Last week, two new reports -- released by the Brennan Center of Justice at the NYU School of Law and the University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication, respectively -- further undermined the conservative media's discredited claims that voter ID laws do not have a discriminatory impact on persons of color and are not intended to be discriminatory on the basis of race. These reports are timely because as restrictive voting rules in conservative-leaning states increasingly materialize, civil rights advocates are noting that these state laws look very much like poll taxes- voter suppression tactics long prohibited. In response, the right-wing media has recycled multiple messages to disavow the impermissible racial discrimination of these laws.
Right-wing media try many different smokescreens in addition to just denying the racial effect of voter ID laws and redistricting altogether. For example, they have disputed the veracity of data to the contrary, argued that these tactics are not in fact barriers, and raised the specter of voter fraud, which experts have demonstrated is practically non-existent. However, it is still the first defense -- that these efforts have no racial effect -- which feeds most effectively into the right wing's preferred "colorblind" narrative.
This right-wing media denial of the racial effect usually has two components in an attempt to whitewash voter suppression, claiming that whatever effect these laws have on communities of color is wholly incidental. That is, there may be a discriminatory impact, but there is no discriminatory intent. Although the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal may have been the most recent mainstream purveyor of this message -- condemning any criticism of the recent wave of conservative-backed voter ID laws as "racial politics" -- they are far from alone in the right-wing media.
In a January 20 Washington Times column, Robert Knight wrote that President Obama's administration "has manfully undertaken the task of turning America into a Constitution-free Third World country in need of international adult guidance." Knight also accused the president of "treacherous action against" the United States and of "dismantling our military before our very eyes." From the Times:
I've thought of only one good thing so far that could result from killing the pipeline: Legions of Occupy Wall Street protesters just might leave their filthy squatter encampments in our cities and gather in coastal areas to watch the seas subside as Mr. Obama promised. Sorry about you coastal home dwellers. Welcome to our world.
Mr. Obama's reckless disregard for America's needs particularly pleases his socialist friends in Europe, who have long thought that America needs a comeuppance. They've been cheering his every treacherous action against his own country, and this one's a doozy. It might not please the Russians, however, whose own burgeoning oil and gas industries will face competition from Canada. But you can't please everyone. Maybe it will be enough for the Russians that Mr. Obama is dismantling our military before our very eyes.
By the way, if you criticize Mr. Obama for any of this, you must be a racist.
I prefer being an optimist and thinking that things will turn out OK -- even while watching pipelines being killed, gasoline prices rising and Republican presidential hopefuls providing enough sound bites to fill 1,000 Obama campaign ads in November.
Actually, we've been getting used to watching horrors for three years as the Obama administration has manfully undertaken the task of turning America into a Constitution-free Third World country in need of international adult guidance.
Few right-wing media outlets suffer more from Obama Derangement Syndrome than The Washington Times. Media Matters takes a look back at the Times' most outlandish, bizarre, and inflammatory attacks on President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama of 2011.
In a September 23 Washington Times column, Robert Knight compared President Obama to Rodney King, complained Obama does not speak "on behalf of the United States" and claimed Obama turned the military into the "largest homosexual-sensitivity training unit in history." From The Washington Times:
But the real message seemed to be Mr. Obama's taking the dais as king of the world. He touched on every theme imaginable to make "our children" happy, wealthy and wise. He talked about curing various diseases; stopping war and climate change; advancing science, prosperity and, yes, even homosexual rights, throwing in a line suited to a fundraiser in San Francisco.
Of course, with his converting the U.S. military into the largest homosexual-sensitivity training unit in history this week, why should we be surprised?
In a September 16 Washington Times column headlined, "Obama tears up the Constitution," Robert Knight used a string of falsehoods to attack President Obama as having "compiled a spectacular record of noncompliance with the Constitution" and "failed to execute the laws while using raw, unauthorized power." The first concerns the Defense of Marriage Act:
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): On Feb. 23, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced that under Mr. Obama's direction, the Justice Department would no longer defend DOMA, which is under attack in several federal courts. DOMA, which was passed by overwhelming majorities in Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, defines marriage for all federal purposes as the union of a man and a woman and allows states under the full-faith-and-credit clause not to be forced to recognize unions from other states that do not comport with their state marriage laws. Forty-five states have moved to strengthen their marriage laws, with 30 enacting constitutional amendments. Mr. Obama, who has played coy with the marriage issue while aggressively promoting the homosexual agenda, is violating his oath of office to appease the gay lobby.
In fact, while they are no longer defending DOMA, Obama and the DOJ have pledged to continue to enforce the act until it is repealed or struck down by the courts. Furthermore, the president and DOJ have the authority not to defend a statute they view as unconstitutional.
The Washington Times published an illustration of President Obama's face on late singer Amy Winehouse's body to illustrate a column by Jeffrey Kuhner that claimed Obama is "injecting the heroin of class warfare and socialism into our national bloodstream," which will lead to "insanity and death." This is just the latest outrageous Photoshopped image or illustration published by the Times to attack Obama.
The incoming editor of The Washington Times, Ed Kelley, recently suggested he was not familiar with the newspaper's long history of anti-gay attacks, saying the only controversy he had heard on the issue was "a change in whether or not the term either civil unions or gay marriage or something, whether or not there were going to be quotes used around the term or not." In fact, The Washington Times has long history of extreme rhetoric and smears against the LGBT community.
In an April 5 Washington Times column headlined, "Marching in lockstep with homosexual agenda," Robert Knight fearmongered over the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," writing that GOP congressmen asked during a recent hearing "questions that revealed the military is clueless about how much this will hurt readiness, retention, morale and recruitment." Knight further wrote: "What if you don't respect your (male) commander for having sex with other men or wearing a dress and pumps while on leave?"
From Knight's column:
"We used to conform behavior to the military. Now we're conforming the military to behavior."
Rep. Allen B. West, Florida Republican, belled the cat neatly during a hearing last Friday on the military's breakneck pace in implementing the new lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) law.
Mr. West, whose 20-plus years in the U.S. Army included combat commands, noted that he and others at Fort Bragg had to endure "sensitivity training" in the 1990s. It didn't enhance the "warrior ethos," he recalled.
What became clear at the hearing of the House Armed Services Committee's Personnel Subcommittee chaired by Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican, is that the Pentagon is forging into unknown territory, driven by political correctness, not military need.
On the other side, Mr. Wilson, joined by Rep. Vicky Hartzler, Missouri Republican, Rep. Austin Scott, Georgia Republican, Mr. Coffman and Mr. West asked questions that revealed the military is clueless about how much this will hurt readiness, retention, morale and recruitment.
Both Mr. Stanley and Adm. Gortney insisted that chaplains and others troubled by the new policy will face no repercussions. Sure they won't. Adm. Mullen has already invited anyone who disagrees to leave the military.
"We're not asking anyone to change their beliefs, just treat everyone with respect," Adm. Gortney said. What if you don't respect your (male) commander for having sex with other men or wearing a dress and pumps while on leave?
In a March 25 Washington Times column, Robert Knight wrote that the Obama administration "is lobbing nukes into the institution of marriage and the military" by repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and declining to continue defending the Defense of Marriage Act. Knight further suggested that the Obama administration is "trash[ing] marriage and the law."
From Knight's op-ed:
The left is lobbing nukes into the institution of marriage and the military. Obamacare is going forward, complete with funding for abortion and massive increases in the size of the already enormous Department of Health and Human Services. Defunding this increasingly unpopular power grab should be in every budget bill - but it's not.
Despite no promised certification that lifting the military's ban on homosexuality will harm readiness, recruiting or retention, President Obama's Pentagon already has produced materials hatched in a theater of the absurd. As Washington Times correspondent Rowan Scarborough reports, Marine commanders will have to ponder, for example, what to do if two male Marines are seen kissing in a shopping mall.
Now there's a scenario for building respect for the military among the nation's youngsters.
Boy: "Look, mom, those Marines are, uh, making out right there in the food court! I'm not sure I want to be a Marine after all."
Liberal mom: "Well, that's a relief. I didn't want you to be in the military anyway. All those guns give me the creeps. But why do you find this odd? Are you some kind of religious bigot? Honestly, we're going to have to call your school and ask them to step up the tolerance training. You won't even wear that nice polka-dot dress and the pumps I bought you."
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has announced its refusal to defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which a liberal Massachusetts judge found unconstitutional. House Speaker John A. Boehner has questioned the "timing" of this dereliction of duty and has said the House will move to defend the law. Fine, but is there ever a good time to trash marriage and the law?
In honor of the one year anniversary of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Media Matters presents a timeline of one of the most disgraceful and pernicious myths about the law--death panels.
In a March 18 Washington Times column, Robert Knight attacked anti-bullying legislation, claiming "the federal government is going to whip local schools into line using its vast fiscal powers" and calling the legislation "a politically correct form of bullying. To oppose this abuse of power implies you actually want these poor kids to be harassed."
Knight also used the column to launch anti-gay attacks on Obama administration Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennings and columnist Dan Savage:
Ms. Speier's new school-bullying idea mirrors President Obama's recent interest in the subject. On March 10, he held an "anti-bullying" conference at the White House. Besides "safe schools czar" Kevin Jennings, invitees included anti-Christian homosexual activist Dan Savage, who attained some fame in 2000 for claiming to have licked the doorknobs of pro-family Republican candidate Gary Bauer's office in hopes of giving Mr. Bauer the flu. Now that's the kind of participant we should have at every anti-bullying conference, if only as a role model.
The government, under the auspices of three federal agencies, has created a website dedicated to ending bullying. Paraphrasing Mrs. Higgins, here's the site's underlying philosophy: 1) Homosexual behavior is equivalent to race, 2) any kind of sex is morally positive, and 3) expressing any conservative moral beliefs leads to bullying. What a neat formula for suppressing dissent.
Knight further attacked opponents of Rep. Peter King's anti-Muslim "radicalization" hearings:
Speaking of bullying, Ms. Speier was in rare form along with other Democrats on March 10 at Rep. Peter King's Homeland Security Committee's hearing on radicalization of U.S. Muslims.
She rebuked the committee for focusing on Islamic terror instead of expanding it to "Christian" terrorist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan or the violent anti-abortion group Army of God, and she assailed some witnesses.
Given Ms. Speier's fiery demeanor toward anyone who conveys the idea that radical Islam is more of a threat than, say, a Baptist ladies knitting club, it's no wonder Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy D. Baca almost fell over himself praising Islam as a religion of peace and unloading nuggets like this:
"The Muslim community is no less or no more important than others, as no one can predict with complete accuracy who and what will pose the next threat against our nation."
As I said, watch out for those ladies and their knitting needles. OK, that's not fair. Ms. Speier and Sheriff Baca were talking about groups that actually commit violence. But given the threat we face, the moral equivalence is still stunning.
Responding to the Justice Department's recent decision to no longer defend Section Three of the Defense of Marriage Act, Washington Times columnist Robert Knight unleashed an unhinged, homophobic rant in which he cited an anti-gay hate group and called the decision an "impeachable offense."
Knight implored his readers to "check out Brian Camenker's shocking expose 'What same-sex 'marriage' has done to Massachusetts'" and wrote that Camenker's organization, MassResistance, "is warning the nation that there will be no quarter for those who think homosexuality is wrong and that marriage is the union of one man and one woman."
MassResistance has previously called on parents to keep their children home from school during an event promoting awareness of, and opposition to, anti-gay bullying and has stated that suicide prevention programs for gay and lesbian youth have no "legitimate medical or psychological basis." The organization was also a major source behind the right-wing's false attacks on Department of Education official Kevin Jennings back in 2009.
Camenker, the group's longtime leader, has viciously attacked gays in the past. In 2007, he reportedly denied that gays and lesbians were targets of the Holocaust and has compared his supporters to the Allies and the gay rights movement to Nazis. In 2008, Camenker wrote that [s]ame-sex marriage "hangs over society like a hammer with the force of law."
Given The Washington Times' long history of anti-gay rhetoric, it's not shocking that one of its columnists would launch a homophobic rant like this. (See Jeffrey Kuhner's anti-gay attacks in his February 24 column.) But to allow a columnist to promote the work of a hate group as a legitimate source is simply irresponsible.
In the week since the memorial service for the victims of the shootings in Tucson, Arizona, The Washington Times has published op-eds attacking President Obama over his speech and criticizing the service as a "political rally" and a "campaign event."
In a January 18 Washington Times op-ed, Robert Knight attacked the memorial service for the victims of the shootings in Tucson, Arizona, calling it the "first major campaign event of the 2012 presidential election" and asking, "When, for instance, have you been to a memorial service where cheers and yells punctuated the eulogy and where political campaign T-shirts were draped over seats or given out to mourners at the door?"
In fact, contrary to Knight's claim that the shirts provided at the service were "political campaign T-shirts," PolitiFact noted that "officials at the University of Arizona said the White House had nothing to do with the name or the logo."
Moreover, Knight attacked Obama for using the phrase "life partners" during the service, calling it a "calculated element" of Obama's speech and that "[i]n the not too distant past, a president would have paid homage to the victims' marriages without stretching for politically correct 'inclusion.'"
Knight further attacked Obama for his comments about 9-year-old victim Christina Taylor Green:
"I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it. All of us, we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations."
Well, hold on. Children, God bless them, are not morally superior. In fact, they plot and hoard and steal and throw tantrums. It takes a lifetime to burnish away the layers of selfishness that plague us all. Psalm 53 reminds us that "there is none who does good, no, not one." This idea that we can learn from innocent children is a liberal fallacy originating in Rousseau's myth of the noble savage.
The right-wing media are kicking off 2011 by reviving "death panel" claims -- which was PolitiFact's 2009 "Lie of the Year" -- by claiming that a recent change to Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements was tantamount to the establishment of "death panels." In fact, the rule simply compensates doctors for providing voluntary end-of-life counseling.