Friday, August 18, 2006

Hate speech of the week

With so many choices for hate speech of the week, I decided to offer a roundup of some the wackiest as well as some of the more egregious punditry from the mouths of those whose obvious cluelessness earns them special recognition.

I fail to understand how Chris Matthews rates his own TV show on MSNBC. I guess they aren't picky. Maybe his ties to the Republican Party make him soooo special. His brother Jim is the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in Pennsylvania after all. But with as much objectivity as a partisan storm trooper, Matthews offered this can of sludge:

On the August 16 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews conflated Islamic terrorists with those "who may be politically on the left," and presented a false choice between "honoring civil rights" and "tap[ping]" terrorists' "phones," suggesting that "honoring civil rights" could lead to "the deaths of thousands of people."

And it gets worse. Or better depending on your loyalty oath.

Discussing airport security measures with [former Homeland Security Secretary] Ridge, Matthews asked: "[H]ow do you identify someone who may be politically on the left or radical?" and added:

MATTHEWS: They may go to a couple meetings at mosques, whatever -- or I shouldn't say mosques, but meetings that are associated with -- with their background. They come from other countries, Arab countries, and they are in Newark somewhere. If a person is politically involved and they are anti-Israeli, for example, or anti-Western even, how do you stop them, even if you know all of that, from getting on an airplane?

You can read more wingnuttery here and a compilation of more oiliness here. Hey, maybe Matthews could join the NASCAR circuit. He's got the enough grease to go around.

Next, this makes you want to scream or cry depending on whether your hope is that women would act and speak more intelligently than a Barbie doll. Janet Rowland fails on informed comment (she may have flunked science) and carries water for homophobic hate speech that compares gay and lesbian unions to marrying sheep. Gawd! I just wonder how her marriage is at risk due to gay marriage? Hmmm, maybe she knows something about her husband that we don't. Colorado Media Matters:

On the March 17 broadcast of Rocky Mountain PBS' Colorado State of Mind, during a discussion of a referendum to allow domestic partnerships, Rowland said: "But I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. Homosexuality is an alternative lifestyle, that doesn't make it a marriage. Some people have group sex -- should we allow two men and three women to marry? Should we allow polygamy with one man and five wives? For some people, the alternative lifestyle is bestiality -- do we allow a man to marry a sheep? ... What if somebody wants to marry a cousin or an aunt or an uncle? What if it's an adult with a child? Why do we say you have to be 18 to get married; why can't 11-year-olds?"

....I, obviously, I don't support gay marriage, and I think it's because it's going to take us down the road that we don't want to go, and I know some of you are outraged that I would compare bestiality to this -- 40 or 50 years ago, people would be outraged that we were talking about gay marriage, and it's just going to -- and so it does affect my marriage, because if marriage becomes about everything, then marriage is about nothing.

Ha! Malignant absurdity strikes again.

If you think that was nutso hate speech, enter George "macaca" Allen. Sara Robinson summed up Allen's attempt to bully an outsider:

Make no mistake: this was an aggressive act of social dominance, an intentional effort to humiliate and degrade a person based on his race and ethnic background, and his position on the other side of the political fence. Allen didn't appear to think twice about publicly insulting S.J. Sidarth, a native-born Indo-American traveling with Allen's campaign to tape events for his Democratic opponent. (Allen had similarly embedded one of his staffers with Jim Webb's campaign.) Sidarth was a kid with a camera -- just another part of the crew, hardly above the attention threshold of a senatorial candidate who's spending his days mingling with the rich and powerful. So what on earth inspired Allen to call him out, in the middle of his campaign speech, to the assembled crowd?

You have to wonder where Allen, who grew up in California, got this idea. By the mid-60s, not even George Wallace or Strom Thurmond would dare say stuff like this in front of the cameras (though we know that Nixon, among others, wasn't shy about saying it in private). They knew better. Everybody in politics, in both parties, knows better. How did George Allen fail to get the message?

Salon's Michael Scherer has a very well researched, thoughtful article up this morning (Salon Premium subscription may be required). While Allen's been acting like the word "macaca" just fell out of his mouth -- "as if he had suddenly been taken over by an evil spirit and spoken in tongues," Scherer says -- he presents the etymology of the word "macaca," (or "macaque"), a North African word for "monkey" that's long been used by Europeans in Africa as an alternative to the n-word. Scherer points out that Allen's mother was raised in Algiers and speaks five languages; she almost certainly knew the word.

Scherer lays the blame squarely on high social dominance gone wild:

To understand the full import of Allen's gaffe, it is worth taking another look at the video, which will live for eternity on the Internet and in political attack ads. It is not just a matter of what Allen says, but very much a matter of how he says it. He has singled out one member of the audience, a 20-year-old volunteer whose ethnicity already distinguishes him in a former bastion of the Confederacy. Allen is smiling. He is enjoying himself. It is exceedingly difficult to see Allen as doing anything other than connecting with the crowd by attempting to humiliate another human being -- to make him feel like an outsider, like he doesn't belong, like he will never belong. "Let's give a welcome to macaca, here," the senator crows. "Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."

The performance strongly suggests Sheriff's definition of "interpersonal domination" at work. Allen is being a bully.

Yup. But there's more to Allen than just this gaffe:

Scherer goes on to lay out Allen's resume as a bully, charting a typical path that begins in a family of wealth and privilege, rough-and-tumble play with siblings, "alpha jock" status as a high school football player, and his early (and apparently continuing) affection for the Confederate cause. According to Scherer, Ryan Lizza, a reporter for The New Republic,

asked Allen about the Confederate flag pin he wore in his senior photo at a tony California high school. Allen responded by mentioning the funding he is seeking in Congress for historically black colleges. Lizza asked about Allen's initial opposition to Martin Luther King Day, the noose he once hung on a ficus tree in his law office, and Allen's support of a Confederate History and Heritage Month that did not mention slavery. Allen deflected all the questions, while hinting that he was a changed man. He said he recently went on a "civil rights pilgrimage." He cares about genocide. He recently passed an anti-lynching resolution....

This new person is the one Allen wants America to see. But it is far from clear if that is the person he is. Political scientist Larry Sabato, who remembers Allen as a tough-guy jock back when they were undergraduates at the University of Virginia, said he thinks the gaffe last week shows the real candidate. "In these unguarded moments, Allen does show his true self."

My, my. The late Strom Thurmond and Trent Lott must be waving their stars and bars with pride. Media Matters has more.

Not to be outdone, Bill O'Reilly weighs in with his usual hostile brand of phlegm-specked spittle. Attacking George Soros once again:

On the August 15 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly attacked billionaire philanthropist George Soros for an op-ed Soros wrote, published that same day in The Wall Street Journal, on the "counterproductive and self-defeating policies" inspired by the "war on terror." O'Reilly called Soros an "incredible imbecile, with all due respect," and went on to clarify his attack, saying: "I didn't mean to call him a name, but I have to put some kind of descriptive adjective on his analysis." After dismissing Soros's commentary as "gobbly-gook," O'Reilly claimed that "Soros is a guy who doesn't understand evil, doesn't really even acknowledge it," despite the fact that Soros is "a guy who fled the Holocaust."

Bill doesn't have any limits to his wacky doodle diss-gracefulness. The next day...

On the August 16 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly argued extensively for "profiling of Muslims" at airports, arguing that detaining all "Muslims between the ages of 16 and 45" for questioning "isn't racial profiling," but "criminal profiling."

Discussing the August 16 rerouting of a flight from London to Washington, D.C., due to a passenger disturbance, O'Reilly posed the question: "Is profiling Muslims the answer?" Apparently answering in the affirmative, O'Reilly declared, "[I]t's long past time for the USA to stop the nonsense and institute profiling at airports" because "[w]e're not at war with Granny Fricken. We're at war with Muslim fanatics. So, all young Muslims should be subjected to more scrutiny than Granny." Yet, despite advocating for profiling all "Muslims between the ages of 16 and 45," O'Reilly declared that such profiling "isn't racial profiling," but rather "criminal profiling" or, as he later termed it, "[t]error profiling."

You just can't make this stuff up!

Who can defend Ann Coulter's hate speech attacking the 9/11 widows by accusing them of enjoying their husbands deaths? Well, an enabler like Mary Matalin can.

On the June 9 edition of MSNBC's Imus in the Morning, Republican strategist Mary Matalin joined other Republican strategists and media figures in defending Ann Coulter's attacks on the widows of the victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- articulated in her book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism (Crown Forum, June 2006), and in media appearances promoting the book. Asked by host Don Imus to comment on Coulter's remarks that the 9-11 widows who criticized President Bush were "reveling in their status as celebrities" and "enjoying their husbands' deaths," Matalin expressed agreement with Coulter's "larger point." When Imus challenged Matalin to condemn Coulter for her "repugnant attacks," including "calling these women harpies," Matalin refused, saying: "That's completely not her point," and that such remarks are Coulter's "stock in trade." She added that she would not condemn Coulter because "I don't know her" and "I haven't read the book."

Echoing Coulter, Matalin stated that "in the absence of being able to make persuasive arguments," liberals "roll out messengers" that it is "politically incorrect to argue with." Additionally, Matalin asserted: "You lefty crazy people run around, calling us 'extra chromosome' and 'Hitlers' and 'Nazis' and everything, and nobody says anything. She calls somebody a 'harpy' and you'd think that, you know, the whole world was on fire."

Sheesh. Inexcusable. Mary Matalin just earned her creds in joining the WOTPP.

Don Imus may have defended the 9/11 widows against Matalin and Coulter, but he also has his tendency to go off the deep end. He may have called Coulter's spew "repugnant" but he didn't object to smearing Hillary Clinton:

On the July 24 edition of MSNBC's Imus in the Morning, Newsweek senior editor Jonathan Alter characterized Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) as having "more baggage than Paris Hilton on the Riviera." Suggesting that "calling her [Clinton] the front-runner is silly at this point," Alter instead touted two potential Republican candidates -- Massachusetts Gov. Mitt [tar baby] Romney and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Earlier in the show, during an interview with an impersonator of former President Bill Clinton, host Don Imus echoed his recent attacks on Sen. Clinton [in which he called Hillary "that buck-tooted witch, Satan."]. Imus asked, "[h]ow's Satan doing? Your wife." The impersonator responded: "Oh, she's fine. Bitch."

But when did we expect truth from Don Imus. Did he set the record straight when Tony Snow announced that "President Bush never linked the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the regime of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein." No. Since when is Imus in the business of telling the truth? More egregiously and insidiously, his producer showed him how it's done by sliming Lamont:

On the August 17 edition of MSNBC's Imus in the Morning, executive producer Bernard McGuirk said that John Mark Karr, the man who reportedly admitted to killing 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey in 1996, "looks like Ned Lamont, actually." McGuirk then asked: "Is that who you want representing you, Connecticut?"

I have to admit, I never watch NBC or MSNBC. Too shrill. Too full of... well, you know, hot air.

Check back next Friday. There's always plenty of right-wing hate speech to report.

Props to Media Matters and Sara Robinson at Orcinus for making this week's roundup especially poignant.

UPDATE: Imus repeated his producer's smear, "...we thought [John Mark Karr] was Ned Lamont, the guy running against Lieberman.... ...we're supporting Lieberman, if you did not know that."