A New York Post blogger criticizing a government program that provides cell phones and monthly minutes free of charge to low-income individuals baselessly stated that free cell phones are now a "civil right." Despite that phrase appearing nowhere in the news article the Post linked to, the meme has traveled through the right-wing media, including one segment on Fox & Friends that contained several falsehoods about the program.
Right-wing blogs are claiming that in planning a bus tour to the Midwest later this month, President Obama has "copie[d]" Sarah Palin, who embarked on a bus tour earlier this year. In fact, Obama went on a bus tour during his 2008 campaign, and for decades sitting presidents and presidential candidates have traveled the nation by bus.
Glenn Beck's The Blaze is stoking fears of a sinister plot aimed at "indoctrinating children" with the "overtly controversial stance" that global warming is man-made with free books and SpongeBob SquarePants:
On July 20, 2011, kids in the Washington, D.C. area were treated to free books during a special U.S. Department of Education event. Two of the books that were offered featured popular Nickelodeon characters as part of the network's "Big Green Help Series," a campaign encouraging children to help protect the Earth.
But one of these publications takes an overtly controversial stance, as it promotes the idea that global warming is a man-made problem that requires human intervention in order to be stemmed.
Of course, there should be nothing remotely controversial about the idea that humans are contributing to climate change. Countless scientific organizations and groups long ago moved past the notion that the concept is "controversial." The controversy exists only in the fevered imaginations of right-wing commentators, like those at The Blaze, where it has become a point of pride to deny a massive body of scientific research.
In recent weeks, the right-wing media have used reports of wildlife deaths -- particularly those of bats and birds -- in order to attack wind energy. Although wind turbines are responsible for a number of wildlife deaths, precautions are being taken to reduce the number of deaths caused by wind turbines annually. As unfortunate as these wildlife deaths are, the fact remains that wind turbines provide more benefit to the environment than they do harm to wildlife.
Animals affected by wind turbines have included birds, Golden Eagles, Bald Eagles, and bats. The right-wing media found these deaths significant, but presumably only because it suits their alternate energy bashing agenda.
Fox Nation asked, "Bald Eagles vs [sic] Wind Farms: Who Wins?"
Before there was any evidence of who was responsible for the terrorist bombing and shooting in Norway, mainstream media outlets rushed to finger Muslims and Muslim groups as potential perpetrators and listed grievances that radical Muslims had against the country. Norwegian officials have since said that a non-Muslim was responsible for the terrorist acts.
Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, recently revealed that he is an undocumented immigrant. Right-wing media responded with virulent anti-immigrant attacks, with Don Surber of the Charleston Daily Mail writing: "kick the lying, illegal alien Jose Antonio Vargas out."
Right-wing media have attacked a recent Maryland State Board of Education ruling that requires high school students to be "environmentally literate" before graduating as "indoctrination" and "brainwash[ing]," while using it as an opportunity continue the right-wing's longstanding war on climate science.
Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer-prize winning reporter for the Washington Post, "outed" himself today as an undocumented immigrant in a self-authored New York Times Magazine piece detailing his experience as a young Filipino immigrant working hard to achieve the American dream. It wasn't until Vargas attempted to obtain a learner's permit at his local California DMV that he learned the citizenship documentation he had been provided by his naturalized grandparents was fake.
I decided then that I could never give anyone reason to doubt I was an American. I convinced myself that if I worked enough, if I achieved enough, I would be rewarded with citizenship. I felt I could earn it.
I've tried. Over the past 14 years, I've graduated from high school and college and built a career as a journalist, interviewing some of the most famous people in the country. On the surface, I've created a good life. I've lived the American dream.
But I am still an undocumented immigrant.
Predictably, it took almost no time for the right-wing slander machine to gear up its attacks on Vargas and his family.
First up, National Review's Daniel Foster accused Vargas of "fraudulent tax fraud," in a piece posted today:
Vargas entered the country illegally after his grandfather paid a coyote $4,500 to smuggle him in. The grandfather then obtained a fake passport and green card for Vargas, which they used to acquire a valid Social Security card. But that card, which subjected Vargas' right to work to the approval of the then-INS, was illegally doctored, allowing Vargas to secure job after job for more than a decade by showing nothing more than a photocopy of a fake document.
The first part of Vargas' story -- a kid living and loving America for years before his shocking discovery that he has been made complicit in a crime -- does indeed elicit sympathy. It's stories like these that make me open, at least in principle, to something like a narrowly-tailored version of the "DREAM" Act. But the second part of his story, in which a fear- and shame-driven Vargas, with the aid of his family, perpetuated and compounded those crimes (Vargas eventually got around to what you might redundantly call fraudulent tax fraud, repeatedly reporting himself as a citizen rather than a "permanent resident", when in fact he was neither), elicits from me nothing like the outpouring of support Vargas is already enjoying on the Left.
Right-wing media have attacked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for recently saying that it is "not good logic" to target Muslim men younger than 35 for security screenings at airports. In her comments, Napolitano instead recommended screening based on travel plans, behavior, and existing intelligence -- a method recommended by experts who note that racial profiling is ineffective.
It turns out that Fox Business' Eric Bolling's tweet about President Obama "chugging 40s" in Ireland didn't have any racial overtones at all. That's the assessment of Meredith Jessup, a blogger for Glenn Beck's The Blaze, who observes that white people, such as herself, have also consumed malt liquor out of 40 oz. bottles:
Apparently making a reference to "40′s" -- meaning 40 oz. -- is inherently racist. Why? NewsOne (For Black America) explains:40s is slang for 40 oz bottles of beer, usually malt liquor, that was popular in hip hop in the 90s.
Uh, so? Do white people not drink 40s? I have. Did white people not enjoy hip hop in the 90s? I don't really want to admit it, but in fact I did.
All of this pseudo-racism nonsense detracts from the real struggles people have gone through in battling actual racism and only serves to divide people more.
So if white people also do it, it's not racially insensitive? By that standard, this horribly racist mailing from a California GOP group depicting Obama on a food stamp with fried chicken and watermelon is actually quite anodyne, given that white people also use food stamps and have been known to eat fried chicken and watermelon.
This is how racial stereotypes typically work -- they transform unremarkable things (food stamps, fried chicken, and 40s) into damaging slurs. Claiming that the stereotype Bolling invoked isn't offensive -- or doesn't exist -- is willfully obtuse.
Saying "white people also do it" isn't an argument against the hurtfulness of the stereotype. It's an acknowledgement of its unfairness, and argument against the stereotype itself.
The right-wing media have reacted to President Obama's speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) by complaining either he "flip-flop[ped]" or "double[d] down" on his previous comments or both. However, in his speech to AIPAC, Obama simply reiterated his earlier call that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians should be "based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps."
Immediately following the announcement by tea party favorite Herman Cain that he is "running for President of the United States" and "not running for second," Fox News wasted no time in jumping to gush over Cain.
Gushing is not an exaggeration. From an article on the Fox News website:
At a rally attended by thousands, the businessman, author and talk radio show host showed he knows how to wow a conservative gathering. The crowd chanted, "Herman, Herman, Herman," as Cain unleashed the same soaring rhetoric and relentless attacks on President Obama that has created buzz in recent weeks.
"And we've got a deficiency of leadership crisis in the White House," he said to roaring cheers.
But the propaganda parade didn't end there. The very same article highlights his beliefs and stance on various issues, as well as touts Cain's tea-partyesque underdog status as someone who has "never held elected office":
Cain supports a strong national defense, opposes abortion, backs replacing the federal income tax with a national sales tax and favors a return to the gold standard.
He's never held elected office, losing a three-way Republican U.S. Senate primary bid in Georgia in 2004 with one-quarter of the vote. His "Hermanator" political action committee has taken in just over $16,000 this year.
Cain says he's running "a bottoms-up, outside-the-box campaign." Supporters say he taps into the tea party-fueled desire for plain-speaking citizen candidates.
"I just love him," gushed Laura Miller, a self-described "Cainiac" from Jessup, Ga. "What he says makes so much sense."
Later in the same article, the gushing continues with a quote from former GOP Vice Presidential nominee Jack Kemp:
The late Jack Kemp, the GOP vice presidential nominee in 1996, once described Cain as having "the voice of Othello, the looks of a football player, the English of Oxfordian quality and the courage of a lion."
But it's not just one article. Fox Nation has an opinion, too:
Following President Obama's May 19 speech on the Middle East, right-wing media have characterized Obama's call for the creation of a Palestinian state "based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps" as Obama "sid[ing] with the Palestinians." However, this characterization obscures the fact that Obama's plan has Israeli and Jewish support; for instance, the leader of the Israeli opposition party and several American Jewish organizations applauded Obama's plan, and prominent Israelis have previously supported similar plans.
Right-wing media have continued to attack energy standards that will phase out inefficient light bulbs by 2012, claiming the bill will "ban" incandescent light bulbs and force consumers to instead purchase either $50 light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs or "dangerous" compact florescent lights (CFL). In fact, the bill only bans inefficient incandescent light bulbs, and efficient bulbs -- whose prices vary considerably depending on the type of bulb and are also projected to drop -- will save consumers money in the long run; experts have also said that concerns over mercury in CFL bulbs are overstated.
Following the announcement of a new national emergency alert system that will alert the public to significant emergencies via mobile phone messages, right-wing media have attacked the plan, claiming that it will allow "Dear Leader Obama To Send You Text Messages." But the plan was implemented as a result of legislation introduced by GOP Sen. Jim DeMint that was overwhelmingly passed by Congress in 2006 and accompanied by an executive order signed by President Bush.