chooses.

The Founders did not give us a government like the one we have today. The government they gave us was strictly limited in its scope, guaranteed individual liberty, preserved the free market, and on matters that pertain to our private behavior was supposed to leave us alone.

In the Constitution, the Founders built in checks and balances. If the Congress got out of hand, the states would restrain it. If the states stole liberty or property, the Congress would cure it. If the President tried to become a king, the courts would prevent it.

In the next few weeks, I will be giving a public class on Constitutional Law here on the Fox News Channel, on the Fox Business Network, on, and on Fox Nation. In anticipation of that, many of you have asked: What can we do now about the loss of freedom?

For starters, we can vote the bums out of their cushy federal offices! We can persuade our state governments to defy the Feds in areas like health care -- where the Constitution gives the Feds zero authority. We can petition our state legislatures to threaten to amend the Constitution to abolish the income tax, return the selection of U.S. senators to state legislatures and nullify all the laws the Congress has written that are not based in the Constitution.

One thing we can’t do is just sit back and take it.

I can't tell you how bizarre it is to see arguments I used to hear coming from the mouths of Montana Freemen like LeRoy Schweitzer in the 1990s -- arguments that led to him embarking on an 81-day armed standoff with federal authorities, and resulting in him spending the rest of his natural life in a federal prison -- coming from supposedly mainstream talk-show hosts on Fox News only 13 years later.

Chip Berlet at PublicEye has a decent rundown of the roots of these "constitutionalist" beliefs:

Throughout the late 1990s the Patriot and armed militia movements overlapped with a resurgent states’ rights movement and a new "county supremacy" movement. There was rapid growth of illegal so-called constitutionalist common-law courts, set up by persons claiming a nonexistent "sovereign" citizenship. These courts claimed jurisdiction over legal matters on the county or state level and dismissed the U.S. judicial system as corrupt and unconstitutional. Constitutionalist legal theory created a two-tiered concept of citizenship in which White people have a superior "natural law" or "sovereign" citizenship. The most doctrinaire constitutionalists argue that only the original U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments) are valid and legally binding, all later amendments are not. Put into effect, this would relegalize slavery, abolish women’s right to vote, rescind the right of citizenship now guaranteed to all persons born in the United States, and allow state governments to ignore the Bill of Rights itself. Amazingly, many supporters of constitutionalism seem oblivious to the racism and sexism inherent in this construct.

It's also important to remember that a large majority of "constitutionalist" promoters -- including the Freemen -- were actually scam artists who made huge sums ripping off gullible "Patriots". And all based on arguments strikingly similar to Napolitano's:

A significant component of the "patriot" movement's membership believes that the government, state and federal, is illegitimate. Such people believe that a longstanding conspiracy by power-hungry elites gradually replaced the legitimate ("de jure") government with an illegitimate ("de facto") government, one that is tyrannical and oppressive. This wing of the "patriot" movement is often called the "common law" movement or the "common law court" movement. Its members call themselves, variously, "state citizens," "sovereign citizens," "freemen," and "constitutionalists." The movement originated around 1970 with a tax protest group called the Posse Comitatus. By 1980 the Posse had developed an elaborate ideology centered around the notion of two governmental systems, one legitimate and one illegitimate. Posse members and their descendants believe that the legitimate system is one based on the "common law," while the illegitimate system is based on statutory law. Common law has a legitimate meaning in the United States' legal system, but the sovereign citizen belief system twisted it to mean something else entirely--generally speaking, a governing system of virtually no government, where there are no taxes, no regulations, no victimless crimes, and no unpopular laws enforced. Posse adherents believe that the illegitimate statutory system, primarily through the Fourteenth Amendment, tricks people into voluntarily giving up their "sovereign" status and becoming slaves to the statutory system. This surrender of sovereignty is done by entering into "contracts" with the de facto government, which includes using a social security card, a drivers license, or even a zip code. However, Posse leaders suggest that people can tear up all of those contracts and return to the "common law" system, becoming "sovereign citizens" who are immune to the jurisdiction of the de facto government's taxes, laws and courts.

It was nice of Napolitano to move the ball downfield for Beck, I suppose. When he gets back today, no doubt he'll be finding fresh new conspiracy theories to keep it rolling.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pat Robertson denounces Islam: 'Not a religion,' but 'a violent political system,' wants adherents treated like Communists

-- by Dave

You just knew that when Holy Joe Lieberman started grandstanding about the Fort Hood massacre by demanding an investigation into whether or not Nidal Hasan "infiltrated" the military as a "terrorist", it was the kind of demagoguery that would bring out the worst in his fellow Islamophobes.

Sure enough. Here's Pat Robertson, yesterday on The 700 Club, following a report from Lee Webb on Lieberman's scenery-chewing act on Fox News Sunday:

Webb: Meanwhile, Pat, the Army Chief of Staff says he doesn't want a backlash against other Muslim soldiers because of Hasan's actions.

Robertson: Oh, worry about backlash, but the truth is that this guy was off his trolley and they should have gotten him out, but nobody wanted to go after him because of political correctness. We just don't talk about somebody's, quote, religion, even if the religion involves beheading infidels and pouring boiling oil down their throats. He wasn't hiding it.

I tell you what should happen, and I think is going to happen, is the families of those soldiers who were killed have an absolute, major lawsuit for damages against the United States government. There was a failure -- they should have, as Senator Lieberman said, this man should have been gone, he should have been out of the service.

Just imagine -- our young men -- brave defenders of the freedom we enjoy, having to sit in psychological evaluation in front of this man. Just think what that means. Just think what it would do to their psyches.

Whew. It was a horrible chapter, but if we don't stop covering up what Islam is -- Islam is a violent -- I was gonna say religion, but it's not a religion, it's a political system, a violent political system bent on the overthrow of the governments of the world and -- and -- and world domination. That is the ultimate aim.

And they talk about infidels and all this -- but the truth is, that's what the game is. So you're dealing with a -- not a religion, you're dealing with a political system.

And I think we should treat it as such, and treat its adherents as such, as we would members of the Communist Party or members of some fascist group.

That's just classic hatemongering. In the name of Jesus, of course.

We know that demagoguery like Lieberman's always produces vicious ethnic and religious garbage, usually on the street level. Seeing it voiced so high up the religious-right food chain, though, is disturbing.

Of course, Robertson wasn't much worse than Michelle Malkin on Glenn Beck's show later that day. But then, we've known about Malkin's racist lust for racial profiling of Muslims for a long time.

But rhetoric like this always unleashes the worst in Americans, like opening an evil Pandora's Box.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bolder by the day: Unapologetic Nazis are coming out of the woodwork

-- by Dave

James Verini at the Daily Beast notices something we've been tracking here at Orcinus too: Neo-Nazis and far-right extremists are not only recruiting more openly, they're being much more public in their full-on expressions of racism, nativism, and xenophobia. Unlike David Duke, these characters aren't even trying to hide it:

A year after President Obama's election, hate groups are feeling bolder than they have in over a decade, and their usually insular anger is beginning to spill into the public realm. This weekend, the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi organization, held rallies in Arizona and Minnesota. Those demonstrations came on the heels of similar actions in Southern California, where epithet-spewing white supremacists were forced to disband by rock-throwing counter-protesters. The upsurge in visibility is more than anecdotal—law-enforcement officials are monitoring levels of agitation among extremist groups that they say are the highest since Timothy McVeigh’s deadly attack in Oklahoma City nearly 15 years ago.

The outcries of right-wing tea-partiers, death panellers, birthers, and the like are accompanied by increased activity all along the paranoid fringe.

“It’s sort of a beehive now,” says James Cavanaugh, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Cavanaugh was one of the agents at the standoff at David Koresh’s Waco, Texas, compound in 1993 (which McVeigh timed his terrorist act to commemorate, two years later, on April 19, 1995). Last October in Tennessee, Cavanaugh aided in the arrest of two white supremacists charged with plotting to assassinate Obama, and in 2007 he helped bring down members of the Alabama Free Militia, who were found with hundreds of hand- and rifle grenades and other explosives. The arrests had an unsettling familiarity. “We haven’t had that kind of activity since the 1990s,” Cavanaugh says.

“We believe there is a real resurgence,” adds Lieutenant David Hall, director of the Missouri Information Analysis Center, which tracks antigovernment extremist groups around the Midwest. “The atmosphere is ripe.”

That was obvious to anyone who was in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, this past weekend:

The Arizona Republic reports that, as is so often the case, the anti-Nazis outnumbered the actual Nazis by about 10-to-1:

Members of the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi group based out of Detroit, were met with a greater number of protesters.

Phoenix police kept the groups apart, as members from both sides shouted insults at each other.

Jeff Schoep, a NSM leader, said his group was standing in defense of America.

J.T Ready of Mesa also spoke at the America First Rally. He said the group was defending his country against invaders.

After about an hour, the neo-Nazis left the capitol to march down Jefferson Avenue before getting into their cars at 12th Avenue.

Andy Hernandez of Phoenix said he was surprised at the different types of people who showed up to protest the neo-Nazis.

"There's all kinds of people, from different races and colors," Hernandez said. "We represent America. We didn't shut them down, but we gave them a counter protest. We just oppose what Nazi represents."

Ironically, that was just what Ready himself whined to a reporter for Phoenix's Fox station in the video above:

Reporter: Do you consider yourself a National Socialist?

Ready: National Socialist? I am.

Reporter: Weren't Nazis considered National Socialists?

Ready: Well, there's a term that starts with an 'N' for calling black people too, uh, so I think that the 'N' term for National Socialists, calling them Nazis, is the same thing.

*Sniff* Gosh, we all should bow our heads in shame for having referenced National Socialists derogatorily. Lord knows they don't deserve it.

Anyway, it's true that the German National Socialists never called themselves "Nazis" because it was a indeed thought to be a derogatory term. On the other hand, American Nazis like George Lincoln Rockwell have always embraced the word. Why should anyone stop calling them what they plainly are?

BTW, there was a similar NSM rally in Austin, Minnesota, this weekend, that drew even fewer Nazis.

As Verini suggests, much of the naked bigotry these people express is being encouraged by the rise of extremist rhetoric generally, within the supposed conservative mainstream:

So where might another McVeigh—or worse—spring from?

Experts on extremist groups say that the outcries of right-wing tea-partiers, death panellers, birthers, and the like are accompanied by increased activity all along the paranoid fringe—from radical border-patrol groups to skinheads to sovereign citizens. Two camps are particularly restive: militia enthusiasts and white supremacists; their members are seething because of the persistence of two wars and the election of a black (and Democratic) president with an ambitious agenda. The previous upsurge of antigovernment activity in the 1990s—of which McVeigh’s attack marked the apex—was set off in part by a recession and the election of a liberal president.

The Nazi bubbles we're seeing now are bubbling up out of a much bigger cauldron of toxic garbage that is being stirred up by the Right. Look for a lot more bubbles in the coming months.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Right-wingers have been looking for a fresh excuse to scapegoat Muslims, and Fort Hood gave them one

-- by Dave

The right-wingers were out in force yesterday in their attempt to paint the Fort Hood shootings as an act of radical Islamist jihadi terrorism, and claiming that "political correctness" kept the military from screening him as a threat -- evidently simply because he was Muslim.

Kicking things off bright and early on that front were the gang at Fox Friends, especially Brian Kilmeade and Gretchen Carlson. Kilmeade asked Geraldo Rivera early on the show:

Kilmeade: Do you think it’s time for the military to have special debriefings of Muslim Army officers — anybody enlisted? Because if I'm going to be in a foxhole, if I'm gonna be stuck in an outpost, I've gotta know the guy next to me is not gonna wanna kill me.

Actually, Brian, they wouldn't have to be Muslim, or anything else, to want that -- especially, one suspects, after more than an hour in close proximity to your charming personality.

Then Carlson chimed in:

Carlson: I want to ask this question another way. Could it be that the military, because our society -- let's face it, our society has become very politically correct -- could it be that the military was also exercising political correctness, even though he had a poor performance report, and even though he spoke openly about being a radical Muslim, and had those supposed postings online, could it be that the military was exercising political correctness in not approaching him as seriously as they would have had he not been a Muslim?

Rivera answers "Yes," of course, but the answer is actually, "Political correctness has nothing to do with it." After all, the Army allows neo-Nazis within its ranks to post online and does not treat them as a particular threat -- even though they pose a variety of problems, not the least of which is that they tend to become violent themselves. If the military is practicing "political correctness," it's a peculiar kind.

Moreover, as Spencer Ackerman put it, this is a spectacularly short-sighted bit of bigotry.

But this is the way it goes. We were told by Fox News that to blame right-wingers for the actions of George Tiller’s murderer or the anti-Semite who shot up the Holocaust Museum was out of line. But Muslim soldiers — people who guard the freedoms that Fox bleats about with jingoistic sanctimony — are to be slandered by association. This is a disgrace to the memories of Spc. Kareem R. Khan, Capt. Humayun Saqib Khan, and so many others who have given their lives for this country.

David Frum, notably, chimes in with a provocative reminder for the jingoes.

That was only the beginning. These same notes were repeated throughout the day. Ackerman also noticed Allen West, a former Army lieutenant colonel "promoted by the National Republican Congressional Committee," quoted in The Hill:

"This enemy preys on downtrodden soldiers and teaches them extremism will lift them up,” West said in a statement. “Our soldiers are being brainwashed.”

The release added that West claims “the horrible tragedy at Fort Hood is proof the enemy is infiltrating our military.”

Then there was Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey:

Retired 4-Star General Barry McCaffrey, who attended a fundraiser Thursdays night in Rochester for the Veterans Outreach Center, believes today's shooting could turn out to be an act of terrorism. “This is going to turn out to be a political act. People who are frightened of deployment don't murder their fellow soldiers. This was completely out of the ordinary, we've never seen anything like this. We have murders periodically in the armed forces, but it's somebody 20 years old, drunk, it's two o’clock in the morning, it's drugs, it's girls, it's cards its something so this was planned mass murder.”

Blue Texan at Firedoglake has a decent roundup from the wingnutosphere. Media Matters has the rundown of the insanity in the right-wing media.

Interestingly, later that morning on Fox and Friends, Kilmeade interviewed two real experts -- Dr. Paul Ragan, a former Navy psychiatrist, and Pat Brown, a professional criminal profiler -- who basically tried to explain that he was full of crap when he tried to paint the event as an act of Islamic jihad.

Kilmeade: It seems to me, Pat, religion plays a role. He perhaps was on a different mission.

Brown: Well, Brian, actually, I think religion does not play a role in this. What we're actually looking at is a typical mass murderer.

Mass murderers are either two age groups. They are either teenagers, who are disgruntled with where they are in life, and don't think they're going to be anything -- those teenagers that say 'I'm being bullied and nobody likes me, and so let me take everybody out -- or they're middle-aged men who are going downhill in life -- they're having problems with people, personality issues, you know, going up against authority. For whatever reasons, they're failing, and then when they start failing they have to find something to hang their hat on, they have to blame something.

So he happened to pick what he picked. But I don't think it really has anything to do with him being Muslim or any kind of "jihad." I think he just wanted to kill people and this was his excuse.

Kilmeade: Well, he did yell out, "Allah," that's kind of an odd thing to yell out for somebody who was just unhappy with his success in life.

Brown: But he was already going downhill. He's a psychopath, and that -- he's gonna say something.

Ragan went on to back up Brown's assessment. Kilmeade just didn't want to hear it.

Nobody on the right does. Because it's so much easier to bash Muslims when you have great cover like this, and the folks on the right aren't going to let it go to waste.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.