I would have invoked Der Stürmer, and encouraged invocations of Godwin’s law, but Matt Taibbi is right, Fox News, and their fellow travellers are much closer to Radio Rwanda than they are to Julius Streicher’s oervre:
A lot of Tea Party anger is driven by real local issues — where I live in central Jersey, for instance, there are a lot of pissed-off white people crowing over a nutty state supreme court case in which a Central American drunk driver got off because cops didn’t explain the consequences of refusing a breathalyzer in his native Spanish. But without the constant reinforcement of national 24-hour media, which has taken these isolated cases and presented them as a coast-to-coast massive conspiracy, the rage over stories like this would never reach the levels we’re seeing.
In fact if you follow Fox News and the Limbaugh/Hannity afternoon radio crew, this summer’s blowout has almost seemed like an intentional echo of the notorious Radio Rwanda broadcasts “warning” Hutus that they were about to be attacked and killed by conspiring Tutsis, broadcasts that led to massacres of Tutsis by Hutus acting in “self-defense.” A sample of some of the stuff we’ve seen and heard on the air this year:
- On July 12, Glenn Beck implied that the Obama government was going to aid the New Black Panther Party in starting a race war, with the ultimate aim of killing white babies. “They want a race war. We must be peaceful people. They are going to poke, and poke, and poke, and our government is going to stand by and let them do it.” He also said that “we must take the role of Martin Luther King, because I do not believe that Martin Luther King believed in, ‘Kill all white babies.'”
- CNN contributor and Redstate.com writer Erick Erickson, on the Panther mess: “Republican candidates nationwide should seize on this issue. The Democrats are giving a pass to radicals who advocate killing white kids in the name of racial justice and who try to block voters from the polls.”
- On July 6, the Washington Times columnist J. Christian Adams wrote an editorial insisting that “top [Obama] appointees have allowed and even encouraged race-based enforcement as either tacit or open policy,” marking one of what would become many assertions by commentators that the Obama administration was no longer interested in protecting the rights of white people. “The Bush Civil Rights Division was willing to protect all Americans from racial discrimination,” Adams wrote. “During the Obama years, the Holder years, only some Americans will be protected.”
- July 12: Rush Limbaugh says Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder “protect and represent” the New Black Panther party.
- July 28: Rush says Supreme Court decision on 1070 strips Arizonans of their rights to defend themselves against an “invasion”: “I guess the judge is saying it’s not in the public interest for Arizona to try to defend itself from an invasion. I don’t know how you look at this with any sort of common sense and come to the ruling this woman came to.” That same day, Rush says this: “Muslim terrorists are going to have a field day in Arizona. You cannot ask them where they’re from. You cannot even act like we know where they’re from. You cannot ask them for their papers. We can ask you for yours. Not them.”
- July 29: The Washington Times asks “Should Arizona Secede?” and says the Supreme Court “is unilaterally disarming the people of Arizona in the face of a dangerous enemy” with the aim of creating a “socialist superstate.” The paper writes: “The choice is becoming starkly apparent: devolution or dissolution.”
- July 29, Fox and Friends host Steve Doocy continues the Radio Rwanda theme, saying, “If the feds won’t protect the people and Governor Brewer can’t protect her citizens, what are the people of Arizona supposed to do?”There’s nothing in the world more tired than a progressive blogger like me flipping out over the latest idiocies emanating from the Fox News crowd. But this summer’s media hate-fest is different than anything we’ve seen before. What we’re watching is a calculated campaign to demonize blacks, Mexicans, and gays and convince a plurality of economically-depressed white voters that they are under imminent legal and perhaps even physical attack by a conspiracy of leftist nonwhites. They’re telling these people that their government is illegitimate and criminal and unironically urging secession and revolution.
There are some deeply evil people out there who are looking to leverage bigotry, racism, and fear for their own profit and power.
Taibbi calls for a boycott, saying that he’d, “Like to see at least one firm get blown out of business as a consequence of financially supporting the network that is telling America that its black president wants to kill white babies,” but he misses a part of the dynamic with his call to action: It isn’t that Fox News, and probably the rest of the media outlets, are driven by cynical economic or political goals, it’s that many of them, are bed wetting cowards like Roger Ailes, and they truly live their lives in terror.
As to the politicians stoking this matter, it’s pretty clear that they (Newt) are looking at this through the prism of political advantage though.
I won’t muse on the mental processes of Sarah Palin, that way lies me huddled on the floor, covered in mayonnaise, and gibbering, “Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!”