Hi friends! What have I missed??? Stay tuned…I’m going to start blogging again and I’ll be depending on your wisdom and insights. I’ll be up and running soon, and in the meanwhile you can check me out at www.wwrl1600.com 6-9am EST weekdays.
Thursday night I did a segment on BBC Five Live centered around a guy named Nick Griffin. For those Americans who don’t know who he is, Griffin is the head of the British National Party.
He’s also a member of the European Parliament.
To put it bluntly, Griffin and his party espouse a crude form of nationalism that has been called racist, Anti-Semitic, Islamaphiobic, homophiobic (gee, have I left anything out?), you get the picture.
Earlier Thursday, Griffin appeared on the BBC program “Question Time”. His appearance sparked angry protests, with about 25 people breaking through barricades at the BBC’s London TV studios. Suffice to say Griffin was taken to task for his views, so much so that he’s complaining about the program, and demanding to come back on in a different format. Ironically, the show drew four times as many viewers as normally watch it, the Jon and Kate effect, if you will.
So what was I asked to talk about on a BBC radio show? The links between Nick Griffin and our own home grown racist-Anti Semite, David Duke. They are linked, through an appearance they made together back in 2000.
They’re also linked by a shared desire to achieve their racist ends through the acquisition of political power. Duke, you may remember, is the former member of the KKK who went on to become a member of the Louisiana state legislature. He also made unsuccessful runs for President, the House, and Senate. Duke understood. as does Griffin, that wearing Klan robes and reading Mein Kampf won’t win the kind of support necessary to create the lily white world they want.
So they use the tools at their disposal. They run for political office, and demand fairness and accuracy in reporting their philosophy from a media both claim is dominated by Jews and other liberals. The question becomes to what extent do they have the same right to speak as anyone else? Are protesters acting properly when they demand that Nick Griffin not be allowed on the BBC? Does giving the Griffins and David Dukes a platform in the mainstream actually lend credibility to their organizations and views?
My older brother Clayton (who passed away a year ago tomorrow- RIP) once told me you can’t be halfway for the First Amendment. His position was that the cure for racist speech was better speech to drown it out. I have a hard time disagreeing with this line of thinking. Once you start saying people have no right to express their thoughts, no matter how obnoxious, where do you draw the line?
You tell me. Should racists like David Duke and Nick Griffin be given mainstream airtime?
We interrupt your valid concerns about the Senate Finance Committee vote on healthcare reform, President Obama’s deliberations on Afghanistan, and how to put the country back to work for a couple of stories that got quite a bit of ink over the past 48 hours or so.
On the one hand, it looks like the Obama Administration has taken the gloves off regarding Fox News. White House communications director Anita Dunn was blunt. “As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.”
The administration is just realizing this? Fox had known all along that their bread would be buttered by using their opinion programs to savage this president. In fact, they’ve made hay with Dunn’s remarks, and are just as sure to get a ratings bump as David Letterman was with his sex scandal. The people who watch Fox News expect Obama bashing. That’s a big reason why they watch. An attack by the White House also gives the pouter pigeons (O’Reilly, Beck, et al) at Fox News an inflated sense of their own importance on the public stage. Perhaps it would have been better to deal with them as the enemy in private.
The other story distracting attention from whether we’ll have the public option involves another right wing media blowhard. Rush Limbaugh is part of an ownership group that wants to buy the St. Louis Rams football franchise. Why is anybody’s guess, since the Rams are currently winless. This is the same Limbaugh who disparaged Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb as a product of affirmative action. He also called the NFL, paraphrasing here, like the Crips and Bloods without weapons.
Enter Rev. Al Sharpton, never one to back away from a good public fight. He doesn’t think Limbaugh should own an NFL franchise, and he’s asked for a meeting with commissioner Roger Goodell to express his concerns. He’s been joined by the head of the NFL Players Association, and several current players in asking the league to deny Limbaugh. El Rushbo, in his resp0nse, brings up Sharpton’s involvement in the Tawana Brawley incident of more than 20 years ago, and the media feuding goes back and forth.
For some people, who owns an NFL team, and stating the obvious about a right wing cable news network may be just as important as whether healthcare reform will afford more Americans access to quality care. Or whether more American kids will die in a seemingly endless war in Afghanistan. Or whether our unemployment rate will continue to hover around double digits for the foreseeable future. I don’t happen to be one of them. Is it wrong to say I could care less if Rush Limbaugh owns a losing team? Or even whether the Obama Administration views Fox News as the enemy? You tell me.
NB: I know writing about this stuff makes me seem hypocritical. Sorry.