This week in reading the far right so you don’t have to: violent liberals, xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny, and more.
But before all that, we’ll address some statements made recently by Alex Marlow, editor in chief of Breitbart, one of the sites that inspired this feature. “We’re not a hate site,” Marlow told NBC News last week. He also asserted that the site is “always accurate.”
Breitbart does publish legitimate news, some of it aggregated from and properly credited to other sources, and sometimes with snarky comments intended to resonate with the site’s mostly right-wing readers. It has a point of view, and that’s OK. So do a lot of publications, including The Advocate.
But the site, named for its founder, the late Andrew Breitbart, also gives a platform to some unsubstantiated claims — such as talk-show host Mark Levin’s assertion about the Obama administration wiretapping Donald Trump, and the idea that investor-philanthropist George Soros has liberals and many conservatives in his pocket, and is even paying protesters. And it gives a platform to some hateful rhetoric, often anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim.
It’s not quite as far out in the ether as Alex Jones’s Infowars, which sees a globalist and satanic conspiracy around every corner, or World Net Daily, which is rabidly anti-Muslim and pushes a Christian right view of the world. Townhall, another site often appearing in this feature, is also not as far out as those two, as it publishes some straight news stories, but its columnists range from reasonable conservatives to out-and-out wingnuts. We’re here to point out the wingnuts and counter them.
Herewith: Many media outlets have ceased giving time or space to Ann Coulter, but she’s still very popular at Breitbart. Sunday the site published an exclusive interview with her in which she asserted that the findings of a CNN poll on immigration, indicating that many respondents oppose mass deportations of undocumented immigrants, could not be accurate. That, she said, is because those who favor such a move fear violent retribution from liberals.
“As long as we live in a country where liberals are going to violently attack anyone who disagrees with them, what is the point of polling?” she said. “The left’s recent eruptions of rage, lies and fascistic violence has resulted in a populace where no one wants to upset the little darlings. We may as well admit that in the current environment, public policy polls are useless.”
Coulter would have her audience think leftist violence is widespread, when in truth most protests against Trump’s policies, on immigration and other issues, have been peaceful. She also defended Trump’s original travel ban, saying, “Who could have imagined that a temporary travel ban on poverty-stricken, non-English-speaking, welfare-needing immigrants from 7 TERRORIST-PRODUCING countries would incite liberals to engage in nationwide protests?” (Capitalization as in the original.)
Breitbart’s reporter on the story, Katie McHugh, called the CNN poll a biased “push poll,” designed to elicit certain answers. Actually, the question quoted by McHugh sounds pretty straightforward.
She wrote, “CNN/ORC pollsters asked which of three options should be the government’s top priority: 1) ‘Deporting immigrants already in the U.S. illegally,’ 2) ‘Developing a plan to stop immigrants from entering the U.S. illegally,’ or 3) ‘Developing a plan to allow those in the U.S. illegally who have jobs to become legal residents.’” Only 13 percent chose the first option, 26 percent the second, and 60 percent the third, while 1 percent had no opinion. Again, the questions don’t sound biased — but since the Breitbart types didn’t like the results, they figured bias must be to blame, especially since the poll came from a “fake news” organization like CNN.
A popular topic on the right and elsewhere this past week was Congressman Steve King’s infamous tweet saying, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” It was widely denounced as racist and anti-immigrant, by some of King’s fellow Republicans as well as Democrats. King contended he meant nothing racial by using the term “our civilization.”
He has a defender in Andy Schlafly, son of the late anti-LGBT and antifeminist activist Phyllis Schlafly. (And no, Andy’s not the gay son.) King, he said, was talking about saving Western civilization from undermining by immigrants who won’t assimilate.
“Immigrants can be valuable members of our nation if they come in small numbers and assimilate to the culture, values, and civilization that our ancestors created for us,” Schlafly wrote in a column published on Townhall. “That doesn’t happen much anymore because so many powerful forces promote multiculturalism and separatism of immigrant groups, encouraging new immigrants to indulge in grievances and resentment for their alleged oppression by the white male patriarchy.”
There’s a lot that’s questionable in that statement. Multiculturalism isn’t a bad thing — if the U.S. were monocultural, it would be pretty darn boring. And immigrants can hold on to their culture and still be part of the mainstream of American life. To counter Schlafly, we’ll turn to Steve Chapman, one of the reasonable conservatives whose columns are carried on Townhall. Chapman, who’s syndicated from his home base at the Chicago Tribune, merits the “reasonable” designation because he uses evidence rather than biases and displays an open, inquiring mind.
The fears expressed by people like King and Trump adviser Steve Bannon (a former Breitbart executive) are similar to those once expressed about Catholic and Jewish immigrants, Chapman wrote, and they are just as unfounded. King seems to especially object to Latino and Muslim immigrants, seeing the latter as a source of terrorism, Chapman noted.
“But he underestimates the power of American culture,” Chapman observed. “A 2011 Gallup poll found that 89 percent of American Muslims say there is never a justification for an individual or group to target and kill civilians -- compared with only 71 percent of Protestants and Catholics. American Muslims are also more favorable to same-sex marriage than evangelical Christians are.
“The fear that foreigners will poison our culture or destroy our government has no basis in experience. ‘Basic indicators of assimilation, from naturalization to English ability, are if anything stronger now than they were a century ago,’ University of Washington scholar Jacob Vigdor has written about Hispanics. ‘Muslim immigrants in the U.S. are highly assimilated, presenting a strong contrast with Muslims in most European countries,’ he told me.
“The vast majority of today's immigrants, it's clear, can be expected to uphold our best political ideals and cultural traditions. King and Bannon? Not so much.”
At least one far-right columnist asserted last week that violent threats to conservatives are coming not just from liberals in general, but especially from LGBT people. Townhall columnist Arthur Schaper said that’s why the Allied War Veterans Council, which organizes the Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade, decided to allow an LGBT group, OutVets, to march.
“The Veterans Council ultimately capitulated to the homosexual group because of widespread violence and deaths,” he wrote. Well, not that violence and deaths actually happened. But he claimed, “The Boston Police Commissioner’s office warned the Council that busloads of LGBT activists from other states were planning to disrupt the parade (that means violence, folks!). The police affirmed that they could not stop the violence, and that the council would be blamed for the massive violence and death — and the Council would be held responsible for all the potential carnage!”
Well, we can’t prove there were no threats — it’s hard to prove a negative — but anyone who’s been to an LGBT Pride parade, protest march, or similar event can testify that participants are peaceful, even when countering such hateful types as the Westboro Baptist Church folks. And one of Schaper’s sources for his claim is Brian Camenker of MassResistance, one of the most rabidly anti-LGBT groups in the nation. So we’ll take Schaper with several very large grains of salt.
And because no roundup of the far right would be complete without a bit of misogyny, here’s a look at what Breitbart contributor James Delingpole, who dissed the January 21 Women’s Marches big-time, advised women regarding the International Women’s Day events this month:
“Why would you go on a march? Marches are, like, ew. They play havoc with your feet if you’re wearing heels; the noise — all that shrieking and chanting and screeching — is like the extra, hot-floored room in hell where they keep all the cats; the preponderance of blue hair and voluminous cellulite is simply unspeakable. And anyway, what exactly are you protesting against? Basically, you won. Enjoy it!”
Delingpole probably thought he was being funny, but he made some pretty seriously harmful assertions, such as that “the pay gap is a myth” and “perfectly innocent young men have been dragged into the dock and charged with rape on account of complaints by drunken young missies who led them on and later changed their minds once they’d sobered up slightly.”
Oh, and men are boors, but that’s OK. “Men are brutes,” Delingpole wrote. “Savages. They’re good for some things, like taking out the trash and, if you pick the right one, making loads of money and keeping you in the style to which you’d like to become accustomed.”
No, not a hate site at all.
We’ll be back next week with more from the wingnuts, whom we read so you don’t have to.