Friday, April 18, 2014

Limbaugh, Right-Wing Pundits Try to Blame Max Blumenthal for Kansas Rampage

White supremacists began pointing fingers almost immediately after the lethal rampage at two Jewish community centers in Kansas by longtime white supremacist Frazier Glenn Miller (aka Frazier Glenn Cross). Some supported Miller or blamed Jews for the attack, while others disavowed him.

Meanwhile on the mainstream right, several leading conservatives attempted to blame liberals for the massacre. Specifically, they pinned the blame on a single liberal journalist, Max Blumenthal, because Miller on a handful of occasions praised Blumenthal’s against-the-grain reporting on the right wing in Israel. From there, they blamed liberal organizations more broadly for the incident, including one for whom Blumenthal has not worked for since 2009.

Leading the charge was Rush Limbaugh, who on his widely syndicated radio show Monday cited a column by Ron Radosh at PJ Media – headlined: “Who Inspired the Nazi Klan Leader’s Actions in Kansas? The Answer Here” – that detailed a handful of Miller’s characteristcally expletive and hate-filled rants that approvingly cited Blumenthal’s criticism of Israeli policies.

Working off Radosh’s piece, Limbaugh attacked not just Blumenthal and his well-known father (Clinton confidante Sidney Blumenthal) but also Media Matters, the liberal organization that monitors right-wing media:

LIMBAUGH: Max Blumenthal is the son of Sidney Blumenthal, who is, of course, Hillary Clinton’s confidant.  But Max Blumenthal, if I’m not mistaken, works at Media Matters for America.  And Max Blumenthal is one of a cabal of left-wing journalists that despise Israel, and this guy found his way to things that these people had written, and he was inspired. He admits he was inspired by all this, and that’s why he took action against the three Jewish people in Kansas City.

This is preposterous and blatantly false. Where to begin?

Blumenthal, who is of Jewish descent and has spent years off and on in Israel, does not “despise” Israel. Blumenthal has written a number of articles that criticize Israeli policies, just as Rush Limbaugh regularly criticizes the policies of the United States. Does that mean Limbaugh “despises” America? Of course not.
What’s more, there is no indication whatsoever that anything Blumenthal wrote “inspired” Miller.

As Limbaugh’s rant progressed, the distortion deepened:

At any rate, this guy, Glenn Miller, is a former KKK member.  He once ran for office as a Democrat. All the KKK are Democrats.  They always have been.  He’s an anti-Semite, obviously, and he did shout “Heil Hitler” when he was arrested, and this is what has been posted by him. These are apparently some really wacko extremist, pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic websites, and this guy’s posted plenty there where he identifies the people who inspire him.  He mentioned the name Max Blumenthal.

Limbaugh wrapped up the episode with this: “You got a former KKK member, literally insane, run for office as a Democrat, inspired by some people at Media Matters.”

Limbaugh, speaking on Monday, was wrong at just about every turn. He said that Miller stabbed three people, but everyone knew by Sunday night that three people had been shot to death. He claimed that Miller was a “huge Democrat” – in reality, he ran for office as a Democrat and a Republican and had no connections or success in either party. And Blumenthal does not work for Media Matters – he was a staff writer there from 2008-9.

Notwithstanding Radosh and Limbaugh’s lies and distortions, their attacks on Blumenthal spread quickly throughout the right-wing echo chamber, especially at neoconservative websites where Blumenthal is the subject of frequent attacks for his criticism of Israel (particularly his book-length expose of the Israeli right, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel). At the the Washington Free Beacon, an unbylined story headlined “Kansas KKK Shooter Cited Max Blumenthal” claimed that it found “over 300” references to Blumenthal at VNN.
Max Blumenthal
Even liberal, pro-Israeli publications such as Haaretz ran with the smear. That paper published an article headlined “Kansas Murderer Admires Prominent Israeli Critic” and citied the Free Beacon piece, though it was eventually taken down by the editors of the paper due to its dubious claims.
In reality, as we have detailed at Hatewatch extensively, Miller was inspired by the far-right, white supremacist ideology he adopted in the 1970s, which included racial and ethnic hatred, homophobia and a emphasis on violence (as he explained last fall to the Southern Poverty Law Center). Miller was willing to appropriate any piece of information from any source that might help prove a point he wanted to make, and that included various “liberal media” and “Jew reporters,” as he typically referred to Blumenthal.

Miller had a history of violence and was ginned up by the ceaseless drumbeat of racial hatred that he bathed in daily at the Vanguard News Network. Any attempt to characterize his motives as deriving from “liberal” sources is an attempt to turn public understanding of the wellsprings of this kind of violence on its head.

Blumenthal is anything but a revered or celebrated figure on the far right, considering he spent many years writing exposes of far-right American extremists before turning his attention to their counterparts in Israel. In fact, he is widely reviled by users of VNN and related hate sites.

Alex Kane and Phan Nguyen at Mondoweiss
performed a search of the various references to Blumenthal at these sites and found that the following descriptions were far more typical:

    “Jew Max Blumenthal”
    “Kike Max Blumenthal”
    “Jewish propagandists including … Max Blumenthal”
    “an avowed queer like Max Blumenthal”
    “Max Blumenthal … a flamboyant, exhibitionistic anti-racist”
    “that douche bag sodomite Max Blumenthal”

Kane and Nguyen also examined the Free Beacon claim that VNN referenced Blumenthal over 300 times and quickly ascertained that the references actually numbered closer to 40. And the vast majority of these, in fact, were viciously disparaging references such as those above.

Moreover, picking Blumenthal out of the literally thousands of various people and organizations who Miller cited over the course of his many years of hatemongering is mostly an exercise in selective blame-laying, considering that Miller was far more likely to approvingly cite the works of ostensibly mainstream conservatives. These include such neoconservatives as editor David Horowitz, a close associate of Ron Radosh’s. In one post, Miller describes Horowitz as ”one of those jewish (sic) neocon ‘new friends’ of the White man who actually throws Whitey journalistic bones from time to time, such as his book ‘Hatin Whitey.’”

Perhaps Radosh should denounce Horowitz for inspiring Miller’s murderous rampage?

Indeed, Horowitz’s publication has apparently condoned Miller’s behavior in the past – notably, his role in the 1979 Greensboro Massacre, in which Klan members shot and killed five protest marchers. Miller was a leader of that massacre and did no prison time. A 2004 FrontPage review of a book about the incident blamed the victims for the massacre because they were Communists, and ultimately praised the KKK and neo-Nazi perpetrators: “In this war they were the patriots fighting an anti-American threat that was global in scope.”

Ironically, a recent FrontPage article not only blames Blumenthal for the Kansas shootings – once, again, because Miller had cited him – but concludes that his greatest dream was realized by the killing of Jews (though in fact no Jews were killed in the incident). It does not mention that David Horowitz was cited and praised even more fulsomely by Miller. And Haaretz, as Kane and Nguyen note, was cited 11,500 times at VNN.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Federal Retreat in Nevada ‘Range War’ Gives Green Light to Extremists

[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]

The antigovernment “Patriots” and heavily armed militia members backing Cliven Bundy in his “range war” with the Bureau of Land Management were thrilled by the apparent confusion and retreat by federal agents at the scene of the roundup. At least momentarily, they smell victory.

The blog “Bearing Arms” summed up the sentiment on the far right: “It is now a virtual certainty that Obamite acts of tyranny will be resisted, by hundreds, even thousands, and if necessary, by force.”

Many of the leading “Patriot” and antigovernment conspiracist figures were ecstatic over the “victory,” which they said proves the legitimacy of their view that the federal government is a fraudulent entity with no legitimate power.

Leading the parade was noted militia figure Mike Vanderboegh, who wrote that the “feds were routed”:

It is impossible to overstate the importance of the victory won in the desert today. While the behind-the-scenes details are not clear yet, it is obvious that something unprecedented in the war on the west that has been waged by the imperial federal government has, against all odds, happened. The feds were routed — routed. There is no other word that applies. Courage is contagious, defiance is contagious, victory is contagious. Yet the war is not over. The empire, you may be assured, WILL strike back. This will be the subject of angry words at an Obama cabinet meeting on Monday. Someone in federal government will want blood, rest assured. The feds, having lost the Mandate of Heaven and demonstrated their impotence in this case, will not want to repeat it lest the peasants get the right idea — that they are not as omnipotent as they claim to be.

Vanderboegh, who spoke by phone with Cliven Bundy’s son, saw the event – as did most of his far-right brethren – as truly historic:

I congratulated Ammon and told him that this was perhaps a pivotal moment in American history. He also agreed with me that it is impossible not to see the hand of God in all of this. I told him that it was my opinion that the empire would surely strike back, but that they would likely come at the Bundys and their supporters sideways next time. Still, it was a great victory, a pivotal moment, in the relationship between the federal government and the American people. Nothing will be quite the same after this, mostly because it has demonstrated to those whom the government would victimize that they only require someone with the guts to stand up to leviathan — and the armed friends to back them up in the argument.

That was the sentiment at Alex Jones’ InfoWars site, where the headline proclaimed: “Historic! Feds Forced to Surrender to American Citizens”. The site also featured an article from Ron Paul himself who warned that federal agents might be planning a lethal raid against that Bundys as retaliation.

In the meantime, Sheriff Richard Mack – who appeared at the scene and helped craft a strategy to women as human shields – also weighed in at InfoWars and similarly warned against a coming raid.

On his daily show at InfoWars, Alex Jones himself warned that there would be many more such incidents.

It’s a very special time to be alive. And the victory that you saw at that event? There’s going to be more of that as people push back, as they see victory. And the feds, if they miscalculate, and start shooting people, at another Lexington or Concord, are going to set a revolution off in our favor.

At the slightly more mainstream, financial columnist John Ransom declared that the “War on Federal Bureaucrats Opens at the Bundy Ranch.”

Meanwhile, the Oath Keepers – the conspiracist “Patriot” group that linked up with Mack and his “constitutional sheriffs” at the standoff site to provide the protesters much of their manpower over the weekend – has not only vowed to keep up its presence at Bundy’s ranch but has sent out a national call to make their way to Nevada over the next week.

Oath Keepers president Stewart Rhodes noted that they were “concerned that the domestic enemies of the Constitution that infest the federal government might try to take advantage of folks going home, and attempt to make a move on the Bundy family.” So to prevent any raid, they were “calling on all Oath Keepers who can possibly get here to come to the Bundy Ranch to serve as volunteers on an ongoing, rotating watch.”

“I am urging each and every Oath Keepers member who can, to get here and spend a bit of time to ensure that the Bundys are not alone,” Rhodes added. “We need boots on the ground. We want you here, standing watch, which is appropriate for us Oath Keepers since our motto is ‘Not on Our Watch’.”

Rhodes also appeared on an Internet radio program for the NorthWest Liberty News in which he said that a number of leading far-right figures – including Chuck Baldwin, whose Montana-based Liberty Fellowship is a hotbed of “Patriot” radicalism – were making their way to the scene in Nevada this week, along with a number of far-right legislators who were lending their names to the cause, including Rep. Matt Shea of Spokane, Wash.

Rhodes called for his fellow Oath Keepers to gird their loins and head for Nevada:

This is an ongoing fight, so I also encourage you to get ready, prepare yourselves, get geared up and get your logistics secured away, and be here next week. Because I think what’s going to happen is – I haven’t got a crystal ball, but my suspicion is they’re going to regroup and then come back even more. They’re going to double down, and so we need to be ready to do the same thing. So we’ll need a lot more folks here.

In Nevada, local opinion makers are decidedly less enthusiastic. At the conservative Las Vegas Review-Journal, columnist Steve Sebelius noted that the court orders and numerous rulings requiring the federal government to remove Bundy’s cows remained intact:

About the only thing that’s different is that a bunch of armed would-be insurrectionists have gotten the message that if they show up with tough talk and loaded long guns, there’s a good chance the government will back down. And that’s not a very good message to send.

However, as Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress observes, the story is far from over. Many of these activists, in fact, could find themselves behind bars soon for having broken various laws, including the threatening behavior that was directed at federal agents, as well having crossed state lines with various weapons and wielded them in Nevada “in furtherance of a civil disorder” – also a federal crime.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bundy Supporters Reportedly Harass Conservationists, BLM Workers over Nevada ‘Range War’

[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]

Apparently Cliven Bundy’s supporters in his showdown with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over cattle grazing rights aren’t satisfied with having forced the government to end its roundup operation. Now some of them are bent on punishing the people they blame for the creating the situation.

Rob Mrowka of Las Vegas, who heads up the Center for Biological Diversity – the Tucson, Ariz.-based environmental organization whose lawsuits over the desert tortoise forced the BLM’s hand in rounding up Bundy’s cattle, which had been grazing for free on public lands that comprised the animal’s habitat – says he started getting calls about three days before the right-wing Bundy media blitz. And then it became a deluge.

“It kind of started out with a phone call from a guy in Mississippi who called, and myself and someone in the Tucson office picked up and talked to him,” Mrowka said, adding that a third colleague did not pick up, and for him, he “left a disturbing voice message. That was just the start of it.”

The message the man left on the voicemail was similar to what he told Mrowka and his colleague in person: “I am holding you personally responsible for every one of Cliven Bundy’s cattle that is confiscated. For his son David, who’s in jail, and for anything that happens to them in the future. And since I am holding you responsible, I plan on making you pay. There’s no need for you to call me back. This is your notice. You’ve been fighting a war against us for awhile, we’re gonna start fightin’ back.”

“Since then, there’s been about a hundred emails, most of them very hateful and vulgar and intimidating – ‘You’re going to be held responsible,’ that sort of thing,” Mrowka said. He’s spoken with various law enforcement authorities about it, including the FBI, but so far none of the messages have reached the level of a direct threat.

“The thing that’s been frustrating is that we’re the only ones speaking out about this, and it’s really not in our wheelhouse,” he noted. “We’re about speaking up for endangered species. We don’t know that much about sovereign citizens and their theories.”

Mrowka said he has been forced to get up to speed what his harassers are talking about when they use obscure pseudo-legal language to make outlandish claims that the federal government has no authority over the lands where Bundy’s cattle graze – classic hallmarks of antigovernment “Patriot” movement ideology in action. He said that sharing information with his colleagues about sovereign citizens has helped all of them get a better handle on the level of radicalism they’re up against.

Federal employees are also in the sights of the “Patriots” in the wake of the Bundy “range war.” “I can’t speak firsthand, but I have received some confidential information that federal employees are receiving harassment similar to what I have been receiving,” Mrowka. “In fact, one of the Twitter links that is attacking me also posted the pictures, names, addresses and maps of some of the BLM officers that have been involved. And I understand that the BLM offices are just being inundated. As are those of the Clark County Commission.”

Hatewatch independently confirmed that BLM employees are enduring personal harassment.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Richard Mack Explains Nevada ‘Range War’ Strategy: ‘Put All the Women Up in the Front’

[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]

As part of Fox News’ eager coverage of the recent “range war” showdown over Cliven Bundy’s cattle grazing rights in Nevada, the network broadcast a segment from the scene Monday that was remarkable both for the reporters’ seeming embrace of the far-right antigovernment “Patriot” movement and for its subjects’ startling clarity on their strategy for confronting federal agents: using women as human shields.
Richard Mack, the erstwhile Arizona sheriff and longtime figure in the Patriot movement, was at the scene. He told Fox reporter William LaJeunesse that the people who gathered there to stop law enforcement from rounding up the illegally grazing cattle – which had grown to hundreds by the time the Bureau of Land Management caved in and returned many of the cattle – were prepared to lay their lives on the line in standing up to the government. Or more precisely:
We were actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front. If they’re going to start shooting, it’s going to be women that are televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers.
Mack’s radical Posse-Comitatus-based ideology, which claims that county sheriffs are the higest constitutional level of law enforcement, lines up nicely with Cliven Bundy’s antigovernment views. That explains why Mack has taken a lead role in helping promote Bundy’s cause in far-right media circles.

Monday’s Fox News segment, hosted by Gretchen Carlson, was also noteworthy for LaJeunesse’s characterization of the situation, which seemed to embrace the Patriot ideology:

And you know, it was those protesters and sympathizers, self-described Patriots, who provided Cliven Bundy the leverage he needed to get his cattle back, and to get the BLM to back off. Indeed, they were also backed up by many Second Amendment supporters, who were a well-armed militia, with assault rifles and handguns, who were prepared to respond to any assault or use of force, if you will, by BLM agents.

So you had the tensions mounting when these protesters went to I-15, closed down the road. When cowboys went down and tried to get the cattle back, they surrounded these BLM agents, confronting them, who were guarding the cattle inside holding pens. Now, above and around were marksmen in sniper positions. A retired Arizona sheriff worried about what was going to happen next.
LaJeunesse also explained to his audience: “Bundy says that he doesn’t recognize federal authority here, that his grazing rights predate and preclude federal authority in this area.”

However, he neglected to mention that Bundy has tested those claims in multiple court cases and has lost at every step, leading to the court order authorizing BLM to round up his trespassing cattle on federal lands.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Hannity's Bullying Isn't A Persuasive Argument For Sea World

Memo to SeaWorld: Having Sean Hannity champion your cause does not exactly advance your argument that you deeply care about the animals in your keep. Rather the opposite.

Hannity hosted a segment last week purportedly to debate a proposed new law in California that would ban performances by orcas in the state and require marine parks to begin the work of returning wild-born orcas to their native waters. We say "purportedly" because, as with all things Hannity, this wasn't a debate. It was another piece of sexist bullying masquerading a right-wing performance art.

Hannity invited two women on to debate the subject: former Sea World trainer Bridgette Pirtle Davis, and Lisa Lange of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the latter of whom probably came on thinking she might get a chance at a fair shot to air her views on Hannity's show. Hah. It wasn't long before she realized that no such shot existed.

After interviewing Pirtle Davis, who now defends SeaWorld after having been at one time part of the group of ex-trainers who appeared in the documentary 'Blackfish' before her appearances were edited out, Hannity turned to Lange and before she could even say a word, handed her a turd of an opening remark:
HANNITY: Does PETA really stand for People Eating Tasty Animals?
It quickly went downhill from there. Hannity quickly made it clear he wasn't interested in discussion the details and core issues of orca captivity. No. All he really wanted to do was get someone from PETA on so that he could attack the people who proposed the legislation as a bunch of kooks. Because he then set out to make sure that everyone knew that PETA as an organization has taken a lot of stands on animal rights that people will consider nutty.

There's a problem with this: PETA is not involved in the California legislation at all. The Animal Welfare Institute, in fact, is the organization that is providing the primary guidance for the legislators writing this bill, and those efforts are being overseen by a genuine orca scientist with deep knowledge of both wild and captive orcas, Naomi Rose.

But then, Rose probably knew better than to ever appear on Fox, and evidently no one warned poor Lisa Lange.

Just interesting, perhaps, is the appearance of Pirtle Davis on Hannity's show as a critic of the legislation, who ignorantly (and falsely) accused the advocates of the legislation of wanting to simply turn the animals loose in the sea. (This is a baldfaced lie.)

She also defended her former boss now, completing her circuitous transformation into a complete circle, having once been a severe critic of SeaWorld.

"I didn't feel the animals were mistreated," she told Hannity

Well, here's what Pertl told an interviewer back when she was part of the 'Blackfish' team and before she found she could reap more attention by going on Fox and attacking SeaWorld's critics:
Had I allowed myself to take in the bigger picture of orcas and marine life parks, maybe ten years spent coming to this realization that captivity is immoral would have been spent creating change soon enough to prevent lives like Alexis and Dawn being lost.

... Ultimately, the same concerns voiced as a result of Dawn's accident had been voiced after incidents in the past. Lessons not learned and continually disregarded. Many of those taking care of the animals are fighting for less responsibility to be placed upon their ever-drooping dorsal fins.

Show schedules, public interactions, and dining obligations create a strain on animals already in a highly stressed environment. They are proudly introduced as "ambassadors" but they are simply work horses for a profit hungry industry desperate to remain relevant in a society that has already begun to recognize we have moved past such a trite necessity.
Now Pirtl Davis -- whose interviews in 'Blackfish' were left on the cutting-room floor -- has found that she can get more media time by turning back and re-embracing that profit-hungry industry. We wish her lots of luck with that. And we hope she really enjoys being in the company of Sean Hannity and his nasty, bullying ilk. Serves her right.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.