a few notes on how crazy my country of origin has become

My classes don't start until September 13, but next week my mother is here, so my time is suddenly very limited. As my last days of relative freedom tick away, I'm combing through some very old email in my inbox, to see what I can read, post and/or dispose of. I found a neat juxtaposition between two links sent by two of my main link-senders.

First, Kevin Drum, writing in Mother Jones, makes a dead-on assessment of the Obama administration. Thanks to James.
Here's the good news: this record of progressive accomplishment officially makes Obama the most successful domestic Democratic president of the last 40 years. And here's the bad news: this shoddy collection of centrist, watered down, corporatist sellout legislation was all it took to make Obama the most successful domestic Democratic president of the last 40 years. Take your pick.

Widening the lens, Glenn Greenwald dissects the greatest hoax perpetrated in my lifetime: "The Liberal Media". This one is longer, but like all of Greenwald's columns, very much worth your time. Sent by my Greenwald correspondent, redsock.
First, consider which viewpoints cause someone to be fired from The Liberal Media. Last month, Helen Thomas' 60-year career as a journalist ended when she expressed the exact view about Jews which numerous public figures have expressed (with no consequence or even controversy) about Palestinians. Just weeks ago, The Washington Post accepted the "resignation" of Dave Weigel because of scorn he heaped on right-wing figures such as Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh. CNN's Chief News Executive, Eason Jordan, was previously forced to resign after he provoked a right-wing fit of fury over comments he made about the numerous -- and obviously disturbing -- incidents where the U.S. military had injured or killed journalists in war zones. NBC fired Peter Arnett for criticizing the U.S. war plan on Iraqi television, which prompted accusations of Treason from the Right. MSNBC demoted and then fired its rising star Ashleigh Banfield after she criticized American media war coverage for adhering to the Fox model of glorifying U.S. wars; the same network fired its top-rated host, Phil Donahue, due to its fear of being perceived as anti-war; and its former reporter, Jessica Yellin, confessed that journalists were "under enormous pressure from corporate executives" to present the news in a pro-war and pro-Bush manner.

What each of these firing offenses have in common is that they angered and offended the neocon Right. Isn't that a strange dynamic for the supposedly Liberal Media: the only viewpoint-based firings of journalists are ones where the journalist breaches neoconservative orthodoxy? Have there ever been any viewpoint-based firings of establishment journalists by The Liberal Media because of comments which offended liberals? None that I can recall. I foolishly thought that when George Bush's own Press Secretary mocked the American media for being "too deferential" to the Bush administration, that would at least put a dent in that most fictitious American myth: The Liberal Media. But it didn't; nothing does, not even the endless spate of journalist firings for deviating from right-wing dogma.

. . . .

Then there's the Nasr case itself. Look at how our discourse is completely distorted and dumbed-down by the same stunted, cartoonish neocon orthodoxies that have also destroyed our foreign policy. In our standard political discussions, the simplistic and false notion -- obviously accepted by CNN -- drives the discussion: Fadlallah is an Evil Hezbollah Terrorist!!, and Nasr probably is as well given the "respect" she expressed for him during his death. Thus: CNN got caught employing an Israel-hating Terrorist-lover, and once she revealed herself, she had to be fired immediately!!!! That really is the primitive level of agitprop churned out by neocon polemicists and then dutifully ingested and embraced by CNN.

The reality, though, is completely different. [More here, with copious links.]

I tune out a good deal of US news and distraction, but inevitably, someone solicits my opinion. When people ask me what I think about the "mosque at ground zero" controversy, and I can't even begin to stutter an answer. You mean, the Muslim cultural centre in lower Manhattan? Why are we allowing bigots and jingoists to define our speech? It's not ground zero, some mythical mirage of the worst thing that's ever happened in the history of ever. It's a real place with a real name: lower Manhattan. It's not a mosque, and if it were? Why should Muslim prayer be prohibited there? Imagine if churches couldn't be built near the former sites of any US-led or -funded terrorism exploits. Christians would have to colonize the Moon.


Guillermo said...

Loved your post. I must admit it was a bit long... but worth read it!

That last statement about not letting others define our speech was fabulous.

Thank you!

James said...

Jon Stewart had an interesting observation about the "Mosque" "at" "Ground Zero": Fox had a segment about how Imam Rauf is sponsored by the Kingdom Holding Company, and how the guy behind KHC has all sorts of ties to Hamas, Iran, and other terrorist organizations.

What they didn't mention is that this "guy behind KHC" is the Saudi prince, Alwaleed Bin Talal, the largest shareholder of Fox's parent company after the Murdoch family.

So if getting money from KHC makes the Park51 complex a terrorist training facility, what does it make the News Corp headquarters?

L-girl said...

Jon Stewart had an interesting observation

I caught that on FB, it was great. Olbermann was terrific, if anyone wants to post that link in comments.

redsock said...

1. It's not a mosque.

2. It's not at ground zero.

But other than that, carry on with your bullshit...

Someone did a report in which they showed an actual mosque closer to "the hallowed ground" (tm) than Park51 would be that has been in use for 40+ years. I.e., before the WTC was even built. And I'll guaranfuckintee you that 100% of wingnuts do not know it exists.

(I also heard that there is no $ for Park51 and it may never get built, but I am not sure about that.)

redsock said...

Ah, it was KO with the report I'm thinking of.

redsock said...

what does it make the News Corp headquarters?

Not a "news corp", that's for sure.

James said...

For that matter, there's a Muslim prayer room, currently in use, inside the Pentagon.

M@ said...

<a href="http://twitter.com/jasonmustian/status/21337496786>This said it all for me</a> about how useless and intellectually perverse the whole discussion around the "issue" has become.

L-girl said...

Yeah, that's a great tweet. When I first saw it on FB, I thought he was being very generous with the 2003 date.

redsock said...

For that matter, there's a Muslim prayer room, currently in use, inside the Pentagon.

Well, we already know how much the Pentagon hates America.

L-girl said...

People have completely forgotten that Muslims are also American!

I wasn't going to blog about this. I've been hell-bent on ignoring it. But after I posted these two links, it just popped out.

* * * *

Guillermo, thank you!

Some Person said...

This is why I never watch cable news. Or much of any TV for that matter.

L-girl said...

Very nice post by a 9/11 family member at the War Resisters League blog: here.

deang said...

We can all think of so many instances of prominent right-wingers saying outrageously offensive things and telling outrageous and damaging lies with nothing happening to them - in fact, with other, supposedly liberal media (like MSNBC) then just repeating the right-wing talking points themselves. And the recent instances of major news reporters being fired simply for criticizing right-wingers in their personal, non-work-related communications is really ominous and indicative of the present state of the US. Meanwhile, the supposed "liberal" party has moved so far to the right that their political ideas would make Reagan proud.

James said...

BTW, one of the dumbest things said about Cordoba House: "This is like the Japanese building a Hindu temple near Pearl Harbour!" -- Rush Limbaugh.

(There are at least a dozen Shinto temples around the harbour.)

L-girl said...

As stupid and ridiculous as that comment is, it also reveals something so appalling. To these right-wingers, "Muslim" = a foreign "enemy". The Muslims who would visit a cultural centre in lower Manhattan are American, no? American Muslims did not attack the US on 9/11. I won't venture a guess who did, but it's a Muslim centre, not an Al-Qaeda centre.

johngoldfine said...

As stupid and ridiculous as that comment is, it also reveals something so appalling.

'Stupid' and 'ridiculous' don't quite work for me, l-girl. I might use them to describe, say, the Three Stooges' oeuvre.

Sinister, venomous, cruel, vicious, hateful, and, yes, appalling lead in the truer direction.

L-girl said...

'Stupid' and 'ridiculous' don't quite work for me, l-girl. I might use them to describe, say, the Three Stooges' oeuvre.

Sinister, venomous, cruel, vicious, hateful, and, yes, appalling lead in the truer direction.

Right you are. I'm accustomed to thinking of those people as buffoons. But they are people with vast audiences and wide influence, which changes them from the Three Stooges to Goering.

James said...

By the way, the anti-mosque action isn't limited to the Park51 project: in a recent episode of American Freethought, the show looked into activity against mosque-building projects in Tennessee and Georgia. The Tennessee case, in Murfreesboro, recently escalated from general opposition to arson.

L-girl said...

Yes, I read about the mosque burning in Tennessee. And of course there's the cab driver who was attacked.

The fascist shift requires this.

L-girl said...

Siddiqui writes about similar opposition to mosques in several other states.

Citing "heroic" behaviour from Mayor Bloomberg (oy vey) and Obama's flip-flopping, he closes with this: These groups are noisy but marginal. This is the opposite of Europe, where Islamophobia has gone mainstream. In North America, it is still held in disdain.

While I agree that it's much worse in Europe, from everything I hear. But I don't think this hatred is marginal in the US, and I don't think it is held in quite the disdain it should be.

redsock said...

Most recent Greenald:

"One of the most under-reported political stories is the increasingly vehement, nationwide movement -- far from Ground Zero -- to oppose new mosques and Islamic community centers. These ugly campaigns are found across the country, in every region, and extend far beyond the warped extremists who are doing things such as sponsoring 'Burn a Quran Day'."


Naturally, with a multitude of links.

James said...

And of course there's the cab driver who was attacked.

I've seen one pundit insisting that this was a pro-Muslim attack, done to reinforce the left-wing narrative that the US is an anti-Muslim country.