The Washington Post knows "death panels" are a right-wing lie, dreamed up to falsely demonize health care reform and Democrats, even if it means scaring the elderly away from their doctors' office. And yet the Post sometimes can't bring itself to actually say any of that. That may seem like an odd aversion to the truth for a newspaper, but it probably doesn't surprise regular readers of the Post.
And so it offends (but does not surprise) that, despite knowing that Sarah Palin was lying when she conjured up the image of government "death panels," the Post runs this noxious misinformation from Cal Thomas:
That battle will be accompanied by the continuing political conflict between social conservatives and the Obama administration over same-sex "marriage," and "death panels" as part of "advance directives" being promulgated Dr. Donald Berwick, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services. Dr. Berwick is a known admirer of Britain's National Health Service and an advocate of rationed care, a term he doesn't use, but in an Orwellian manner would produce the same results with government deciding who gets to live and who is allowed to die based on a formula established by government.
The Washington Post not only prints Thomas' health care lies -- and vicious anti-Muslim bigotry -- it promotes him as a "distinguished" panelist who is part of an "intelligent, informed, eclectic, respectful conversation." I'd hate to see what they consider uninformed and disrespectful.
From the December 18 edition of Fox News' Fox News Watch:
Loading the player reg...
From the December 4 edition of Fox News Watch:
Loading the player reg...
From the November 27 edition of Fox News' Fox News Watch:
Loading the player reg...
Right-wing media have criticized comments by NAACP President Ben Jealous in which he discussed "all the hatred" in the media and said that "this is too much like the period before Kristallnacht." But right-wing media figures have a long history of attacking progressives by comparing them and their policies to Adolf Hitler, Nazis, or Nazi-era Germany.
We are doing a poor job of fighting the terrorists at home if we continue to allow Muslim immigrants, especially from Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, into America. We won't win this war if we permit the uncontrolled construction of mosques, as well as Islamic schools, some of which already have sown the seeds from which future terrorists will be cultivated. We won't win this war if we continue to permit the large-scale conversion to Islam of prison inmates, many of whom become radicalized and upon release enlist in al-Qaida's army. [Emphasis added]
Thomas doesn't indicate how he would prevent prison inmates from converting, but one thing is quite clear: He wants to tell American citizens what religions they are allowed to practice.
From the September 11 edition of Fox News' Fox News Watch:
Loading the player reg...
As the nation prepares to mark the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, numerous media figures have propagated anti-Muslim rhetoric, often smearing Muslims as "terrorists," "jihadists," and "extremists," and dismissing Islam altogether as a "militant" and "anti-Semitic" faith.
When you think of America's deepest and most respectful religious thinkers, do you think of Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin? On Faith co-moderators Sally Quinn and Jon Meacham seem to.
On Faith is the Washington Post microsite dedicated to discussions of religion. Creators Quinn & Meacham have explained:
[I]n a time of extremism -- for extremism is to the 21st century what totalitarianism was to the 20th -- how can people engage in a conversation about faith and its implications in a way that sheds light rather than generates heat? At The Washington Post and Newsweek, we believe the first step is conversation-intelligent, informed, eclectic, respectful conversation-among specialists and generalists who devote a good part of their lives to understanding and delineating religion's influence on the life of the world. The point of our new online religion feature is to provide a forum for such sane and spirited talk, drawing on a remarkable panel of distinguished figures from the academy, the faith traditions, and journalism.
In practice, however, On Faith frequently promotes bigots like Cal Thomas and Bill Donohue and Tony Perkins and James Dobson. Sally Quinn and Jon Meacham have yet to explain how promoting a ranting, hateful lunatic like Bill Donohue "sheds light." Nor have they explained why they promote anti-Muslim writings by Cal Thomas that closely resemble the Islamophobia Quinn denounces in others.
But On Faith's troubling tendency to reward some of the most virulently hateful figures in American public life by passing them off as "intelligent" and "respectful" and "distinguished" leaders is not the only way in which it seems to diverge from its stated goals.
So far this year, On Faith has featured 35 discussions, each kicked off with a brief introduction. Only 11 of those 35 discussions were framed around the views of a specific person or group -- and five of those 11 discussions were been built around the deep thoughts of noted spiritual leaders Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck:
August 30: "In the wake of his weekend rally, Glenn Beck kept up the drumbeat of criticism about President Obama's religion, calling it a 'perversion' and saying that America 'isn't recognizing his version of Christianity,' which Beck characterized as 'liberation theology.' … Why is there so much attention on Obama's religion? Does it matter what religion the president is?"
July 19: "The New York City community board endorsed the Cordoba House, a community center and mosque planned for construction near Ground Zero. Significant opposition has emerged against the project. Sarah Palin even weighed in this weekend, tweeting, 'Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing.' Should there be a mosque near Ground Zero?"
May 17: "Sarah Palin pleased fans and angered foes with her speech to the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, calling herself a 'frontier feminist' and saying, 'choosing life may not be the easiest path, but it's always the right path . . . God sees a way where we cannot, and He doesn't make mistakes.' … Can you be a feminist and oppose abortion in all circumstances? Can you be a person of faith and support abortion in some circumstances?"
April 12: "Fox News commentator Glenn Beck claims that faith-based calls for 'social justice' are really ideological calls for 'forced redistribution of wealth . . . under the guise of charity and/or justice,' and that Christians should leave their churches if they preach or practice 'social justice.' … Who's right? How does the pursuit of justice fit into your faith? Is 'social justice' an ideology or a theology?"
January 11: "Media biased against Christians? Fox News analyst Brit Hume said 'widespread media bias against Christianity' was to blame for criticism of his suggestion that Tiger Woods should embrace Christianity to find redemption. 'Instead of urging that Tiger Woods turn to Christianity, if I had said what he needed to do was to strengthen his Buddhist commitment or turn to Hinduism, I don't think anybody would have said a word,' Hume told Christianity Today. 'It's Christ and Christianity that get people stirred up.' Sarah Palin and other conservative Christians have made similar claims. Is there widespread media bias against Christianity? Against evangelicals such as Hume and Palin? Against public figures who speak openly and directly about their faith? Against people who believe as you do?"
It probably goes without saying, but On Faith has not similarly framed discussions around the views of progressive political and media figures. In fact, nobody else's views have been the impetus for as many On Faith discussions as Palin's or Beck's. For reasons that defy imagination, the Washington Post's On Faith site treats Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck as the nation's leading religious thinkers -- and nobody else is even close.
Why does the Washington Post's On Faith site continue to promote the anti-Muslim rantings of a man who neatly fits site founder Sally Quinn's description of an "Islamophobe"?
Here's Sally Quinn, August 19:
One of the fears of Islamophobes is that Muslims will take over the country, impose their own religious laws (Sharia) on Americans who will no longer be able to worship as they please. Aren't they doing to American Muslims exactly what they fear will be done to them?
And here's Cal Thomas, August 23:
[Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf] could "blunt the power of that coup" if he did not subscribe to Wahaabism, refuse to call Hamas a terrorist organization and favor the destruction of Israel when he talks about a "one state solution," which is code for the destruction of Israel and the one state being a Palestinian one.
Terrorism expert Steve Emerson is about to publish the details of 13 hours of interviews with Rauf which will prove all these things and more. Our enemies are using our Constitution and religious pluralism against us. They have a plan to infiltrate us, build mosques and ultimately impose Sharia Law. They say so. They mean so. People who are in denial about this are dupes and self-deluded.
Go ahead and call me names. That won't change the reality that the Muslims are coming. In fact, they are already here. [Emphasis added]
Cal Thomas is, by Sally Quinn's definition, an "Islamophobe." Thomas peddles the claim, which Quinn derides as the work of "conspiracy theorists," that the Park51 community center is an attempt by "our enemies" to establish a "beachhead" from which to launch further terrorist attacks on America.
So why does Sally Quinn's On Faith site continue to feature Cal Thomas as a "distinguished" panelist and part of an "intelligent, informed, eclectic, respectful conversation"? And why doesn't Quinn mention Thomas when she criticizes Muslim-bashers like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich? Speaking out against FOX's anti-Muslim extremists rings a bit hollow when you're promoting your own at the same time.
Right-wing media figures like Cal Thomas and Dick Morris have preposterously suggested that the proposed Park51 cultural center in Manhattan would be a staging ground for future terrorism. But now Joseph Farah, WorldNetDaily's Birther in Chief, has taken things a step further, contending that construction of the cultural center would itself be an act of terrorism:
The unacceptable symbolism of replacing the Burlington Coat Factory with a mosque is even more compelling than the idea of building a mosque at the former site of the World Trade Center.
In effect, by tearing down this building to make way for a mosque constructed with foreign Islamic money and leadership linked to Islamic extremism, Americans would be consenting to the completion of the audacious and insidious attack of Sept. 11, 2001.
[Imam Feisal Abdul ] Rauf calls it "iconic."
I call it "completing the attack."
How long before right-wingers like Farah start insisting that falafel stands are acts of terrorism?
In their relentless attacks against the planned Park51 Islamic community center in Manhattan, right-wing media have smeared the center as a potential haven or recruitment center for terrorists and extremists.
Does Sally Quinn read the Washington Post microsite On Faith? You know, the one she writes for, created, and runs -- and which uses her name and photo in its banner graphic?
Quinn posted her thoughts on the proposed Park51 Islamic community center last evening, endorsing the project and denouncing its critics. But Quinn seems unaware of the commentary her On Faith site has featured.
Quinn ridicules Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich for their strident opposition to the community center -- ridicule that is well-deserved. She mocks Charles Krauthammer for failing to indicate exactly what he considers "Ground Zero" and how far away from it he would keep Muslims. She tweaks Gingrich for his plans to appear at a demonstration with a Dutch politician "who has called for a ban on the Quran."
Quinn's criticisms of Palin, Gingrich and Krauthammer are appropriate, as is her scorn for "conspiracy theorists" who claim that the cultural center will be "connected to terrorism." And that's why I have to wonder if she actually reads the site she moderates. See, On Faith has hosted some pretty far-out and incendiary commentary about the Park51 project, most notably Cal Thomas's angry July 21 screed. Thomas called Muslims liars, insisted that the cultural center is about "celebrating" the deaths of thousands of Americans, suggested that America should take Saudi Arabia's lead when it comes to religious tolerance, and claimed that the cultural center is an attempt by "our enemies" to establish a "beachhead in America" from which to "launch new terror attacks and forcibly convert Americans to their way of thinking and believing." Thomas did all that under Sally Quinn's banner, presented to the world by her as a "distinguished" panelist and part of an "intelligent, informed, eclectic, respectful conversation."
It's great that Sally Quinn is calling out merchants of fear and intolerance like Palin and Gingrich. But why is she ignoring her own panelist's reckless smears of Muslims and of the community center she endorses? If she is really concerned about the "growing Islamophobia in this country," why does her site embrace and promote one of its most influential practitioners?
Fox News is getting some (completely appropriate) strong criticism for the disgraceful anti-Muslim hysteria the cable channel has stoked in its frenzied coverage of the proposed Islamic center in Manhattan. But it is important to remember that Fox didn't set off the depressingly ill-informed and hateful discussion all by itself. It had help. The Washington Post's "On Faith" web site, for example, has done everything it can to turn the matter into a national controversy for a full month, publishing dozens of posts about the cultural center.
On Faith kicked things off on July 19, misleadingly framing the issue: "A mosque near ground zero?" (It isn't a "mosque," it's a cultural center, with a basketball court and swimming pool and whatnot.) That framing post referred to exactly one person's opinion about the center: Sarah Palin's.
From there, the Post turned things over to a parade of bigots like Richard Land. Some of the On Faith posts in opposition to the center were relatively unremarkable. Others were extreme.
A July 26 post by Ramdas Lamb took the position that "Islam is treated with kid gloves" in America, a claim that strained credulity at the time and looks downright absurd after several weeks of anti-Muslim rhetoric.
On July 21, Cal Thomas -- another of On Faith's "remarkable panel of distinguished figures" -- used the space granted to him by the Washington Post to call Muslims liars, insist that the cultural center is about "celebrating" the deaths of thousands of Americans, suggest that America should take Saudi Arabia's lead when it comes to religious tolerance, and claim that the cultural center is an attempt by "our enemies" to establish a "beachhead in America" from which to "launch new terror attacks and forcibly convert Americans to their way of thinking and believing."
In all, On Faith has posted 47 separate pieces about the proposed cultural center over the past month. True, some have been compelling defenses of the religious freedoms enshrined in our constitution -- but the Washington Post has also served as a key incubator of some of the most virulent religious bigotry America has seen in quite some time. And by dressing that bigotry up as a high-minded "conversation on religion and politics" that "sheds light rather than generates heat" through "intelligent, informed, eclectic, respectful conversation," the Post has legitimized the kind of ugly and hateful smears best left to the Pam Gellers of the world.
It's almost impossible to overstate the irresponsibility of Fox News and Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin and other far-right media figures who have ginned up this phony controversy for partisan gain. They deserve the considerable condemnation they are receiving from many quarters. But that shouldn't get the Washington Post and other news organizations off the hook. Nobody forced them to grant Cal Thomas a platform to smear Muslims a month ago (or to pass his smears off as intelligent and respectful commentary.) They chose to do so.
It's generally a bad sign when a column begins by suggesting Newt Gingrich is the voice of reason, and Cal Thomas's offering today is no exception:
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich may be the most notable public figure in some time to state the obvious: radical Islam is a clear and present danger to America.
In a speech last week at The American Enterprise Institute in Washington, Gingrich said, "this is not a war on terrorism ... this is a struggle with radical Islamists." The problem, he said, is that too many leaders are "sleepwalking" and won't face the threat.
Ask yourself: if you wanted to infiltrate a country, wouldn't a grand strategy be to rapidly build mosques from Ground Zero in New York, to Temecula, Calif., and establish beachheads so fanatics could plan and advance their strategies under the cover of religious freedom and that great American virtue known as "tolerance," which is being used against us?
Thomas has been pushing the crackpot theory that the proposed community center in lower Manhattan is a terrorist front for weeks. Here he is on July 21:
A mosque near Ground Zero is not about tolerance, but triumphalism. It isn't about honoring the dead, but celebrating their deaths.
Don't we know why our enemies desire a beachhead in America? They wish to launch new terror attacks and forcibly convert Americans to their way of thinking and believing. What will we gain by allowing this to happen?
That's just plain nutty, as Jeffrey Goldberg has made clear in response to Sarah Palin's expert analysis of the situation:
Sarah Palin has called on "peace-seeking Muslims" to "refudiate" plans by the The Cordoba Initiative, a Muslim organization, to build a mosque and community center near the site of Ground Zero. …
[T]he larger issue here is the intent of the Cordoba Initiative, which is trying to build the mosque. I know the people who run the initiative; they are, for lack of a better term, "peace-seeking Muslims." I spoke at a program co-sponsored by Cordoba last year, and I came to understand that the organization is interested mainly in battling extremism within Islam, and in building bridges to non-Muslim faiths. It seems to me that its mission makes Cordoba an appropriate fit for Ground Zero. One of the ways to prevent future Ground Zeroes is to encourage moderation within Islam, and to treat Muslim moderates differently than we treat Muslim extremists. The campaign against this mosque treats all Muslims as perpetrators. This is a terrible mistake, for moral and strategic reasons. I'm afraid that Sarah Palin, if she were ever to become President, would help create what Muslim extremists have so far unsuccesssfully sought to provoke: an all-out clash of civilizations.
In a follow-up post, Goldberg wrote:
We must fight the terrorists with alacrity, but at the same time we must understand that what the terrorists seek is a clash of civilizations. We must do everything possible to avoid giving them propaganda victories in their attempt to create a cosmic war between Judeo-Christian civilization and Muslim civilization. The fight is not between the West and Islam; it is between modernists of all monotheist faiths, on the one hand, and the advocates of a specific strain of medievalist Islam, on the other. If we as a society punish Muslims of good faith, Muslims of good faith will join the other side. It's not that hard to understand.