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Thursday, March 20, 2008
Racial and Religious Bigotry: An Overview of Recent Events
Sean Hannity and Hal Turner
Last night I noticed that this site received a lot of traffic because of Google searches of "Sean Hannity Hal Turner" (the Google search links to my post from this blog that has the transcipt of my radio conversation with Hannity about Republican sexual hypocrisy; at the end of the post, I have a list of Hannity links, including one to a Nation article by Max Blumenthal about Hannity's extensive relationship with violence-prone white supremacist Hal Turner titled, "Hannity's Soul-Mate of Hate").
I later found out by doing a Google Blog Search that on last night's Hannity and Colmes, Malik Shabazz, of the New Black Panther Party, was the guest because his group endorsed Barack Obama (an endorsement that Obama rejected). When Hannity brought up Jeremiah Wright's associations, Shabazz countered with accusations about Hannity's extensive ties with Turner (the video is here) Initially, Hannity--against all evidence--denied knowing who Turner was. In fact, Hannity allowed Turner to use his radio show as a medium to broadcast his hate-filled rants; Max Blumenthal and journalist David Neiwert extensively examined how Hannity helped to launch Turner's career. I also documented how Hannity was an unapologetic defender of former Senator Trent Lott's endorsement of Strom Thurmond's pro-Jim Crow Dixiecrat presidential run in 1948.
Wright Versus Parsley
People have been asking why the inflammatory racial remarks by Obama's former preacher Jeremiah Wright have received so much attention but the outrageous remarks by John McCain's "spiritual adviser" Rod Parsley have largely been ignored by the media. The quick answer: members of the sectarian right have been involved in the political game for close to 30 years and they are media savvy. Former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed may be a crook but he's nobody's fool; in the 1990's, when people like Michael Lind began exposing Pat Robertson's paranoid anti-semitic conspiracies in his book The New World Order (see Addendum), Reed and others devised the strategy of accusing the critics of the sectarian right, not matter how justified their criticisms, of being the religious bigots (Reed and others used the term "Christian-basher" as a catch-all term to describe critics. It didn't matter if the critic was pointing out Jerry Falwell's support of Salvadoran death squad leader Roberto D'Aubuisson, Reed and others such as William Bennett played the religious card. It was no surprise when I confronted Sean Hannity about Falwell's fleecing of his flock and Robertson's desire to prevent the immigration of Hindus to the United States that he accused me of fomenting "hatred toward Christian conservatives." It also worked for Sun Myung Moon when he was convicted of tax fraud and conspiracy; he and his supporters made wild charges of religious and racial bigotry.
Michael Savage Tackles Racial Bigotry
Yesterday I also was going through the stations on my radio and briefly heard Michael Savage criticizing Obama for having Wright as his minister. Savage was outspoken in his opposition to racially intolerant language. A few years ago, I had the unfortunate experience of reading Savage's book, The Savage Nation. I wrote a review of the book. What struck me about Savage was that he went out of his way to make noxious and bigoted statements against blacks, Middle Easterners, Hispanics, and Koreans (click here and scroll down to "Savage Racism").
Addendum: When William F. Buckley died a few weeks ago, he was largely credited with purging the conservative movement of kooks and anti-Semites, most notably the John Birch Society, from the ranks of respectable conservatism. This is based on a selective memory of Buckley. Certainly, he did what he could to expel some cranks from the movement--especially when they were relatively small groups like the Birchers (whose membership has never been more than 100,000).
However, Buckley was expedient; he offered support if the cranks in question had large constituencies. In Michael Lind's thought-provoking book Up From Conservatism: Why the Right is Wrong for America, Lind notes his disillusionment with Buckley and other prominent members of the right who turned a blind eye to crackpot conspiracy theorists like Pat Robertson. Lind notes how Buckley applauded Pat Buchanan's divisive speech at the 1992 Republican convention. It was soon thereafter that Lind became familiar with the anti-semitic conspiratorial theories in Robertson's book The New World Order (the book recycled the theories of anti-semitic cranks like Nesta Webster and Eustace Mullins (who as of 2005 writes for Holocaust revisionist and publisher Willis Carto). Robertson's worldview is far more extreme and paranoid than Robert Welch and his associates in the John Birch Society. Lind wrote several influential denunciations of Robertson and the book in the early 1990's and expected that his conservative colleagues would ostracize Robertson from the conservative movement.
The reaction to the questions Lind raised was swift and unequivocal. Buckley's National Review falsely informed its readers that "the liberal establishment" had gotten Lind "to do a hit on Pat Robertson." Buckley and other prominent members of the American right defended Robertson and went as far as to denounce a report by the Anti-Defamation League that documented Robertson's anti-Semitic writings and sources.
Buckley and his National Review had also turned a blind eye to the extremist and anti-democratic agenda of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. Buckley and the National Review have accorded legitimacy to Moon's Washington Times, whose editorial board has fostered neo-Confederate and white nationalist views (also here). I have noted that National Review publisher William Rusher had praised a book whitewashing Sun Myung Moon's activities.
UPDATE: Buzzflash interviews Max Blumenthal about Sean Hannity and his relationship with Hal Turner: