Media Matters and Fair, day in, day out do an excellent job of refuting the often incorrect assertions made on Fox Cable News, which is a conspiracy of media multi-billionaire and far-right Australian mogul Rupert Murdoch to shift American politics in his direction. All societies (not least the United States) have racist and xenophobic strains in their politics, and most Australians are decent people. But there is a particular history of rightwing Australian racism, having to do with the British colonization of the continent, the displacement of the Aboriginals, and then the feeling of being surrounded by Asians (Indonesian Muslims, Chinese) who might via immigration swamp the ¨white¨population. (There is not actually any such thing as ´whiteness´, and most of the people who now claim to be white in the US were at one time excluded from the definition–Irish, Italians, Polish, etc.). While their views are by no means similar, the white nationalism of Rupert Murdoch and Mel Gibson have similar historical roots. At a time when racist ´white nationalism´is resurgent in the US there is a real danger of a racist international, which Fox (which is shown around the world) plays a role in supporting.
But I think this ´Media Matters´refutation of Glenn Beck´s talking points on his Monday show misses his insidious, over-all point (perhaps because it is too fantastic to credit). I think Beck was insinuating that Barack Obama is setting things up so that he can assassinate Tea Partiers.
The form of Beck’s argument is as follows. The Obama administration is eager to move away from a specific concern with Muslim terrorism or jihadism, which its officials define out of existence. There are no longer ´enemy combatants´, i.e. no longer jihadists taken on the battlefield, and those at Guantanamo Bay are to be released.
But, Beck, notes, there is a strange contradiction in Obama´s policies on these matters. The administration, he says, has announced that it will launch drone strikes against even American citizens suspected of engagement in terrorism. So why deny that jihadism or Muslims are the problem, Beck asks? Why at the same time announce that you can assassinate even American citizens, even far from the battlefield, in an unconstitutional denial of due process?
´The president is worried about offending radical jihadists. He’s very worried about Muslims getting randomly attacked on the streets and scooped up — which, I haven’t seen. But I also see who is feared: The angry, racist Tea Parties.
In Missouri, a report was issued for state police to be on the lookout for supporters displaying bumper stickers and other paraphernalia associated with the Constitutional Campaign for Liberty and Libertarian parties. The report categorized them as militia-influenced terrorists.
That’s you with your “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, gang…´
Here are two headlines: “Neo-Nazis tied to militia patrols in Arizona”; “Tea Party rejects racist label; some concerns remain.” They are trying to make you explode, to make you into a danger….
It makes no sense. Why doesn’t the president care that the Democrats are on the verge of getting trounced in the elections? Because the president is about to have unstoppable power, making Congress irrelevant.
I think Beck´s discourse should be taken seriously. He is cultivating a significant constituency. Because of his erratic pronouncements and tear jags, it is easy to dismiss him or not even to see what he is really driving at.
In this quite insane rant, Beck accused Barack Obama of maneuvering to reorient the machinery of the ´war on terror´away from the real threat (Muslims) and to be able to direct it instead at ¨you¨(i.e. at white people, Tea Partiers, whoever he thought he was addressing). He was saying that Obama intends to make a constitutional coup via National Security Council fiat, so that he can launch the drone strikes against Arizona ¨patriots,¨ and Missouri libertarians.
I am also troubled by the drone strikes in non-war contexts, and not just on US citizens. But Beck is not really worried about civil liberties. He is painting a picture of a Black Hitler, who is developing sinister Storm Troopers to use for a Final Solution of the ¨white¨problem. Ironically, it is Beck who ends up sounding like Mein Kampf.
I haven´t seen any political or media responses (other than that of Media Matters, which to my mind misses his larger point) to this particular rant by Beck, and find that lapse in itself alarming. Beck´s advertising base has collapsed because of the unsavory character of his discourse, but he is being kept on the air through immense subsidies, by Rupert Murdoch who admits that he agrees with Beck´s outrageous charge that Obama doesn´t like white people. I was once attacked by John Fund at the Wall Street Journal because I said it is irresponsible of the FCC to allow Murdoch to misrepresent his far right propaganda campaign as ¨journalism.¨ But I repeat it here.
Something bigger than a consumer boycott of Beck advertisers is needed, maybe a consumer boycott of all Fox media and companies.
I´ve been cautioned by readers not to take on Murdoch because he is known to be particularly vindictive. But that kind of comment only underlines the danger we are all in from him and his goon squad.