In recent days, right-wing media figures have stoked class warfare while discussing taxes, asserting that it's not "fair" for the government to "steal" money from those who "succeed" and give it to -- in the words of Wayne Allyn Root -- "those who couldn't care less, sit on the couch, and watch Oprah all day." These media figures have suggested that those without federal income tax liability or those who benefit from tax credits or government assistance are "freeloaders" who don't work hard or succeed.
In an April 14 "On Faith" post at washingtonpost.com, Rev. Jim Wallis wrote:
Over several weeks, Glenn Beck has attacked the term and concept of "social justice"; likened it to Marxism, Communism, and Nazism; told people to leave their churches if the words even appeared on congregational Web sites; and instructed Christians to "turn in" their pastors and priests to church authorities if they preached or taught "social justice." That's what he said, and is still saying. I felt it necessary to respond when I heard that a Fox News personality had attacked the heart of the mission statement of Sojourners: "to articulate the biblical call to social justice." He only attacked me when I challenged his misrepresentations and distortions of a central Christian teaching that is integral to biblical faith.
If Beck had merely attacked "big government" again, as he does each night, or just expressed his strong libertarian philosophy that government bears no responsibility for issues like poverty, or re-stated his preference of personal responsibility over social responsibility for solving societal problems, nobody would have even responded -- it wouldn't have been news. But what he did say, and continues to say, is that "social justice" is both a dangerous and destructive teaching. The term continues to be derided on his famous blackboard, along with whoever challenges his ideas.
While I have agreed that cause of social justice has sometimes been politicized for ideological purposes by both Left and Right, I continue to defend the term itself as biblical and at the center of church teachings across the centuries and our many traditions (including Beck's own Mormon Church, as many of its leaders have pointed out). And I have been heartened to see Christians of diverse political views and voting patterns rise to defend the integrity of social justice as core to the gospel.
While Beck has yet to respond to a standing invitation to a public dialogue about what social justice really means, his comments have already sparked a broad national conversation -- as is well represented here in the On Faith discussion. Ironically, because of Beck's nightly assaults, I haven't seen such a national conversation in years about the meaning of biblical social justice. Several heads of church denominations have called to tell me that their pastors are actually preaching more about social justice because Glenn Beck has told them not to, and that thousands of pastors have turned themselves in to them (as church authorities) as "social justice pastors." In addition, more than 50,000 have turned themselves in to Beck (literally overflowing his inbox).
Malkin: "[A]ll the bigotry I see is the bigotry against the Boy Scouts"
From the April 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From Walter Williams' April 14 syndicated column:
One of the more insidious effects of minimum wages is that it lowers the cost of racial discrimination; in fact, minimum-wage laws are one of the most effective tools in the arsenals of racists everywhere, as demonstrated by just a couple of examples. During South Africa's apartheid era, its racist unions were the major supporters of minimum wages for blacks. South Africa's Wage Board said, "The method would be to fix a minimum rate for an occupation or craft so high that no Native would likely be employed." In the U.S., in the aftermath of a strike by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, when the arbitration board decreed that blacks and whites were to be paid equal wages, the white unionists expressed their delight saying, "If this course of action is followed by the company and the incentive for employing the Negro thus removed, the strike will not have been in vain."
Tragically, minimum wages have the unquestioned support of good-hearted, well-meaning people with little understanding who become the useful idiots of charlatans, quacks and racists.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen example is from 1909, long before racial discrimination in employment was outlawed.
From the April 14 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:
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Anyone who has followed Media Matters' coverage of New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd knows that we've often taken exception with her work.
As someone who attended Catholic school for nearly a decade, I've been following the current crop of scandals surrounding the Church with great interest. As such, I've been routinely disappointed by those who claim or fail to challenge the claims of others that the ongoing problem of pedophile priests is really about homosexuality in the priesthood.
That is precisely the problem I have with Dowd's most recent column on the issue - an issue she's done an otherwise decent job covering. While she has been routinely critical of the way church officials have responded to the scandal, her latest work allows the previously stated onerous logic - that of her brother's -- to stand unchallenged.
As IrishCentral.com's Cahir O'Doherty notes:
In a recent article Dowd also published (without a clarifying comment) outrageously incendiary remarks her brother made stating that the international abuse crisis was due to accepting thousands of 'sexually confused' men into the priesthood.
Even more defamatory, Dowd repeated (again by proxy through her brother) author Michael Rose's paranoid contention that the liberalized rules of Vatican II set up a takeover of seminaries by a so-called Gay Mafia. Heterosexual priests and the orthodox, Rose's book claims, found themselves pushed to the margins by a massive international gay Catholic cabal.
Do the Dowds recognize how toxic this kind of claim is?
Rose's book isn't really known outside of far-right conservative Catholic circles for good reason: you'd have to be bonkers to believe it. In tone and content it's really not far from the language and spirit of the anti-Semitic tracts of the 1930's.
You can only believe that homosexuals are responsible for the crisis in the Church if you believe that homosexuals are indistinguishable from pedophiles. That's a blatantly hateful and ignorant contention, but the Dowds are hunting for scapegoats, not answers.
Does Dowd agree with her brother's sentiment? We get only her cryptic comment that she and her brother "agreed on some things." As O'Doherty correctly notes, Dowd doesn't challenge her brother's views much less respond to them with, you know, actual facts.
Allowing these specious claims to go unchallenged only further entrenches the unfounded bigotry some have against the LGBT community and for that, Dowd should be seeking penance from her readers.
From the April 13 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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It's no secret that Fox News doesn't live up to its "fair and balanced" slogan, especially when one considers its coverage of the LGBT community. In fact, much of its coverage is openly antagonistic and downright homophobic. On issue after issue of importance, the network, its hosts, anchors, contributors, and guests offer up lies, misinformation, and right-wing spin that only further stigmatizes the gay and lesbian community.
The worst examples of Fox News coverage on LGBT issues can be found after the jump.
A review of Fox News' employment practices however, reveals a network at odds with its own homophobic public image. The dichotomy reminds me a bit of the recently outed state legislator with the staunchly anti-gay voting record.
Republican California State Senator Roy Ashburn was arrested for driving under the influence after reportedly leaving a Sacramento gay bar with an unidentified male passenger. Several days after circumstances surrounding his arrest and personal life spread in the media, Ashburn announced that he was gay and that he would continue to vote against the LGBT community because that's what the constituents from his conservative district would want.
Perhaps Fox News really is taking a page from Ashburn. Just as the California legislator has quietly acknowledged the fact that he's a gay man, News Corp. (and by extension Fox News) has quietly been offering workplace protections and benefits to its gay and lesbian employees.
According to an examination of the Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) employer database, News Corp. (Fox News' parent company) has had a policy protecting employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation since at least 2005 and has offered health care benefits to same-sex partners since at least 1999. Time Warner (CNN's parent company) and General Electric (NBC/MSNBC's parent company) offer not only these basic protections to gay and lesbian employees, they appear to go even further.
The HRC's Corporate Equality Index rates Time Warner and General Electric with 100 percent and 80 percent, respectively, while News Corp. has yet to complete the survey that HRC uses to establish its index. News Corp. would give us a better understanding of how it treats LGBT employees on a variety of other important issues by completing the survey, but the media company does deserve credit for at least offering some very basic protections and benefits for gay and lesbian employees.
Lack of a Corporate Equality Index rating notwithstanding, News Corp. has taken its support for LGBT employees a step further by sponsoring the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) which describes itself on its website as "an organization of journalists, media professionals, educators and students working from within the news industry to foster fair and accurate coverage of LGBT issues." In fact, the program from the organization's annual conference last fall in Montréal included an ad from News Corp. stating: "The networks of Fox News honor NLGJA for its commitment to fair and balanced reporting. From your friends at Fox News Channel, Fox Business, News Corporation."
Reached for comment over email, NLGJA managing director Michael Tune said, "We try to have as expansive a network as possible in order to reach into every newsroom to accomplish our mission. News Corp. is a major employer of journalists nationwide, and NLGJA has had a very open and supportive dialog with them over the years regarding fair and accurate coverage of the LGBT community."
Tune added, "NLGJA's Rapid Response Task Force was created to respond to coverage of the LGBT community that is not fair and accurate. When we reach out to a news provider, it is often with the help of our member employees or other contacts within a company." He continued, "Often the relationship we have built with a company through its support of NLGJA makes it easier to work together."
I sought out Fox News' Brian Lewis, executive vice president of corporate communications, and Irena Briganti, senior vice president of media relations, last week for comment on the conflict between the network's public posturing against LGBT equality and its support for LGBT employees, but I've not yet received a response.
Just as Sen. Ashburn plans to continue his history of voting against the LGBT community to appease the homophobic conservative district he serves, News Corp. (and by extension Fox News) shows no signs of pulling back on the homophobic red meat it has fed its public -- the conservative audience that drives its ratings.
That ultimately is what's truly sad about News Corp.'s relationship with its LGBT "friends." The media company gives its employees decent protections and benefits while making the lives of the very same employees more difficult in the long-run by broadcasting homophobia and misinformation that harden anti-LGBT views and slow the movement for full equality under the law.
From the April 9 edition of Talk Radio Network's The Savage Nation:
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Fox & Friends again baselessly suggested that Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan was "banned from entering the United States" because of "ties to terrorists." However, Ramadan -- who was never charged with any crime -- denied knowing that a charity to which he donated was alleged to have ties to Hamas, and media reports noted that he was "denied admittance" during the Bush administration "after making statements counter to U.S. foreign policy."
Fox News continues to doggedly follow one Tennessee activist's quest to ban a high school science text book for alleged "bias" against Christians, lending him not only some free publicity but their moral support as well.
On Wednesday we noted that GLAAD was calling for CNN to be held accountable for hosting so-called "ex-gay" activist Richard Cohen who, despite his permanent expulsion from the American Counseling Association in 2002 for "numerous violations of its rules, including those dealing with client welfare, dual relationships with clients and counselors, and advertising" was also promoted on a CNN blog post as an "expert in the field of sexual reorientation."
Well, yesterday Phillips responded to the controversy surrounding the segment noting that Cohen "was not the most appropriate guest to have on" before scolding those who sent her "vicious emails" about the segment and articulating her "unswerving support for all communities in the battle for human rights, including gays, lesbians, and transgendered individuals."
PHILLIPS: Richard Cohen was not the most appropriate guest to have on, but it is a decision that we made and the result of that is our continued discussion today. That is what journalism is all about. And we will continue to do our best to discuss gay and lesbian issues in a fair way on this program. I wish that all of you knew my heart. And as a journalist with a long track record of covering gay and lesbian issues, I wish that those of you who sent me vicious emails watched my newscast more often because if they did, my guess is they would not have been so quick to send such hateful messages. They don't know my record and my unswerving support for all communities in the battle for human rights, including gays, lesbians, and transgendered individuals. And to make it perfectly clear, I love debating issues. It evokes passion but if we cannot treat each other in a civil manner, even when we disagree, then we will never move forward and have a world where all people are treated with the respect that they deserve.
From the April 8 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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From the April 8 edition of MSNBC's Hardball:
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From an April 7 event at Harvard University's Institute of Politics:
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