It’s one thing to falsely accuse an organization of connections that haven’t been verified. It’s another thing altogether to claim that an organization isn’t what it is.
In the immediate wake of the Jan. 9 Tucson shooting — in which six people died and 13, including Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, were injured — Fox News ran with a document supposedly leaked from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security suggesting that the presumed shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, had ties to the white nationalist journal American Renaissance (AR).
That report turned out to be erroneous; the document didn’t come from DHS but the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center, a local law enforcement agency. The document’s contents, meant only for internal consumption, were speculative and, ultimately, almost certainly inaccurate. Fox News later had to refute its own scoop.
Right-wing propagandist extraordinaire Cliff Kincaid, principal of the ironically named Accuracy in Media website, quickly seized on Fox’s gaffe. But it wasn’t to criticize weak journalism or to refute the idea that Loughner might have been a racially motivated killer. It was to take up the American Renaissance banner.
“While American Renaissance is critical of government affirmative action programs and unrestricted immigration, there is no evidence of anti-Semitism, and there is no evidence that American Renaissance by any objective standard is a racist organization,” Kincaid wrote. “It does deal with racial issues. But so does the Congressional Black Caucus.”
It’s true that American Renaissance and its chief, Jared Taylor, are not anti-Semitic. In fact, a major internal dust-up in 2006 basically ended with Taylor denouncing anti-Semitism, if somewhat weakly. But not a racist organization? All it does is “deal with racial issues?”
American Renaissance and its parent organization, the New Century Foundation, have been on a singular, focused mission since Jared Taylor created them in the early 1990s: Proving the innate inferiority of non-white people.
“Never in the history of the world has a dominant people thrown open the gates to strangers, and poured its wealth out to aliens,” Taylor wrote in his magazine, under the pseudonym Thomas Jackson, in 1991. “All healthy people prefer the company of their own kind.” Blacks, Taylor has written, are "crime-prone," "dissipated," "pathological" and "deviant."
The passage of time did not ameliorate Taylor’s rhetoric; AR spent the ensuing two decades reiterating these themes, to the delight of white supremacists both domestic and international. In a 2005 American Renaissance essay, “Africa in our Midst: Lessons from Katrina,” Taylor concluded that "the barbaric behavior" of the city's black population after the hurricane revealed a key truth: “Blacks and whites are different. When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western civilization —any kind of civilization — disappears. And in a crisis, it disappears overnight.” The article is still featured on the front page of AR’s website.
Or consider this, from a July 2008 piece on AR’s website: “At its most basic, racial consciousness has as its goal the preservation of a certain people. Its aim is to rekindle among whites … an instinctive preference for their own people and culture, and a strong desire that they should prosper.”
Here’s how Merriam-Webster defines the word “racism”: “[A] belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” Here’s the Oxford dictionaries: “[T]he belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.” And American Heritage Dictionary: “The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.” Either Kincaid is operating with a dictionary created in a parallel universe, or his cognitive dissonance has shifted into overdrive.
The AR site also regularly publishes proponents of eugenics – the long-discredited pseudo-science of race breeding – and overt anti-black and anti-Latino racists. Virtually every mention of a social dynamic is accompanied by an overt or implicit explanation that race, and no other factor – such as economic class, unequal opportunity, history or any other – explains any observed disparities.
One is left to wonder what, in Kincaid’s assessment, would qualify any organization as racist, if American Renaissance is to be regarded as being as racially innocuous as the Congressional Black Caucus — which has never claimed that black people are superior to other races. More likely, what Kincaid’s view reveals is his own orientation: If racists seem benign to you, what does that make you?