Friday, July 31, 2009

Stop The Madness

If I read the right wing of the Republican party correctly, the United States is led by a racist President born in Africa who wants kill old people (only white ones, presumably). That's pretty much what passes for "thought" these days in the party of Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Eisenhower.

The latter two positions are hardly worth commenting on, except that looney-toons birthers have actual supporters in Congress (be sure to watch Chris Matthews eviscerate Rep. John Campbell here). Similarly, Republican members of Congress have taken to the hustings to demagogue health care reform as meaning death to old people, encroaching socialism (I wish), and a general Armageddon that would result in the triumph of Evil over Good. All this while Democrats wrestle over the content of what could and should be the most far-reaching piece of legislation since the days of the Great Society.

But the worst by far is Glenn Beck's recent accusation that Barack Obama is a racist. This is a blatant smear designed to raise Beck's ratings and add nothing positive to the discussion of the most sensitive issue of all. Moreover, Beck indulges in the very thing many whites accuse blacks of: Playing the race card and claiming victimhood where none exists. It's ignorant, offensive, dishonest, cynical and done for no other reason other than to add a decimal point or two to a Fox News program. I can't think of any way in which Beck's blunt accusation remotely contributes to the dialogue about race, promotes mutual understanding, or raises the level of empathy for one race of people by another. In the same video, Michelle Malkin practically smirks when she alludes to Obama's racial attitudes.

I'm not going to dignify these accusations by refuting them. Barack Obama is about as racist as Martin Luther King; nothing more than that needs be said. But there are things we can do, such as write to the sponsors of Beck's show, who happen to include:

General Motors
Campbell Soup
Proctor & Gamble
Kraft Foods

Momma Politico has provided links to each company's contact web page here, making it easy to send simple but emphatic emails like this:

Yesterday, Fox News commentator Glenn Beck smeared President Obama by calling him a racist. This goes far beyond responsible commentary, and it troubles me that <> sponsors Beck's program. Respectfully, I urge you to repudiate what amounts to hate speech and by redirecting advertising dedicated to Beck's show to other Fox News programming.

Thanks to MP's action and the miracle of cut-and-paste, it took me about 15 minutes to compose the email and contact all nine companies. Why not join me?

(Thanks to Annette at Just my little piece of the world, Helen Wheels at Just Ain't Right, Perry at Momma Politico, and Zen Yenta for pulling together the material used in today's entry.)...

Bob Marley alway has so much things to say...

Those Republicans: Will they ever get real?...

Friday's Choice: Buddy Guy and Carlos Santana rip it up at the Montreux Jazz Festival (thanks, RGG!):


PeterPan said...

Hi Citizen K.

I’m not a citizen of the USA – I’m german. So its maybe none of my business but let me write a remark to that issue anyway – by your leave:

In germany we got a saying: “What cares an oak tree when a wild pig is scratching at its trunk?” (That’s been translated more or less literally: Was k├╝mmert es die Eiche, wenn ein Schwein sich an ihr kratzt).
I would advise Mr. Obama to react like the oak tree – and I bet he will do that anyway.
One could classify that issue under the headline “freedom of speech” but since I’d been very often in the USA and since I got to know the still existing racism, especially in the southern states, I wouldn’t think that harmless at all. I think there are supposed to be limits concerning that “freedom of speech” issue. I remember, one day I was staying at a friends house and watching a talk show in US-television. They were talking about “neo-nazies” in the USA. There were one or two of these “creatures” who were wearing uniforms with original Nazisymbols on it (swastika armband, SS-insignias and stuff like that). I was shocked and asked this friend how that can happen – in germany they would be arrested. She looked at me and explained:”Hey what do you expect? We’re in the USA and we got freedom of speech!” Well, I’m still trying to understand what “Freedom of speech” got to do with wearing nazisymbols in public and its been quite a few years ago already.
Same thing concerning that issue you were mentioning – one could ask what “freedom of speech” got to do with talking such kind of nonsense in public. I think it wouldn’t be an affair at all if there wouldn’t be people who believe that crap. But thats a chance too maybe: An ongoing discussion about that issue might unmask the real nature of it – crap!

K. said...

Peter: Thanks for your thoughtful comment. The American concept of free speech can be difficult to grasp, especially since there are absolutists (including me) across the political spectrum. In the United States, Freedom of Speech is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution. According to Wikipedia,

"The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights that expressly prohibits the United States Congress from making laws "respecting an establishment of religion" or that prohibit the free exercise of religion, infringe the freedom of speech, infringe the freedom of the press, limit the right to peaceably assemble, or limit the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

"Although the First Amendment only explicitly applies to the Congress, the Supreme Court has interpreted it as applying to the executive and judicial branches. Additionally, in the 20th century, the Supreme Court held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applies the limitations of the First Amendment to each state, including any local government within a state."

Thus, with a very few exceptions, the First Amendment proscribes government at any level from placing restrictions on individual speech. This is why neo-Nazis can wear their regalia without fear of government interference. I appreciate that this in particular is an exceptionally sensitive issue in Germany (isn't the Nazi Party outlawed there?), but the idea in the States is that if the government can go after one group, it can go after any group; therefore, absolute freedom of expression takes precedence over even the most vile expressions of the right.

In the States, the great threats to Freedom of Speech have typically been imposed by the right against the left, especially during the Red Scare of the Fifties. While this had the long-term effect of making the left somewhat more sensitive to matters of free speech, it's important to recognize that many conservatives (such as William Safire) are stalwart supporters of the absolute right to free speech.

It's also important to understand that while governments cannot step in to stop the likes of Mr. Beck, individuals and advocacy groups have recourse to oppose him (within legal bounds). Thus, the call to urge his sponsors to withdraw their support of his program.

Annette said...

What a great perspective he brings to the table.

Thanks for this. We have to start taking a stand, for too long we have just let this stuff slide and rolled over.. well now we have a way, through our blogs to join voices and stand together to try to put a stop to this type of hate speech, because I truly think that's what it is.

Once the freedom of speech we so enjoy turns the corner into this type of hate speech against a person such as the President, it is time to stand up.

Roy said...

Consider the emailing to Beck's sponsors done. Now what do we do about Hannity? Heh, heh!

And that is one tasty music video there!

Scrumpy said...

It is just never going to end, is it?

K. said...

Annette, Scrumpy: It will never end because there will always be an audience for the Glen Becks of the world. But that doesn't mean that people of good will shouldn't make their voices heard. It felt good just pushing the Send button on those mails.

Roy: My bro is a huge fan of both Carlos and Buddy G. This must have been pretty close to Nirvana (the state of being, not the band) for him!

PeterPan said...

K: I also think that freedom of speech is supposed to be one of the most important fundamentals of democracy and people like Thomas Jefferson were kind of mentors. And I have to admit, I was really concerned about democracy in the USA when Bush was establishing his patriot act part I and II. By the way, does it still excist?
Anyway, I think there is one big problem with the media coverage nowadays: basically one is able to put everything over on every people - if one is just acting clever enough. Well - I don't think this Mr. Beck wasn't acting that clever by talking that nonsense, though, but as you know "Among the blind the one-eyed is king". It depends on how people are able to judge the things he was or still is publishing.

You are right, the Nazi Party as it was until 1945 (NSDAP) is outlawed - but there are some parties at the very right edge of the politcal spectrum (like the so called NPD) which are still legal.

Bill said...

Here's a funny bit of satire aimed at the "birthers:"

mouse (aka kimy) said...

kudos to citizen k