Friday, January 30, 2015

Propaganda Aside, Keiko's Rescue Was NOT A Failure

Keiko in his Oregon pool in 1996


One of the abiding problems that the people organizing to end the captivity of killer whales face is the reality that our mainstream national media -- being mostly corporate entities themselves -- are eager to lap up the falsehood-laden propaganda put out by the marine parks. Even the supposedly non-corporate "independent" media lap it right up.

The marine-park industry's favorite retort whenever anyone wants to talk about returning wild-born captive orcas to their homes -- as many people are now doing about Lolita -- is to claim that the effort to return Keiko, the star of 'Free Willy', to the wild, only resulted in his death.

In fact, you can see Robert Rose, the curator of the Miami Seaquarium and the man responsible for the continued incarceration of Lolita, repeatedly making that claim to gullible TV reporters who were reporting on last week's "Miracle March for Lolita" in Miami:




And sure enough, when PBS reporters covered the story, the same sort of retort was brought up repeatedly by the marine-park defenders -- and yet no one from the anti-captivity side was given any airtime to explain that this was fundamentally false, a gross distortion of the Keiko story.





Instead, what we got was the marine park industry's side ONLY:

ROBERT ROSE: I mean, she’s gonna die, without question. They are going to take her out there and do exactly the same thing they did to Keiko which is to kill him.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Keiko was the iconic killer whale that starred in the movie “Free Willy”.

Keiko was released into the waters off Norway in 2002 but died alone a year later of pneumonia.
ROBERT ROSE: Unfortunately this didn’t have the Hollywood happy ending where Free Willy jumped over the wall and lives happily ever after.

And then, when viewers protested, the PBS ombudsman's office issued the following lame response:

It is also true Keiko, the iconic killer whale that starred in the movie “Free Willy,” also had time to acclimate to the wild.  A year after Keiko was fully released into the wild, Keiko died.  We understand there is a passionate debate around Keiko’s death and whether she was properly prepared for returning to the wild or if she died simply of natural causes.  In the future PBS NewsHour may have the opportunity to do an in-depth story about this important debate.

This is aggravating. PBS and its spokesperson betray their hapless ignorance in small ways and big.

Small: The spokeswoman here refers to Keiko as a "she."

Big: If the marine-park industry had had its way, Keiko never would have been moved out of Reino Aventura and almost certainly would have died there by 1996, perhaps 1997 at the latest. Period.

If you go back to 1994 and '95, when the "Free Keiko" campaign was just getting underway, it had been made painfully clear by the entire marine-park industry that Keiko was not going to be leaving Reino Aventura, the tiny, cramped Mexico City pool where he had been held since 1985, anytime soon. None of the other parks wanted him because of his papiloma-virus infection and his rapidly declining health. And they actively sabotaged an agreement between activists and Reino Aventura to place him in a seapen in Iceland.

Instead, the campaign successfully built a new pool for him in Oregon, bought him from Reino Aventura, and moved him there in January 1996. He was moved a little more than a year after that to the Iceland seapen.

And he wound up living a good life up until late 2003. So the campaign to free Keiko bought him more than seven more years of life.

And they were pretty damned good years, especially for a large male captive orca whose previous life had mainly been stuck inside tiny concrete pools. His pool in Oregon was the nicest orca pool in the world, and he regained his health there, losing the papiloma virus and gaining large amounts of weight. His Icelandic seapen was even better; he grew healthy and strong there, and relearned how to hunt on his own quite efficiently.

Keiko was functionally free beginning in the summer of 1999, allowed to roam at will out of his seapen, but returning voluntarily until that day in August 2002 when he hooked up with a pod of wild orcas and never came back, showing up in Norway instead and reestablishing contact with humans.

The Keiko experiment was not a failure except in reaching a final goal that the industry had a direct hand in ensuring was never reached -- namely, a positive identification of his familial pod so he could be reunited with them. What we learned from Keiko is that such identification is vital to a complete reintegration.

But in every other regard, this was a successful reintroduction to the wild. He learned to feed himself. He was independent. He clearly appeared to be healthy and happy, right up until just before he died. And the lung infection he died from may well have been contracted in captivity anyway.

I quote Paul Spong on this subject in my forthcoming book, Of Orcas and Men: What Killer Whales Can Teach Us. Here's what he says:

“My belief is that Keiko would have needed direct contact with members of his immediate family and community in order to fully integrate back into a life in the wild,” says Paul Spong. “That did not happen in Iceland, and it is very unlikely that it would have happened in Norway. However, this does not mean that it could not happen, given the appropriate circumstances. Had more been known about Keiko’s social background, it would have been far easier to put him in contact with members of his family. I do not believe he met his mother or any siblings or close cousins while he was swimming freely in Icelandic waters. He did meet and interact with other orcas, but they were not his kin, so he did not join them permanently. That said, Keiko did get to experience the feel and sounds of the ocean once again, after being surrounded by barren concrete walls for most of his life, and that, I believe, must have come as a profound relief to him. For me, the simple fact that Keiko died as a free whale spells success for the grand project that brought him home. Deniers will deny, spinners will spin, but they cannot erase or alter this truth.”

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Washington ‘Liberty Speaker’ Arrested for Attempting to Intervene in Traffic Violation Case

Wenatchee World photo
[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]

Gavin Seim, the self-described “liberty speaker” who organized last month’s “We Will Not Comply” rally in Olympia to protest a recently approved gun-control law in Washington state, was arrested earlier this month for disrupting court proceedings.

Seim, 29, an ardent proponent of far-right “Patriot” movement theories on constitutional law and a frequent critic of police behavior, was taken into custody along with his 59-year-old father, Grant, by Douglas County sheriff’s deputies on Jan. 15 after a group of about ten protesters disrupted the courtroom of Judge Judith L. McCauley in East Wenatchee.

The protesters were there to observe the proceedings in a traffic case involving Tavis Shasteen, 19, who had been cited in October after being briefly arrested for refusing to give his license information to a deputy who had pulled him over for speeding. Since, Seim had turned the case into an antigovernment cause celebre.

According to the Omak Chronicle, Seim attempted to represent Shasteen in the court proceeding, even though he is not a licensed attorney. Seim also protested loudly when McCauley told the spectators they would not be permitted to broadcast the proceedings online.

“Seim began yelling at the judge and walking toward her bench,” Sheriff Harvey Gjesdal said. McCauley “ordered him removed from the courtroom.”

Seim posted a couple of accounts of the arrest at his website. One, written by his brother Nathan, claimed he was “kidnapped from a courtroom” by the deputies. It also described how various fellow “patriots” in the courtroom stood up and attempted to block the deputies as they carried Gavin Seim out.

In the second account, a day after the arrest, Seim recounted his ordeal in jail, complaining about his treatment there. “Everyone locked in these walls is treated as subhuman, regardless of crime or guilt.
Understand that nothing about these halls had anything to do with justice. It’s a dark reflection of the tyrannical system we have allowed outside. It was quite an experience, being in there with my father and that part was a great comfort.”

He concluded: “This battle is the same one as the fight for our guns and our liberty.”

A month before the hearing, Seim had gone to the Douglas County Courthouse to assess the situation. While there, he encountered a court marshal who informed him he’d be required to abide by court rules while in McCauley’s court. This irked Seim a great deal, and he posted a video about it on YouTube two days before the hearing.



“There you go, folks, that is what you call contempt of the citizenry from a public servant,” he said to the camera as he departed. “He deserves no respect whatsoever. We need to stop giving respect to people who think that they are little rulers and kings over the people. They serve us, and it’s time to stop tolerating this foolishness from our servants.”

In the meantime, since being freed on bail, Seim has continued to harass state troopers using unmarked patrol cars, a cause he has frequently posted videos on YouTube about.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Onetime Antiwar, Environmental Protester Veers Into the Seamy World of Anti-Semitism

Ken O'Keefe

[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]


While most American-born activists who become involved in defending Palestinian rights avoid becoming overt anti-Semites even while steadfastly criticizing Israel, Kenneth O’Keefe is not one of them.

O’Keefe, a former Marine-turned-antiwar and anti-environmental activist who specializes in what he calls “direct action,” has morphed in recent years into a raving, David Duke-endorsing anti-Semite, particularly in the speeches he gives to well-known white-supremacist groups.

The most noteworthy of these was O’Keefe’s speech to the IONA London Forum, a gathering of academically oriented white supremacists and anti-Semites held last August. The speech was noteworthy for its crude ugliness: the 50-plus-minute-talk by O’Keefe revolved around the repeated phrase “fucking Jews.”



You know, I remember as a kid, the worst insult you could say to somebody — which I didn’t even know the origin of it, but we used to all use it — and it was no basis of any kind of discrimination, it was just this term — and it was Jew. In the worst way, fucking Jew. You know, you’re a fucking Jew, or something like that.

And you know, I never really thought about it. I didn’t have any Jewish friends as far as I knew, and yet I look back at it now and I realize it must be that there is some truth behind this, that it would be the ultimate insult, that’s somehow there’s this awareness without even being aware of the historical reality of Jewish impact on human history.”
That’s only the start of what was an epic emission of hate speech from O’Keefe at the forum. In the past, he has specialized in “straight talking” appearances before various groups, but now he has shaped them in the mold of a profane David Duke, the neo-Nazi and former Klan leader.

As his mainstream-seeming bio at Veterans Today explains, O’Keefe was a Gulf War veteran who first garnered attention in the 1990s by exposing the use of depleted uranium in that war.
O'Keefe (right) with Watson in 2000

O’Keefe also was involved for many years in fairly radical environmental causes, having hooked up in 1998 with Paul Watson and his Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, where he eventually became the organization’s regional director in Hawaii and led the group as it rescued sea turtles and spoke out against Navy sonar activities.

A turn in O’Keefe’s career occurred in May 2001, when he was aboard the Turkish ship M.V. Mavi Marmara when it attempted to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip and was subsequently boarded by Israeli commandos, resulting in the deaths of nine activists. Then, in 2003, he began leading delegations of peace activists who attempted to act as “human shields” to protest the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

In 2004, he burned his U.S. passport in an attempt to renounce his American citizenship — he was replacing his old documents with a “world passport,” he explained, and called himself a “Citizen of the World” with “ultimate allegiance to my entire human family and to planet Earth.” However, as O’Keefe’s Wikipedia page explains, the State Department has never recognized this renunciation, even though O’Keefe describes himself at his website now as the holder of “Irish, Hawaiian and Palestinian citizenship.”

O’Keefe became closely identified with the Palestinian cause, and even appeared as the keynote speaker at a fundraising dinner for the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund in 2012.

As it happened, that was the same year that O’Keefe began forming a close association with David Duke. The first signs of this came in August 2012 when O’Keefe defended Duke on his Facebook page, saying: “I had a lovely 2 hour conversation with David yesterday and as per usual, the slander and lies made about anyone who is truth telling is obvious.” A little later, in the comments on his Facebook page, he claimed that Duke no longer was a white supremacist (a false claim that Duke himself is fond of making).

Then, O’Keefe appeared on Duke’s radio show in February 2013, where the pair discussed, according to Duke’s description, “the Hollywoodism Conference in Tehran, Iran. It exposes the Zio control of Hollywood which not only promotes lies about the enemies of Jewish extremism, but literally poisons the hearts and minds of hundreds of millions of people in West and all over the world.”

Later that year, Duke’s website featured an exchange between O’Keefe and anti-Semitic saxophonist/“scholar” Gilad Atzmon, a self-described “self-hating ex-Jew” whose writings and pronouncements are rich in conspiracy theories, Holocaust trivialization and distortion, and open support of anti-Israeli terrorist groups.

O’Keefe also made an appearance on a Russia Today interview program in October 2013, where he declared that President Obama should be tried for treason and added that “this man is a dictator who has assigned himself the right to execute anyone.”

When he was introduced at the London gathering in August 2014, his host boasted that O’Keefe was “a friend of David Duke.” But even that couldn’t have prepared the audience for the profanity-laced rant against “the fucking Jews” that followed.

Notably, O’Keefe savagely disavowed his onetime involvement in the peace movement:
The mantra that I’ve gone by for many years now is TJP: truth, justice, peace. It’s pissed me off, the peace movement – what do you mean, “peace”? Fuck peace in this world. Fuck that shit, I’d rather die. I’d rather kill some of these bastards that are trying to destroy this world and take control of everything. Fuck you. I’d rather die. Peace without justice is not worth having, bottom line. Peace at the barrel of a gun is not fucking peace.
And he predicted that eventually the scenario would play out in mob violence and retribution:
I really feel that as long as we know the truth, the truth, an honest truth about what these people have done, then justice will play itself out quite naturally. We won’t really need to even manipulate it or set it up. It’ll happen. But we need to know the truth. And a lot of people are going to be hanging from lampposts or worse, I’m sure. I don’t doubt that for a second. All these people — they’ve got hell to pay.
O’Keefe described former Rep. Ron Paul, a frequent candidate for the presidency with a penchant for attracting extremists to his cause, as “an incredible exception” to the corruption of American politics, which he described as “a servile, disgusting, treasonous body of assholes who actually have sold the American nation down the river.”

“The rest of ‘em, almost without exception, are a bunch of fucking puppets, and they’re a disgrace. And they should be rounded up and arrested for fucking treason — forthwith.”

For adopting such extremist beliefs and espousing such hateful nonsense, O’Keefe and Atzmon have been heavily marginalized within the larger Palestinian-rights and antiwar communities.

Even before O’Keefe made his presence known on the extremist scene, a group of pro-Palestinian activists and writers published a letter denouncing the kind of anti-Semitism being peddled by Atzmon and his cohorts:
We reaffirm that there is no room in this historic and foundational analysis of our struggle for any attacks on our Jewish allies, Jews, or Judaism; nor denying the Holocaust; nor allying in any way shape or form with any conspiracy theories, far-right, orientalist, and racist arguments, associations and entities. Challenging Zionism, including the illegitimate power of institutions that support the oppression of Palestinians, and the illegitimate use of Jewish identities to protect and legitimize oppression, must never become an attack on Jewish identities, nor the demeaning and denial of Jewish histories in all their diversity.

Indeed, we regard any attempt to link and adopt antisemitic or racist language, even if it is within a self-described anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist politics, as reaffirming and legitimizing Zionism. In addition to its immorality, this language obscures the fundamental role of imperialism and colonialism in destroying our homeland, expelling its people, and sustaining the systems and ideologies of oppression, apartheid and occupation. It leaves one squarely outside true solidarity with Palestine and its people.
A similar group of Palestinian intellectuals and activists co-signed a lengthy statement denouncing Atzmon and his supporters, concluding: “At this historic junction — when the need to struggle for the liberation of Palestine is more vital than ever and the fault lines of capitalist empire are becoming more widely exposed — no anti-oppressive revolution can be built with ultra-right allies or upon foundations friendly to creeping fascism.”

For his part, O’Keefe dismisses these critics by labeling them “cultural Marxists” – a far-right concept regarding the sources of liberal politics that inspired Anders Behring Breivik to kill 77 people in Norway in July 2011.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Conspiracist Filmmaker, Family Found Dead In Murder-Suicide, Spurring Fresh Theories

David Crowley, taking target practice during filming for 'Gray State'
[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]

A Minnesota man who had been making an independent feature film depicting the coming imposition of a “New World Order” dictatorship in America was found dead with his family over the weekend. Police investigating the scene told reporters that the case appeared to be a murder-suicide, but the man’s conspiracist supporters have been claiming instead that he was murdered by the government.

David T. Crowley, 29, was found dead, along with his wife Komel, 28, and daughter Rani, 5, in their suburban Apple Valley home south of Minneapolis by a neighbor checking on the home. Investigators said it appeared that the bodies had been there for several weeks – probably since before Christmas – and deemed it a probable murder-suicide, with Crowley the apparent perpetrator.

However, in the conspiracy-theory industry in which Crowley operated his home-based filmmaking business, the deaths were immediately assumed to be assassinations carried out by nefarious “New World Order” agents.

At Alex Jones’ InfoWars site, the news story reporting on the deaths described the “suspicious circumstances surrounding the deaths,” namely, “the controversial nature of Crowley’s latest project, entitled Gray State, a highly-anticipated independent film envisioning a brutal police state, martial law crackdown, complete with biometric identification, a ubiquitous surveillance state and FEMA stormtroopers rounding dissidents up into camps.”

Indeed, a look at the trailer that Crowley had created for Gray State reveals it to be an attempt to mount on film nearly every fever-dream conspiracy theory about the New World Order of the past ten years:



Crowley successfully raised over $60,000 in 2012 in an Indiegogo campaign to make the film, and a number of scenes were filmed on sets with professional actors. These included scenes involving roundups and executions of American citizens, home surveillance, and forcing children to have chips implanted in their bodies.

Crowley’s project was enthusiastically supported by members of the antigovernment Patriot movement, where most of these conspiracy theories originate, and Crowley was interviewed by Alex Jones for his radio show. He also apparently was well connected to the far-right “Oath Keepers” movement, frequently posting their material on the film’s Facebook page.

In one Facebook photo posted in January 2014, Crowley can be seen conferring with Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and far-right pastor Chuck Baldwin, among others. Another Facebook photo meme lionizes “III Percent” movement founder Mike Vanderboegh. Posted in late November, that was one of Crowley’s last posts.

His neighbors told KARE-TV that they had not seen Crowley for several weeks, and finally grew suspicious as packages began to pile up on the family’s doorstep.




The neighbor who found the bodies told reporters that he remembered awakening one night in December to what sounded like gunshots, but then they stopped and he thought nothing more of it until checking on the Crowleys’ home. He said a dog had been apparently inside with the bodies.

Crowley was an Army veteran who had served in Iraq. At his LinkedIn profile, he explained: “After five years I had enough and left to pursue filmmaking.”

Crowley’s wife was a dietitian who ran a business called Mind Body Dietitian. She and her daughter Rani can be seen in a video that Crowley shot to promote a “documentary” he also planned in support of his feature film, to be titled Gray State: The Rise. The video shows him at home devising lighting for specific shots he had planned.





At the Facebook page for Gray State: The Rise, the person overseeing the site posted a notice about the deaths, saying: “Gray State founder, director and screenwriter David Crowley and his family have passed away. Please pray for their families and friends of which they had many.

“We will try and keep you all posted, but this page will go dark for awhile as the future of Gray State is uncertain.”

Stewart Rhodes chimed in, saying: “I was honored to know David, to see him work, and to help, in a small way, with this project. This is a great and tragic loss, and comes as such a shock.”

Crowley directing 'Gray State' on the set
Elsewhere, he added: “As others have already said, Gray State the movie needs to be made. I hope Mitch and others involved will see it finished, as a tribute to David and his family, and to complete his mission. Such a movie would be immensely powerful, and a potential game changer, which is why we are all so suspicious that there was external foul play involved in this tragedy. If the project is carried on, I pledge all assistance possible from Oath Keepers to see it made.”

Rhodes’ notes of suspicion were among some of the more restrained comments coming from the ranks of Crowley’s conspiracist cohort. One site’s headline on the case asked: “Who really murdered them?”

Commenters at the Gray State Facebook page were far more certain that the family had been “suicided” – a term popular with conspiracy theorists who believe that nefarious New World Order assassins frequently kill the people who try to expose them by staging their deaths and making it appear to be suicide.

“The Creator of Gray State was killed by our Gov't... watch the Concept trailer,” wrote one. “This will shine some light on what this movie was about and will have you know why he was murdered by our Gov't. Everyone knows except those who haven't seen this yet.”

“Saddened to [hear] that making a film is what it takes for the feds to come and murder your whole family!” wrote another.

“DEMAND JUSTICE FOR DAVID CROWLEY! We must not allow his good name to be soiled. He did not kill anyone, this was an assassination!” wrote one poster who was especially persistent in pursuing this claim. In another post, he wrote: “DAVID CROWLEY WAS ASSASSINATED!! No doubts. He is not part of a psyop but a real person, one of the major players behind exposing the horror of the upcoming police state.”

He then apparently set up a Facebook page dedicated to the concept. “David Crowley and his family were murdered by those who want to shut down the Gray State project,” it says. “Help expose what really happened and demand justice.”

One of his admirers posted a video of Crowley speaking at a “Ron Paul Festival” held in Tampa, Fla., in 2012, while he was raising funds for the film:




“This man did NOT kill himself. He was SUICIDED,” wrote the post’s author.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Why We Only Freak Out About Brown Terrorists -- And Why That Helps Terrorism Spread



I've been deeply struck this week by the extreme amount of attention being paid in the media to the horrific terrorist attacks on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Struck mainly because there is something strangely, and profoundly, disproportionate about it all.

In most regards, the coverage is warranted. Terrorism is an important subject, and in an ideal world, the more information we have about such a thing, the better informed we will be. Presumably, we would then be better situated to work together to form a response that actually would effectively defeat the terrorists, both in their specific purposes as well as in the way they generically spread the use of violence in the world as a "solution."

However, that is not what has been happening.

Instead, the intensity of the 24/7 cable news cycle glare has produced almost all heat and very little light. We're being inundated with what Jeremy Scahill calls the "the terrorism expert industrial complex," a whole cottage industry of neo-conservative ideologues posing as "terrorism experts" who pretend to be warning the public about a dire threat they face, but really are primarily engaged in whipping up xenophobic fears about Muslims, Arabs, and scary brown people in general.

This means we have gotten halfwits like Steve Emerson -- yes, the same man who brought us the short-lived media meme that the Oklahoma City bombing was committed by Middle Eastern terrorists -- going on Fox News and warning that the city of Birmingham had become "totally Muslim." You've got CNN anchors like Don Lemon grilling a Muslim lawyer and asking if he supports ISIS. You've got Jeannine Pirro getting on Fox and ranting that we need to find all radical Muslims and wipe them off the face of the earth.

What this means is that the terrorists, truly, are winning.

Fox's Shannon Bream made clear what the criteria for calling people terrorists actually is, when she asked:

If we know they were speaking unaccented French and they had ski masks on, do we even know what color they were, what the tone of their skin was? I mean, what if they didn't look like typical bad guys? As we define them when we think about terror groups.

Naturally, Fox News has been the worst. They have a whole Murderer's Row of Islamophobic "experts" who literally do nothing but whip up people's fear and loathing of all things Muslim. Their owner, Rupert Murdoch, thinks that all Muslims need to be held responsible for the terrorism. And the network's hosts have been leading the torchlight parade. But CNN and MSNBC have not been a great deal better. All of them, as Vox's Max Fisher observes, are mainstreaming a very toxic brand of Islamophobia on our television sets.

What particularly struck me this week was the wildly different response we saw, both in the media (whose response then was reflected by the growing hysteria of the public) and by politicians -- particularly conservatives from both sectors -- to the terrorist rampage in Norway on July 22, 2011, by the terrorist Anders Behring Breivik. 

Just to refresh your memories, Breivik's meticulously planned attacks killed 77 people and left 319 people injured, many of them quite seriously. The vast majority of his victims were children, murdered on an island camp that Breivik drove to after setting off bombs in downtown Oslo. The details, lest you have forgotten, were unbelievably horrifying:

When Breivik arrived on the island, he presented himself as a police officer who had come over for a routine check following the bombing in Oslo. He was met by Monica Bøsei, the camp leader and island hostess. Bøsei probably became suspicious and contacted Trond Berntsen, the security officer on the island, before Breivik killed them both. He then signalled and asked people to gather around him before pulling weapons and ammunition from a bag and indiscriminately firing his weapons, killing and wounding numerous people. He first shot people on the island and later started shooting at people who were trying to escape by swimming across the lake. Survivors on the island described a scene of terror. In one example, 21-year-old survivor Dana Barzingi described how several victims wounded by Breivik pretended to be dead to survive, but he later came back and shot them again. He did relent in his executions on some occasions: first, when an 11-year-old boy who had just lost his father (Trond Berntsen) during the shooting, stood up against him and said he was too young to die; and later, when a 22-year-old male begged for his life.


Some witnesses on the island were reported to have hidden in the undergrowth, and in lavatories, communicating by text message to avoid giving their positions away to the gunman. The mass shooting reportedly lasted for around an hour and a half, ending when a police special task force arrived and the gunman surrendered, despite having ammunition left, at 18:35. It is also reported that the shooter used hollow-point or frangible bullets which increase tissue damage. Breivik repeatedly shouted "You are going to die today, Marxists!"

That was perfectly in keeping with what we later learned about Breivik in the days immediately following the rampage. What motivated this terrorist act, in fact, was exactly the paranoid fear of radical Islamic takeover that now is gripping the American media: The thousand-page manifesto that he published before the rampage, in fact, called for a violent right wing revolution across Europe “before our major cities are completely demographically overwhelmed by Muslims.”

Chip Berlet wrote an incisive analysis of Breivik's manifesto, explaining:
Breivik thought Cultural Marxists=multiculturalists=Islamization of Europe. This racist right-wing conspiracy theory is tied to the Islamophobic "Demographic Winter" thesis. In his online posts, Breivik considered himself a cultural conservative and condemned "Cultural Marxism." The idea of "Cultural Marxism" on the political right is an antisemitic conspiracy theory claiming that a small group of Marxist Jews formed the Frankfurt School and set out to destroy Western Culture through a conspiracy to promote multiculturalism and collectivist economic theories.

As I noted at the time:
Breivik's work is largely a regurgitation of ideas and claims that have been circulating on the Right for a long time, including mainstream sources such as Fox News and Andrew Breitbart. There's nothing original here -- except that he, like Adkisson, simply takes the "logic" (as it were) of the cultural warriors he parrots and ratchets it up the next logical step into violent action.
Where could people like Breivik, and his American counterparts, learn about Cultural Marxism? Why, by watching Andrew Breitbart spew about it on Fox News with Sean Hannity, of course:



Indeed, one of the very people cited as an inspiration in his manifesto was none other than Steve Emerson -- along with a large raft of right-wing Islamaophobic pundits from the United States, notably Pam Geller and Richard Spencer, both of whom have leading the torchlight parade against Muslims after the Paris attacks.

That brings us back to the hours and days immediately after Breivik's rampage, when his identity was yet unknown. Sure enough, the leading lights of the "terrorism expert industrial complex" immediately pronounced the attacks the likely work of Islamic radicals.

One of the leading pundits in that charge was a right-wing "expert" named Will McCants, who posted online about it , after which the rest of the media (especially Fox) swung into action and declared the attacks the work of radical Islamists:



As I noted at the time:

It's also a sobering reminder that, while we've been obsessing nationally over the supposed threat of Islamist radicals -- embodied by Peter King's haplessly myopic hearings on domestic terrorism -- the reality remains that right-wing extremist terrorism remains the most potent domestic-terrorism threat in America as well. Indeed, the number of violent domestic-terrorism incidents has been steadily rising for the past two years, but the threat has gone largely ignored. Indeed, the Obama administration has kowtowed to right-wing complaints by gutting our own government's intelligence-gathering capacities in this area.

But of course, the media (and particularly right-wing pundits were having none of such talk. Here's Bill O'Reilly a few days after the attacks, denouncing anyone who might label Breivik a Christian:



Now, on Sunday, the "New York Times" headlined "As Horrors Emerged, Norway Charges Christian extremist". A number of other news organizations like the "LA Times" and Reuters also played up the Christian angle. But Breivik is not a Christian. That's impossible. No one believing in Jesus commits mass murder. The man might have called himself a Christian on the net, but he is certainly not of that faith.
Of course, not only did Breivik describe himself throughout his manifesto as a Christian, but claiming that he was not one is simply dishonest.

O'Reilly's attack, however, was part of the broader media response to Breivik: Playing down the significance of his ideological motivations, and refusing to examine the implications of those beliefs on our understanding of what constitutes terrorism. Instead, we got the same response we heard during the attacks on the prophetic DHS memorandum about right-wing extremists: They aren't a serious threat, and that's not terrorism!

O'REILLY: Sometimes I think the world is going mad. This Breivik guy is a loon, a mass murderer who apparently acted out of rank hatred. No government supported him. No self-proclaimed terror group like al Qaeda paid his bills. Breivik is just another loser who caused tremendous horror by murdering innocent people. There is no equivalency to jihad. No worldwide Breivik movement. Just another violent pathetic legacy stemming back to Cain.
Of course, it's worth recalling that just a few months before the attack, O'Reilly was castigating anyone for even believing that right-wing domestic terrorism was even any kind of serious problem. This is part of the growing tradition in the American media, and particularly conservatives, to whitewash such terrorism out of all our news narratives. It is a tradition that continues to this day.

Let's also recall the overall media and political response at the time: Breivik and his rampage disappeared from the news cycles within the week, nor was the story the subject of wall-to-wall coverage beyond the first day or so of the attack. The most intense coverage occurred on the first day, while the media still was running with the Islamist-attack narrative.

There was a memorial service for the victims of the bombings afterward. Only a handful of European leaders showed up to show their solidarity with the Norwegians. Benjamin Netanyahu was not there. The United States did not send a delegation of top-flight officials. And the conservative media and politicians did not jump all over him for the omission for it, either.

And yet here we are, three and a half years later, and the media can't find enough time to talk about the Paris attacks and report on every detail regarding them. And of course, it has been a launching pad for attacks from the right on everything Muslim.

More than a few critics have similarly noted the disparity in coverage between the Paris attacks and the horrifying terrorist attacks simultaneously occurring in Africa, which have produced more than 2,000 dead. It is a truly horrifying tale; many of the victims have been burned alive.

These questions need to be asked. Clearly, the inability of journalists to reach the scene of the violence in Nigeria is a contributing factor. But it's also clear that the color of the victims -- all of them being black Africans -- is also a factor, perhaps the decisive one. White people in the USA and Europe don't care as much because they cannot identify with the victims.

However, that was not the case in the Breivik murders: All of the victims were white people, many of them young and blonde and pretty, the kinds of victims that Fox News normally dwells upon ad nauseam.What the contrast there reveals is that white people are even more likely to avoid confronting terrorism when they are able to identify with its perpetrators.

And the hard reality is that right-wing extremism has been our most potent domestic threat for more than the past 20 years, and it not only remains that way, but it has intensified dramatically in recent years. 

As CNN's Peter Bergen noted this summer, the numbers lean heavily when it comes to the sources of domestic terrorism in this country:

In fact, since 9/11 extremists affiliated with a variety of far-right wing ideologies, including white supremacists, anti-abortion extremists and anti-government militants, have killed more people in the United States than have extremists motivated by al Qaeda's ideology. According to a count by the New America Foundation, right wing extremists have killed 34 people in the United States for political reasons since 9/11. (The total includes the latest shootings in Kansas, which are being classified as a hate crime).

By contrast,
terrorists motivated by al Qaeda's ideology have killed 21 people in the United States since 9/11. 

Much of the reason most Americans are not only unaware of this fact, but remain in deep denial about it, is that the media have failed utterly in their duty to report on this accurately and responsibly. Most of the many terrorist incidents that occur in the United States either go unreported altogether, or are treated as "isolated incidents" that only warrant one or two days' coverage, and frequently are relegated to the back pages of our newspapers and the brief mention at the bottom of our newscasts.

Who knows why the media have failed so badly -- but much of the blame lies with their own cowardice. My experience in trying to report on domestic terrorism over the years has been that, since I won a National Press Club Award for Distinguished Online Reporting for my work at MSNBC reporting on domestic terrorism back in 2000, every nearly media outlet that I have contacted about reporting on the subject since then has run away and hidden when it became clear that the stories would make this reality crystal clear. More than a few editors have suggested to me that even running such stories would bring them accusations of "liberal media bias" that they did not want to have to deal with.

And it has grossly distorted the shape and nature of our discourse about terrorism. Rather than including the understanding that radical white people also commit violent and fearful acts of terrorism in our discussion of the issue, the only form of terrorism that is seriously discussed is the kind involving brown people, preferably of Arab extraction. Those are the only people, in the public's mind, that qualify for the sobriquet of terrorist.

Yet if we understood terrorism not as a product of merely Islamic extremism, but more correctly of extremism itself -- and in recent years, right-wing extremism particularly -- we would have a better and firmer grip on how we go about defeating the phenomenon. For starters, we would be less likely to incorrectly identify terrorism with an ethnicity or a religion (brown Muslim people), and to correctly identify it with a toxic mindset (radical right-wing extremism).

Because, as anyone who has studied them understands, Islamic extremists are at their base far-right-wing fundamentalists. And they are very, very similar in their psychological orientation to white fundamentalists who join the Ku Klux Klan or neo-Nazis who join the Aryan Nations or white "libertarians" who become "sovereign citizens." They are identical in their thinking to people like the Family Research Council's Bryan Fischer, who sounded like your basic radical imam the other day when he suggested that the attack on Charlie Hebdo was God's punishment for the magazine's "blasphemy."

If we were to realize that reality, we might have a constructive dialogue about tackling terrorism at its root -- namely, in coming to terms with the extreme alienation that leads to radicalization, and what drives it, both at home and abroad.

But no. Instead, we are having conversations in Europe and America about how to deal with Muslims.

Consider, if you will, the motives of the Paris terrorists. As Juan Cole has explained

This horrific murder was not a pious protest against the defamation of a religious icon. It was an attempt to provoke European society into pogroms against French Muslims, at which point al-Qaeda recruitment would suddenly exhibit some successes instead of faltering in the face of lively Beur youth culture (French Arabs playfully call themselves by this anagram term deriving from wordplay involving scrambling of letters). Ironically, there are reports that one of the two policemen they killed was a Muslim.

And so far, the discourse in both Europe and America (more so here) has played right into their hands. So far the European revulsion at the terrorism has become translated into vicious attacks on Muslims and their institutions, including arson attacks on their mosques and a variety of hate crimes. As Cole has subsequently noted, there is a real danger that far-right extremist parties will make real political gains in various European governments as a response to the Paris violence.

The media have played a key role in inflaming these sentiments, and they have been unapologetic about trotting out the "experts" who rail against Islam and send people's irrational fears into orbit. Will McCants, the "expert" who originally identified the Breivik attacks as being likely caused by Muslim radicals, has been back to work, weighing in on the Paris attacks and warning everyone that these were probably representative of a much larger plot (connected, apparently to both Al Qaeda and ISIS, even though they are rival organizations) to begin massive terrorist attacks on Europe and America.

As Karen Finney has explained at Media Matters, this is an incredibly backwards and self-destructive response that plays right into the hands of the terrorists:
Academic research into the causes of terrorism directly contradicts the idea that multiculturalism is part of the problem, pointing instead to the powerful tool inclusion and engagement can be in preventing radicalization, increasing integration into a set of values and broader counterterrorism strategies. One such study, authored in 2010 by the Center for European Reform's Rem Korteweg and colleagues, examined the radicalization process and found that factors like racism and bigotry as well as economic factors like high unemployment "reinforce the sensation of disenfranchisement and contribute to radicalization. Extremist Islamism offers these people new meaning."

Another study examined the correlation between feeling excluded and support for or a "sympathetic" view of extremist Islam. Among the findings: young Muslims ages 18-25 in Montreal were less likely than their counterparts in Berlin and Copenhagen to feel excluded from society, and they were much less likely to identify with Islamic extremism. Results like these are why engagement and inclusion are among the strategies America's National Counterterrorism Center utilizes in preventing radicalization.

Eventually, you would think, the American media will have to wake up. It may take the horror and tragedy of another Anders Breivik, acting out on American soil, for them to do so.

But even then, I won't be holding my breath.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Birth, Death, and the Fate of the Southern Residents

The new calf J-50 rides behind the wake of her presumed mother, J-16

A shudder went down the collective spines of the Pacific Northwest's orca watchers when the news came in, back in early December, that the much-beloved female numbered J32, otherwise known as Rhapsody, had washed up on shore on the western coast of Vancouver Island. And as the details came in, the shudder became a feeling of deep dread.

After all, Rhapsody was only 18 years old -- just beginning the prime of her reproductive years. (Yes, orca lives are indeed very similar to human lives in both longevity and their natural cycles.) For a population of killer whales that is officially listed as endangered, and with only a handful of breeding-age females remaining, the loss of even a single such orca is devastating.

The only silver lining in the situation was the fact that she washed ashore: Orcas typically just sink to the bottom of the ocean when they die, and so human scientists rarely ever get to examine them. This would at least give us a chance to try to figure out what is killing the endangered Southern Residents.



The news became much worse still as examiners began performing the necropsy. Observers that summer had wondered if Rhapsody might be pregnant, since she sported a "bump" indicating a baby when she breached. Sure enough, she was bearing an infant that had died in utero.

The eventual details of the necropsy revealed that J32 had been dead for at least three days when her body washed up, and that the fetus inside her had been dead for even longer. The likely conclusion was that the fetus had died inside her, and that she had perished from infection after failing to successfully discharge it.

J32's death set off all kinds of alarms, both in the scientific community and in the general public in the Puget Sound region, which reveres the Southern Residents for being the awe-inspiring symbol of our environmental health that they are. It meant that the population had been reduced to 77 whales, very near the breaking point for long-term genetic viability. And a critical piece of the population's recovery had been lost.

As Ken Balcomb, the chief scientist at the Center for Whale Research, put it in a Seattle Times piece:

“The death of this particular whale for me shows that we’re at a point in history where we need to wake up to what we have to consider: ‘Do we want whales or not?’ ”

Balcomb explained further in the necropsy report: "I think we must restore abundant healthy prey resources ASAP if these whales are to have any chance of avoiding extinction. The critical point for their recovery may already have passed. I hope not, but it will soon pass if we do not take immediate action."

Balcomb noted that, with Rhapsody's passing, there are only about a dozen reproductively viable females remaining in this population, and "very little possible recruitment to this cohort within the next few years."

However, a few weeks later, news came that there had, indeed, been fresh potential "recruitment."

Just before New Year's Eve, a whale watching boat observed a new calf swimming with J16, aka Slick, and CWR researchers quickly confirmed the sighting. A few days later, it was confirmed that the new calf, now designated J50, in fact is a female.



All around, that is terrific news, and suggests once again that Nature is always able to bounce back if we give it a chance. But the fragility of the good news also underscores the generally tenuous state of the Southern Residents.

No one is sure whether any new calf will even survive its first year. Many orca young perish during their first few months because the entirety of their diet is their mother's milk. And orca females' milk is laden with all kinds of toxins -- heavy metals, PCBs, and other chemicals -- that they absorb through their frequently polluted diets. This is acutely true of female orcas' firstborn calves, because the milk they receive is often laden with years of toxic buildup. As a result, orca watchers will not even name a new calf beyond its numerical designation until its second year, when its chances for survival then rise dramatically.

Indeed, the most recent birth among the Southern Residents, a calf born in the L Pod designated L120, lived only seven weeks after its birth in the summer of 2014.

However, this is Slick's sixth calf (she is 43 years old now), and three of those calves have now survived and swim with her daily as part of her pod. So there is at least reasonable hope that this one will survive.

Still, there have been some ominous signs: Balcomb and his crew observed rake marks on the calf's dorsal fin, indicating that other orcas had been forced to pull her out of her mother's womb. There was even some concern that Slick might not be her real mother and had been "adopted" after the apparently difficult birth, possibly for one of Slick's daughters, J36.

However, Howard Garrett of the Orca Network tells me that those concerns have largely abated. "I'm pretty sure J16 is the mom," he said via email. "J50 has only been seen with J16, and never with J36 with J16 right there. All the behavior so far tells me it's J16."

The starkness of the situation involving the death of J32 while giving birth, and the fragile birth of J50, has brought the underlying issue front and center: The decline of the salmon runs upon which the orcas depend for their primary diet.

As a result, environmentalists in the region are gearing up to engage the fight for orca and salmon recovery on a broad series of fronts. One group, the Orca Recovery Citizens Alliance, wants to create a protected zone for the orcas that will require boats to go slowly in their vicinity, among other things.


But the key effort will entail restoring the Columbia River's runs of Chinook. As I've explained previously:

It's become increasingly obvious in recent years that one of the major obstacles facing the recovery of the Puget Sound's endangered killer whales has been the serious decline in their food supply -- primarily chinook salmon -- particularly in the winter months, when chinook are at their scarcest in these waters.

The orcas historically spend those months seeking prey primarily along the continental shelf of the Pacific Coast, ranging as far south as northern California and as far north as the Queen Charlotte Islands. And historically, their primary source of chinook along that range has been salmon from the Columbia River -- some 80-90 percent of salmon in that habitat used to originate from the Columbia.

However, those runs are now at about 1 percent of their historical levels. Of course, the bounty of salmon used to be so immense that there never was a food problem for the orcas before. Now, they're scraping to get by. And four dams on the Snake River (the largest and longest of the Columbia's tributaries) that have no fish ladders and turn the free-flowing river (an attribute necessary for fingerlings) into a long series of relatively stagnant reservoirs are probably the biggest single cause of the problem.

I was one of the first journalists to write about the connection between these dams and the orca recovery efforts, in a Seattle Weekly piece I wrote in 2006:

Historically, the largest single source of chinook in the Northwest's Pacific coastal waters during the winter and spring has been the Columbia River. The role that they could play in the orcas' health was underscored two years ago by a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife report on killer whales that observed, "Perhaps the single greatest change in food availability for resident killer whales since the late 1800s has been the decline of salmon in the Columbia River basin."
Already, early recovery efforts for the Columbia salmon runs -- involving the collection and barging of young salmon smolt making their way downstream around the dams -- have proven spectacularly successful. Last year a million Chinook made their way up the river -- a new record since counts began in the 1960s. This year, there were 2 million.

Scientists and activists, however, say this is only a drop in the bucket for the actual potential for recovery. The real gains will come, they argue, when those four Snake River dams come down.

That's why they are currently organizing to force Washington state's politicians to show some real political courage by doing the right thing: Take up the mantle of the orcas' recovery and take those dams down.

A recent piece by David Kirby in The Dodo examined the larger picture of dam removal as a key component of salmon and orca recovery. It's not just the Columbia, either.

Dams recently came down on the Elwha River on the Olympic Peninsula, and the speed with which salmon have been recovering their population there has been astonishing.

However, the Elwha is a relatively small river system with limited potential for salmon numbers once they recover. If Puget Sounders really wish to become serious about orca and salmon recovery, they need to examine the larger river systems pouring into Puget Sound and the Salish Sea, because that is where we will see real salmon abundance.

We're talking about rivers like the Skagit -- where dams that provide the city of Seattle with cheap power block one of the major tributaries, and where farmers occupy much of the key spawning grounds in the river delta -- and the Nisqually, where similar conditions conspire to keep salmon-recovery efforts still in the infant stages.

For now, activists are focusing their efforts on the Columbia, because that is the biggest fight with the greatest potential payoff for the salmon. But eventually, they will need to begin dealing with the fights in their own back yards as well.

If they do not, then the bad news for the fate of the Southern Residents will continue to roll in. And the good news will become scarce to the point of vanishing altogether.

P.S. One way you can help easily is to go sign this petition at Change.org:

Stand with us and support removing the four lower Snake River dams to save the Southern Resident Killer Whales from being dammed to extinction

David Duke Again Takes Advantage Of Media Airtime To Lie And Mislead



[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]

The recent scandal that erupted over Rep. Steve Scalise’s speaking appearance before David Duke’s white-supremacist organization, the European-American Union and Rights Organization (EURO), inevitably meant that mainstream media would be turning to Duke himself for answers to their questions. And indeed, Duke was interviewed on several media outlets early this month, on CNN and on Fox News.

And as usually occurs when Duke gets airtime, he parlayed the interview into an opportunity to propagandize and sell both his twisted worldview and his books. Most of all, Duke performed his specialty, which is to sell outright falsehoods and self-serving distortions.

Duke appeared first on CNN with Michael Smerconish for his weekly news-interview program on Jan. 3, then on Jan. 5 for an appearance on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” with Bill O’Reilly. On both programs, Duke attempted to make the familiar claim that he isn’t a white supremacist or a racist.

“I have never supported white supremacism,” Duke told Smerconish.

“I was never a white supremacist,” he told O’Reilly. “I’m not a white supremacist at all. In fact the European American Unity and Rights Group was in fact a chartered civil rights organization and I in fact in Louisiana legislature sponsored a bill that forbid racial discrimination and these programs called Affirmative Action which are racial discriminations.”

Duke has attempted to make similar claims over the years, assuring interviewers and audiences that the ideology he promotes is not about “hate” of minorities and Jews, but “love” of Caucasian people. But of course, both his leadership of various Ku Klux Klan factions during the 1970s and ‘80s was littered with clear pronouncements of hatred of blacks and other minorities, and his work today remains viciously anti-Semitic as well.

Here is just a sampling of the hatemongering in which Duke has indulged during his many years as an activist:

“What we really want to do is to be left alone. We don’t want Negroes around. We don’t need Negroes around. We’re not asking ­­ you know, we don’t want to have them, you know, for our culture. We simply want our own country and our own society. That’s in no way exploitive at all. We want our own society, our own nation….” ­–Duke, March 1985.

"[A] black…gets a job with a white-owned company. He is the only black at the firm. He works hard, but he’s fighting a losing battle against his genes.”–Duke editorial, “The Black Plague,” NAAWP News, Issue 32, 1985.

“White people don’t need a law against rape, but if you fill this room up with your normal black bucks, you would, because niggers are basically primitive animals. It’s really the Jew Marxists who see the nigger as their instrument, as their bullets, by which to destroy our society.”– The Sun (Wichita, KS), April 23, 1975.

“Increasingly independent black economic, cultural and political power gave Blacks more freedom to do what came natural to them. Divorced from White influence and culture, they reverted quickly to their genotype — increasingly typical of black societies around the world. Males exhibited exaggerated sexual aggression and promiscuity that led to the dissolution of the Black nuclear family in America. Females reverted to the age-old African model of maternal provisioning of children.”– Duke, 1998

“Our clear goal must be the advancement of the white race and separation of the white and black races. This goal must include freeing of the American media and government from subservient Jewish interests. The Jews are trying to destroy all other cultures…as a survival mechanism…the only Nazi country in the world is Israel.”– Duke 1998

“We are fighting for the preservation of our heritage, freedom and way of life in the United States and much of the Western World. Ultimately, we are working to secure the most important civil right of all, the right to preserve our kind of life. Massive immigration and low European American birthrates coupled with integration and racial intermarriage threatens the continued existence of our very genotype. We assert that we, as do all expressions of life on this planet, have the right to live and to have our children and our children’s children reflect both genetically and culturally our heritage.”– Duke, 2000.

Duke also emphasized to both Smerconish and O’Reilly that he now possessed a Ph.D., and had written a doctoral dissertation-cum-book exposing Communism (copies of which he made sure viewers of both programs saw). In reality, Duke’s degree came from a Ukrainian “diploma mill,” and was not in fact a doctoral degree. Moreover, his thesis is a blatant rip-off of the dubious academic work of Kevin McDonald, a well-known anti-Semitic psychology professor.

Duke was also somewhat misleading about why he was hiding out in Russia in 2001. In truth, he was evading American authorities at the time, because there was a warrant out for his arrest on wire-fraud charges for which he was eventually convicted in 2003.

He also grossly distorted the nature of his EURO organization in claiming that it was “dedicated to true civil rights and stopping the discrimination against people.” In reality, the organization has always served as font of propaganda for the “struggle against people of other colors and Jews,” and its media organs regularly produced articles about the looming “white genocide” and the depravity of other races and ethnicities, particularly Jews.

CNN viewers, of course, were treated to Duke’s version of an alternative reality. “The fact is I believe that every people has a right to work for their interest, to preserve their heritage, to — in fact, I believe every people on earth have that right,” he told Smerconish. “I believe that every nation and every people has the right to be free and independent.”

He defended Scalise along similar lines: “Of course, if he would have gone to an African-American advocacy group, who is concerned about African-Americans like the NAACP, Republicans, Democrats go to that, no problem. If he had gone to a Jewish advocacy group, even advocacy for a foreign country, which is Israel, and the interests of the Jewish people, no problem. But he came to a European organization, big problem. And don’t forget, he was an elected official. So what is America all about? Don’t we — aren’t we supposed to believe that if you’re an elected official, when you serve in Congress, you are representing all the people of your district. Not the people just who voted for, not the people you agree with. Aren’t you supposed to listen to people?”

In reality, ethnic advocacy groups such as the NAACP and the National Council of La Raza (which Duke also mentioned in attempting a similar line of argument with O’Reilly) are genuinely about advancing the interests of the ethnic groups they represent, and are not even remotely hate groups because they do not engage in demonizing and promoting false smears about people of other ethnicities. Nor do they engage in political agendas aimed at attacking the interests of other racial groups.

All of these groups are thus understood to be working well within the mainstream of American politics. So a politician who engages with such groups is indeed listening to a range of his or her constituents and is acting well within the mainstream.

However, that is not the case with any kind of hate group, who typically represent only a tiny bandwidth of any constituency and whose beliefs represent a vicious kind of extremism that the vast majority of Americans repudiate. Any politician who engages with them is not only displaying questionable judgment by coddling frequently violent extremists, but is in the process helping to legitimize them by lending them the credibility of their public office.

In David Duke’s eyes, this is a profound injustice. But as always, he knew who to blame: Jews. While pretending to agree with O’Reilly “we’re all in this together,” Duke told him: “You know what, the people that run the media they’re inflaming the African-Americans against European-Americans and they’re inflaming a sector of European-Americans and African-Americans but the truth is the real people who are repressing and hurting all of us are the big bankers which are robbing us blind like the Goldman-Sachs of the world.”

At that point, O’Reilly shut him down. But in case there was any doubt who he meant, Duke finished: “They are putting us in these wars for Israel. That is hurting all of America.”

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Seahawks Schadenfreude



Because I have been a Seahawks fan since 1976 -- the guys in the group house where I had a home in Moscow watched every game that inaugural season when I was a junior at the U of I and Seattle was only a six-hour thumb away -- I have been reveling in the past five seasons, particularly last year's championship.

It was five years ago this week that the Seahawks hired Pete Carroll as their head coach. Sunday they will play for the NFC Championship and the shot at a second straight Super Bowl.

I take nothing for granted -- having rooted for them all these many long and often miserable years preceding the Carroll Era -- but I have good reason to be confident going in. The Packers will be a worthy test. If the Hawks win, they will be ready to win it all.

It's been a remarkable feat. And it's especially fun to remember all the people who have been giving the Seahawks and their fans unbelievably bad advice along the way -- advice we have had the good sense to ignore.

In honor of Sunday's NFC title game, here is a look back at some spectacularly bad sports analysis that has been written at various times about these Seahawks -- kind of a Hall of Shame of Idiot Sportswriting, all of it Pete Carroll-related:

Pete Carroll Will Lose Credibility if He Goes to Seattle

Ted Green, L.A. Times

Excerpt: "Seattle is the Bermuda Triangle.  Once you leave here, Pete, you effectively disappear off the face of the sporting earth."

Analysis: This one is particularly noteworthy for all the classic California-style bashing of the Northwest and Seattle, "on the way to Alaska," blah blah blah. Suck on it, Ted, writing in a city so dysfunctional it doesn't even have an NFL team.

Carroll, NFL Still A Lousy Fit 

Jeffri Chadiha, ESPN

Excerpt: "Now that he's back in the NFL, Carroll will eventually discover that plenty has changed since he left more than a decade ago. The players have gotten bigger, faster, stronger and, yes, smarter. They're probably better at recognizing a coach who isn't ready to deal with all the challenges that come with leading grown men who make tons of money. And what Carroll hasn't realized yet is that he's still the type of guy who falls into that category."
Analysis: Hahahahahahahahaha.

2012 NFL Draft Grades: Ranking Teams That Failed on Draft Day

Donald Wood, Bleacher Report

Excerpt: "No. 1: Seattle Seahawks

"After one of the worst picks in the first round I can ever remember, the Seattle Seahawks didn't draft any positions of need or draft for the future.

"Pete Carroll is proving why he didn’t make it in the NFL the first time. Not only was Bruce Irvin a reach at No. 15, the Seahawks proved they were oblivious to their madness by celebrating their selection.

"As if the day wasn’t bad enough, Seattle selecting Russell Wilson, a QB that doesn’t fit their offense at all, was by far the worst move of the draft. With the two worst moves of the draft, Seattle is the only team that received an F on draft day."

Analysis: Not quite as grotesquely, hilariously wrong as the last two, but pretty close. Not only has Wilson become a superstar, but even Irvin has become a major contributor to the team's league-leading defense.

Icy Issue: Pete Carroll's Mistake Starting Russell Over Flynn

Joseph Fell, Cold Hard Football Facts

Excerpt: "But here's one take on Carroll you can take to the bank: his decision to name rookie Russell Wilson the starting quarterback ahead of Matt Flynn will prove Carroll’s worst move during his tenure as Seattle's head coach."

Analysis: Oh yeah. Wilson has proven nothing but a headache. For opposing teams. Meanwhile, we get to worry about Matt Flynn as the backup to Aaron Rodgers on Sunday. As in not.

The fun part comes in realizing that these guys never apologize or acknowledge their utter boneheadedness, nor do they ever look in the mirror and wonder if they're just carnival barkers writing crap that grabs people's attention instead of the journalists they pretend to be. No wonder Marshawn Lynch refuses to even talk to these clowns.

I'm thankful, though. I'm thankful. Thankful to have this team to root for on Sunday.

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