An Open Letter to Mark Morford, Columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle

29 02 2008

Dear Mr. Morford: 

Your column which ran this morning, “How to Hate Barack Obama”, is one of the more hateful and troublesome pieces of political commentary I have seen appear in a large market newspaper. There is always time and room for a good-natured, humorous rant, but – as nothing in your piece suggests you intended this as comedy – what you have written is, objectively, classifiable as pure hate speech.

You write: 

“…nothing much for the right to do with Barack Hussein Obama’s moniker except “accidentally” mispronounce it as “Osama Hussein” over and over again on Fox News and at McCain rallies and across Wal-Mart’s loudspeakers so trailer park denizens across Bush’s ‘Merka will get even more confused and panicky and start loading up the bunker with Ding-Dongs and Coors just in case the Muslim radicals take over.”

You accuse a large number of people of intentionally mispronouncing Obama’s name in the hopes of grouping him in with the deeds of a terrorist and a dictator. As you offer no proof of this behavior occurring, you have effectively slandered and stereotyped with the goal of arousing anger.

This is – objectively – hate.  

The second half of your statement quoted above contains no less than eight(!) stereotypes. “Trailer park denizens…will get even more confused…” is your most galling fragment; you ridicule the capacity of the lower class regardless of individual circumstance. This is thoroughly repugnant to those who grasp tolerance. 

You write: 

“…the troglodytic, Limbaugh/Coulter-grade sects of the party… are already hugely terrified of the notion of a black liberal president…” 

You accuse several million people of being terrified of the notion of a black President. I ask that you show statistical proof of widespread fear of a black President among this political persuasion. When you fail to find this, as you will, I ask that you retract your smear.  

This “troglodytic” sect of the party, which has in the past offered praise to Justice Thomas and Condoleeza Rice, has only stated distaste of Obama’s liberalism. His skin color appears to be an issue only to you, as a tool with which you can generate fear and anger. 

You write: 

Assuming Obama gets the nod, just how will they attack him, smear him, paint him as an evil and untrustworthy force for the nation, the way they did Al Gore and John Kerry? How nefarious, racist, draconian will they get?” 

I fail to see how you do not recognize this sentence as being a hateful smear itself.  

You write: 

“[Obama] doesn’t have Hillary’s infamous laundry list of faults and transgressions, the enormous built-in wall of hate the right already has for her, her gender…” 

Please offer the evidence you used to conclude that all American voters who are right-of-center – a group which, I must mention, includes tens of millions of women — hates women. 

 You write: 

“There’s no true genius hate artist like Karl Rove around anymore to attempt to unify the racists and the white evangelicals and the Latinos and the war-lovers into one giant, seething, Obama-fearing voting bloc.” 

Please offer the evidence you used to classify all Bush voters into these four categories. Again, it is your writing, not those you target, which is objectively hateful. 

You write: 

“[Race] is the card the right will have to play very, very carefully, as the slightest slip-up in demonizing Obama’s skin color and playing to America’s nastiest, deep-set racist tendencies will offend millions and only make Republicans look like the party of old, white, sexist, racist, classist warmongering men they very much are.” 

This is unashamed bigotry, used with the intent of fanning hatred. You reduce people to rank stereotypes.  

You write: 

“It’s hard to imagine Latinos flocking to the Republicans, given the party’s hateful, isolationist immigration agenda…” 

Besides the hateful comments of Pat Buchanan, David Duke, and Ron Paul, I am not aware of any Republican who has expressed notions of hate towards immigrants. Show me proof that Republicans tend to be concerned about immigration itself, not illegal immigration.

When you fail, as you will, you owe an explanation. 

You write: 

When they stole two elections for Bush, the brutal, homophobic conservative machine was tightly organized, had focus, mountains of cash, Karl Rove, the backing of a very nefarious, deeply inbred team of ultra-wealthy war hawks hell-bent on taking over the nation and ruling with a flaccid peni- … er, iron fist.” 

This is beyond the pale. You may exercise your First Amendment rights, but this is wretched. 

You write: 

“The sad news is, there are simmering pockets of racist hate in this nation that have never really been tested, pockets of such vehement intolerance and power that it’s impossible to know what demons lurk, what sort of outrage will erupt.”  

Please direct us all to these pockets of “vehement intolerance and power.” While there are certainly racist movements remaining in the US, I don’t know of any which hold a position of power, nor one which has offered any mass display of violent behavior.

This is fearmongering.   

The pocket of vehement intolerance on display, with power in the form of publication in a large media outlet, is simply you. 

I sincerely hope your newspaper reconsiders offering you such a stage in the future. You should have to pay for your own soapbox and loudspeaker, and should be aware that those who are more wise, tolerant, and respectful than you will always be around to challenge your thoughts. 

Best, 

David 

http://www.sfgate.com/columnists/morford/ 

https://posthumousluger.wordpress.com 

mmorford@sfgate.com

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An Open Letter to Ignacio Ramonet, Editor of Le Monde Diplomatique

22 02 2008

Dear Mr. Ramonet: 

Your February 20th editorial, published in the Guardian, bore some references to Fidel Castro which directly contradict a piece published that same day by author Humberto Fontova. I ask that you please respond regarding the instances where the two accounts clash, for the sake of those readers looking for historical accuracy. 

You write:

“The most surprising thing that I found out about [Castro], in the hours we spent together compiling his memoirs, was how modest, human, discreet and respectful he was. He has a tremendous moral and ethical sense.”

Whereas, Fontoya writes:

“[On January 8th, 1959], just below San Juan Hill in eastern Cuba, a bulldozer rumbled to a start, clanked into position, and started pushing dirt into a huge pit with blood pooling at the bottom from the still-twitching bodies of more than a hundred men and boys who’d been machine-gunned without trial on the Castro brothers’ orders. Their wives and mothers wept hysterically from a nearby road.”

I have no grounds to contest your use of “modest”, though the behavior Fontova describes does not appear to fit your description of Castro as being “human”, “discreet”, “respectful”, “moral”, or “ethical”. Though I understand clerical errors can happen, it would be a benefit to your readers if you wouldn’t mind offering your thoughts regarding the discrepancy.

You continue:

“[Castro’s] current preoccupation isn’t so much socialism in his own country as the quality of life around the world, where too many children are illiterate, starving and suffering from diseases that could be cured.”

However, Fontoya writes: 

“His firing squads murdered pregnant women, his coast guard machine-gunned mothers with their children for trying to escape on rafts…”

 Again, minor contradictions. But I feel it would be useful for you to clarify for those less familiar with Cuban politics, lest they harbor an inaccurate portrayal of your subject. 

Additionally, you write: “Most Cubans themselves – even those who criticise aspects of the regime – do not envisage or desire change: they don’t want to lose the advantages it has brought them, the free education right through university, the free universal healthcare, or the very fact of a safe, peaceful existence in a country where life is calm.” 

Yet, we have this from Fontova: 

“By 1975…the bullet-riddled bodies of over 10,000 Cubans lay in unmarked graves…”. 

Hmmm.

 Cuba…held the most political prisoner as a percentage of population on earth, surpassing Nazi Germany’s prewar rate by several multiples.” 

He don’t say.

 “He jailed and tortured at a rate higher than Stalin…[Castro’s] legal code mandates 18 months in prison for anyone overheard cracking a joke about him.” 

“…his regime made Cuban women into the most suicidal in the world, tripling their pre-Revolution suicide rate.” 

He drove out a higher percentage of Jews from Cuba than Czar Nicholas drove from Russia and Hafez Assad drove from Syria.” 

He overthrew a black Cuban head of state and replaced his government with one where only nine percent of the ruling Stalinist party is black and where the prison population is 80- 90 percent black. He jailed the longest suffering black political prisoner of modern history. (Eusebio Penalver who suffered longer in Castro’s dungeon’s than Nelson Mandela suffered in South Africa‘s.) He sentenced other blacks (Dr Elias Biscet, Jorge Antunez) to 20 year sentences essentially for quoting Martin Luther King Jr. in a public square.”  

Wow! That’s just crazy talk, right, Mr. Ramonet?   

I appreciate your time.  That’s about it for the discrepancies, but I feel it would behoove you to — oh, holy fuck!:

 “[Castro] thinks his country must have good relations with all nations, whatever the regime or political orientation.”   

“[Castro] twice tried to destroy New York, once with nuclear missiles, the following month by planning to set off 500 kilos of TNT in Macy’s, Gimbel’s, Bloomingdale’s, and Grand Central Terminal on the year’s busiest shopping day.”  

(Author curled up in corner, muttering something about “cognitive dissonance” — Ed. note) 

Best, 

David  

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/feb/20/usa.eu

 http://frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=1108FA89-5019-4FE5-A2FA-612C1B38C9D5  

comment@guardian.co.uk  

 





An Open Letter to Barack Obama

21 02 2008

Dear Senator Obama:

In the winter of 2004, did you tell Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, to “keep up the good work”? Did you additionally claim to be withholding your actual opinions on Israel, as you believed it would affect your chances in the primary race?

Abunimah claims as such. He writes:

As [Obama] came in from the cold and took off his coat, I went up to greet him. He responded warmly, and volunteered, “Hey, I’m sorry I haven’t said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I’m hoping when things calm down I can be more up front.” He referred to my activism, including columns I was contributing to the The Chicago Tribune critical of Israeli and US policy, “Keep up the good work!”

Best,

David

http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/1892  via http://www.philipweiss.org/)





An Open Letter to Samantha Power, Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to Barack Obama

19 02 2008

Ms. Power:

Your February 18th interview with Salon.com includes the following passage:

“The Bush administration has a long-standing policy that it doesn’t engage with terrorists or dictators. Is there a time when the United States should?

Absolutely. I’m with Barack on this. But it’s not indefinite. Barack’s point is you don’t treat meeting with America as if it’s in and of itself some great reward. It doesn’t buy the other side anything. In fact, today it hurts a lot of people to be in business with the United States. So what you do is you meet in order to achieve things. You meet in order to know your foe, if it’s a foe. You meet in order to get international wind at your back so that America is not seen as the problem — [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad is the problem. You meet because you want to stop lumping together the unlike — al-Qaida, Hamas, Iran, Iraq.”

Your response to this question represents perhaps the single element of Obama’s platform that is most abhorrent to many voters who have rejected all possibility of supporting him. I respectfully ask that you elaborate upon what you said here, given the weight this issue holds for many Americans.

A) You mention that an Obama administration would not only be open to engaging with dictators, but also with terrorists. Would you mind naming some of the terrorists you would be advising that Obama meet? Do you wish that he meets with Haniyeh? Bin Laden?

B) You mention that “you meet in order to know your foe, if it’s a foe.” I am not sure what you are saying here – you either wish to 1) meet with terrorists and dictators so as to “know them”, or 2) meet with terrorists and dictators so as to determine if they are, indeed, your foe.

If you intended the former, what is it you wish to know regarding the intents and motives of, say, Hamas and Al Qaeda? Have they not been clear?

If you intended the latter, what information do you need to receive from any terrorist entity or dictator to further determine if it is a foe? If an entity has committed acts of terror, or has established itself as a dictatorship, are you implying that you would advise consideration of the possibility that this entity could be considered a US ally?

C) You mention that “you don’t treat meeting with America as if it’s in and of itself some great reward. It doesn’t buy the other side anything. In fact, today it hurts a lot of people to be in business with the United States.”

Can you name some of the entities which would change their relationship with any other entity based upon their meeting with the US? The only ones I can think of are currently designated terrorist groups or dictatorships. Or are Vladimir Putin.

Are you advising that a President Obama, prior to meeting with a terrorist or dictator, somehow negate the concept that establishing relations with the US is “some great reward”, because the US should be concerned that said terrorist or dictator will lose his or her standing among other terrorists or dictators? Why should this be a concern to the US?

And how, exactly, would you advise President Obama establish that meeting with the US is no “great reward”?

D) You mention that “You meet because you want to stop lumping together the unlike — al-Qaida, Hamas, Iran, Iraq.” Are you implying that you would establish a hierarchy wherein one terrorist or dictatorship is more deserving of a meeting with the US than another? If so, what would be your criteria?

Al-Qaida wishes to establish a worldwide Islamic caliphate governed by the Koran. Hamas wishes to annihilate Israel so that they may establish a state governed by the Koran. Iran is a state enforcing brutal human rights abuses, with the goal being a state most closely aligned with the teachings of the Koran. You refer to these entities as the “unlike”.

Why are you looking to examine any possible differences between these terrorist groups and dictatorships, without first examining the similarity of which they scream at the top of their lungs?

Best,

David

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/02/18/samantha_power/

samantha_power@ksg.harvard.edu





Bizarre Hate Coincidence? UPDATED: All better now! Anti-Semitic comments deleted, Anti-conservative bigotry and rape threat allowed to stay!

11 02 2008

(Scroll down for update) 

My previous post, an open letter to the production team of the announced Howard Zinn film and miniseries, asked whether they were troubled by his endorsement of Valdas Anelauskas’ book.

My post just prior to that linked to some shockingly hateful responses to a pro-Iraq op-ed that appeared in the Oregon Daily Emerald.

Now, a poster calling himself “Valdas Anelauskas” has dropped a despicable anti-Semitic rant… on the very same thread at the Daily Emerald.

So…

We’ve either got a moby, who read my blog and decided to paint the commenters in a wholly undeserved light — which I doubt, as I had, oh, maybe 40 hits last week.

Or…

It was me. It was not.

Or…

It’s Anelauskas himself, and we’ve got some stars aligning over crazytown.

http://www.dailyemerald.com/home/index.cfm?event=displayArticleComments&ustory_id=b4266ac5-467e-4e9d-83cd-58a00a387c1b

UPDATE: 2/14, 2:10p 

The Daily Emerald has deleted the anti-Semitic screed from Valdas Anelauskas.

But they also deleted my comment connecting Valdas Anelauskas to Howard Zinn. Other comments attacking Anelauskas were deleted as well.

Fair, as my comment would not have any context without his bile being present? No, fair would be to post “Comment deleted” in place of Anelauskas’ entry, and to leave other comments as is.

Also — hateful comments directed at the writer of the op-ed, who expressed a conservative point of view? Including one comment threatening rape?

Still there.

I would appreciate any help from others in contacting the Daily Emerald: eglucklich@dailyemerald.com, editor@dailyemerald.com





An Open Letter to the Producers and Distributors of “Let the People Speak”

8 02 2008

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

You have just announced plans to develop, produce, and distribute a feature film, plus a four-hour mini-series, based on Howard Zinn’s bestseller “A People’s History of the United States.”

In 2002, Howard Zinn wrote a glowing endorsement of the book “Discovering America As It Is”, by Valdas Anelauskas.

Anelauskas has referred to himself as being a “white separatist and racialist”. In 2006, he gave a talk during which he made the comment, “There’s a lot of truth in Mein Kampf…”.

Anelauskas has given a series of talks for a group called the Pacifica Forum, which made headlines is 2007 for scheduling a two-day Holocaust denial conference on the anniversary of Kristallnacht.

Zinn wrote of Anelauskas’ book:

“This is an extraordinary book, especially startling not because it is a diligently researched and scathing critique of contemporary America, but because it is written by a Soviet dissident who arrived here with great expectations and discovered a sobering reality. The scope of the book is breathtaking, a sweeping survey, factually precise and philosophically provocative, which deserves to be compared to de Tocqueville’s 19th century classic. I hope it will be widely read.”

Do you feel comfortable continuing on with your project, knowing that Zinn endorsed the work of an acknowledged anti-Semitic, white separatist?

Best,

David

http://www.bookmasters.com/clarity/b0015.htm

http://hnn.us/roundup/entries/44328.html

http://www.cinemamanagementgroup.com/contact.htm

http://www.cineticmedia.com/

http://artfirefilms.com/

http://firsttuesdaymedia.com/Welcome.html





Replying to Rage at the University of Oregon

8 02 2008

On February 7th, the Daily Emerald (independent student newspaper at the University of Oregon) ran the column “If you go to war only when you have to, it will be too late” by student columnist Deborah Bloom. The column reads as a relatively polite, though not terribly strong, statement of support for the Iraq war. A sample quote:

I think the imposition of democracy is necessary because our ideology, while not infallible, realizes the need for equality and recognizes the immorality of a murderous and aggressive military dictatorship.”

Sounds like a young, budding, political scientist. Comments? Let’s see…

Are you on drugs? Do you need a good fuck up the wazoo?”

“Go back to grazing with the other sheepocons, we Americans will get to fixing the problems your kind causes.”

“People like Deb’s parents graze off the misery, suffering and taxes of the American People, and get rich doing it. She is one evil bitch. Heh Deb, are you up for some waterboarding?”

Thanks for the contributions! Especially the threat of anal rape. My comments:

“Tim,

Democracy is not better for everbody? That sounds like you reject the concept of universal human rights, which formerly was considered a bulwark of the left.
You recommend Deborah take a class on Islam — I would gladly go through the Koran, Sira, and Hadith with you and Deborah, line by line. You may choose the translation we use.

Best,
David ”

And:

“Deborah,

Congratulations for thinking for yourself among what appears to be a rather vicious, uncompromising crowd with little interest in dialogue. I suggest calmly replying to those who treat you respectfully, and ignoring the others.

Best,
David”

I’ve already been referred to as being “evil to the core.”

 http://www.dailyemerald.com/home/index.cfm?event=displayArticleComments&ustory_id=b4266ac5-467e-4e9d-83cd-58a00a387c1b