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  • Voter suppression stories aren't just about which party wins or loses in November -- they're about racist disenfranchisement in the long term

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Recent reporting has revealed indisputable voter suppression efforts in North Dakota and Georgia that appear to specifically target Native and Black communities. While these racist disenfranchisement efforts are obviously notable in the lead-up to next month’s midterm elections, media fail the public when they simply focus on the impact in the short-term and turn the story into another horse-race conversation. The real story here is the long-term, conservative-led effort to systematically dismantle voting rights for people of color -- and it won’t go away after November.

    On October 9, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to suspend a lower federal court ruling that requires North Dakota voters to show identification with a residential address in order to vote. This requirement effectively disenfranchises Native American tribal residents, as many do not have the acceptable identification or don’t list residential addresses on their IDs. As the plaintiffs in the original court case explained, the U.S. Postal Service doesn’t deliver to residences in rural tribal communities so residents instead list P.O. boxes on tribal IDs. In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted that “the risk of disfranchisement is large” in clearing the way for the state to enforce this voter ID requirement after it had previously been blocked during primary voting.

    On the same day, The Associated Press reported that Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (who is also currently running for governor on the Republican ticket) has actively purged “over 1.4 million voter registrations since 2012,” and currently has “over 53,000 registrations sitting on hold.” AP’s analysis revealed that nearly 70 percent of the 53,000 “on hold” registrations were those of Black voters, an astonishing statistic when the state population is only 32 percent Black. The reasons for holding a registration vary, and can include simple errors in entry or “a dropped hyphen in a last name, for example.”

    Both of these efforts began well before the current election cycle. Mother Jones reports that North Dakota Republicans began tightening state voter ID laws after Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp was first elected in 2012. Kemp was first elected secretary of state in 2010, but his office began its purge as early as 2012 as well. It’s not even the only move Kemp has made to suppress votes in Georgia in recent months. Both fit into the broader systemic dismantling of voting rights in America, signaled by the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act in the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder case, and subsequent rulings granting states greater freedom to dictate their own election maps and voting requirements -- tools that some states have used to create stricter barriers to voting access for communities of color.

    Right-wing media have been cheering on the conservative voter suppression campaign for as long as it has been underway, helpfully propping up bogus claims of widespread voter fraud to justify this clear and targeted racist disenfranchisement.

    Media silence about the systemic dismantling of voting rights -- as was the case for coverage of the 2016 races -- should not be an option. Instead, media’s responsibility is to present the full context and actively counter the decades-long trend in voter suppression perpetrated by the right-wing political and media ecosystem.

    Coverage ought to focus on conveying the message that instances of voter suppression are both far from isolated, and far from random in the communities they affect. And even summing up in-depth reports that do provide this context with narrow midterms-focused headlines, like these, is itself a disservice:

    [Salon, 10/10/18]

    [New York, 10/10/18]

    [GQ, 10/10/18]

    [Alternet, 10/9/18]

    [Mic, 10/10/18]

    It’s just one step above a headline that tells readers nothing at all.

    Framing the latest voter purges from Georgia and North Dakota as purely horse-race developments effectively erases the opportunity to address the racist erosion of voting rights. This is not simply about a red or blue wave, or about polling numbers, or campaign strategy. This is not a matter of being bad for Democrats or good for Republicans. And this will not go away after next month.

    Black and Native people are being robbed of their voices at the polls in service of a conservative structure that will only work to systematically reinforce and further these voter suppression efforts in the future. Racism is a feature of this system, not a bug.

    Every time we see a headline about one specific and seemingly isolated disenfranchisement effort, we are deprived of the chance to make larger connections; to understand the rot at the core of our electoral system; and to fight it.

  • Today's dumbest controversy is the idea that Eric Holder wants Democrats to literally kick conservatives

    "When they go low, we kick them” doesn’t mean to actually kick someone

    Blog ››› ››› PARKER MOLLOY


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Speaking to a group of Democrats in support of Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Adams, former Attorney General Eric Holder riffed on Michelle Obama’s “when they go low, we go high” line from the 2016 Democratic National Convention to comment on the need for Democrats to fight back against voter suppression efforts -- a legitimate concern, especially in that state.

    “Michelle always says, ‘When they go low, we go high,'” said Holder at last weekend’s event. “No. No. When they go low, we kick them. That’s what this new Democratic Party is about. We’re proud as hell to be Democrats. We’re willing to fight for the ideals of the Democratic Party.”

    Just from that quote, it should be obvious that Holder wasn’t talking about physically kicking anybody, but lest someone misinterpret his comment as a call to violence, he clarified:

    “Now, when I say, you know, ‘we kick ‘em,’ I don’t mean we do anything inappropriate. We don’t do anything illegal. But we’ve got to be tough and we’ve got to fight for the very things that John Lewis, Martin Luther King, Whitney Young, you know, all those folks gave to us. That stuff can be taken away. That’s what they want to do.”

    Since its release, the video of Holder’s comments has been making the rounds across conservative and mainstream media.

    On Wednesday’s edition of Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight, the host called Holder an “illustrious thug” after playing the context-free version of Holder’s comments.

    “You know, when I think what we’ve just gone through and when I think of what Justice [Brett] Kavanaugh and his family have gone through, and I think of the ignorance of the radical Dems on that committee and in that party and what they’re saying, and watching Eric Holder in Georgia, talking big like he’s some sort of street thug, I can’t imagine what it would take to infuriate, to motivate Republicans to get to the polls and take five others with them,” Dobbs said later in the program.

    On Thursday’s Fox & Friends, Holder’s comments racked up a number of mentions. Yet again, the latter half of his statement, where he explicitly said that he’s not referring to committing acts of violence, was omitted.

    “Wow, that's the new Democratic Party? Just start kicking people? That's the former head of the Justice Department, keep that in mind,” said co-host Ainsley Earhardt.

    President Donald Trump later called in to the show. Asked about what Holder said, Trump replied, “He better be careful what he is wishing for,” adding, “That is a disgusting statement for him to make.”

    He went on to call it a “dangerous statement,” saying, “They talk about us. We are exactly opposite.” He then described his rallies as “really calm and well-run and packed with people. We don't have problems at our rallies, but they used to send in -- they don't do it anymore, they haven't, they probably, maybe they will try starting again -- but they used to send in protesters, paid protesters. The Democrats and Soros and they came from all over.”

    Trump’s rallies during the 2016 campaign, however, were not the peaceful utopia he described on Thursday. There’s a stark contrast between the way Fox & Friends discussed these relatively harmless comments by Holder and how the show reacted when then-candidate Trump called in on November 22, 2015, to say of one protester who claimed to have been assaulted at one of his rallies: “Maybe he should have been roughed up.

    The distortion of Holder’s comments fits into Fox News’ pre-election strategy of framing Democrats as violent extremists who can’t be trusted to govern.

    And as goes Fox News, so goes the rest of conservative media.

    Breitbart, The Washington Times, The Federalist, The Gateway Pundit, and Twitchy all published stories centered around the first portion of the video.

    At RedState, Andrea Ruth wrote that “advocating physical violence … is really not the best look or direction for a party that got members worked up because people at a Trump rally chanted lock her up. … Let’s just hope no one gets hurt because they feel emboldened by Holder’s careless words,” she said, continuing the distortion.

    The Daily Caller and Hot Air both wrote about the video, later updating their posts with additional context.

    Hot Air’s John Sexton wrote, “Of course, I think we all know what will happen the moment someone does this to Hillary or Eric Holder. Suddenly they’ll be shocked and appalled and claim they never had this in mind. They were only speaking metaphorically, etc., etc. Don’t believe it for a minute. They see what is happening out there. They know what kind of behavior they are encouraging.” In his update, he backpedalled, adding the additional comments and writing: “People on the left are pointing to this as evidence that Holder wasn’t endorsing violence or illegal behavior. Fair enough but if you read the post above you may have noticed I never said or even suggested he was recommending violence.”

    Yeah, but you kind of did suggest that, John.

    Violent rhetoric should be condemned, but bad-faith efforts to score points through misrepresentation do little to build trust.

    Violence, of course, is bad, and so is rhetoric that can incite it. But pretending that Holder meant “kick” opponents literally, that Sen. Tim Kaine’s (D-VA) “fight in the streets” comment were actually about throwing punches, or that Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) calling on supporters to “push back” on the Trump administration was an actual instruction to shove government officials (in fairness, she did say to confront them in public, but that’s hardly inciting language), it gets harder to take these claims seriously. Surely, those framing these messages as calls to violence in media know that it’s deceptive to do so.

  • Infowars co-host says Democrats break election laws; also confesses he'll vote in a district he doesn't live in

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Harrison Smith, a contributor to Alex Jones’ Infowars outlet, said that he is going to vote in a district he doesn’t live in because he failed to update his voter registration before Texas’ deadline. The comment came during a segment in which Smith introduced himself as one of the co-hosts of a new Infowars show focused on 2018 midterm election coverage and accused Democrats of breaking election laws.

    Smith announced the new show during the October 9 edition of Infowars’ weekday afternoon show War Room, which is broadcast on Facebook, Infowars.com, and through terrestrial radio. War Room host Owen Shroyer and Jones will join Smith in hosting the show, which will air for two hours every weeknight until the November 6 elections under the banner “Banned 2018 Midterm Election Coverage.” Disturbingly, Infowars’ claims about elections have been previously promoted by the president: Trump’s lie that he “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally” originated with the outlet.

    Speaking to Shroyer, Smith encouraged listeners to register to vote before deadlines to “match these numbers that the Democrats are talking about,” and then said, “Don’t put it off until the last day like I admit I did. I was on my way to the post office to mail my voter registration when I get a call saying, ‘Hey, can you host the War Room today?’ So I will have to go back to my old district to vote this year.” Shroyer responded, “Oh, my gosh. I cost you a vote.”

    Texas law requires that individuals who move from one county to another submit a new voter registration application in person or via mail. Smith, who is based in Austin, TX, where Infowars’ studios are located, does not appear in public records of voters registered in Travis County, where Austin is located. He does, however, have an active voter registration in a different Texas county located more than 150 miles from Austin that started on January 1 and runs through 2019. Texas has been hypervigilant in prosecuting illegal voting cases, even in instances where the person being prosecuted didn’t realize they were violating voting laws.

    Moments later, Shroyer accused Democrats of violating election laws. Shroyer said that Democrats are trying to “rig” the upcoming elections by eliminating the Electoral College, advocating for 16-year-olds to vote, and “obviously the old story, the non-citizen vote, the illegal immigrant vote.”

    Shroyer told Infowars supporters, “Go to a Democrat event in your town where they’re registering people to vote and you watch them politicize it and force their hand, make them admit they’re politicizing it, make them admit they’re out there recruiting for Democrats, catch them on camera, then say, ‘Guess what, buddy? I just caught you breaking the law.’”

    Shroyer suggested reporting election law violations to Texas officials and said, “Better watch out, Democrats, your desperation is leading you down a long, dark pathway of illegal criminal behavior that’s going to catch up with you.” Smith responded, “If only law applied to Democrats like it does to conservatives.”

  • Charlie Kirk echoes 4chan conspiracy theory about Taylor Swift's endorsement of Democrats

    4chan Nazis and Charlie Kirk suggest Swift could not have formed political opinions on her own

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters 

    On Sunday night, pop singer Taylor Swift broke her usual silence regarding politics by endorsing Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen and slamming his opponent, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), while also standing up for equal pay and LGBTQ rights and against systemic racism.

    I’m writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I’ll be voting in the state of Tennessee. In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway. So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to vote.org and you can find all the info. Happy Voting! 🗳😃🌈

    A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

    Since the 2016 presidential election, Swift has been a hot topic on 4chan, the anonymous message board known for its far-right extremism. Users there had interpreted her silence around the election and her country music roots as revealing an alignment with white supremacist values and a rejection of social justice, earning her the nickname “Aryan goddess.”

    But then Swift endorsed Bredesen and fellow Tennessee Democrat Rep. Jim Cooper on Instagram, and the number of posts about her in the “politically incorrect” board of 4chan skyrocketed. Users reacted with sexist and dehumanizing slurs and suggestions that she was no longer “/our girl/.” [Trolls on 4chan habitually call those who they believe to represent their values “/our guy/” or “/our girl/” -- currently, those figures include Tucker Carlson and actress Roseanne Barr.]

    And one take was consistent among the trolls: the sexist and demeaning assumption that a woman cannot form her own political opinions.

    Turning Point USA Executive Director Charlie Kirk, who had a Twitter meltdown about Swift’s endorsement and repeatedly accused her of having “no idea” of what she was talking about, took it upon himself to go on the October 8 edition of Fox & Friends and amplify the sexist conspiracy theory that trolls had posted on 4chan.

    Kirk also took his disappointment and the asinine conspiracy theory that Swift could not have written her own campaign endorsement to Fox Business’ Varney & Co., where he claimed that she had been “co-opted by activists on the left that want to use her brand, her visibility, and popularity to advance their agenda.”

    Both Kirk and TPUSA’s communications director, Candace Owens, had previously expressed disdain for celebrity opinions, but that changed after Kanye West praised Owens. At that point, Kirk made public appearances with West, Owens did media hits with him, and Kirk offered unending sycophancy for the rapper, all of which shows they actually care a lot about what celebrities think -- as long as they support President Donald Trump.

  • Actual historian dismantles Dinesh D'Souza's lie about slavery and the Constitution

    On Fox, D’Souza dismissed slavery’s impact on the Electoral College by separating it from the three-fifths compromise, and Mike Duncan fact-checked him

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    On the October 8 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, pardoned felon and infamous serial liar Dinesh D’Souza responded to a tweet from New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by misleadingly suggesting that the three-fifths compromise did not indicate that the founders considered Black people less than fully human, because “the South wanted Blacks to count for a full person.” D’Souza also claimed that the Electoral College is “a different matter,” as it was merely about “the large states and the small states” vying for power. 

    As explained by author and award-winning history podcaster Mike Duncan, this is nonsense -- the three-fifths compromise was about artificially inflating “the political weight of the landowning white southerners” to increase both the number of representatives they received in the House and the impact of their votes for president.

  • California GOP committees distance themselves from “Bush staged 9/11” congressional candidate

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    The California Republican Party and two county Republican parties are distancing themselves from a candidate who pushed 9/11 conspiracy theories and used an Alex Jones video to support his claims.

    As Media Matters reported on September 25, Republican congressional candidate Ron Cohen claimed that “Bush staged 9/11,” said the collapse of 7 World Trade Center was a “pre-planned demolition,” and cited a video from Alex Jones’ Infowars network as evidence in explaining why he's a 9/11 truther. After Media Matters’ report, he removed the referenced conspiracy theories from his campaign website and Twitter account.

    Cohen’s website had stated that he’s “endorsed by: The California GOP, The Alameda County Republican Party, and the Santa Clara County Republican Party.” Those references have since been removed.

    Media Matters contacted those three groups and asked whether they’re still backing Cohen in light of his remarks.

    Matt Fleming, CAGOP spokesperson, told Media Matters in an email: “I am aware of his comments and of course we disagree. The party has not provided any support to his candidacy and there are no plans to.” Media Matters asked if the party planned to revoke its endorsement of Cohen but has not heard back.

    The Alameda County Republican Party has removed its endorsement of Cohen from its website and now states it has "no endorsement" in the race. Cohen also states on his website that he's "a member of the Alameda County Republican Central Committee." The party did not respond to a request for comment.

    Bob Nuñez, chairman of the Republican Party of Santa Clara County, told Media Matters that his party has suspended Cohen’s endorsement, saying his remarks are "not something we support or endorse at all." Nuñez added that the party has given him a chance to explain his remarks, but Cohen sent an email stating that he’s taken down the remarks and said he didn't have time to meet with party officials. The party will meet on Friday and decide the fate of the Cohen endorsement. (Update, 10/16: Nuñez told Media Matters that the committee ended up revoking its endorsement.)

    In addition to his 9/11 conspiracy theories, Cohen has pushed other conspiratorial rhetoric. He’s stated on his website that he’s been “very concerned that the Airforce has been spraying us with chemicals.”

    San Jose Inside's Jennifer Wadsworth also reported on September 22 that Cohen “took to Twitter to rail against immigrants, cast doubt on the rape allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanagh and promote a conspiracy theory about Michelle Obama being born a man.” Cohen also “went on to suggest that Barack Obama is secretly gay and that Sasha and Malia had surrogate parents because of Michelle’s inability to conceive as a biological male. Basically, the same wackadoodle plots hawked by Twitter outcast and snake-oil salesman Alex Jones.”

    Cohen tweeted on September 26: “I was in a discussion a few days ago and wrote several tweets that were unkind and thoughtless about President Obama and Former First Lady Michelle Obama. I have deleted them.”

    The California Republican Party also briefly endorsed congressional candidate John Fitzgerald, an anti-Semite who has appeared on neo-Nazi podcasts and claimed that the Holocaust is a “lie.” The New York Times reported on July 6 that the California Republican Party’s “brief endorsement of a Holocaust denier ... has prompted Republican leaders there to take candidate vetting more seriously, and comes at a time when extremist and anti-Semitic candidates are receiving increased exposure on the national political stage.”

  • Fox & Friends hosts founder of astroturfed #WalkAway “movement” who has appeared on Infowars

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Fox & Friends is promoting an astroturfed social media “movement,” the #WalkAway campaign, that has been hyped on The Alex Jones Show and promoted by social media bots.

    On the October 2 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Ainsley Earhardt interviewed Brandon Straka, the supposed founder of the #WalkAway campaign, which encourages voters to “walk away” from the Democratic Party. During the appearance, Straka complained of an apparent “dishonesty” within the “liberal media,” promoting his hashtag, website, and an upcoming “march on Washington” in the process.

    Straka’s “movement” is really an astroturfed social media campaign that has been amplified by both Infowars and Russian bots. Since early July, when the hashtag began to trend on Twitter, Straka himself has appeared on multiple Infowars shows to promote his so-called movement, and an analysis of the hashtag on Twitter found it to be a “psychological operation” aimed at shaping conversations in cable news segments, such as his appearance on Fox & Friends. According to multiple analyses, the hashtag's spread was largely driven by non-human activity, and accounts that tweeted in support of the “movement” had used pro-Trump hashtags such as #maga, #fakenews, and #qanon before they “walked away” from the Democratic Party. Moreover, according to Snopes, the campaign’s supporters have promoted the hashtag with misleading stock photos of people who had supposedly “walked away” from the Democratic Party, though Straka claims the photos were not actually created by the campaign itself.

    From the October 2 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): We see your t-shirt. How did you become a conservative? You were a liberal and now you are a conservative activist?

    BRANDON STRAKA (FOUNDER, #WALKAWAY CAMPAIGN): Nice. Well, it's a bit of a long story. But, in general, what it was was, I really came to the realization that the liberal media was incredibly dishonest throughout the campaign of Donald Trump, creating a narrative about who he was and who his followers were. And that really opened my eyes to their dishonesty. I actually think he is a really amazing president, and I think that the people in this country who support him are really good people, but they have gotten a really bad shake from the liberal media.

    EARHARDT: Do you think that there are other people that feel the way do you and they’re just being quiet about it? Because we saw in the election, a lot of people were too afraid to say that they were supporting the president.

    STRAKA: Right, well, this is what I say all the time in the campaign is that it is time for the silent majority to become un-silent, and that's really what's happening, I think, with the #WalkAway campaign. It's a testimonial campaign, and people are creating their testimonials, and they're finding the courage to speak their truth for the first time. It's really created a network of support. In fact, we have a #WalkAway march on Washington next month, which is really going to be a massive demonstration of solidarity.

    EARHARDT: So it's walk away from the Democratic Party and support us?

    STRAKA: Absolutely.

  • GOP candidate Diane Harkey touts endorsement from group that pushes bigoted attacks and Parkland conspiracy theories

    Harkey recently removed an endorsement on her website from a separate group that promoted white nationalist propaganda

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Republican congressional candidate Diane Harkey is touting an endorsement from San Diego Patriots (SDP), a group that has trafficked in bigotry against Latinos and Muslims and said that the Parkland mass shooting “just reeks of a false flag” attack.

    Harkey previously promoted an endorsement from San Diegans for Secure Borders, which shares white nationalist propaganda and attacks Latino and Muslim immigrants as foreign invaders. The endorsement was removed shortly after Media Matters reported on it.

    San Diego Patriots is a fringe group that's led by conservative activist Amy Sutton and claims that its mission is to “secure our nation and our communities from foreign and criminal threats, and to protect our Constitutional Rights, Liberties, and Freedoms.”

    SDP has organized recent events with San Diegans for Secure Borders and its leader, anti-immigrant writer and former San Diego Minutemen head Jeff Schwilk. In 2009, a jury ordered Schwilk to pay $135,000 for defaming an Asian-American immigration activist with racist and derogatory remarks.

    On its Facebook page, San Diego Patriots has trafficked in conspiratorial and bigoted rhetoric that echoes fringe right-wing media. The group has cast doubt on the legitimacy of the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL; attacked political candidates because they’re Muslim; and portrayed Latino and Muslim immigrants as hostile invaders.

    On March 18, SDP wrote that the Parkland shooting “just reeks of a false flag.” As The Guardian wrote, a false flag attack refers to “the idea that powerful forces routinely arrange massacres or terrorist atrocities, and make it appear as if some other individual or group did them, in order to achieve their sinister political goals”; Alex Jones is a frequent promoter of "false flag" conspiracy theories, including about the Florida shooting.In February, SDP shared viral but fake information to assert that shooter Nikolas Cruz was a registered Democrat. Prior to being shared by SDP, the false claim was pushed by the disreputable conservative site The Gateway Pundit  

    SDP has also picked up the fringe conspiracy theory -- promoted in conservative media -- that Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg wasn’t actually a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The group wrote on April 1: “David Hogg involved with an incident in California last year! Is he really from here? What’s the truth about this guy?”

    On April 4, one day after a shooting at YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, CA, SDP posted the following image of Hogg and another Parkland survivor, Emma Gonzalez. Both Hogg and Gonzalez have been smeared with conspiracy theories.

    The Harkey-endorsing group has also trafficked in bigotry against Latinos and Muslims.

    On August 24, SDP told followers to “please read” an American Thinker piece criticizing the existence of Muslim political candidates. The American Thinker commentary piece concluded that “enough questions and doubts exist to compel close scrutiny of all Muslim candidates who are seeking to break through as American political ‘firsts.’ Without a close examination, our political process and systems could be infiltrated with increasing numbers of Muslim candidates of questionable background and motivation who will follow the insidious civilizational jihad according to plan and at a dizzying pace.”

    On April 24, 2017, SDP responded to an NBC News profile of Democratic congressional candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar -- headlined “A Young Latino Arab American Throws His Hat in Congressional Ring” -- by writing: “Watch out for this snake running for Congress in the 50th District against Duncan Hunter. He's a left wing, open border Arab/Latino. Worked directly for Obama.” The group added: “He's half Palestinian (and lived there) and half Mexican, but he converted from Islam to Christianity (or so he says) after 9/11. But he's against vetting unknown Muslim refugees and potential terrorists, like the San Bernardino shooter. Hmmmm. He's also 100% open borders, of course.”

    On May 6, 2017, SDP encouraged people to listen to a radio interview with San Diegans for Secure Borders founder Jeff Schwilk “about the invasion in San Diego of unvetted Muslim refugees and of course foreign criminals (aka illegal aliens) from Mexico.” The group also shared a post from San Diegans against Islamic Sharia Law which stated: “Best news in years! Muslim refugee arrivals down 96% in San Diego County in FY18! Sanity is returning to our immigration system under Pres. Trump. AMERICA FIRST!”

    On April 4, SDP shared a post from the Facebook group SoCal Patriots which called California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) a “Mexican enemy insurgent within our state government. … #LockHimUp.” SoCal Patriots linked to a Freedom Outpost piece claiming that Becerra “is working to destroy the United States and turn the Southwestern states into a Mexican nation. … We, as citizens, and not the illegal criminal aliens, should never accept what people like Xavier Becerra layout before us because they do not have the United States in their heart or blood.”

    On March 16, 2013, SDP wrote that the “La Raza rebels are on the rise again. They want their amnesty and ‘rights’ for millions of illegal Mexican citizens occupying the U.S., or as they call it ‘Aztlan’ (Mexican territory). Shocking video exposes what ‘illegal immigration’ is really about -- the overthrow of the United States by our hostile neighbor to the south.”

  • GOP House candidate Diane Harkey touts endorsement from bigoted group that promotes white nationalist propaganda

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    UPDATE: After the publication of this post, Diane Harkey removed the San Diegans for Secure Borders' endorsement from her website.

    Republican congressional candidate Diane Harkey touts an endorsement on her website from San Diegans for Secure Borders (SDSB), an anti-immigrant group that promotes white nationalist propaganda and attacks Latino and Muslim immigrants as foreign invaders.

    Harkey, who is the chairwoman of the State Board of Equalization in California, is running to replace retiring Republican Rep. Darrell Issa. President Donald Trump endorsed Harkey in August.

    Anti-immigrant writer Jeff Schwilk heads SDSB. He previously led the San Diego Minutemen, which, according to a 2007 Southern Poverty Law Center report, physically intimidated migrants and called them racist slurs. In 2009, a jury ordered Schwilk to pay $135,000 for defaming an Asian-American immigration activist with racist and derogatory remarks; Schwilk reportedly said of the activist, among other comments: "She is Korean. She looks anorexic, and she dresses and looks like a slut."

    San Diegans for Secure Borders also regularly traffics in bigotry. A Media Matters review of its Facebook page found that the Harkey-backing group:

    • posted anti-immigrant propaganda from VDare, a leading white nationalist website, in at least 14 instances. The SDSB-linked pieces include white nationalist propaganda and a piece written by an author who has described himself as a "mild and tolerant" "racist”;
    • attacked undocumented Latino immigrants as foreign invaders and claimed Mexico wants "to control [California] again through mass occupation, and they are. Latinos (mostly Mexicans) are now the dominant 'race' in California”; and
    • claimed that there's a Muslim "invasion" in California and Muslim candidates could bring "Sharia Law in our Congress."

    SDSB heavily promotes VDare, a notorious white nationalist publication

    VDare is a white nationalist site run by Peter Brimelow that’s dedicated to smearing immigrants. It has published numerous prominent racists, including anti-Semite Kevin MacDonald, white nationalist Jared Taylor, and Charlottesville, VA, white nationalist rally leader Jason Kessler.

    White House economics adviser Larry Kudlow recently had to distance himself from Brimelow after The Washington Post reported that the VDare head attended “a birthday bash for Kudlow, one day after a White House speechwriter was dismissed in the wake of revelations that he had spoken alongside Brimelow on a 2016 panel.”

    SDSB’s Facebook page has promoted content from VDare on at least 14 occasions (1/7/13; 2/25/13; 2/26/13; 3/23/13; 6/13/15; 11/21/15; 5/14/16; 5/26/16; 2/14/17; 2/27/17; 5/22/17; 11/20/17; 11/27/17; 8/13/18).

    VDare itself has promoted SDSB’s efforts, writing in March 2013: “There's a new coalition in California, fighting for immigration enforcement and against amnesty. It's called the ‘San Diegans for Secure Borders Coalition.’ … You might check the coalition out, especially if you reside in the San Diego area.” SDSB responded by writing: “Nice little plug from VDARE. And we're just getting started.”

    The SDSB-promoted VDare articles unsurprisingly feature white nationalist tropes. For instance:

    • VDare writer Allan Wall wrote in a November 18, 2017, piece that Democratic Senate candidate and state Sen. Kevin de León is “quite likely an anchor baby. His mother was definitely illegal and probably his father as well. … If Kevin de León goes to the Senate, he will bring his California-style illegal alien Reconquista agenda there.” He added regarding immigration: “There is no compromise on these basic issues. Either we fight to protect American sovereignty -- or we will be replaced.”
    • Wall claimed in an August 12 piece that “Mexicans meddle culturally, politically, diplomatically and demographically. They constantly work to win or maintain the loyalty of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the United States.”
    • John Derbyshire, a self-described “mild and tolerant” “racist” who was fired from National Review after he said that he advised his children to avoid Black people, complained about Haitians living in the United States on temporary protected status (TPS) in a November 25, 2017, piece. He wrote that Haiti, after its 2010 earthquake, is “still a godforsaken slum. That's a consequence of its very low levels of human capital, though; and that's not the fault of Americans, or of anyone other than Mother Nature. Why are we supposed to pay for other countries' godforsakenness?” He added of the prospect of Haitians becoming American citizens: “Note, ominously, that those 60,000 Haitian recipients of TPS have, during their eight years in our country, brought forth around 30,000 children -- all of them, thanks to our insane policy of birthright citizenship, U.S. citizens.”

    SDSB portrays undocumented immigration as a "hostile invasion from Mexico"

    SDSB has repeatedly attacked undocumented immigrants from Mexico as foreign invaders. Here are several examples:

    • SDSB wrote on August 10, 2013, regarding a story headlined, "Judicial Watch Goes to Court Monday to End Los Angeles Illegal Immigration Sanctuary Policy": "Good Americans are still fighting the hostile invasion from Mexico."
    • SDSB wrote on May 14, 2016: “Mexican Government in a full panic over impending Trump presidency! They know Trump is dead serious about stopping the invasion of criminals and unwanted peasants from Mexico!”
    • SDSB wrote on July 25, 2017: “NCLR (La Raza) changes its name, but is still a racist Mexican front group and anti-American, anti-white hate group. Thank God their Reconquista is dying. Send that Mexican hate back to Mexico where it belongs!"
    • SDSB wrote on September 21, 2017: “Illegal immigration is more than just jobs; its (sic) about foreign occupation of our country by millions of Mexican citizens and loyalists. Wake up, America, we are at war!”
    • SDSB wrote on December 19, 2017, about a report that “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will no longer have a desk at the Monterey County Jail”: “Here we go! Mexican Reconquista on steroids in Mexifornia now. Adios Golden State.”

    Schwilk has attacked Democratic politician Kevin de León as a “lawless illegal alien powerful politician” who is a “dangerous foreign agent.” The group also called de León “an anchor baby illegal alien” who “works with and for the Mexican Government to help them make California a Mexican state again (La Reconquista)”:

    De Leon is an anchor baby illegal alien from Los Angeles / Tijuana / Barrio Logan, San Diego (home of Chicano Park) and works with and for the Mexican Government to help them make California a Mexican state again (La Reconquista). Mexico briefly controlled California in the early 1800’s for 27 years. They want to control it again through mass occupation, and they are. Latinos (mostly Mexicans) are now the dominant “race” in California.

    In response to a commenter who said that “for the most part it's true if you vote for a Latino they will protect Illegals before they protect citizens,” the group wrote: “Most but not all. SgtMaj [and California Republican congressional candidate] Juan Hidalgo is a true American patriot.”

    SBSB is virulently anti-Muslim

    SBSB frequently attacks Muslims. The group has claimed that there’s a supposed “muslim and illegal alien invasion in San Diego and California.”

    In 2016, it complained of President Barack Obama’s purported “massive unvetted Muslim refugee dumping in San Diego.” In February, the group shared a post from the Facebook page San Diegans against Islamic Sharia Law that began: “Best news in years! Muslim refugee arrivals down 96% in San Diego County in FY18!” 

    The group has also attacked political candidates because they're Muslim. The group wrote, “In case [Republican congressional candidate] Omar Qudrat or any of the other 3 Muslim candidates running for office in San Diego make it past the Primary on Tuesday. Hold them accountable!” and then linked to an article by anti-Muslim writer Bill Warner stating that people should ask Muslim political candidates “well crafted questions about Sharia.”

    SBSB also posted a link to a HuffPost article reporting that “a handful of candidates running for office in 2018 could soon become the first Muslim woman (or women) to ever serve in U.S. Congress,” commenting: “How do you feel about Sharia Law in our Congress?” 

    In a radio interview, Schwilk falsely claimed that “not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.”