The smear campaign continues: Fox Nation, Washington Examiner manufacture Jennings-NAMBLA link

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

The Fox Nation and The Washington Examiner linked Department of Education official Kevin Jennings to the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) based on a 1997 speech in which Jennings praised gay rights activist Harry Hay, who had spoken in support of the organization. But like many obituaries written about Hay upon his death in 2002, Jennings was touting Hay as a gay civil rights pioneer for his role in helping start "the first ongoing gay rights groups in America" in 1948, and Jennings' comments had nothing to do with NAMBLA.

Fox Nation and Washington Examiner smear Jennings with false NAMBLA link

From The Fox Nation:

foxnation_jennings

From an October 1 column by Washington Examiner editorial page editor Mark Tapscott:

Kevin Jennings, President Obama's Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Office of Safe and Drug FreeSchools at the U.S. Department of Education, is in hot water this week for having failed to report that a 15-year-old sophomore student in his school had told him of having sex with an older man.

But failure to report what appeared to be a case of statuatory [sic] rape of a child may be the least of Jennings' worries. Lori Roman of Regular Folks United points to statements by Jennings a decade or more ago when he praised Harry Hay of the North American Association for Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), which promotes the legalization of sexual abuse of young boys by older men.

Roman provides damning details and links here.

Conservative blogosphere runs with new smear of Jennings

RedState.org: "I wonder if Kevin Jennings suppots [sic] NAMBLA." In a September 29 post on his Twitter account, RedState.org's Erick Erickson wrote, "I wonder if Kevin Jennings suppots [sic] NAMBLA."

Power Line's Hinderaker cited Jennings' speech, NAMBLA. In an October 1 post, Power Line's John Hinderaker noted Jennings' 1997 speech and wrote: "Obama nominee Kevin Jennings actually said that the founder of NAMBLA -- the North American Man-Boy Love Association -- Harry Hay, is '[o]ne of the people that's always inspired me,' " and asked, "Why, exactly, would a President put someone who admires those who advocate homosexual relationships between middle-aged men and high school or junior high school aged boys in charge of 'safety' in American public schools? Who would do that? It's not as though Kevin Jennings' benign view of such exploitation is a secret; on the contrary, this is his career, his claim to fame, his qualification for federal employment. One can only ask: is the Obama administration completely insane?" Hinderaker's claim that Hay founded NAMBLA is false. As the Associated Press noted in 2002, Hay "in 1950 founded the secret network of support groups for gays known as the Mattachine Society." Hay wrote in the Gay Community News (retrieved from Nexis) in 1994, "I am not a member of NAMBLA, nor would it ever have been my inclination to be one."

Numerous other conservative blogs have raised the purported connection in linking to The Washington Examiner and the 1997 speech.

Jennings' 1997 speech: Nothing to do with NAMBLA

Jennings inspired by Hay, "who started the first ongoing gay rights groups in America ... the Mattachine Society." Peter LaBarbera, president of a group that seeks to "expos[e] and counter the homosexual activist agenda," published a transcript of Jennings' 1997 remarks at the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network's (GLSEN) mid-Atlantic conference that LaBarbera said was reprinted from the Lambda Report. In that speech, Jennings said, "One of the people that's always inspired me is Harry Hay, who started the first ongoing gay rights groups in America. In 1948, he tried to get people to join the Mattachine Society." Jennings' remarks include no mentions of NAMBLA.

From LaBarbera's transcript of Jennings' remarks regarding Hay:

One of the people that's always inspired me is Harry Hay, who started the first ongoing gay rights groups in America. In 1948, he tried to get people to join the Mattachine Society [the first American homosexual "rights" group]. It took him two years to find one other person who would join. Well, [in] 1993, Harry Hay marched with a million people in Washington, who thought he had a good idea 40 years before. Everybody thought Harry Hay was crazy in 1948, and they knew something about him which he apparently did not -- they were right, he was crazy. You are all crazy. We are all crazy. All of us who are thinking this way are crazy, because you know what? Sane people keep the world the same [sh*tty] old way it is now. It's the people who think, 'No, I can envision a day when straight people say, 'So what if you're promoting homosexuality?' Or straight kids say, 'Hey, why don't you and your boyfriend come over before you go to the prom and try on your tuxes on at my house?' That if we believe that can happen, we can make it happen. The only thing that will stop us is our lack of faith that we can make it happen. That is our mission from this day forward. To not lose our faith, to not lose our belief that the world can, indeed, be a different place. And think how much can change in one lifetime if in Harry Hay's one very short life, he saw change from not even one person willing to join him to a million people willing to travel to Washington to join him. You can see the same changed happen in your lifetime if you believe you can.''

Obituaries described Hay as helping pioneer gay rights movement -- just as Jennings did

Hay broadly recognized as gay rights pioneer. Upon Hay's death in October 2002, numerous obituaries (retrieved from Nexis) noted that Hay was a pioneer of the American gay rights movement -- just as Jennings noted in his 1997 speech:

  • NYT: Hay "founded a secret organization six decades ago that proved to be the catalyst for the American gay rights movement." The New York Times wrote on October 25, 2002: "Harry Hay, who founded a secret organization six decades ago that proved to be the catalyst for the American gay rights movement, died early Thursday morning at his home in San Francisco. He was 90. Although little known in the broader national culture over the years, Mr. Hay's contribution was to do what no one else had done before: plant the idea among American homosexuals that they formed an oppressed cultural minority of their own, like blacks, and to create a lasting organization in which homosexuals could come together to socialize and to pursue what was, at the beginning, the very radical concept of homosexual rights."
  • AP: Hay was "a pioneering activist in the gay rights movement" who founded "the Mattachine Society." The Associated Press wrote on October 25, 2002: "Harry Hay, a pioneering activist in the gay rights movement, died Thursday, according to family members who said he had suffered from lung cancer. He was 90. Hay, among the first to argue that gays represented a cultural minority, devoted his life to progressive politics and in 1950 founded the secret network of support groups for gays known as the Mattachine Society."
  • SF Chronicle: Hay "considered by many to be the founder of the modern American gay rights movement." The San Francisco Chronicle wrote on October 25, 2002: "Henry 'Harry' Hay, considered by many to be the founder of the modern American gay rights movement, died Thursday at home in San Francisco at age 90."

The obituaries made no mention of NAMBLA.

Washington Examiner links Jennings to Bill Ayers -- for writing foreword to book decrying anti-gay violence

Washington Examiner links Jennings to Ayers. In his October 1 Washington Examiner column, Tapscott connected Jennings to Bill Ayers, writing:

Roman provides damning details and links here. She also notes that Jennings wrote the forward "to a book called Queering Elementary Education. And another fellow you may have heard of wrote one of the endorsements on the book jacket -- Bill Ayers." Ayers, of course, is the Weather Underground bomber from the 1960s who is just an "acquaintance" of Obama.

Jennings' book foreword decried anti-gay violence. Jennings wrote the foreword to the 1999 book Queering Elementary Education: Advancing the Dialogue about Sexualities and Schooling. In the book, Jennings called for valuing "every human being as a precious gift" and looked forward to the day when students could "walk down our streets without fear." The Washington Examiner did not mention the content of Jennings' foreword, choosing instead to create a link between Jennings and Ayers.

From Jennings' foreword:

jenningsfwd1

jenningsfwd2

jenningsfwd3

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.