Carl Higbie | Media Matters for America

Carl Higbie

Tags ››› Carl Higbie
  • GOP House candidate wrote a glowing foreword to a bigotry-filled book by a racist who resigned in disgrace from the Trump administration

    State Sen. Guy Reschenthaler praised Carl Higbie’s book, which attacked Hurricane Katrina survivors, and black, LGBTQ, Muslim, and Puerto Rican people (among others)

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    UPDATE: Following the publication of this post, Guy Reschenthaler told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he disavows his foreword to Carl Higbie’s book. He also claimed that he had not read the book before writing the foreword.

    Reschenthaler’s excuse is certainly odd; as Media Matters noted, Reschenthaler wrote in the foreword that he penned it for Higbie after “reading his work,” and he cited the book’s “examples of political correctness and poor decision-making he brought to light.”

    UPDATE 2 (5/7): CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and Chris Massie reported further on Reschenthaler’s relationship with Higbie, finding "that the book was a frequent subject of conversation on their radio program, with Reschenthaler citing parts of it approvingly" and "Reschenthaler also held fundraising events during his successful 2013 run for district judge in Pennsylvania where Higbie sold and signed copies of the book." 

      ORIGINAL POST:

      Republican congressional candidate and Pennsylvania State Sen. Guy Reschenthaler wrote an enthusiastic foreword to a bigotry-filled 2012 book by Carl Higbie, who resigned earlier this year from a government position because of toxic comments he made as a pundit.

      Higbie’s book, Battle on the Home Front: A Navy SEAL's Mission to Save the American Dream, attacked black, LGBTQ, Muslim, and Puerto Rican people as well as Hurricane Katrina survivors. In it, he also boasted of verbally attacking a fellow passenger on an airplane because of her weight and proposed killing undocumented immigrants who attempt to cross the U.S. border.

      Reschenthaler is running in the Republican primary for Pennsylvania's 14th congressional district seat against state Rep. Rick Saccone. He previously served as an attorney with the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps. He was also Higbie's former co-host on the now-defunct Sound of Freedom radio program.

      Higbie is a right-wing commentator and former Navy SEAL who briefly served as the chief of external affairs at the Corporation for National and Community Service. He resigned in January after CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski uncovered “racist, sexist, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT comments he made on the radio,” including on Sound of Freedom (Higbie issued an apology shortly after the CNN story came out; he later said that he wished he hadn’t resigned from his government position).

      CNN also recently reported that Higbie “shared an N-word laden post written by someone else on Facebook in December 2014.” Media Matters documented that in 2013, he boasted of asking fellow airline passengers whom he deems “Muslim jihad-looking” if they’re terrorists. Higbie stated: “You put a rag on your head, it’s my right to be suspicious. When I get on an airplane and I’m sitting next to some Muslim jihad-looking dude, I ask him. I say: ‘Dude, are you a terrorist?’ And he gets all bent out of shape.”

      Higbie is now the director of advocacy for the pro-Trump groups America First Policies and America First Action, its affiliated super PAC. He has been appearing at events with Republican politicians, including Vice President Mike Pence, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, and members of Congress.

      Higbie promoted Reschenthaler’s run during a recent appearance on the Wayne Dupree Show, calling him his “very good friend” and saying Reschenthaler served as his lawyer "in a court-martial when we were accused of prisoner abuse overseas that we were acquitted on.” Reschenthaler has similarly called Higbie a “close friend and client.”

      Reschenthaler’s ties to Higbie became a campaign issue in his 2015 state Senate run. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in October 2015 that “Reschenthaler said he functioned as a counterweight to his more conservative co-host, former SEAL Carl Higbie, and quit the show after a handful of episodes because he became uncomfortable with the conversation.”

      That excuse is odd given Reschenthaler’s enthusiastic foreword for Higbie’s bigotry-filled 2012 book Battle on the Home Front: A Navy SEAL's Mission to Save the American Dream.

      Reschenthaler wrote that after “reading his work, I am impressed by his no-nonsense, commonsense approach that has the power to persuade and captivate. At times, I found myself getting frustrated by the examples of political correctness and poor decision-making he brought to light. At other points, I laughed out loud when Carl wrote about anecdotes he experienced over the last few years.” He added that Higbie “has explained what is wrong with America.”

      Media Matters reviewed Higbie’s book and found vitriolic attacks against: Hurricane Katrina survivors (“human parasites”), black people ("I certainly don’t agree with slavery, but I do think that you should play the hand you are dealt, and good physical genetics are definitely dealt to many blacks"), Puerto Ricans (“If you are so proud of your old country, then go back"), LGBTQ people (“widespread acceptance is wrong”), “overweight people” (“lazy and careless”), Muslims (“it is also my right to be suspicious” of someone wearing a turban), and undocumented immigrants (those who attempt to cross the border should be shot “dead”).

      Reschenthaler did not respond to a request for comment.

      Here are some of the worst passages in Higbie’s book Battle on the Home Front, via its Kindle edition.

      Higbie called Hurricane Katrina survivors “stupid,” “idiots,” and “human parasites.” Higbie complained about survivors of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster, writing that people who stayed in New Orleans were too stupid to heed the warning of the National Weather Service and evacuate when" they "were advised to leave.” He added of people who received government assistance after the hurricane: “I just want to shake those people, look them in the eye, and legitimately ask them if they realize they are a drain on the economy and bring nothing to the table.”

      Let’s bring a large-scale example to the table: Hurricane Katrina. Contrary to local belief, the hurricane and its damages were not Bush’s fault. This was one of the most expensive domestic natural disasters in the history of this country. We pumped millions upon millions of dollars into Gulf Coast states, especially Louisiana, through the Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and military support. And what did we get out of it? When we came to rescue people via helicopter, the aircraft was shot at in one case. That was a monumental act of stupidity in America, aside from people moving to a city that is below sea level to begin with. But help was there to help you who were too stupid to heed the warning of the National Weather Service and evacuate when you were advised to leave.

      Imagine watching people loot the city on the news after being told to evacuate. Then those same people were stranded on their rooftops a few days later, and when a government-funded helicopter came to pick them up, someone shot at the aircraft, which naturally flew away, leaving those people on the rooftops subjected to the elements. Can you imagine that happening? Well, it did, and then somehow it reflected on the government for not doing enough to help those people. The media crucified Bush and his administration. God forbid that anyone do the sensible thing without caring what the media says. So, for the greater good, I guess you could say, we continued to try to help those idiots. At what point do you say, (1) “You should have evacuated a coastal city below sea level prior to a category-five hurricane when directed,” and (2) “Sorry, a few of you ruined it for all of you. Have a nice day”?

      Even for the subsequent year after the disaster, many people, who had been given an open-ended ticket, were still living in hotels while Uncle Sam (your tax dollars and mine) fronted the bill. Crazy? I think it is. I just want to shake those people, look them in the eye, and legitimately ask them if they realize they are a drain on the economy and bring nothing to the table. Though quite a few people took only the help that they needed and moved on and continued to make their own way again, many did not. For those of you who did that, thank you for being responsible; the next step you can take to contributing to society further is telling those human parasites who did otherwise to get their acts together.

      Higbie to Puerto Ricans (who are Americans): “If you are so proud of your old country, then go back.” Higbie said it “fires” him up when he sees “some young punk, who has lived in America his whole life, with a Puerto Rican flag in the back of his car and who can barely speak English. … As I have said before, if you are so proud of your old country, then go back.” He wrote that “Puerto Rico has been supported by the United States for decades now,” making it further unclear whether he knows that Puerto Rico is a part of the United States.

      Here is something else I don’t understand. When Brazil won the World Cup in 2002, everywhere I looked the following day, Hispanics (most of whom didn’t even speak English) were driving around, in America, honking their horns with Brazilian flags and loud speakers screaming that Brazil is the best and, “Viva, Brazil!” Good for you for having national pride, but if you love your home country that much, why would you be living in America? To me, that’s ridiculous. If America won the World Cup, I doubt those same people, most of whom are probably American citizens, would be as expressive about it. I’m not saying it should be illegal, but it sends an interesting message about the loyalties of people.

      Also, Yao Ming, a Chinese National Basketball Association (NBA) player, who plays and lives in America, and was trained by Americans, played basketball for China during the Olympics. Does anyone think someone’s judgment might be a little off? I would not allow him back to play for us. But loyalty can be bought these days, I guess.

      Since we are well established in our national way, why do people continue to try to make this more like the country from where they came? You left your country and came here because you thought our country is better, remember? It fires me up to no end when I see some young punk, who has lived in America his whole life, with a Puerto Rican flag in the back of his car and who can barely speak English. I mean, come on, someone else has got to see a problem with this. And maybe the parents of this kid are from Puerto Rico originally, but Puerto Rico has been supported by the United States for decades now; at least instill that in your kids, along with the English language. As I have said before, if you are so proud of your old country, then go back.

      Higbie recounted verbally attacking a woman for being “too fat to fit” in an airline seat. Higbie wrote that “overweight people” are “lazy and careless.” He then boasted of mocking a woman sitting next to him on a flight for her weight. 

      A more common type of laziness I see often, that many people don’t even give a second thought to, is people not taking care of their health. Something I am so passionate about, due in part to my current occupation, is fitness. Every day I see more overweight people simply because they are lazy and careless. I always hear about how it’s okay to be fat as long as you are comfortable with yourself, true beauty is on the inside, and garbage like that. A fat, ugly person probably thought up those slogans and others like them. Guess what. Being fat is not okay; it’s selfish. I will explain, using a real-world experience.

      I was getting on a plane to come back from doing some training with the military when I saw an enormous woman drinking a sixty-four-ounce soda in the airport, waiting to get on the same plane. I thought, I really hope I don’t have to sit next to her. Well, fate frowned on me that day, and shortly after I had sat down, so did she. I had the window, and she had the aisle.

      Being compressed in the normal-sized coach seat, she turned to me and said, “Can you put up the arm rest?”

      I replied, “No. If you’re too fat to fit in one seat, you should have bought two,” thinking that, since I’m just shy of six feet tall and 240 pounds, with a very large build, and I have no problem fitting into a seat, then there is no reason why anyone else, especially a woman six inches shorter than me, should be so big she needs to put up the arm rest so she can ooze over into my space.

      With a look of disgust at being faced with reality, she rang the call button. As the attendant came around, the now perspiring woman asked for a seatbelt extension. I couldn’t believe my ears.

      “Lady, have you tried dieting?” I asked calmly, remembering the extralarge soda she inhaled prior to boarding.

      “I have a thyroid problem,” she snapped at me.

      “No, you have an eating problem. I saw you slam a massive soda while you were waiting to board the plane!”

      Really? This raises another issue that we face as a nation: excuses. Though it is entirely understandable to have a medical problem that would make you gain weight faster than others, it is still rarely an excuse for being fat, and it all comes down to simple math. Fact: if you don’t eat fat-based food, you won’t gain weight. If you maintain a calorie-deficient diet (meaning you consume fewer calories than you burn), you will lose weight.

      Even beyond weight issues, too many people blame their problems on issues that society has deemed acceptable. Someone sometime decided that it was okay to be fat, and they must have been famous enough to appeal to a lot of people, and now, combined with the fact that there is a fast- food restaurant on every street corner, more than half the country is obese. This costs the taxpayers untold amounts of money every year in medical expenses. For that reason alone, people should be taking personal responsibility to slim down. To make matters worse, modern society has deemed it morally wrong to say anything disheartening, no matter how true it is. Here’s an idea for all you people who are “short for your weight” (to use a politically correct phrase): break up that hour a day you spend getting ready for work, and take thirty minutes to exercise and thirty minutes to get ready.

      Fat people are contagious as well. Chances are that, if you have fat friends, you will become like them, and the reverse goes for having fit friends, and here is why. If you have a fat friend, most of the activities you do together will be sedentary and require little to no physical stimulation, hence the reason they are fat. Also, you tend to adjust to their diet plans. Consequently, you will most likely gain weight while adopting their habits. The same philosophy goes for fat parents and their children. If the parents eat junk food all day and lie around the house, then the children will be brought up with the same mentality. America, it’s time to start being more responsible about your weight.

      Higbie: “I certainly don’t agree with slavery, but I do think that you should play the hand you are dealt, and good physical genetics are definitely dealt to many blacks.” Higbie wrote that many black people should succeed in society by taking advantage of being “extremely athletic.” He explained that such traits “can be traced back to the fact that slaves were bred and chosen from the strongest males and females. I certainly don’t agree with slavery, but I do think that you should play the hand you are dealt.”

      Speaking of criminal, there are many ways for people in general to be successful in society without mirroring the criminal image. For instance, many blacks today are extremely athletic, which can be traced back to the fact that slaves were bred and chosen from the strongest males and females. I certainly don’t agree with slavery, but I do think that you should play the hand you are dealt, and good physical genetics are definitely dealt to many blacks. I have seen young men growing up in the ghetto with amazing athletic potential, but because of the environment or lack of positive influence, they never have a chance to exploit it. There are also kids of all nationalities growing up in these poor neighborhoods, who are smart but throw it away on drugs and gangs, because that is the only thing they know. They fall into the pattern of destruction because they think it is cool. If they want to, they can get out of that type of life. They don’t have to be druggies, but they have to want to put in the extra effort to do better for themselves. Parents in those situations, it wouldn’t hurt for you to step up as well.

      Higbie blames black people for having “furthered” negative stereotypes. Higbie repeatedly complained about what he viewed as black culture and attempted to justify anti-black stereotypes. 

      While embraced by society, stereotypes are also furthered by whatever race or group is in question. Let’s take the black rap image of “money, hoes, and convicts.” All these things are clearly and proudly depicted in most rap videos. While there are some rappers out there who discourage this type of negativity, most embrace it. As an American role model, making music videos, swinging gold chains and grinning gold teeth, degrading women, and talking about drugs and crime as if they are cool, how do you think people are going to classify those who mirror your image? Is that what you want people to see, especially “your people,” as they are frequently called? Kids try to imitate the things they see and hear, and they get into trouble as a result, and in some cases, killed. When you incorporate the sound of a gun slide-chambering a round and automatic gunfire as part of your chorus, do you seriously think that makes you sound tough or more “gangsta”?

      Why is it so widely broadcast by rap that it is a matter of bragging rights to have a criminal record? Hello, you are bringing down society and the very people who embrace your ways. Guys like 50 Cent—are you serious? You got shot in the face, lived to tell about it, then went on to write a song mocking those who did it. How stupid are you? If they did it once, guess what? Mocking them will probably make them want to do it again and make sure they finish the job this time. If you really had a problem with the way you grew up in the “hood,” don’t entice people to live like that through your image. You wonder how stereotypes are made? Well, here you go. If you take the majority of people and/or public icons of a certain group, and they all come off as uneducated criminals, then everybody who emulates that will be associated with that stereotype.

      Things like sagging your pants is in no way comfortable or functional. I tried it for a day, just to see what all the hype was about. During that day, I did some research online, and I found out that when inmates in prison get outside for their interactive recess, if you are gay and available, you openly sag your pants as a signal. Also, prior to the current elastic waistbands, inmates were not allowed to have belts (to avoid suicides). As a result, their pants were often loose to the point of falling down. In addition, most prisons have generic sizes that are on the bigger end of the sizing charts, so they are bigger and baggier. In fact, the baggy pants went right along with the prison fashion line—inmates were given overly baggy pants so that, if they escaped, they could not run without tripping. Even on the outside, persons attempting to conceal items often make this fashion statement.

      I’m not the only one who feels this way. Even influential black people, such as Bill Cosby, are ridiculed and called “sell outs” because they thinks issues such as dialect and sagging pants are as stupid as I do. Mr. Cosby is a tremendous asset to society and a traditionalist; yet, he is made to look as if he’s forgotten where he came from because he thinks the black community is not benefitting from the rap culture.

      Higbe on the N-word: “If this is such a big deal for white people to use that word, why is the same word used as some form of friendly greeting among black people?”

      And while on the topic of the rap culture, let’s tackle a word that is forbidden by white people but widely accepted as cool talk by black kids—”nigger” or as it is more commonly said, “nigga.”

      This is a very sore topic for me. The word “negro” means black in Spanish. I understand where it comes from, just as I understand where the term “cracker” is derived, as in the white slave owner who would “crack” the whip. I’m not holding a press conference if someone is stupid enough to call me that, but I certainly would not be caught calling my friends that either. So why do black kids think it’s cool to call each other “nigga” and other racial slurs?

      If this is such a big deal for white people to use that word, why is the same word used as some form of friendly greeting among black people? That’s the benefit of this rap culture—thug life, gangsta vibe—and as I said, there are black people who agree with me. In fact, most blacks, Hispanics and whites who were born before the 1970’s don’t find this lifestyle appealing. Why should you?

      Higbie complained about seeing advertising for charities helping African children: "Save your ad time for something that is more pertinent.” Higbie complained about the apparent inconvenience of seeing advertisements for charities dedicated to helping African children, saying that Americans should “worry about the problems in our country first, and then we’ll feed the rest of the world.”

      Television engages people’s emotions more than radio or newspapers, so sometimes media will try to guilt America into things, such as helping little kids in Africa for a dollar a day. We’ve all seen these commercials, with some poor kid suffering, with ribs sticking out and a cleft lip. Naturally, you feel bad and want to help the kid, as I often do when I see these things. But it’s not fair or sensible for the media to show things like that. I know it seems harsh, but let’s worry about the problems in our country first, and then we’ll feed the rest of the world. I’m all for charity, but genocide and starvation have been going on all over the world for as long as man has walked upright. Stuff like that is going to happen, no matter what is aired on TV, so save your ad time for something that is more pertinent, and I don’t mean taxpayer-funded census commercials during the Super Bowl. Yeah, that also happened.

      Higbie: “Black rights and other racial support groups … only further the boundaries of racism and create animosity between races.” While writing about his purported solutions to various problems, Higbie claimed that civil rights groups actually help increase racism.

      Affirmative action would go away. If you get the score, you get the job. There would be no more need for mandating a racially diverse force. Black rights and other racial support groups would dwindle and fade, because they would no longer be needed, because there would be true equal opportunity. These organizations only further the boundaries of racism and create animosity between races. People who argue otherwise are, in essence, racists. Al Sharpton and people like him, who believe their race deserves considerations that others don’t, would be discredited.

      Higbie: “My views of homosexuality are very straightforward: I don’t like it, and I think it is a major flaw of society.” Higbie repeatedly attacked LGBTQ people in his book, writing that his “views of homosexuality are very straightforward: I don’t like it, and I think it is a major flaw of society.” He added that “acceptance is wrong and must be addressed. Homosexuality is unnatural.” He also complained that Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"is a show in which some homo comes into a guy’s house, throws out a bunch of his stuff, and makes his life more feminine. What true American guy would go along with that?"

      There are many other things that may not be in the Constitution because some issues today are so crazy that our forefathers thought common sense would always prevail. I am sorry to say, Mr. Franklin, you gave modern politicians too much credit. For example, gay marriage—love is love, give me a break. For example, gay marriage—love is love, give me a break. My views of homosexuality are very straightforward: I don’t like it, and I think it is a major flaw of society. My views are based on a few life experiences. First, when I was a young boy, I was molested by my gymnastics coach, someone both my parents and I trusted. Second, my uncle died of AIDS because he was gay and blamed it on the world. Third, the Bible forbids it, as demonstrated in these verses from the King James Version:

      [...]

      Once again, religious or not, we live in a country founded on those morals. Bending the laws, rights, and traditions of American marriages is the wrong track for this country. Marriage is a consummation of our souls and bodies; how do two women or men consummate a marriage? Answer: they don’t. While gay marriages may be legal in some states, they are in no way true marriages.

      On top of that, as if it weren’t lenient enough, these homosexuals want to adopt kids. Yeah, right. Do you think for one minute that anyone in his or her right mind wants to give you a child? There is a reason two same-sex partners can’t reproduce or have children: they are not supposed to. I know the liberals may come back at that statement with, “Well, what about when a woman can’t get pregnant naturally, and she and her husband adopt a child?” That’s completely different; the woman’s inability to procreate is due to a medical problem, not the basic laws of nature. It’s perfectly okay when it is a mother and a father. Not two fathers or two mothers. That’s just the way it is.

      Homosexuality has been around since biblical times, but it has never been more widely accepted, celebrated, and embraced as it is today. This widespread acceptance is wrong and must be addressed. Homosexuality is unnatural, and why? Because same-sex couples cannot procreate. They are not made to do it, so if everyone were gay, the human race would cease to exist. Again, that’s just the way it is, and to accept any other way is unacceptable.

      [...]

      Queer Eye is a show in which some homo comes into a guy’s house, throws out a bunch of his stuff, and makes his life more feminine. What true American guy would go along with that? I don’t care how much my wife criticized me about my wardrobe (which she never would), I would never subject myself to some homosexual instructing me on fashion. Hey, if you want to look pretty, or whatever you call it, go ahead, but real men don’t care if their shoes don’t match their belt during regular day-to-day activity. Someone please explain to that guy that some men dress for functionality and comfort. I would like to see him push his car out of a ditch or change his tire in his Versace outfit. Again I ask, America, do you really have nothing better to do than sit around watching this junk? In the one episode I watched while I was doing research for this book, the queer came in the dude’s house and threw all his clothes out the window. What would really have gotten your ratings up would have been if the dude had responded by throwing the gay guy out right behind them.

      [...]

      Men of America, are you as curious as I am about when it became okay to be gay? I briefly addressed this earlier, but today more and more people are “coming out of the closet.” Did I miss something? The human body is not designed for homosexuality. People think, it’s the twenty-first century. I am free to express myself in any way I want. No, homosexuality is a disease and should be treated that way.

      One hundred years ago, if you were gay, you made yourself straight, at least to the public. When it all boils down, we are still animals. Primordial instinct tells us to reproduce. Gays can’t have babies, and that does not mean they should adopt them either. But from a scientific standpoint (which I know you liberals are all about), that means they have no purpose on this planet. While many gays out there may be nice people and assets to society, I still believe their ideology is not right. The mainstream media and our television networks are portraying all these things as acceptable, causing an epidemic.

      This book is about true American values and how to uphold an honest country. Part of the reason I wrote this book was to bring public attention to things such as this. How can we do that if we have priests running around molesting little boys and people saying it’s okay? These molesters are getting no punishments for ruining children’s lives. We need to stand up and take back our country’s dignity! Even given my own personal tragedy with this garbage, I stood up and fought back. We should all do the same.

      Higbie recently told the Greenwich Time that he has changed his views on LGBTQ issues. The paper reported: “He said he had evolved on many of the issues, particularly when it came to LGBTQ+ issues, and he apologized for remarks where he said he didn’t 'really care for them.' 'I’ve changed a lot on that topic,' Higbie said, noting, as he had in the past, that he was molested as a child by a man. 'I wish I could take those comments back.'"

      Higbie said that undocumented immigrants who attempt to cross the border should be shot “dead.” Higbie’s purported solution on immigration is shooting undocumented immigrants who attempt to cross the border: “If you cross this fence, you will be shot, until dead. No questions asked.”

      The federal government would protect our borders. There would be fences (well into the American side) with signs stating that, if you cross this fence, you will be shot, until dead. No questions asked. If a person sees a fence in the vicinity of a national border and decides to scale and cross it, he knows what he is doing. If he doesn’t, the world is a better place without him anyway. Why would people put up a fence if they didn’t want to keep other people out?

      Higbie has also promoted his plan to shoot undocumented immigrants who cross the border while speaking on the radio. He said in 2013: "You cross my border, I will shoot you in the face."

      Higbie: “This is America; learn the language or leave!” Higbie complained that he is bombarded with Spanish “everywhere” he turns, writing: “This is America; learn the language or leave! This goes for all languages, not just Spanish.”

      For example, many people who immigrate to this country, legally or illegally, don’t make a valiant effort to learn the language. They speak their native tongue at home and around their friends and struggle to communicate with mainstream society, instead of making the effort to assimilate. Everywhere you turn, you are being asked if you want the menu for whatever it may be in Spanish or English. Sometimes I have even been told to press one for Spanish (Para Español, oprima numero uno) and press two for English. This is America; learn the language or leave! This goes for all languages, not just Spanish. If I moved to your country and worked in your economy, then I would make a valiant effort to speak your language. By adding Spanish or any other language to a menu in a restaurant or on an American phone line for an American company, you are furthering the infestation of people who feel they don’t need to learn the language in this country. Don’t you dare call yourself an American if you can’t assimilate and stand for the American way. For you business owners who implement these multilingual menus, your profits are more important than your patriotism—shame on you.

      Higbie praised tests for voting: “If it were up to me, you would have to prove you are worthy in order to be able to vote.” Higbie complained that "ignorant and uneducated people" who receive "government aid" are allowed to vote. His proposed that people "have to test at the voting station where you vote immediately prior to casting your vote."

      If it were up to me, you would have to prove you are worthy in order to be able to vote. If you have done nothing but take your whole life, then you probably should not be able to vote. With the number of voters receiving government aid rising to over 50 percent, the candidate who promises the most handouts will probably control future elections (Democrats). Years ago, only the upper class landowners were allowed to vote; that was a blanket screening system to keep ignorant and uneducated people from voting so individual votes couldn’t be bribed with something as simple as a pack of cigarettes (as ACORN did).

      [...]

      Once a year, the public would have the right to vote any representative in office, including the president, out of their position by a 66 percent majority of the counted votes, at which point the next-in-line would take over until the next scheduled election. Every man would be required to serve two years in the military or civil service, and anyone running for office would have to have served the same, male or female. This would provide a strong basis for a selfreliant and independent citizenry.

      Voting

      In light of that, there would be a test in order to vote. It would be much like an American citizenship test. It would contain things like American history, such as, “Name the last five presidents,” or “Who was the president during the Civil War?” It would also contain basic financial questions, such as, “If you spend ten dollars and take in eight, do you have a deficit or a surplus?” and other questions relevant to the American way. You would have to test at the voting station where you vote immediately prior to casting your vote. Tests like this would prevent idiots from voting and help avoid situations like what happened in the 2010 state senate election in the Los Angeles district in California. Jenny Oropeza was reelected, despite the fact that she had been dead for over two weeks. And lastly, if you have a criminal record, you would not be allowed to vote, let alone hold a seat in a federal office.

      Higbie: “Obama won first and foremost because he was black. … We weren’t even sure [he] was born in America.

      Let’s be honest. Obama won first and foremost because he was black. The unprecedented number of black voters that turned out for that election is an undeniable statistic; Obama even won Virginia. The second thing that won people over is that he was not Bush. Bush had been smeared so badly by the mainstream media over his last term that people wanted the opposite of him, no matter who the candidate was. I would like to hand the Darwin award to the majority of the country that voted for someone who never served in the military, did cocaine openly, was openly known to be one of the most liberal senators ever, and who we weren’t even sure was born in America.

      Higbie while discussing Muslims: “If I see someone walking down the street with a turban on his head, that’s his right, but it is also my right to be suspicious.”

      Racial profiling came from this thug image. If you look like a thug, talk like a thug, and act like a thug, then guess what? You are a thug, regardless of whether you are white, black, brown, yellow, or green. Why is it such a crime these days to stop someone who is of Middle Eastern descent with a turban on in an airport for security screening, considering the most recent hijacking and terrorist attacks have been from people of that descent? I haven’t seen any eighty-year-old white women trying to light their shoes on fire, so why is it such a big deal? If you’re not a terrorist, then fine, thank you for your cooperation and we’ll send you on your way. You should feel good that people are looking out for your security in an intelligent manner. Also, if you don’t like it, either don’t fly, or leave.

      Look at what happened to Juan Williams from NPR. He was really fired for appearing on Fox, but NPR said they fired him for saying, “When I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb, and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.” Juan had every right to say what he did. Why should that offend anyone? If I hear someone say to me, “When I see you carrying a gun, I get nervous,” I don’t care. I just tell them things are probably safer with my having one, but I don’t throw a hissy fit. If I see someone walking down the street with a turban on his head, that’s his right, but it is also my right to be suspicious, along with Juan. That’s especially true with the current threat status in America, but people really don’t care to see that. Maybe one hundred years ago this was the “melting pot,” but not anymore. We have our own culture and customs here. What you do in your house is your business, but if you walk out on the street, don’t complain about how people might profile you. There are plenty of ways to assimilate into our culture while still embracing yours and not standing out in a negative way.

    • Director at pro-Trump group boasted of asking airline passengers with "a rag" on their heads if they were terrorists

      America First Policies' Carl Higbie: "You put a rag on your head, it’s my right to be suspicious"

      Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


      Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

      A director for the pro-Trump group America First Policies once proudly said that he asks fellow airline passengers whom he deems “Muslim jihad-looking” if they’re terrorists, stating that when “you put a rag on your head, it’s my right to be suspicious.”

      Carl Higbie is a right-wing commentator who recently joined America First Policies as its director of advocacy. The organization is one of the leading allies of President Donald Trump; Vice President Mike Pence has been campaigning with the organization and is scheduled to appear at a March 22 event the group is hosting in New Hampshire.

      Higbie was hired despite his history of bigotry, which resulted in his resignation as chief of external affairs at the Corporation for National and Community Service in January.

      As CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski reported, Higbie said on radio that “‘the black race’ had ‘lax’ morals”; that “black women think ‘breeding is a form of government employment’”; and that he didn’t like Muslims and LGBTQ people. He also stated that members of the military with severe PTSD have "'a weak mind' and said 75% of those afflicted were either lying or milking it for federal money.” In March, CNN also reported that Higbie “shared an N-word laden post written by someone else on Facebook in December 2014.”

      Following Higbie’s hiring by America First Policies, Media Matters reviewed several other media appearances he had made and found even more vitriolic comments, including his claim about harassing airline seatmates.

      During an April 19, 2013, guest appearance on the internet-based network Renegade Talk Radio, Higbie reacted to the Boston Marathon bombing by bragging that he discriminates against airline passengers who he said look Muslim. From the segment:

      CARL HIGBIE: Well, the thing is we need to get over the fact that, you know -- “Oh, you can’t insult the prophet. You can’t insult Islam.” Who the fuck cares how you feel? You’re in my country, all right? We’re not a Muslim country. You put a rag on your head, it’s my right to be suspicious. When I get on an airplane and I’m sitting next to some Muslim jihad-looking dude, I ask him. I say: “Dude, are you a terrorist?” And he gets all bent out of shape. “Oh, what’s that supposed to mean?” Yeah. Because no 90-year-old women have brought down any planes recently. So are you or are you not a terrorist? Answer the fucking question.

      During the exchange, co-host Richie Keppler also repeatedly used the anti-Muslim slur “raghead” when talking about the perpetrators of the Boston bombing. 

      Later during the program, Higbie said: “I say it’s OK to hate Muslims.” He also said during a discussion about morality in the United States: “I just don’t like gay people.” CNN’s KFile also documented that Higbie said in May 2013 on his Sound of Freedom radio program: “I don't like gay people. I just don't." The Greenwich Time reported earlier this week of Higbie's views about LGBTQ people: "'I’ve changed a lot on that topic,' Higbie said, noting, as he had in the past, that he was molested as a child by a man. 'I wish I could take those comments back.'"

      In addition to appearing as a guest, Higbie also hosted programs for Renegade Talk Radio. During a November 9, 2013, show, Higbie said (3:44 minutes into the clip): “I have no problem with Muslims in Ameri -- well. I have no problem with Muslims in America here. As long as they conform to being Americans. If they’re going to run around with a towel on their head, I’m going to act suspicious because they’re identifying themselves as Muslim and they’re distinctly saying, ‘Look at me, I’m Muslim.’”

      During a November 5, 2013, show, Higbie said (15:00 minutes into the clip) that then-President Barack Obama is “like a Muslim-in-chief infiltrating, infiltrating our government.” He later said (18:54 minutes into the clip) he thought the 2013 shooting at Los Angeles International Airport “may have been an attempt to pull the attention off Obamacare. Now, I could be wrong, and like I said, I'm not a conspiracy theorist, because I really don't think the government is organized enough to commit some of these serious conspiracies, but this -- it’s getting deeper and deeper.”

      Media Matters asked America First Polices if it wanted to respond to Higbie's remarks about airplane passengers. Spokesperson Erin Montgomery replied: "I think if you have to go back five whole years to fulfill your mission to expose so-called 'right-wing media lies,' then you may want to be a bit more concerned about the relevance of your nonprofit. As a former U.S. Navy SEAL with two tours of duty in Iraq fighting radical Islam, Carl Higbie risked his life for the better part of a decade to protect the freedoms of all Americans, including those who work at your organization. He's been a warrior on and off the battlefield--a loyal fighter for policies that will help put all Americans first." 

      *This post has been updated with additional information.

    • A leading pro-Trump group hired a disgraced former government official who said he disliked black, Muslim, and LGBTQ people

      Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


      Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

      UPDATE (3/16): CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and Nathan McDermott reported that Higbie also “shared an N-word laden post written by someone else on Facebook in December 2014.” From their report:

      In a December 18, 2014 post, Higbie shared a post that he claimed was written by an 83-year-old black man. The post uses the N-word, uncensored 20 times.

      In sharing the post, Higbie wrote, "these are not the words of me, Carl Higbie but that of Williams [sic] G. Lillas." He called the man's thoughts "straight to the point."

      The independent fact-checking website Snopes has said the post, which Higbie attributed to Lillas, a war veteran, had been shared around the Internet in various iterations and is "probably false."

      […]

      Higbie shared the post when the death of Michael Brown, the teenager who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, was in the news. The post refers to Brown by the N-word.

      "So, let us be clear, Michael Brown was a nigger; a sorry assed, criminal, hoodlum, nigger. Nobody wants to say that, but I will," the post said.

      The post later says black people repeatedly riot and again uses the N-word.

      A spokesperson for America First Policies defended Higbie and complained that CNN is purportedly spewing “falsehoods and propaganda.”

      ORIGINAL POST: Carl Higbie resigned in disgrace from his appointed government position a few months ago after he was exposed as a bigot who told radio listeners he disliked black, Muslim, and LGBTQ people, among others. A leading pro-Trump group that works closely with the White House has now hired him as a senior official.

      America First Policies announced today that Higbie is joining the group as its director of advocacy. Veteran Republican consultant and America First Policies president Brian O. Walsh said in a statement that Higbie’s “esteemed military leadership and service to our great nation -- along with his extensive experience in advocacy, communications and campaigning for candidates for federal office -- will make him an invaluable addition to the America First team.”

      Higbie resigned as the chief of external affairs at the Corporation for National and Community Service in January after CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski unearthed vile remarks Higbie made as a radio host “about black Americans, Muslims, women, LGBT people, veterans suffering from PTSD and immigrants.” 

      CNN reported that his remarks included claiming that "'the black race’ had ‘lax’ morals”; that “black women think ‘breeding is a form of government employment’”; and “that he did not like Muslims.” Higbie also stated that members of the military with severe PTSD have "'a weak mind' and said 75% of those afflicted were either lying or milking it for federal money.” He remarked: “I don't like gay people. I just don't.” And he “said American citizens with guns should be allowed to go to the border to shoot undocumented immigrants crossing into the US.”

      Higbie later apologized for his remarks.

      America First Policies was started shortly after President Donald Trump’s inauguration by former top advisers to his campaign. It is affiliated with the super PAC America First Action. Advisers to the group have included former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, former White House deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh, pundit and former Labor Department official Curtis Ellis, and former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke. Rick Gates, who recently pleaded “guilty to federal conspiracy and false statements,” briefly worked with the group “but was pushed out of that job last year,” as The Associated Press noted.

      America First Policies is heavily involved with the Trump White House and his agenda. In recent weeks, Vice President Mike Pence has spoken at the organization's events in KentuckyMichigan, and Ohio, among others.

    • Punditry On Syrian Airstrikes Is Encouraging Trump To Escalate Tensions With North Korea

      Similar Media Support Helped Enable Iraq War

      ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

      After President Donald Trump launched airstrikes against Syria in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack in that country, media figures from across the political spectrum praised his “beautiful” attack, with many also linking the action to the growing threat that another country -- North Korea -- poses to the United States. Effusive media support of military conflict was a key precursor to the Iraq War; the danger of such uncritically hawkish commentary has multiplied under Trump, who sources policy ideas -- and defenses for his conduct -- directly from media.

    • Media Praise Trump For Ordering Missile Attack On Syrian Airbase

      ››› ››› JARED HOLT

      Media figures and pundits celebrated President Donald Trump’s “swift, decisive” order to destroy a Syrian airbase in retaliation for what is believed to be a chemical warfare attack against Syrian rebels that killed dozens of people, including children. Pundits praised Trump’s “readiness to act on instinct” and declared that Trump “made Americans proud.”

    • Fox News Brings Back Man Who Invoked Internment Camps As "Precedent" To Defend Muslim Ban

      Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

      On the February 3 edition of Fox News' The First 100 Days, host Martha MacCallum asked an audience member if it was "true" that Iraqis who helped US soldiers in the Iraq War "feel slighted" by the Muslim ban. The audience member, American former Navy SEAL and Trump supporter Carl Higbie, had previously defended the prospect of a Muslim registry by referencing World War II Japanese internment camps in America as "precedent," a defense he later blamed on Megyn Kelly. 

      MARTHA MACCALLUM (HOST):  Carl, you also served, Carl Higbie, in Iraq. you lost friends there. You worked with interpreters, no doubt. You worked with people in Iraq who were there to help. The feeling is that they feel slighted by this. That they’re not sort of embraced in this, is that true? Or not?

      CARL HIGBIE: No. And the thing is, there are many interpreters who do feel that way and there's many that don't, such as Johnny Walker, who's been out on this program with you. To the issue of the fact that we are finally beating back ISIS, we’re not. Geographically they are shrinking in Iraq and Syria places like that, but the problem is they’ve metastasized now down to 20 or 30 different countries and that’s the fundamental misunderstanding of people who worked with the Obama administration that think they're winning the war against ISIS. We are fundamentally not. Anyone who says that we are should obviously take a look at the global prospects of this thing. The Syrian refugee thing that we stopped along with six other countries, we have to acknowledge the fact that Iran and places like that, some of these attackers didn’t come from Iran, they are the world’s largest state sponsor of terror. This is a start, much like Obamacare, nothing was perfect when they rolled it out, it’s not perfect now anyway, they made changes as they go along. Same with this. This is a 120 day moratorium. Things will be changed down the line and they'll be added and taken off and improved. This is a start to protect the United States of America.

    • Meet The Mysterious, Facebook-Verified Page Pushing Fake News To Nearly 5 Million Followers

      American News Is Perhaps The Largest Facebook Page Regularly Pushing Fake News

      Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN & PAM VOGEL

      This post has been updated.

      The verified Facebook page for American News (also known as The Patriot Review), with its more than 4.7 million followers, is perhaps the largest page regularly pushing fake news on the social media platform and is emblematic of the problem Facebook must address immediately. It shares dozens of posts each day, often topped with false, clickbait headlines that confirm biases and stoke fear in readers.

      American News also has no publicly listed writers, editors, or owners, nor a business address or phone number. That lack of disclosure helps hyperpartisan websites like American News to publish patently false information without accountability. The page’s opacity and role as a fake news purveyor also demonstrate the murkiness of Facebook’s “verification” guidelines, which require that pages have a publicly listed phone number or business documents showing an official name and address that “matches public records.” 

      Fake News Purveyors Like American News Share Both Hyperpartisan And Fake Content, Often Designed To Stoke Fear

      The American News Facebook page exclusively shares content from the AmericanNews.com website, which pushes a combination of fake news stories -- information that is clearly and demonstrably fabricated and that has been packaged and distributed to appear as legitimate news -- and other hyperpartisan, right-wing content. Stories from American News have been repeatedly debunked as totally “false,” most notably the “100% made up” lie that Denzel Washington had switched from supporting Hillary Clinton to backing Donald Trump in the 2016 election, which was shared hundreds of thousands of times. American News also pushed a fake news story in April claiming that President Barack Obama had issued an executive order to have his likeness added to Mount Rushmore and a 2014 story alleging Congress had approved a bill offering free cars to welfare recipients. The Facebook page for Proud To Be Conservative, with more than 1.5 million followers, also exclusively shares content from the AmericanNews.com website.

      American News posts -- whether sharing fake news or pushing highly partisan and heavily spun content -- have several traits that are common to the content pushed by fake news purveyors: They use classic clickbait headlines, actively seek to confirm far-right ideology, and exploit bigotry and biases. Social media analytics site BuzzSumo, which tracks social media engagement levels for websites, shows that half of American News' 10 most shared stories -- which collectively boasted more than 4 million Facebook engagements -- featured fearmongering about Muslims. Among these was an anti-Muslim fake news story claiming that a Texas man was forced to remove the U.S. flag from his house because it was a "threat to Muslims."

      Here are a few posts the page has shared just in the first days of January:

      This January 5 post pushes a fake story on the American News website claiming that a “Government-backed study” found that teachers were choosing not to teach students about the Holocaust in order to avoid offending Muslims. This story is fabricated; it originated with a 2007 email chain letter spinning false information from a report on schools in the U.K.

      This post, from January 2, shared an American News story alleging that a school had demanded “all must wear hijabs.” This story was also false; a student group at the Wisconsin college in question hosted one event in which students were invited to voluntarily wear hijabs for one day.

      This January 8 post pushed a fake news story that Michelle Obama "accidentally expos[ed] that her husband was born in Kenya." The video attached to the story came from a 2010 post on Alex Jones' Infowars.com and showed Michelle Obama calling Kenya her husband's "home country." Barack Obama was born in the United States.

      American News’ content has also been shared on Twitter by a number of right-wing figures, including Trump-supporting Great America Super PAC spokesman Carl Higbie, who shared a “mostly false” story that Muslims demanded the “army change its dress code to include turbans and beards.” Higbie rose to national attention in November when he suggested that the Japanese internment camps of World War II provide “precedent” for a Muslim registry. American News stories have also been shared by Fox News correspondent Mike Tobin and right-wing United Kingdom Independence Party Deputy Chair Suzanne Evans.

      Fake News Purveyors Such As American News Are Often Totally Anonymous, Leaving Them Unaccountable For What They Post

      Right-wing figures have repeatedly attempted to distort and rebrand the term “fake news” to attack credible news they don’t agree with, but the distinct problem of fake news has several unique symptoms, including a startling level of opacity, which is exemplified by American News. Legitimate news outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, and conservative outlets ranging from Fox News to hyperpartisan websites like The Blaze and The Daily Caller -- and even "alt-right" site Breitbart.com -- have accessible public information about their owners and staff. Hyperpartisan pages that push fake news stories, though, like American News, often make it nearly impossible to find any information about the people contributing to their pages or the entities operating them -- even as they rake in tens of thousands of dollars in advertising revenue. This secrecy allows them to remain unaccountable for the content they share, which often includes copied or plagiarized content from other such sites, shared to further spread patently false information.

      On December 15, Facebook announced steps it was taking to combat the epidemic of fake news enabled by its platform, but it did not include any guidelines about verified pages that push fake news stories. Its own verification steps for local businesses, companies, and organizations require that they use either a “publicly listed phone number for your business” or a “business document” that shows “your business’s name and address,” which is then reviewed “to confirm that it matches public records.” There is no publicly available and easily accessible business address or phone number for American News, nor are there any listed staff members for the website.

      A detailed search of articles on AmericanNews.com revealed no posts with a byline other than “by American News” or first names such as "Hank" or "Jeff." The "author" pages linked to these names reveal no details about the alleged writers, including last name, and the URLs for these pages do not match the author names (the URL for Hank's page indicates it is for a writer named "Kyle," and the URL for Jeff's page indicates it is for a writer named "Spencer"). Futhermore, there is no listing of the site's staff or reporters. A search of the online identity database WhoIs shows that whoever registered American News’ domain used a service to mask its street address, owner, and phone number. The only contact information on the website is on its privacy policy page, which says visitors can report violations of the policy to americannewscontact@gmail.com, as well as an inquiries form. American News did not respond to inquiries made through either method. Media Matters additionally consulted a representative from an accredited nationwide business record search engine who was unable to find any additional information about American News or its operations and said it would be nearly impossible given the lack of publicly available information on its website or Facebook page, which do not mention the state where the business is located or a business name other than the domain name.

      Either Facebook has information about American News that is not available for the average user who may encounter the page or Facebook has deviated from its current, perhaps inadequate verification procedure. Whatever the case, the social media giant clearly has more work to do in addressing its fake news problem; without action, it remains complicit in American News’ deceptive fake news tactics.

      UPDATE:

      BuzzFeed News reported that it determined that American News is owned by American News LLC, a Miami-based company that operates several liberal and conservative hyperpartisan and fake news-purveying websites. American News LLC lists "John Crane and Tyler Shapiro as officers of the company."

    • The Guy Helping Rehab Stephen Bannon’s Image Just Justified Muslim Registry By Highlighting Internment Camps

      Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

      While publicist Maria Sliwa attempts to mitigate the negative coverage surrounding Stephen Bannon, President-elect Donald Trump’s newly appointed chief adviser and the former head of the “alt-right” Breitbart News, one of the men she suggested could speak on Bannon’s behalf recently claimed that Japanese internment camps are Trump’s “precedent” for a Muslim registry.

      A November 16 article from The Wrap explained that after Trump announced Bannon as a member of his administration, Bannon received “lots of bad press, some of it accusing him of racism, sexism and anti-Semitism,” and that Sliwa is working to make over his image (though she says she isn’t working for Bannon but has “a client who is”). While the funding behind the rehab campaign is unclear, the piece said Sliwa “sent out two emails to reporters offering interviews with two men available to talk about Bannon: U.S. Navy Seal (Ret.) Carl Higbie, and Breitbart Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein.”

      While members of the media were reading Sliwa’s pitch, Higbie was making his own news. On the November 16 edition of Fox News’ The Kelly File, Higbie justified Trump's possible Muslim registry by suggesting that there is some “precedent” for it because the United States interned Japanese-Americans during World War II. Higbie continued, “Look, the president needs to protect America first, and if that means having people that are not protected under our Constitution have some sort of registry so we can understand, until we can identify the true threat and where it's coming from, I support it.”

      Watch:

      Backlash to the comments has already started. This morning, Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) released a statement calling on Trump to “denounce the comments” and pointing out the dark history of Japanese-American internment:

      “The imprisonment of thousands of Japanese-Americans during World War II, including my parents and grandparents, is widely understood to be one of the darkest chapters in American history. More than 100,000 Japanese-Americans were accused of no crimes and received no trial before being relocated, interned, and stripped of their possessions.”

      In September, Higbie attempted to defend Trump’s attacks on former Miss Universe Alicia Machado -- who the now-president-elect called “Miss Piggy” for gaining weight after she won the crown -- by claiming that Trump was helping her by putting her through a “luxury exercise program.”