Nel's New Day

June 22, 2015

Racist Media Shields Racist Killers


Conservative faith was front and center last week as every announced and some potential GOP presidential candidates—except Donald Trump—spoke at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Summit last week. Especially notable was Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who managed to completely ignore the killing of nine black people by a white 21-year-old in the Charleston (SC) church on the previous day. To boost his B+ rating with the NRA, however, he reassured his audience that “if I am president of the United States, we will appoint justices and we will have an attorney general who will protect our second amendment rights.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) did allude to the tragedy by saying that “it appears to be racially driven,” but by Friday he told an audience that Texas defines gun control as “hitting what you aim at.” The next day he said, “There’s a famous saying, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. There is a reason why the Second Amendment is right after the First.”

Another horrifying response to the white man killing nine black people because of his racist beliefs was a segment on Meet the Press that interviewed three black murderers who expressed regrets in killing someone. Host Chuck Todd described the program “color-blind” and concluded that “passing a law isn’t going to change the culture.” Fortunately, columnist Eugene Robinson was on a panel and told Todd that the video didn’t fit the discussion:

“Right now, we’re talking about a horrific crime committed by a white man, we’re talking about the search for two escaped murderers who are white men.”

The men in the video said they had no intention of killing anyone whereas the killer in Charleston carefully planned his murders of black people. Todd defensively concluded his post by saying, “Meet the Press should make all viewers uncomfortable at some point or we are not doing our job.” His continuation of the stereotype of associating blacks, and not whites, with murderers shows that he fails to understand the white culture of guns in the United States.

In a white wash of the Charleston killer, NBC ran a story of how his relatives saw him as a “sweet kid” who became “painfully shy.” Media consistently projects this image of white kids while presenting black children as thugs. To the media, a white killer is known as a “lone wolf” who lose his path while blacks are born bad or have such bad families that its natural that they would be criminals. Bill Reilly calls the problem “black people’s rejection of education.” While Freddie Gray, alleged to have an illegal switchblade, died during a rough ride to the police station, the white killer of nine people in a Charleston (SC) church was politely returned to Charleston on a private plane after cops gave him a Burger King hamburger. Vanessa Baden Kelly wrote, “I am black and I’ve come to believe we are more violent than others by watching the news [although] 83% of white murder victims are killed by white people.”

After the killer openly announced his racism, conservatives had to drop their idea that the tragedy was a “war on Christianity” and move to another spin. The Fox network blames the killings on the nation’s “cultural diversity.” Frequent Fox guest Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson said on Newsmax that President Obama is at fault because he said that racism still exists in the United States.

After the killer’s words destroyed Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) argument that the killer was prejudiced against Christianity, Graham said, “I just think he was one of these whacked out kids. I don’t think it’s anything broader than that.” About the Boston bomber of 2013, Graham had said:

“[Dzhokhar Tsarnaev], in my view, should be designated as a potential enemy combatant and we should be allowed to question him for intelligence gathering purposes to find out about future attacks and terrorist organizations that may exist that he has knowledge of, and that evidence cannot be used against him in trial. That evidence is used to protect us as a nation.”

Both killers are U.S. citizens, but the Boston bomber is a Muslim. What a difference a religion and 3,000 miles make.

The Charleston killer reported that he was influenced by a website from the Council of Conservative Citizens that lists Black on White murders. The name states “citizens,” but Southern politicians, primarily Republican, have been involved with the group with some still in office. The CCC is a renewal of the White Citizens Councils, formed a half century ago to fight school desegregation. Now it spreads false information while funding GOP candidates such as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI).

Racist billboard

The killer didn’t come out of nowhere. His worldview of racism, white supremacy, and fear of blacks is popular as shown by this billboard. The words come from white supremacist Robert Whitaker’s Mantra that has inspired racial killings, including 77 people in Norway in 2011 and heavily promoted by Timothy Gallagher Murdock on White Rabbit Radio. The Charleston killer’s manifesto is greatly in alignment with the Fox network and other conservatives:

“Blacks were the real racists [in school].”

“It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right.” (Like many other white people tutored by the Fox network and other conservative media, the stalker and killer of Trayvon Martin is a hero.)

“Black people view everything through a racial lense.” (He quotes Fox and other conservatives who accuse blacks of playing the “race card.” He continues, “The … reason is the Jewish agitation of the black race.”)

“We are told to accept what is happening to us because of ancestors wrong doing, but it is all based on historical lies…”

“Segregation was not a bad thing. It was a defensive measure.” (The killer sees segregation as a way “to protect us from them…. Not only did it protect us from having to interact with them, and from being physically harmed by them, but it protected us from being brought down to their level.”

“I have read hundreds of slaves narratives from my state. And almost all of them were positive.” (The killer believes that slaves thought they were better off in slavery. Rancher Cliven Bundy, who refuses to pay the government for feeding his cattle, was supported by Fox and a number of lawmakers—at least until he stated that black people have less freedom after they are no longer slaves.)

Two subjects that conservatives cannot address in the United States are racism and guns. Following the killings in the Charleston church, President Obama called on the country to take action against mass murders. On the Fox network, Tucker Carlson indicated that the president is a hypocrite because he’s protected by armed people after he said that guns aren’t killing people and that people need guns to save lives. Fox News contributor Jehmu Greene pointed out that his comments were offensive and asked if he was comparing armed Secret Service people to the person who walks into a church and kills nine people. She asked, “Is that literally where we are as a country, to compare that [the president] shouldn’t have protection?” Carlson stuck to his opinion that he shouldn’t be exempt from disarming—a position that President Obama has never taken.

Greene replied:

“The president did not say guns are inherently bad. The president is saying we’ve had this conversation too many times and there is something we can do about it. There was something we could do about it after Newtown, there was something we could have done about it after Columbine.”

Charleston (SC) Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. (D) said yesterday on CNN’s State of the Union:

“It is insane: the number of guns, and the ease of guns in America. It just doesn’t fit with the other achievements of this country. It’s a small- really small group, well-funded–that keeps this issue from being appropriately addressed.”

If people cannot control themselves with guns, then they must be controlled to protect other people. Those who oppose any kind of gun control need to learn that they are destroying the United States.

It is a sad commentary on media in the United States when the best commentary came from the Comedy Channel. Everyone should read the words of Jon Stewart on The Daily Show the day after the killings when he stopped his comedy to talk about the tragedy of the Charleston killings.

October 2, 2012

Readying for the First Presidential Debate, 2012

The first debate between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney will be telecast tomorrow night, and Romney has a 47-percent problem. Forget the lore that voters have short memories when the Republican presidential nominee’s statements that he won’t be president for the 47 percent of people in the United States who are freeloaders. It’s been over two weeks, and a Washington Post-ABC poll shows that almost 60 percent of voters believe that Romney would favor the wealthy more than the middle class. Only 32 percent of voters had a favorable view of his comments as compared to 54 percent.

Alex Castellanos, adviser for Romney’s 2008 run for president, agreed  that the Romney campaign is right to be concerned about Romney’s problems. “The only thing in politics that is worse than voters deciding that they don’t like you is when voters decide you don’t like them,” he said.

Conservatives who have avoided watching the president speak will be forced to see him in action tomorrow night if they want to see their own candidate, and they may be surprised. In this morning’s piece on the debate, NRP played a tape of a woman who said, “Obama can’t speak without a teleprompter and he’s not smart enough to counter anything Mitt says.” These are the words of someone who has not heard President Obama speak.

One thing I, like most of other people in the country, am looking forward tomorrow night is if Romney comes up with any details. He’s been able to avoid anything but generalities and platitudes thus far because his only encounters have been with other platitudinous Republican candidates and the media who aren’t in a position to push him into information although they have been trying for the past few weeks.

An article from Reuters has described a few other areas in which people can see how the candidates fare. The first one is a no-brainer. With President Obama’s polling points rising, he needs to stay cool and avoid mistakes. Romney, on the other hand, has to take over, and aggression toward an incumbent president can be dangerous for candidates who want those elusive undecided voters.

People who remember The story of Richard Nixon’s shifty eyes over a half century ago know that, as a visual medium, television can undo a viable candidate. George H.W. Bush was thought to be bored when he looked at his watch during a 1992 debate with Bill Clinton, who became president, and Al Gore annoyed the audience by repeatedly sighing during a 2000 debate with George W. Bush. Body-language expert Janine Driver said that shoulder shrugs can indicate uncertainty and a wrinkled upper lip disgust while eye blinking, either too much or too little, can convey stress. Turning his body toward his opponent is a way for a candidate to demonstrate confidence.

The first 30 minutes of the debate sets the tone: candidates need to deliver their most important moves during this time while pundits are still trying to figure out how things are going. Gore adviser Ron Klain wrote, “While you can lose a debate at any time, you can only win it in the first 30 minutes.” That’s the time that candidates will probably try to get the other to justify what they say, especially if the candidates (mostly Romney) is fact-challenged.

Romney’s explanations of how his policies are different from those of George W. Bush will be most interesting because they aren’t. Yet he can’t say that he’s following these failed policies. “Until Governor Romney can show why his policies would be different from Bush’s policies, then we think it is highly unlikely that he can win,” Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analyst Brian Gardner wrote in a research note. The conservative National Review wrote that Romney should acknowledge that problems like the mounting national debt and the Byzantine tax code were in place long before Obama took office, but argue the current president has failed to fix them. This will be the most delicate balance: Romney can’t throw Bush under the bus, but rejection of his policies can anger his base.

The first debate will focus on the economy, but there are parts of the economy that won’t be mentioned tomorrow night. Nobody will point out that an immediate deficit reduction will eradicate any economic recovery. Part of our problem now with sluggish economic recovery is that government cut spending, laying off workers and cancelling orders for stuff that generates income in the private sector. The situation trickles down as more and more people lose their jobs. But neither candidate will mention this tomorrow because too many people refuse to believe the trickle-down poverty.

Another fact that people refuse to believe—and that won’t be mentioned—is that taxes are the lowest they have been for over a half century which keeps the country from investing in its infrastructure. People complain about the bumpy highways and dangerous bridges while, at the same time, refusing to invest in their maintenance. Nobody will mention tomorrow night that tax cuts were effective when taxes were over 70 percent. Now one of the candidate, a multi-millionaire, pays less than 14 percent in taxes. There’s not much more to cut. And forget about those “job creators.” People like Romney who pay a top of 15 percent for capital gains don’t hire anyone except maybe someone to mow is lawns.

In a discussion about Medicare, one candidate wants to have almost useless vouchers (at least today) and the other wants to pretty much maintain the status quo. But the answer is to eliminate the waste, a program that the Affordable Care Act will pilot. Saying this, however, is dangerous. Another solution to save money, that of controlling the astronomically high expenses for drugs, is also a subject that cannot be introduced.

Neither candidate can bring up the outrageous expenses of the U.S. military, more than double it was a decade ago. To get votes, candidates have to promise they will protect the Pentagon from any cuts, even though it takes 20 percent of the budget. As an example, the U.S. has eleven large nuclear-powered carriers while China has one that may not ever be functional. At the same time, conservatives want a twelfth.

While the military is seriously overfunded, the education system in the nation is at the opposite end of the spectrum, receiving about 2 percent of the federal budget. Students pay higher and higher tuition as they fall deeper and deeper into debt. Investment in education would pay off in the future, but in its attempt to destroy all unions in the country, conservatives concentrate more and more on bashing teachers and complaining about the schools while privatizing them and decreasing the budget. Reducing taxes and spending is “for the kids,” according to conservatives, but they aren’t willing to give them an education.

The best pre-debate piece comes from Eugene Robinson: It starts, “Wednesday’s presidential debate promises sharp contrasts. One candidate wants to repeal Obamacare, one candidate invented it. One opposed the auto industry bailout, one takes credit for it. One doubts the scientific consensus about climate change, one believes in it. One wants to “voucherize” Medicare, one wants to save it. One dismisses nearly half of Americans as a bunch of moochers, and one claims to champion the struggling middle class. It promises to be an epic clash: Mitt Romney vs. Mitt Romney. Oh, and President Obama will be there, too.”

Robinson continues to identify more opposing positions from Romney: pro-choice before he was anti-abortion; stricter gun control before he opposed it; tax cuts that will add revenue; moderate before he became ultra conservative and then swerved a little toward moderate again. The current joke about Romney is that he’s been memorizing and practicing zingers since August.

Correction: Jim Lehrer is moderating the first 2012 presidential debate today. Candy Crowley will be moderating the one on October 16.

CNN is sponsoring tomorrow’s presidential debate with Candy Crowley moderating. UltraViolet, a women’s rights group, is petitioning CNN to fire Erick Erickson and then boycott CNN for not firing Erickson after his consistently sexist remarks. The tipping point was his comparison of the Democratic National Convention to Eve Ensler’s feminist play The Vagina Monologues. His “apology” was typical: “My apologies to those offended by my tweet. Wasn’t my intention.” Nothing about recognizing that his words were inappropriate.

This wasn’t the first time that Erickson made shameful statements: he’s defended Rush Limbaugh for calling Sandra Fluke a “slut”; he accused women in the Obama Administration of pushing U.S. intervention in Libya “like women drivers” with “no plan,” “no map,”, and “no shopping list”; and he’s supported Rep. Todd Akin (R-MI) after his “legitimate rape” comments. UltraViolet is still circulating a petition.

Personally, I’m watching the debate on MSNBC; Rachel Maddow does a great job moderating panels about political events and includes both Republicans and Democrats for a truly balanced discussion.


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