It must be July, because Fox News is once again hyperventilating over a racially charged non-story. One year ago, it was Glenn Beck’s crusade against Van Jones, the White House environmental advisor who, the host charged, day after day and against all available evidence, was a black nationalist using green jobs as a form of “stealth reparations.”
One year later, the channel’s marquee hosts and anchors are tag-teaming a new fear-mongering race fantasy — the idea that the New Black Panther Party, with the assistance of the Obama Administration, is currently hanging its black militant fangs directly over the arteries of the republic.
On nearly 100 occasions since June 30, Fox News anchors and hosts have breathlessly discussed the marginal group and the “scandal” of the Justice Department’s dismissal of a voter intimidation case filed against two of its members who were videotaped standing outside a Philadelphia poll station on Election Day 2008. (For more sober accounts of the events, read here and here and here.)
Nobody familiar with the Fox network’s long history of crude and transparent race-baiting should be surprised by the conclusion of Abigail Thernstrom, a conservative George W. Bush appointee on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. “This doesn’t have to do with the Black Panthers,” Thernstrom told Politico. “This has to do with their fantasies about how they could use this issue to topple the [Obama] administration.”
And what better way to do that than play sensationalized loops of militant-looking black men with zero political power or connections to the White House?
We’ve seen this before. Here’s Glenn Beck announcing his fatwa against Van Jones, one year ago this week:
“[Obama's] new science czar, Van Jones, is a guy that was all caught up in the Rodney King trial and he was actually arrested. He was a radical communist. … He is still a black nationalist. He is also now your green job czar. … Your country is being hijacked. They are using things like green jobs as a front. In the context of Obama-style reparations, that's what they're doing. [Jones] is yet another community organizer. This is yet another black nationalist in the same way that Reverend Jeremiah Wright is a black nationalist. … America, you need to wake up, because this country is being transformed. It is way beyond socialism. It is into black nationalism.”
None of which was true. But the campaign served its purpose.
By pounding this drum and inflaming existing (but mostly low-intensity) anxiety over the election of a black president, Beck and his FNC colleagues have steadily and deliberately helped create a new generation of hysterical, racially paranoid political activism across the country. Over the last couple of years, Hatewatch has chronicled this growth, which shows no sign of slowing down. Typical of the numerous examples of FNC-inspired literature that continues to pop up across the land is a flyer distributed for a meeting organized last week in Suches, Ga., by a self-styled “Patriot” named R. Keith Martin. Among the subjects discussed at Martin’s meeting were “Race-Based Tyranny” and “Our Black Imbroglio.”
“White racism is rare,” explains the flyer, “but black racism is raging.”
Of course, there is no evidence that this is true. Which raises the rhetorical question of where on earth Martin could possibly have gotten the idea.