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Florida GOP Supports Bloodthirsty Bigot Loomer For Congress

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

The Republican Party of Florida recently expressed its support for right-wing commentator and congressional candidate Laura Loomer, who has described herself as a "proud Islamophobe," has said that she didn't "care" about the anti-Muslim mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, and has stated that she's in favor of "more" migrant deaths.

Loomer won the Republican nomination in Florida's 21st Congressional District on August 18. The district is represented by Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel, who is heavily favored to win the race in November.

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When Will The Republican Party Push Back Against White Nationalism?

Reprinted with permission from The Washington Monthly.

Two horrific acts of terrorism were committed this weekend against non-Christians. One by an Islamophobic Christian supremacist terrorist mistakenly targeting Sikhs (again), and one by an anti-Semitic white supremacist terrorist spouting “replacement theory” smears.

In the first case, a man whose father was a pastor and who was suffering mental illness in part due to service in Iraq, drove into a family of Sikhs in Sunnyvale, California, allegedly believing they were Muslims. A 13-year-old girl is now in a coma and fighting for her life. The terrorist was allegedly on his way to a Bible study group and praising Jesus when authorities caught him.

In the second, a white supremacist took credit for an arsonist attack against a mosque last month, only after gunning down several people at a synagogue in Poway, California, killing one and injuring three.

He apparently wrote an anti-Semitic manifesto containing many of the same slanders against Jews ubiquitously found on conservative message boards across the internet, and that fueled Nazism in Weimar Germany: that Jews are intentionally enabling non-white populations to grow in America and Europe to replace the white race. That this theory is utterly bogus doesn’t matter: large parts of the conservative movements in the Anglosphere and elsewhere believe it. And white supremacist terrorists have increasingly begun to act on it.

These are only the latest in a series of escalating terrorist acts against non-Christians and non-whites in the wake of Donald Trump’s ascent to the Republican nomination and the presidency. Donald Trump, of course, doesn’t care: this is his base, as is obvious from even a cursory visit to any heavily pro-Trump forum on Fox News, Reddit, Voat, Gab or elsewhere. White supremacist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and misogynist rhetoric runs rampant across the entirety of the conservative movement. The transformation of the Republican Party into a vehicle of violent white male grievance has rapidly accelerated its longtime trend under Trump. It’s also no surprise that the president is doing less than nothing to stop it.

After all, in the wake of neo-Nazi protests in Charlottesville, Donald Trump refrained from making a statement for several days. He then ultimately said that there were “very fine people on both sides.” Among the chants of those very fine people? “Jews will not replace us.” The same conspiracy theory that drove the terrorist attack in Poway on Saturday. Trump doesn’t care, though. The attack came one the same day he congratulated the white player picked second in the NFL draft while ignoring the black player picked first. This is what he does. This is who he is. He knows his base, and he doesn’t care about anyone else. Beyond personal graft, enabling these bigots is the core rationale behind his presidency.

The Democratic Party and the nation’s liberals are almost irrelevant to this conversation. Progressives continue o debate the depth of the bigotry among the least committed portions of Trump’s voters. How many of them may be persuaded to vote against Republicans on the basis of economic appeals? How can Democrats energize the infrequent voters among their core constituencies, including women, youth, and people of color?

But functionally speaking, that argument is a strategic one over perhaps a 4-5 percent slice of the electorate. It’s a tactically crucial question that could make the difference between a Democratic landslide and a devastating narrow loss setting progress back for over a generation. Yet it doesn’t change all that much when considering the broad partisan direction of 90 percent of the country.

The more important question now is: what will the rest of the Republican leadership will do? And what will the conservative infotainment complex do?

As older, whiter, more male, and more socially conservative voters decline as a portion of the electorate, the Republican Party has become increasingly hostile to democracy itself. Gerrymandering, census manipulation, poll taxes, power grabs against branches of government they don’t control, voter suppression, and legislative intimidation against voter registration can all be done with little public fanfare to help them delay the inevitable.

But violent acts of terrorism by their own base are much harder to sweep under the rug. Vague statements of general condemnation against violence won’t cut it as these despicable acts continue to increase, and as the Republican Party becomes increasingly associated with them. Whatever remains of the mushy middle of American politics is allergic to conflict, extremism, and violence—and as conservative politics are increasingly associated with violent extremism, Republican room for electoral maneuvering decreases.

Conservative infotainment on cable news and AM radio can maintain their radicalized audiences longer than the Republican Party can sustain its position: after all, a small population can keep conservative media in business much longer than it can continue to deliver majoritarian wins for one of America’s two major political parties, even buoyed by political affirmative action for older, rural white voters. But conservative media has its own problem: advertisers. Corporate America knows where its future customer base is—and it’s not with the Fox News audience. So, ultimately, even the likes of the Murdoch family, Clear Channel, and Sinclair Broadcast Group will feel the hit from the abandonment of advertisers.

And that is all just tactical. Morally, how long can Republican opinion leaders sustain the current trends as their base descends into radical violent extremism? We certainly haven’t hit rock bottom yet. Maybe there isn’t one, but common sense dictates that at least some in the conservative intelligentsia must have a breaking point.

But at what point, either out of moral revulsion, a sense of patriotic duty, or sheer self-preservation, do Republican leaders start trying to put out the fire instead of fanning the flames? How many more deaths will it take?

How Right-Wing Media Falsified What Ilhan Omar Said — To Attack Her

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

On March 23, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) spoke at an event put on by the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Woodland Hills, CA. The roughly 20-minute speech, which centered on some of the challenges American Muslims face such as anti-Muslim rhetoric, is attracting new attention weeks later for a line mentioning 9/11.

In context, what she said was clear: No matter how “good” American Muslims are, they’ll continue to be treated as second-class citizens because of anti-Muslim attitudes and government policies that intensified in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. American Muslims are still treated with suspicion and subjected to undue scrutiny by the government and public alike. The argument Omar was making in her speech was very clearly about how unfair it is to be lumped in with terrorists and constantly stereotyped on the basis of faith. While saying this, she referred to the 9/11 hijackers as “some people.” When put in context, that choice of words was clearly meant to differentiate between terrorists and American Muslims. The controversy surrounding this line (in bold below) is based on misinterpreting what she said as downplaying the 9/11 attacks — something that she never did.

Below the video of Omar’s speech is a partial transcript:

 

The truth is you can go to school and be a good student. You can listen to your dad and mom and become a doctor. You can have that beautiful wedding that makes mom and dad happy. You can buy that beautiful house. But none of that stuff matters if you one day show up to the hospital and your wife, or maybe yourself, is having a baby, and you can’t have the access that you need because someone doesn’t recognize you as fully human.

It doesn’t matter how good you were if you can’t have your prayer mat and take your 15-minute break to go pray in a country that was founded on religious liberty. It doesn’t matter how good you are if you one day find yourself in a school where other religions are talked about, but when Islam is mentioned, we are only talking about terrorists. And if you say something, you are sent to the principal’s office. So to me, I say, raise hell; make people uncomfortable.

Because here’s the truth — here’s the truth: Far too long, we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen, and frankly, I’m tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it. CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties. So you can’t just say that today someone is looking at me strange, that I am going to try to make myself look pleasant. You have to say, “This person is looking at me strange. I am not comfortable with it. I am going to go talk to them and ask them why.” Because that is a right you have.

A bad-faith reading of Omar’s speech sparked the latest in an increasingly long line of attacks on the congresswoman.

On April 8, Imam Mohamad Tawhidi tweeted a 19-second clip from the speech, falsely stating that Omar doesn’t consider 9/11 a terrorist attack. He also called CAIR a “terrorist organization.”

By the afternoon of April 9, right-wing media were all over this story, perhaps nudged on by tweets from Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, the latter of whom accused Omar of being “anti-American.”

BreitbartThe Washington Times, and the Christian Broadcasting Network published articles about the video. The Daily Wire’s Ryan Saavedra, who called Omar an “idiot” earlier in the week, wrote that Omar “trivialized the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history.” Conservative Review went so far as to baselessly suggest that Omar appeared “to be entertaining a conspiracy theory when she [said] that ‘some people did something.’” On the April 9 edition of The Glenn Beck Program, co-host Pat Gray commented on the clip, saying that Omar “makes American Muslims sound like the victims of 9/11. They weren’t.”

During his April 9 Fox News show, Sean Hannity criticized Omar, referring to the “just unearthed” video. Describing the video as “unearthed” might give the impression that there was an attempt to hide it, but it was actually posted on YouTube, and Fox News even streamed it live on Facebook.

On the April 10 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade questioned whether Omar was sufficiently American, saying, “Really? ‘Some people did something’? You have to wonder if she is an American first. … Can you imagine if she was representing your community, and you were in her district, how embarrassed you must feel today.”

Kilmeade continued: “This would’ve been an opportunity for a Muslim American to say, ‘Let me just tell you how Al Qaeda, ISIS, al-Shabab, and others don’t represent our religion and that maybe we got lumped in together.’” He also said that the U.S. is “trying to contain this infection which is Muslim extremists. Why she wouldn’t use herself and her leadership position to separate the American Muslim from that school of thought is beyond me.”

Obviously, it wouldn’t have made much sense for Omar to explain to an audience of Muslims at a Muslim advocacy organization fundraiser something they very obviously already know — that they’re not the same as the 9/11 terrorists. Kilmeade didn’t let that stop him, however.

This is the latest example of right-wing media willfully offering obtuse and sinister interpretations of something a Democrat said.

Recently, the RNC published an 18-second clip of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) saying, “We need comprehensive immigration reform. If you are in this country now, you must have the right to pay into Social Security, to pay your taxes, to pay into the local school system, and to have a pathway to citizenship.”

A reasonable interpretation of what she said is that many undocumented immigrants pay into our systems as it is, and these productive members of society should have a right to pursue citizenship if they want to. The right-wing narrative, however, coalesced around an obviously false claim that she was suggesting giving Social Security money to undocumented immigrants.

The same thing happened last year after a clip of former Attorney General Eric Holder was widely spread with the claim that he was calling for violence when he said “when they go low, we kick them,” even though he went on to very explicitly say what he meant by “kick.”

In addition to being undercut by the context of the event, their argument against Omar’s speech is further demolished when you consider that President Donald Trump has a history of referring to terrorists as “losers” — which Fox News defended at the time. The one real point they might have is that she misstated when CAIR was founded. The organization was founded in 1994, not after the 9/11 attacks.

Update: Right-wing media continued their anti-Omar pile-on into the evening and morning after this piece was originally published. During the April 10 edition of Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight, Dobbs and guest Tammy Bruce laid into Omar for the “some people did something” line.

“She sounds like she hates America, Tammy,” said Dobbs. “She sounds like she hates Jews; she hates Israelis. What is it she doesn’t hate?”

Bruce then baselessly claimed that the line was intended to convey a belief that “we deserve, perhaps, what happened to us [on 9/11]. That those innocent victims deserve that in some fashion.”

On April 11, the New York Post published a front page story based on the distorted comment accompanied by a photo of one of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center and the headline “Here’s your something.” This, again, doesn’t fairly reflect what she said.

The message of her speech was specifically that American Muslims often get unfairly lumped in with terrorists. On March 1, NBC reported that the West Virginia Republican Party allegedly set up an anti-Muslim display in the state capitol building. Among the items was a picture of the World Trade Center being hit by a plane with the words “‘Never forget’ – you said..” Below that was a photo of Omar with the text “I am the proof – you have forgotten.”

In February, a Coast Guard lieutenant named Christopher Paul Hasson was arrested on drug and gun charges, and prosecutors found that he had been creating a hit list of prominent Democrats and journalists to attack. Omar was among the names. In early April, a Trump supporter named Patrick W. Carlineo was arrested for threatening to assassinate Omar.

Ramping up anti-Omar sentiment based on a willful misreading of something she said will only put her in more danger.

How Billionaire ‘Conservatives’ Use Hate To Divide America

The union I lead, the United Steelworkers (USW), believes in unity, that “all working men and women, regardless of creed, color or nationality” are eligible for membership.

That was the guiding principle of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC) when it formed in 1937.

I return to that statement in times like these, times when terrorists shoot up mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 50 worshipers; a synagogue in the USW’s hometown of Pittsburgh, killing 11; an African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine; a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, killing six; a nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 mostly young gay people.

The USW membership eligibility statement is an assertion of inclusion. All working men and women qualify. They can all join. They can all attend local union meetings at which members call each other “brother” and “sister.” This practice creates artificial, but crucial, bonds between them. This solidarity gives the group strength when facing off against massive multinational corporations and demanding decent pay and dignified working conditions.

To erode that solidarity, some billionaire hedge fund owners and multinational CEOs work to divide workers. These wealthy .01 percenters separate people by cultivating hate. Some are the same billionaire sugar daddies of alt-right hate sites like Breitbart and more conventional hate media outlets like Fox News. Investigative journalist Jane Mayer wrote a book about their efforts titled Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.

This hate-mongering sets workaday people against each other. That weakens them politically. And it contributes to false-fear–provoked violence.

Look, the labor movement is far from perfect. A couple of decades ago, African-American USW members had to sue steel corporations and the union to secure equal opportunity. Clearly, we haven’t always lived up to our principles. But the goal of brotherhood and sisterhood among all workers is a noble one that must be strived for. We all sweat together to support ourselves and our families. We all come to each other’s aid when a fellow worker’s home burns down or child falls ill. We stand shoulder to shoulder to demand a just portion of the profits created by our labor.

Exclusion is self-defeating, whether workers belong to a labor union or not. Because every man and woman is needed on deck, we can’t let billionaire hate purveyors like the Mercers and Murdochs split us, in our workplaces or in our communities.

Robert Mercer, 72, who made his billions as a hedge fund manager, is a major funder—more than $10 million—of Breitbart, the website once run by former White House aide Stephen Bannon. This is what the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization devoted to monitoring and exposing domestic hate groups and extremists, wrote about the site:

“In April of 2016, the SPLC documented Breitbart’s embrace of extremist ideas and racist tropes such as black-on-white crime and anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. Further analyses showed how under executive chair Stephen Bannon, Breitbart’s comment section became a safe space for anti-Semitic language.”

Bannon specifically told Mother Jones magazine that Breitbart was the platform for the alt-right, which has lifted anti-Semitic and white supremacist voices.

At the same time, the Mercers, Robert and his daughter Rebekah, were giving millions to right-wing anti-union groups through the Mercer Family Foundation. These include the virulent anti-union Heartland Institute ($6.68 million), Heritage Foundation ($2 million), CATO Institute ($1.2 million) and Manhattan Institute for Policy Research ($2.18 million).

It includes the Center for Union Facts ($900,000), a secretive group for corporations and wealthy individuals who oppose unions and who are willing to fund its lies about labor organizations, and the Freedom Partners Action Fund ($2.5 million), which, in turn, has given millions to anti-union groups like the National Right to Work Committee. And the Mercer Foundation gave $100,000 to the State Policy Network, the umbrella group for 100 state-level organizations devoted to destroying labor organizations.

The media mogul Rupert Murdoch, 88, is a slightly older version of Robert Mercer. He made his feelings about labor unions clear 30 years ago when he moved his London newspaper operations overnight to a barbed-wire–enclosed bunker in the neighborhood of Wapping and told unions he’d fire all workers who did not immediately transfer to the new building and use its new technology. When the print unions resisted, Murdoch fired 5,500 printers.

He also served on the board of directors of the anti-union CATO Institute. Murdoch, who is worth about $20 billion, is listed as chairman and president of a Murdoch Foundation, but it has no assets and has made no grants in more than a decade.

On Fox News, the television network controlled by Murdoch, numerous commentators, including the currently suspended Tucker Carlson and Jeanine Pirro, are openly hostile to labor unions and are viciously anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has called for advertisers to boycott Fox News unless it fires Carlson and Pirro.

A former senior vice president at Murdoch’s News Corp, Joseph Azam, told National Public Radio this week he left his job in 2017 over the network’s coverage of Muslims, immigrants and race. The NPR story says, “the rhetoric coming from some of his corporate colleagues sickened him: Muslims derided as threats or less than human; immigrants depicted as invaders, dirty or criminal; African-Americans presented as menacing; Jewish figures characterized as playing roles in insidious conspiracies.”

Last weekend, a Muslim news producer, Rashna Farrukh, announced that she quit Fox’s corporate cousin, Sky News Australia, over its coverage of Muslims on the days after the massacre at the two Christchurch mosques. She wrote this in a post for ABC News:

“I compromised my values and beliefs to stand idly by as I watched commentators and pundits instill more and more fear into their viewers. I stood on the other side of the studio doors while they slammed every minority group in the country—mine included—increasing polarization and paranoia among their viewers.”

Billionaires such as Murdoch and Mercer wield immense power. Organizations they stealth-fund are dedicated to dividing and conquering workers. They’re dangerous because they breed, broadcast and promote hate.

The only way to deal with them is with solidarity. Workers must have each other’s backs. They must see each other as brothers and sisters. Their guiding principle must be that all working men and women, regardless of creed, color, nationality or sexual orientation are welcome.

Leo W. Gerard is the international president of the United Steelworkers Union (USW).

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.

IMAGE: Hedge-fund billionaire, anti-union ideologue, and Breitbart financier Robert Mercer.