Saturday, April 29, 2006

Happy Shiny People

I'm sure everyone has noticed this, but I was struck by the similar grin on Rush Limbaugh's and Tom DeLay's mug shots. Karl Rove must have run a seminar. Being photogenic in the police lineup will be a useful Republican job skill in the coming months.


Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Lou Dobbs Watch, Episode 1

(With due deference to "Russert Watch" featured in the Huffington Post)

Lou Dobbs is the most dangerous demagogue in the United States today. An example was the broadcast of "Lou Dobbs Tonight" aired yesterday, April 25, 2006.

Before Dobbs' broadcast, the following story was filed by the Reuters News Agency:

"LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Prominent Latino leaders in California Tuesday played down death threats apparently sparked by the divisive debate over illegal immigration.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told reporters Monday that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante had both been targets of "disturbing and hateful death threats."
"Hate, racism and intolerance are never accepted in our public debates," said Schwarzenegger, himself an immigrant from Austria. "That is not what California stands for. The greatness of California is its rich diversity."
Police are investigating the threats, which came in postcards, e-mails and an Internet posting following appearances by Villaraigosa and Bustamante at mass protests in Los Angeles last month against proposals to criminalize the nation's estimated 11-12 million undocumented immigrants.
Bustamante later received an anonymous postcard saying "the only good Mexican is a dead Mexican." Bustamante's spokesman, Steve Green, said such threats were part of the job and that the lieutenant governor's security had not been stepped up.
"It is not going to change our convictions. We will continue to speak out about it," Green said Tuesday.
Villaraigosa, son of a Mexican immigrant, said threats "come with the turf" and has also not increased his security.
"There is nothing to worry about. ... You can see by my face that I'm not concerned about that," Villaraigosa told reporters."

In spite of the high risk of headache and nausea I find that accompanies each viewing, I decided to watch Lou Dobbs last night after reading this story. The threats against Villaraigosa and Bustamante clearly implied that the overheated rhetoric regarding the dangers presented by immigrants might be inspiring an ugly, and potentially dangerous mood of racism in the anti-immigrant community. As the nation's most visible immigrant-basher, I was curious what Dobbs might have to say about these incidents.

The answer was absolutely nothing.

As he usually does, Dobbs led with a story on illegals, this time opening with coverage of what Dobbs snidely referred to as President Bush's "so-called immigration reform proposals." Dobbs castigated the president for trying to salvage a guest worker program during a meeting with senators. "The question is," Dobbs intoned before going to video, "is this leadership?" (I thought the question for Bush was, "Is we educating our children? " But that's another matter.)

Later in this episode, Dobbs displayed his approach to "truthiness." Dobbs presented a story on economists' testimony on the impact of illegal immigrants on the American economy. The viewer sees two sound clips from Harvard economist Richard Freeman and Barry Chiswick of the University of Illinois:

"Freeman: So, there are parts of the country where the jobs that we might think now as, oh, those are for low-level immigrant workers, they are being filled in parts of the country where there are immigrants by Americans. And that means that Americans are willing to work at these jobs. They may not be willing to compete with an immigrant at very low wages, particularly when the immigrant may be getting paid illegally off the books.

Chiswick: Low-skilled immigrants make greater use of government benefits and transfers than they pay in taxes. So, in terms of the public coffers, they serve as a net drain. Whereas high-skilled immigrants have the opposite effect. 

In the earned legalization program that some people are talking about, just a euphemism for amnesty, these individuals will eventually be getting full benefits from government income transfer systems."

After one more sound bite stacked against immigrants, Dobbs growled, "And incredibly, not a single economist you heard took the position of being against illegal immigration despite the clear cost."

The costs aren't that clear and Dobbs knows it. Let's be clear, the immigrants paid slave wages in American agriculture, industry and the service economy are brutally exploited as are the American workers unwilling to take jobs below a livable American wage. But the bad guys aren't the immigrants. They are the greedy American businesses that participate in this modern system of slavery.

Regarding the economic impact of immigrants in the U.S., most economists argue that the effect is probably neutral - immigrants offset the cost of lower wages and the level of social services they consume (which Dobbs and others exaggerate) through the economic activity they stimulate. As the Winter 2005 issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center's "Intelligence Report" notes, many economists believe that immigrants have an overall positive impact on the economy:

'Although Dobbs has steered clear of the racist comments that some of his guests have made elsewhere, he has warned of 'illegal aliens who not only threaten our economy and security, but also our health and well-being,' according to Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a media monitor. In 2003, FAIR added, a reporter on Dobbs' show grossly mischaracterized a National Academy of Sciences report. The report found that immigrants provided a net gain of $1 billion to $10 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product, but the CNN reporter said the report had found the economic impact of immigrants worked out to a net loss of up to $10 billion."

Similarly, Dobbs misrepresented the results of survey presented on his April 25 show. During the program, political analyst Bill Schneider At the beginning of the program, Dobbs teased Schneider's segment thusly:

“Bill Schneider reports on a new opinion poll that shows, among other things, strong support for penalties against employers of illegal aliens.”

There were some other findings Dobbs chose to completely ignore. Here's the segment:

"SCHNEIDER: The immigration debate is about three issues. The first is controlling the border. On that, the public's priorities are clear. 

BUSH: The American people are right in saying to the government, enforce the border.

SCHNEIDER: How? Well by increasing penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants. That's something the bill that passed the House of Representatives would do. More than two-thirds of Americans approve. 

The bill proposes adding 700 miles of fence along the border with Mexico. How does the public feel about that? Split. People are not sure the fence will work. And the views of Americans who live in border states? They are also split.

The second issue is citizenship for the more than 11 million illegal immigrants already here. The bill being considered by the Senate would allow illegal immigrants whose have been in the U.S. for more than five years to earn U.S. citizenship. More than three quarters of Americans say fine. Isn't that amnesty?

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: That is not amnesty because the undocumented aliens will have to pay a fine. They will have to pay back taxes. They will undergo a thorough background investigation. They will have to learn English. They will have to work for six years.

SCHNEIDER: The third issue is a guest worker program.

BUSH: Doesn't it make sense to have a rational temporary worker plan that says you don't need to sneak across the border?

SCHNEIDER: The public is not sure. Why?

DR. BARRY CHISWICK, ECONOMIST, UNIV. OF ILLINOIS: When the guest worker period is over, how does one get them to leave the country?

SCHNEIDER: Do Republicans follow the president's lead on this? A little, but even Republicans are not enthusiastic about President Bush's guest worker plan. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: We asked in December which has higher priority, stopping the flow of new illegal aliens or allowing current residents to become U.S. citizens. And the answer was, stopping the flow of new illegal aliens by 56 percent to 41 percent -- Lou. "

One of the most significant findings of the poll is that three-quarters of the American people, in spite of the alarmist warnings of people like Dobbs favor opening citizenship for illegals, something Dobbs repeatedly opposes, claiming his position has the support of the American people. That's one of the clearest majorities in the survey, unlike support for building a Berlin Wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which draw an evenly divided response. Dobbs also implies that there is a populist groundswell for building a wall. Dobbs chooses to ignore the findings of the survey and the clear widespread opposition to his anti-immigrant extremism when he questions Schneider directly.

"DOBBS: And irrespective of this poll's findings, as interesting as they are, Bill Schneider, it is pretty clear in certainly the reaction of our audience, in the feedback that we're getting, the e- mails and letters from our audience, as well as every poll I've seen, that there -- there just aren't many Americans who are more interested in an amnesty program than four and a half years after 9/11 securing our borders and our ports. What is going on in your town down there that makes that such a difficult concept to understand?"

You are lying, Lou. Schneider's survey just showed that 75 percent of the people want citizenship open to illegals currently in the United States, which is amnesty, whatever you call it.

One issue Dobbs also deliberately ignores: the open racism of many of the anti-immigrant activists he hails as patriots. I'll return to the SPLC's "Intelligence Report":

". [T]he anchorman has . . . repeatedly decline[d] to present the evidence that links these groups to racism, calling the very idea "mind-boggling." On his July 29 show, he called the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which he said he liked in other ways, "despicable" and "reprehensible" for saying otherwise.

Consider some of what Dobbs has failed to report, despite the fact that in almost every case these developments were reported widely elsewhere:

GLENN SPENCER, head of the anti-immigration American Patrol, has been interviewed at least twice on the show, on Jan. 7 and June 4, 2004. Spencer's Web site is jammed with anti-Mexican vitriol and he pushes the idea that the Mexican government is involved in a secret plot to take over the Southwest -- facts never mentioned on Dobbs' show. Spencer's group is regarded as a hate group by both the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. Spencer has spoken at least twice to the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, which has described blacks as "a retrograde species of humanity," and once to American Renaissance, a group that contends that blacks are genetically inferior to whites. Dobbs has never reported those ties, or mentioned Spencer's more wild-eyed contentions, such as his prediction that "thousands will die" in a supposedly forthcoming Mexican invasion. His CNN colleague Wolf Blitzer, on the hand, featured Spencer on his own show but reported Mexico's official response and SPLC's hate group designation.

In late 2004, it was revealed that the new head of a national advisory board to Protect Arizona Now, an anti-immigration organization, was a long-time white supremacist who was also an editorial adviser to the racist Council of Conservative Citizens. Although VIRGINIA ABERNETHY's controversial selection was reported prominently in virtually every Arizona paper -- and despite the fact that Dobbs heavily covered the anti-immigration referendum that Protect Arizona Now was advocating -- Dobbs never mentioned the affair at all.

A man named JOE MCCUTCHEN was quoted last April as part of a feature on the Minuteman Project, described by Dobbs as "a terrific group of concerned, caring Americans." No mention was made of the fact that McCutchen, who heads up an anti-immigration group called Protect Arkansas Now, had written a whole series of anti-Semitic letters to the editor and given a speech to the Council of Conservative Citizens -- facts revealed the prior January by SPLC, causing Arkansas' Republican governor to denounce McCutchen's group.

. . .This August, BILL PARMLEY, a Minuteman leader in Goliad County, Texas, quit the group because of what he described as widespread racism. Similarly, in September, newspapers reported that another Texas Minuteman, Janet Ahrens, had resigned because members "wanted to shoot the taco meat." Dobbs never mentioned either of these people, who were featured prominently elsewhere."

Dobbs is also ignoring the racism his brand of journalism may be helping to fuel. To return to the question I opened with, did Dobbs mention the death threats against two highly-placed California government officials? The story was not referred to until almost half-way through the show and it was not brought up by Dobbs, but Wolf Blitzer, who was teasing "The Situation Room," which follows Dobb's program. Dobbs and Blitzer chatted after the tease, but the death threat story never came up. Dobbs preferred to chat about Tony Snow being appointed the new White House Press Secretary. Here's the segment and the inane chatter that followed:

BLITZER: Feeling the heat over gas prices? President Bush rolling out his plan to try to provide some relief at the pump. We'll look at how that may play with voters. 

And Senator Ted Kennedy, my guest here in THE SITUATION ROOM. 

Plus, immigration death threats -- the mayor of Los Angeles and a top state official are targeted. Now Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is vowing to crack down. We have the story. 

Also, the New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, does he have a plan to run for the White House? I'll ask him. 

And a Fox News anchor might become the next White House press secretary. Jack Cafferty is taking your e-mail on the relationship between television and politics. 

All that, Lou, coming up right at the top of the hour. 

DOBBS: What do you think of Tony Snow being a White House press secretary? 

BLITZER: I like Tony Snow a lot. He's actually been an old friend of mine. I think he's going to be really good. He's very smart. He's clearly got his strongly held views, but I think he will be a very strong White House press secretary because he knows the press. He knows the administration, and to be a good White House press secretary, you have to know that interaction. He understands it, and I'm encouraged. 

DOBBS: Jeez, Wolf, I just asked what you thought. He's a class guy. And I think it's an interesting choice, if that turns out to be the choice. 

Thanks very much, Wolf Blitzer."

Anti-immigrant backlash took a much uglier turn after this Lou Dobbs episode. I'll let the Associated Press tell the ugly story:

"TEXAS TEENS WON'T FACE HATE CRIMES CHARGES

By JUAN A. LOZANO, Associated Press Writer Fri Apr 28, 2:51 PM ET

HOUSTON - Prosecutors say they won't seek hate-crime charges against two white teens accused of brutally beating and sodomizing a 16-year-old Hispanic boy, who was clinging to life after being left for dead.



The two attacked the boy after he tried to kiss a 12-year-old girl at an unsupervised house party Saturday night in suburban Spring, authorities said.

The attackers, both of whom have juvenile criminal records, apparently were offended at the age difference between the victim and the girl, who is also Hispanic, and shouted racial slurs at him during the 10- to 15-minute attack, investigators said.

Authorities said the two dragged the boy from the party and into the yard, where they sodomized him with a plastic pipe from a patio table umbrella.

County prosecutor Mike Trent said the boy also had high levels of toxins in his organs, indicating the attackers may have poured bleach inside the pipe used to sodomize him. Doctors believe the boy, who was in critical condition Friday, passed out quickly and was unconscious for most of the attack.

"After they got him down on the ground, they stomped his head with (steel-toed) boots," Harris County Sheriff's Lt. John Denholm said. "They actually kicked the pipe further into him with the boots."

Trent described the pipe as being sharpened at one end. At one point, the teens tried to carve something on the boy's chest with a knife, he told CNN Friday.

"I don't know that the very beginning of the attack was racial," Trent said, "but there's no question that they were venting quite a bit of hatred in their hearts."

Trent said that adding hate-crime charges to the aggravated sexual assault faced by David Henry Tuck, 18, and Keith Robert Turner, 17, would have no legal effect.

Even if the victim dies, the charge would be upgraded to capital murder because of the sexual assault, making Tuck eligible for the death penalty. Turner is too young to be eligible for execution.

Both are charged with aggravated sexual assault, which carries a maximum of five years to life in prison. They were being held in the county jail. Charles Hinton, Tuck's attorney, did not return a call seeking comment. It was not known if Turner had an attorney.

If the two are convicted of aggravated sexual assault, jurors will be told during sentencing about the ethnic slurs used during the attack, Trent said.

"Whether it is one or isn't a hate crime, and it may be, that will make no difference here," Trent said. "This is already a first-degree felony and it can't be elevated any higher. There's nowhere to go beyond this, unless the victim dies."

The Anti-Defamation League wants prosecutors to add hate-crime charges even if it won't add to the penalties. "We want the public to accept and understand that this was a hate crime," regional director Martin Cominsky said.

The victim lay behind the house for more than 10 hours before he was found and someone called an ambulance. Trent said the attackers threatened partygoers with harm if they cooperated with the investigation.

The victim was a popular football player at Klein Collins High School who also posed for a fashion layout in the school yearbook, the Houston Chronicle reported. Because the boy is a juvenile sexual assault victim, The Associated Press will not identify him.

Dozens of postings from friends on the victim's Myspace.com page send wishes for recovery in styles ranging from Bible verses to obscene, rap-like poems urging violent ends for the attackers. The boy's last posting was Saturday, the day of the attack."

Something tells me Dobbs won't devote a segment of his show to anti-immigrant violence. He's the Charles Coughlin of our times, much slicker than open fascists like drug-addled Limbaugh or his buddy Sean Hannity. Remember that the doors to immigration were fatally closed to Jewish immigrants during the Holocaust. Already, one immigrant a day dies trying to cross our border. Let's hope there is no more blood on Dobbs,' and our, hands.


Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Hannity And Hitler

I've already mentioned Lou Dobb's racist obsessions concerning immigrants. Dobbs is by no means outshined by Fox's Sean Hannity. Is Hannity as racist as Coulter, Savage and others? I have pasted below an article from "The Nation" posted on their website June 3, 2005.

"Hannity's Soul-Mate of Hate

Max Blumenthal

This year a man named Hal Turner sat before his computer at his suburban home in North Bergen, New Jersey, posting bomb-making tips on his website, hailing the firebombing of an apartment containing "Savage Negroes" and calling for the murder of immigrants. "When enough illegal aliens get killed they will stop coming to the country!" Turner wrote.

Turner was once a prominent activist in New Jersey's Republican Party. To area conservatives, he was best known by his moniker for call-ins to the Sean Hannity Show, "Hal from North Bergen." For years, Hannity offered his top-rated radio show as a regular forum for Turner's occasionally racist, always over-the-top rants. Hannity also chatted with him off-air, allegedly offering encouragement to Turner as he struggled to overcome a cocaine habit and homosexual leanings. Turner has boasted that Hannity once invited Turner and his son on to the set of Fox News's Hannity and Colmes. Today, Turner lurks on the fringes of the far right, spouting hate-laced tirades on his webcast radio show. Hannity, meanwhile, remains mum about his former alliance with the neo-Nazi, homing in instead on the supposed racism of black and Latino Democrats.

A former moving company manager and real estate agent, Turner cut his teeth as the Northern New Jersey coordinator for Pat Buchanan's quixotic 1992 presidential campaign. He was an aggressive self-promoter who found a platform for his views on the radio show of Bob Grant, which was broadcast by ABC's flagship station, New York City's WABC. Grant was a pioneer of right-wing radio and, incidentally, a hysterical racist. In March 1995, according to the media watchdog FAIR, Grant entertained the call of a promoter for the neo-Nazi group National Alliance who billed his mission as the "support of European males." "I don't have a problem with the National Alliance!" Grant twice declared. Less than one month later, the Oklahoma City Federal Building was blown up by a white supremacist who said he was influenced by the plot of National Alliance founder William Pierce's pulp novel, The Turner Diaries. Grant insisted on his show for days afterward that Arabs were responsible for the bombing.

WABC came under enormous pressure from the NAACP and other civil rights groups to dump Grant. He had called Haitian refugees "subhuman infiltrators"; remarked that the United States contained "millions of subhumanoids, savages who really would feel more at home careening along the sands of the Kalahari or the dry deserts of eastern Kenya"; and often promoted "The Bob Grant Mandatory Sterilization Program" for minorities. In 1994, after a group of African-American clergy members issued a plea for sponsors to boycott Grant's show, Turner, at the time a frequent voice as a caller on Grant's show, organized a pro-Grant rally in Trenton, which was attended by numerous members of the white supremacist Nationalist Movement. Two years later, WABC finally gave Grant the boot.

WABC tapped Sean Hannity to fill Grant's seat in the broadcast booth. For Hannity, who had spent his career in the wilderness of the right-wing radio circuit, the gig was like a dream. "I'd grown up listening to Bob Grant...one of the most entertaining hosts I'd ever heard," Hannity wrote in his 2002 book, Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty Over Liberalism. Hannity started out as a broadcaster at the liberal University of Santa Barbara. "But it didn't last long.... The left-wing management had a zero-tolerance policy for conservative points of view. And I was promptly fired," Hannity wrote. "They didn't like the comments one guest made on the show," he added, without specifying what those comments were. From there, Hannity was hired by the right-wing WVNN in Huntsville, Alabama, and then by WGST in Atlanta, where he filled in for his friend, the "libertarian" broadcaster Neil Boortz. By the time WABC brought him on board, he was already co-hosting Fox News's newly minted Hannity and Colmes, which, as of May, was America's second-rated cable news show, with 1.3 million households viewing each night.

On WABC Hannity inherited Grant's fan base of angry white males, who listened to his show in the New York City area. Hannity recognized his audience's thirst for red meat, racist rhetoric. However, he knew that if he wanted to avoid Grant's fate, he needed an air of deniability. When "Hal from North Bergen" began calling his show, Hannity found he could avoid the dangers of direct race-baiting by simply outsourcing it to Turner.

During an August 1998 episode of the show, Turner reminded Hannity that were it not for the graciousness of the white man, "black people would still be swinging on trees in Africa," according to Daryle Jenkins, co-founder of the New Jersey-based antiracism group One People's Project. Instead of rebuking Turner or cutting him off, Hannity continued to welcome his calls. On December 10 of the following year, Turner called Hannity's show to announce his campaign to run for a seat in the US House of Representatives from New Jersey, and to attack his presumptive opponent, Democratic Representative Robert Menendez, as a "left-wing nut."

By this time, according to Jenkins, Turner and Hannity had bonded off-air. In 1998 Hannity received an anonymous e-mail linking to an AOL discussion board on which Turner had allegedly confessed to a cocaine problem and alluded to past homosexual trysts. Turner (or someone claiming to be Turner) wrote in an August 4, 1998, Google discussion forum that Hannity called him to clear the air: "Just last week, Sean phoned me at home from his job at FOX News to continue a conversation we'd begun earlier while he was at WABC," Turner wrote. "Sean advised that one of you sensitive souls sent him an e-mail about 'revelations I had made' here on the internet. He told me it was obviously and [sic] attempt to 'poison the water.' " Turner continued, "I told him that I've done things I'm not proud of, and had dark times in my life; and those experiences helped shape the way I live today...the right way. He [Hannity] laughed and commented that he knew the feeling." Turner added that such chats with Hannity were "not unusual," often occurring while Hannity held his calls during commercial breaks.

Jenkins told me that while he and a group of antiracism activists demonstrated against a July 17, 2003, National Alliance meeting in Elmwood Park, New Jersey, which Turner attended, he encountered Turner and asked him about his relationship with Hannity. Turner claimed that he and Hannity would talk by phone and even recounted that Hannity had once invited him and his son on to the set of Hannity and Colmes. "In my view," says Jenkins, "I think Hannity has helped Turner out quite a bit. I'm willing to bet most of the conversations they had consisted of them talking shop."

But Turner and Hannity's relationship collapsed in 2000 after the Hudson County Republican Party endorsed Turner's primary challenger, Theresa De Leon, an accomplished businesswoman and dark-skinned Latina. "I had never judged people on their race, not prior to that point," Turner recalled in a February 23, 2003, article in the Bergen County Record. "And there I was, on the receiving end--in America--of a decision that I wasn't good enough because I was a white male." Turner finished last in the primary, just as Hannity was hitting his stride as a major Fox News personality. When WABC's screeners began blocking Turner's calls, he realized he was no longer of use to Hannity.

So Turner took matters into his own hands, purchasing a time slot on the eclectic shortwave radio station WBCQ. For more than four years, Turner unleashed a barrage of hate speech at his perceived enemies--"bull-dyke lesbians," "savage Negro beasts," "filthy mongrels," etc. In 2003 Turner said US District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow was "worthy of being killed" for ruling against white supremacist leader Matthew Hale in a trademark dispute. The day after Lefkow's husband and mother were found murdered on February 28, Turner penned an article for the far-right chat room Liberty Forum outlining tips to help white supremacists avoid scrutiny from federal agents. "So what can we, as White Nationalists (WN), expect as a result [of the killings]?" Turner wrote. "Frankly, a SHIT STORM!" Turner was eventually visited by FBI agents, though when a suspect was arrested, he had no organizational links to white supremacist groups. By this time, Turner had quit the Jewish-owned WBCQ because, as he told the Associated Press, he saw Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and realized he "could no longer do business with Jews."

Today, as one of America's most recognizable broadcast personalities, Hannity vehemently denounces racism as he sees it. During the 2000 presidential campaign, Hannity demanded time and again that Al Gore fire his black campaign manager, Donna Brazile, for her comment that "we're not gonna let the white boys win." Two years later, during California's gubernatorial recall election, Hannity repeatedly attacked Democratic candidate and Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante as a racist for refusing to renounce his association thirty years prior with the Chicano student group MECHA. Yet Hannity is silent about the racist affiliations of favored guests like Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, Mississippi Republican Governor Haley Barbour and former Republican Congressman Bob Barr, all of whom have spoken before gatherings of America's largest white supremacist group, the Council of Conservative Citizens.

Hannity remains silent, too, about his relationship with his former friend, the neo-Nazi Hal Turner. Whatever he thinks about Turner's politics today, Hannity views his career as a uniquely glorious phenomenon--right-wing hate radio as the American Dream. "This is America, after all," Hannity wrote in Let Freedom Ring. "Whatever you think, you're free to say it out loud--as long as you're prepared to defend it. And if you get lucky...someday you might even get paid for it."


Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.

Foxes and Hen Houses

I'm watching W. lecture us about our "oil addiction" on CNN. Expecting Bush and Cheney to cure our oil woes is like naming Courtney Love your AA sponsor.


Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.

Friday, April 21, 2006

What's So Wrong With Being Politically Correct?

There's a sure-fire way right-wingers have of shutting down any discussion of racism, the inequality of wealth, or whether the disabled, immigrants and gays should enjoy the same rights we take for granted.

A right-winger will accuse you of "political correctness" and that's supposed to end the discussion. Nothing you say at that point is supposed to be relevant, because you are then assumed to not be rational, but driven by a weak-kneed inability to cope with reality.

Back in February, before Valentine's Day, I was interviewed by the Chicago Tribune. A Tribune reporter knew that I urged people to limit or eliminate their consumption of chocolate because cocoa farmers in West African quite literally use children as slave labor, even keeping them chained in pens at night to keep them from escaping.

She referred me to a fellow reporter at the paper. This journalist, before she started the interview, read her lead, which made reference to making "politically correct" Valentines gifts that didn't involve chocolate or use of diamonds funding civil wars in Africa, etc. "That term 'pc' is really condescending," I told her, urging her to not be lazy and take the moral issues raised by these boycotts seriously.

I then said that I believed consumer boycotts were not enough and that real change could only happen if we forced it on our political system by boycotting politicians who didn't insist on fair trade

By the way, the reporter kept her snide reference to "political correctness" in the lead but didn't use any quotes from me.

The irony is, as Michael Kinsley once pointed out, that the people who most regularly blast "political correctness" are the chief practitioners of the craft. If, for instance, you point out that certain writers for Universal Press Syndicate, like say Ann Coulter, are hard core racists and perhaps we should not read newspapers or watch shows that include Ann Coulter on the panel, you are immiediately accused of the mortal sin pc-ness. You will certainly be called an advocate of censorship.

Let's review terms here. Censorship involves prior restrain - preventing the expression of ideas from taking place. That's what happens when a government seizes a printing press, or when a mob attacks a writer, or when past leaders that Coulter loves like Augusto Pinochet in Chili, cut off the hands of folk singers he didn't like.

I am deeply devoted to the First Amendment. I am appaled by censorship and wish the American press had not practiced the self-serving "patriotic" self-censorship that allowed us to sink into the morass of the Iraq War.

I am practicing free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment right now and, at least until another terrorirst attack happens, I won't be arrested for it.

The boycott is another form of free speech. It allows an individual to not be co-ppted by corrupt corporations, political parties, publications, etc., that promote oppressive, unjust policies. or attitudes like racism and homophobia

Boycotts were sucessfully used by the black freedom struggle of the 1950s and 1960s to force national firms like Woolworths to desegregate lunch counters. Boycotts had a prfound effect in the struggle to bring down South Africa's apartheid regime. Threatsa of boycotts by feminists modified sexist editorial policies by leading so-called 'women's magazines."

Yes, boycotts are sometimes used by the right to foster anti-gay hatred, to render obselete the right to choose, and to suppress artistic expression. In these cases, the method of boycott is not immoral, it's the cause.

Which brings me back to political correctness. A number of colunmists and talk show host proudly hail themselves as "politically incorrect." Take Ann Coulter. Here are some gems from the poster girl of anti-PC movement:

On March 15, 2006, she titled a column about Bush White House domestic policy adviser Claude Allen "Revenge of the Queers." Allen was arrested for using credit cards to scam several Virginia department stores out of money. The anti-gay slur is strange, even by Coulter standards, because the Allen story had nothing, even tangentially, to do with homosexuality. The only connection was that Allen, who worked on former North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms 1984 re-election campaign apparently responded to Democratic opponent James Hunt's charge that Helms was supported by "right-wing nuts" by saying that Helms would be justified in proclaiming Hunt was backed by "queers." That weak connection was enough for Coulter to sneak the homophobic slur in her column headline.

When mentally-challenged University of Colorado Ethics professor Ward Churchill fueled outrage over an old essay he wrote in which he ridiculously compared the 9/11 victims killed in the World Trade Center to "little Eichmans," Coulter didn't stop at criticizing Churchill's obvious, and disgusting, overreach, but had to belittle Churchill's racial background, titling her column "The Little Injun Who Could."

Coulter used the term "raghead" to describe Arabs in a speech to a young Republican group. In a colmn written in the wake of the riots over the Danish Mohammad cartoons, Coulter displayed her supple intellect by referring to Muslims as "jihad monkeys," "camel jockeys" and "tent merchants." Coulter at one point asked if to liberals "the conventions of civilized behavior, personal hygiene and grooming [are] inapplicable when Muslims are involved?" In another column over the Dubai ports controversy, Coulter refrers to Mulsims as "savages." On February 23 of this year, Coulter attacked White House correspondant Helen Thomas, born in Kentucky of Lebanese parents, calling the reporter an "old Arab" who doesn't belong "within yards of the president."

Hilarious. And I thought "All in the Family" was off the air.

Here are a couple of more "thoughts" expressed by Ann Coulter:

"Muhammad makes L. Ron Hubbard look like Jesus Christ. Most people think nothing of assuming every Scientologist is a crackpot. Why should Islam be subject to presumption of respect because it's a religion?"

"This is my idea…I think airlines ought to start advertising: "We have the most civil rights lawsuits brought against us by Arabs."

Coulter may be changing the targets of her racism. Al Franken, in a column in the "Huffington Post," relates that Coulter, during a debat held at the University of Judaism, opened by saying:

"It was fascinating being here for the demonstrations this weekend . . . I guess that's why I didn't get clean towels in my hotel room this morning."

Coulter unfortunately continued: "I haven't seen so many agitated Mexicans since the World Cup Soccer Games were in L.A." "As offended as the diners were, the waiters were pissed. Ann was actually dumb enough to drink her coffee afterwards," Franken writes. Perhaps Coulter is auditioning for a regular spot on the Lou Dobbs show.

Coulter's website also carries advertisements for fellow right-wing media maven Michael Savage. As the Southern Poverty Law Center "Intelligence Report" revealed in its Sping 2004 issue:

"That Savage is also a bigot is well known. He has called inner-city victims of gunfire "ghetto slime." He refers to non-white nations as "Turd World" countries. Latinos, he says, "breed like rabbits." He regularly bashes gays and liberals." And although he is himself Jewish, Savage often refers to Jews as "Christophobes" and called one Jewish lawyer a "hooknose."

The multi-million dollar careers of Coulter, her fellow travelers like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, and the slightly less lucrative career of Michael Savage prove that political correctness is an illusion. There are no oppressive liberal forces preventing conservatives from spewing bile against gays, Jews, lesbians, blacks, immigrants, Arabs or Americans of Arab descent or Muslims in general. The so-called liberal media has no moral agenda, driven by left-wing or right-wing bias. It is simply driven by cash. If it is easy to find liberal professors in the humanities, it as easy to find far right-wingers in the business and economics departments. The government certainly doesn't enforce standards of political correctness. The FCC fines Howard Stern a king's ransom for frat boy sex jokes and imposes monster fines on CBS forthe Janet Jackson bare breat flap but finds no concerns about "indecency" when radio and television talking heads blurt diatribes more appropriate for a Klan rally than airwaves theoretically owned by the public, Arab Americans included.

Politically correctness is a myth propogated by the right-wing. No one is forcing anyone to be "PC" any more than any one is forced to not say "Merry Christmas." The right uses the "politically incorrect label" as a license for bigotry. There used to be another word for political correctness. Once upon a time, when decent people considered it a sign of ignorance to call Arab people "ragheads," we called being pc "politeness" or "tolerance."


Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Does Lou Dobbs Hate Diabetics As Much As He Hates Immigrants?

When I was a teenager, like so many of my dateless geek male friends, I was fascinated with paranormal phenomena such as UFOs, the Devil's Triangle, and Andy Gibbs' popularity. I decided I would write THE definitive book on spontaneous combustion, the process by which humans supposedly burst into flames for no known scientific reason.

I think that is why I occasionally watch Lou Dobbs on CNN. If I am ever to actually witness spontaneous human combustion, I am convinced it will be during an episode of the Lou Dobbs show when he begins to hyperventilate on the topic of immigrants. He seems to seethe with pent-up white-bread-and-Miracle Whip rage when he contemplates the brown hordes flooding over our Southwestern border.

To Dobbs, everything about immigrants is bad - they lower wages for American workers, they increase our tax burden, they park in handicapped spaces, and they even secretly plan to re-annex the American Southwest for Mexico. And worst of all - according to Dr. Dobbs (who isn't really a physician but sometimes plays one on TV) - they carry diseases.

Check out this transcript from a recent broadcast of Lou Dobbs in Cancun, Mexico:

"DOBBS: One of the all but unexamined consequences of illegal immigration is the free flow of diseases across borders as well. People seeking legal residency undergo routine physicals to screen out dangerous diseases. But with 3,000 to 8,000 people each day streaming across our borders illegally, many of those diseases are making an unfortunate comeback in the United States.

Christine Romans has the report -- Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, with illegal immigration, once vanquished killers are being carried deep into this country. Diseases like tuberculosis.

Even as overall cases of TB declined the Centers for Disease Control says a deadly drug resistant strain is spreading, easily crossing borders. At the U.S. border with Mexico, TB rates are twice as high as the rest of the country/

Indeed, if the 24 counties that share a border with Mexico were the 51st state, they would rank seconds in TB cases, third in deaths due to hepatitis, and fifth in diabetes-related deaths.

And now a drug resistant TB strain is spreading, notably to states that are magnets for illegal immigration. The CDC says seven states account for 60 percent of the cases: California, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Texas. Most cases come from Mexico. A smaller percentage from Asia.

Now, long a staple of border counties, public health authorities fear the diseases like TB are spreading silently and tracking and treating these diseases is becoming more difficult. In Los Angeles County, for example, each TB patient can infect up to 12 others who all must be tested. That's a big challenge when the emergency room is the first point of contact for many people illegally in the country. And follow-up treatment is critical and can take as long as six months.

TB is just one of nine communicable diseases that our government screens for among legal immigrants -- syphilis, HIV-AIDS, leprosy, among others. But there are no screening at our porous borders -- Lou."

What caught my ear particularly in this exchange (other than the overt racism of this discussion) was Dobb's and Christine Roamans' sloppy lumping of diabetes with communicable diseases such as TB. I'm sure that Dobbs' professionally angry audience fears that they will become insulin-dependent if they wander too close to the gardener.

Well, I have been diabetic for 34 years, and have lived with my wife 18 years and she has yet to "catch" diabetes. By the way, Lou, diabetes is not making a "comeback" but has been increasing in the U.S. due to the expansion of fast food in the American diet, the infusion in our foods of high-fructose and government-subsidized corn syrup, lifestyles that include too many hours of work and not enough time for exercise, family-bonding and other healthy pursuits, and the expansion of poverty and with it the number of Americans who seek quickly prepared, pre-made meals as they rush from one poor-paying job to another.

TB has also made a comeback, but that first happened with our domestic homeless population, cut lose by the Social Darwinism practiced since the 1980s by the Republican Party (of which you are a long-time member and contributor.) Of course, Republicans in their war on science have also handicapped stem cell research, which holds the greatest promise for a diabetes cure. I'm sure Mexicans are somehow behind that, perhaps through their sinister alliance with the Catholic Church.

Here's a suggestion, Lou. Have Dr. Sanjay Gupta on if you want to talk about disease. You can't blame immigrants for diabetes.


Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Just who are these people anyway?

According to CNN last week, a "poll" of presidential polls indicated that about 37 percent of the American people still stand behind President Bush.

This prompted me to ask, who are these people and what do they know that a majority of us don't know? After six years of Bushonomics, in which wages are losing ground to the cost of living, after failing to capture Osama Bin Ladin, after sending too few soldiers to Iraq and making our forces stand by and do nothing as looters ran loose in Baghdad, after proving unable to find Iraqi WMDs, after treating the Katrina disaster like an annoying distraction from vacation, after intentionally revealing the identity of undercover CIA operatives, and after standing by helplessly as Iraq sank into civil war and Iran became a nuclear power, Bush is still loved by more than a third of the American public, whose response to the string of catastrophic bungles is 'What, Me Worry?"

This administration has a higher failure rate than the rhythm method. What would it take to make that 37 percent lose its patience with Bush? The president appointing Tom Cruise as his press secretary? Or making a guest appearance on "Queer As Folk?" Or making French the official language of the United States?

In fact, to many of Bush's most passionate supporters, he succeeds if he fails.

Evangelicals are to the Republicans as African Americans and Jews are to the Democrats. About 76 percent of evangelicals voted for Bush in 2004, in an election he won with just over 50 percent of the vote. They are the core constituency of the GOP, far more numerous and willing to fall on their swords as grassroots foot soldiers than the traditional country club Republicans. Many evangelical Republicans, including Bush himself, believed that God intervened to hand W. his dubious victory in the 2000 race against Al Gore. “This was Providence,” Watergate felon and current circuit preacher Charles Colson said in an interview with the religious website Beliefnet. “Anybody looking at the 2000 election would have to say it was…a miraculous deliverance, and I think people felt it again this year.” (He may have a point. I thought Gary Glitter could beat Bush in 2004. Only a Democrat like John Kerry could run a race with so many advantages and still get humiliated so badly.) By giving Bush another term, Colson claimed, God was “giving us a chance to repent and to restore some moral sanity to American life.”

Evangelical support has softened in recent months as some of the religious right question Bush' seriousness about the Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and after the Bush-planted regime in Afghanistan (which really only controls the capitol city of Kabul) almost executed a man for converting to Christianity. Still, as recently as January, evangelical support for Bush was almost thirty points higher than among the general public.

Many Bushwhackers subscribe to a set of beliefs theologians have described as pre-millennial dispensationalism." This theology underlies the plot of the best-selling "Left Behind" series of novels. Dispensationalists believe that from the very beginning of time, God set a very specific timetable for human events. Human history would unfold in seven epochs, or "dispensations," each marking a change in the Almighty's relationship with homo sapiens. God dealt directly with man in the "Adamic" dispensation, for instance, regularly chatting with Adam and Even and basically only forbidding them from acquiring knowledge of Good and Evil. A different dispensation came when Yahweh handed Moses the Ten Commandments. Jesus, according to dispensationalists, marked the beginning next to last dispensation, the "Church Age," which the apocalyptic flock believes has continued to the present time.

Humans, dispensationalists believe, are weak and in their hearts evil and likely to sin. All human efforts at building a just and peaceful world, to eliminate poverty and disease, are doomed to failure. Dispensationalists believe that Mankind (and they ARE more focused on men than women) can be saved from himself only by a literal deus ex machina, in the form of Christ's Second Coming.

"Each of the Dispensations may be regarded as a new test of the natural man, and each ends in judgment — marking his utter failure," wrote Dallas minister Cyrus Scofield, editor of the popular Scofield Reference Bible, in the early 20th century. History will end, Scofield wrote, not as some would have us believe, by the gradual process of evolution, lifting the race higher and higher . . . but in sudden and awful ruin . . ."

The Christian church, evangelizing since Jesus' return to heaven nearly 2,000 years earlier, has failed to save the human race from sin. End-time events will begin when Jesus "raptures" his church, whisking the saved into the clouds so they might escape the horrors of the coming "Tribulation." The Gentile nations of the Earth will unite under an Antichrist, a world dictator determined to defeat God's plan for salvation by destroying the Jews. Under the reign of the Antichrist, Scofield promised, millions will die and the Earth will suffer vast ecological devastation. The Antichrist's armies will gather in the Middle East to complete annihilation of the Jewish nation, but before this happens, 144,000 surviving Jews will convert to Christianity. Jesus and his raptured followers will miraculously return to save these converts and destroy the "princes of the Earth" in a final battle of Armageddon. Christ will then begin an earthly reign of 1,000 years, followed by a final Judgement Day and the creation of a new Heaven and Earth.

Even though Dispensationalists are sure the world is an evil place, their theology tends, paradoxically, to be in favor of the status quo. Most dispensationalists don't like social change, such as represented by the civil rights movement, environmentalism, and especially the women's rights and gay rights movements. First of all, they believe that women should stay at home and raise kids, that men should be "real men" and that homosexuality is a far worse sin than the coporate corruption, needless war and planet-destroying abuse of the environment represented by the Bush White House.

As Scofield put it, "What Christ did not do, the Apostles did not do. Not one of them was a reformer." To put faith in political activism was to lack faith in God. "When Christ was on earth all the social problems — slavery, intemperance, prostitution, unequal distribution of wealth, oppression of the weak by the strong — were at their worst," Scofield argued. "To cure them He put into the world one message — the gospel, one means — regeneration, one agency — the Holy Spirit in the church."

In other words, shut up about injustice and wait for the Second Coming. The only thing that matters is collecting souls before Amageddon. Of course, one of the many paradoxes of Dispensationalism is that they are very politically active today. As Sara Diamond wrote in her book, Roads to Dominion" Right Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States, Dispensationalists and their fellow fundamentalists became very politicized in the 1950s and 1960s over access of religious programming ton the public airwaves. The rise of feminism and gay rights, and the re-legalization of abortion (it had been legal in most of the United States until the late 19th century), inspired a less esoteric interest in electoral politics on the part of the evangelical communityby the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Let be clear. We are not talking about some small Branch Davidian-type doomsday sect here. Certain Dispensationalist beliefs, at least, are widespread, even if individual believers don't share all the same tenents. Polling by organizations like Gallup indicate that about 60 percent of the American public believes that Jesus will literally return to Earth in their lieftime. As Grant Wacker, an associate professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, noted in his January 1994 "Christian Centery" article "Planning Ahead: The Enduring Appeal of Prophecy Belief," booksellers noted that some store customers refuse to receive $6.66 in change when they buy items because the Book of Revelation says that "666" is the number the anti-Christ will insist followers wear on their foreheads or the palms of their hands. Historian Paul Boyer notes one women who has published pamphlets warning that UPC codes represent the so-called "mark of the beast" (she insists that if you jiggle the numbers on the code just right, the total always comes to 666.) Hotels often don't have a room 666, just like many skip the 13th floor.

Dispensationalists now vote in large numbers. Even if they believe that politics represents re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic, they rationalize political activism by arguing that all will be judged by their actions on Earth. If their official theology is that people are saved by faith alone, they really believe in "good works" as well, including opposition to abortion, gays, etc. In other words, anytime dispensationalists save a state from the scourge of gay marriage, or ban abortion in a place like South Dakota, or remove Harry Potter from a library shelf, they are not only scoring points with the Almighty, they are perhaps delaying the inevitable day when the Anti-Christ will take over the world.

This demographic has a huge impact on American foreign policy because of their commanding position in the Republican Party. Some of my Arab students sometimes subscribe to the anti-Semitic theory that the United States is so pro-Israel because of alleged Jewish control of the media. Jews in fact are deeply divided on Israeli government policies and its hard to see how the Zionist agenda is advanced by "Larry The Cable Guy." Arab politics is too influenced by conspiracy theories and needs to acknowledge diversity of belief among Jews. In any case, it is the Dixified, chicken-fried Dispensationalists who edged Bush towards a greater hostility towards Palestinians more than any group.

Each ratcheting of the Arab-Israeli conflict brings the world closer to the Second Coming. There are no bigger Zionists in America than fundamentalists, not even the most conservative Jews. Dispensationalists see each Jew as an archeological artifact, linking them directly to the Biblical past. They believe that God judges nations by how close or how hostile they are to Israel. The rebirth of Israel in 1948, they believe, is a miracle, a sign that Jews are still God's chosen people. Christians, they argue, dare not hamper Israelis and their role in End Times.

John Hagee, the millionaire pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, preaches a dispensationalist gospel and displays an Israeli flag on his stage alongside the Stars and Stripes. Pastors like him have paid for Jewish immigration from Russia, bringing to the country some of the most right-wing members of Israeli society, a group that made up the bulk of the settlers in Gaza and the West Bank, and that is most hostile to Palestinian rights.

Hagee and others embraced right-wing Israeli politicians like Benjamin Natanyahu, want to set up Christian missionary efforts in Israel to preach to Jews and Muslims and, if they had their way, would persuade their friends in Israeli politics to not give up an inch of terrirtory to Arabs. Of course, such policies would increase the liklihood of further Arab-Israeli violence, but dispensationalists see that conflict as foreordained and believe it will last until Jesus comes to sort out the bodies. For all their professed love of Jews as a group, dispensationalists care little for the safety and future of individual Jews living today. Everything takes second place to pushing the world towards Armageddon.

This leads dispensationalists to be comfortable, by and large with Bush's endless string of defeats. Bush is a man of God, they think, a martyr doomed to failure in this Satan-inspired world. Bush isn't corrupt or incompetent. He's fighting a good but ultimately doomed fight in a world shrouded by darkness. When Bush fails, it only means that the day temporarily belongs to the devil. Ultimately, he gets credit for gay-bashing or appointing a Supreme Court likely to outlaw abortion. He also gets credit for trying to save the world by "democratizing" Arab states and opening them to Christian missionaries. No argument from the rational world will persuade the steadfast 37 percent otherwise. God help us everyone.


Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.