Conservative radio host and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham attacked the speakers at the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech, at one point using the sound of a gunshot to cut off a sound bite of civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) -- a man whose skull was infamously fractured by a state trooper on "Bloody Sunday" in Selma, AL, in 1965. Ingraham used the speech's anniversary to race-bait about black-on-white crime statistics and hosted Pat Buchanan to bemoan the idea that minorities face any higher level of adversity in America 50 years later.
Tens of thousands of people gathered in Washington, DC over the weekend to commemorate and recreate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 1963 March on Washington, an event originally dedicated to calling for civil and economic rights for African Americans. CBS News reported that the 50th anniversary event -- part of a week-long build-up to Wednesday's anniversary -- "was sponsored by the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network, Martin Luther King III and the NAACP, featured a roster of speakers, including King, Sharpton, Attorney General Eric Holder, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. They spoke from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where 50 years ago this month King delivered his famous 'I Have A Dream' speech."
On her August 26 radio broadcast, Ingraham criticized the event and its speakers, saying the goal "was to co-opt the legacy of Martin Luther King into a modern-day liberal agenda," and scoffing at the topics speakers supposedly discussed: "From gay marriage, to immigration -- amnesty, was thrown in for good measure. We talked about the Voting Rights Act."
Ingraham ran through a list of African-American crime rates before hosting Pat Buchanan, a prominent racist with white nationalist ties. Buchanan dismissed the idea that minorities suffer any disadvantages in contemporary America, calling the idea "absurd" because "black folks excel and are hugely popular figures in everything from sports to entertainment to athletics to politics. Everywhere you go ... So the progress has been enormous."
At one point during her broadcast, Ingraham began playing a clip of Lewis' speech from the 50th anniversary rally, before interrupting the playback of his comments with the sound of a loud gunshot.
The percentage of ethnic minorities in American newsrooms has stagnated at between 12 and 13 percent for more than a decade, according to the annual census released today by the American Society of News Editors.
The census includes responses from nearly 1,000 out of almost 1,400 daily U.S. newspapers and was conducted with the Center for Advanced Social Research. It finds that ethnic minorities make up 12.37 percent of newsrooms in 2013, down from a high of 13.73 percent in 2006.
That trendline is of great concern to the nonprofit professional organization. If it continues, ASNE will fall well short of their goal of having the percentage of ethnic minorities working in newsrooms nationwide reflect their representation in the overall population by 2025, when it is predicted to reach 42.39 percent.
"It's terribly disappointing to learn that diversity in newsrooms remains stagnant despite the rapidly changing landscape of America," said Karen Magnuson, editor and vice president/news at the Democrat and Chronicle Media Group, Rochester, and co-chair of the ASNE Diversity Committee, in a press release announcing the census' results. "If we are to accurately reflect and authentically cover the communities we serve, we must do much better as an industry or we risk becoming irrelevant to news consumers of the future."
The moribund growth of the minority population in newsrooms is mirrored in the lack of diversity in cable news.A Media Matters study of evening cable news shows found that white men were hosted 58 percent of the time in April 2013, a figure nearly unchanged from a similar study we conducted in May 2008.
Other lowlights of the ASNE census include:
Richard Spencer, executive director of the National Policy Institute (NPI), was beginning his opening remarks as I settled uneasily into my seat in the back row of a small, brightly lit banquet room. From a podium at the front of the room, the brown-haired young man pointed to a projection of a color-shaded world map that he claimed depicted regional variations in the average Intelligence Quotient (IQ) of indigenous populations.
According to the map, East Asian and European peoples possess the highest IQs while African and Australian indigenous populations possess the lowest. He then switched to a NASA photograph of the world at night, depicting city lights around the globe visible from space. He compared the brightest-lit areas (China, Europe, North America) to the previous map, proclaiming that the brightest localities were also those with the highest IQ.
"You can see, Africa is literally the Dark Continent."
It was on that note that NPI's national conference, titled Towards a New Nationalism: Immigration and the Future of Western Nations, began. This was the first such event for the fledgling white nationalist organization NPI, a think tank of sorts dedicated to "promot[ing] the American majority's unique historical, cultural, and biological inheritance - and advances policies that, without prejudicing the legitimate rights of others, fearlessly defends our rights...our heritage." Dedicated, in other words, to advancing the interests of the white race.
The event was a first for me as well. I would be, for the first time, experiencing a gathering of white supremacists from such an intimate perspective. Watching, learning, interacting -- I would attempt to sort out what they believe and why and explore the relationship between the white nationalist movement and the more mainstream political spectrum. As a clean-cut white male, my presence wasn't suspicious and the other attendees assumed I shared their views. For my part, I let them assume, and I did my best to blend in.
I had no idea what to expect when I arrived at 9 a.m., but a part of me anticipated swarms of protestors, a strong police presence clashing with private security forces and a raucous racist crowd inside the hall, cheering on some podium-smacking orator bloviating about the evils of the Jewish race and the need to oppress the black community.
Instead, I was greeted jovially upon arrival to a scene that more closely resembled a modest cocktail party, with no security and a few people standing around sipping coffee and discussing literature. I picked up my name tag and glanced at the design -- a photograph of a white family smiling over a white background adjacent to the well-known political cartoon by Benjamin Franklin depicting a severed serpent and the phrase "JOIN, or DIE."
Reading over the conference program, I caught a glimpse of what I was in for from the titles of the speeches to come. They ranged from the blandly predictable - "Is Arizona the Answer?", "Prospects for a Nationalist Right in America"; to the ominously enigmatic - "Apocalypse Now," "Totalitarian Humanism and Mass Immigration," "The Masters of the Universe"; to the truly chill-inducing -- "The Idea and Ideal of the Ethno-State."