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Five Revelations About The Culture Of Fox News From Andrea Tantaros’ Sexual Harassment Suit 

Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros filed a suit yesterday against Fox News and Roger Ailes, along with numerous other defendants, accusing the conservative network of operating “like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny.” The suit delves into the culture at the conservative news channel and the way it treats its employees, particularly women.

Here are five allegations raised from Tantaros’ court filings:

1.     The network’s executives ordered on-air talent not to defend anchor Megyn Kelly after she was attacked by Donald Trump:

Further, after Donald Trump attacked Megyn Kelly for allegedly treating him unfairly in an August 2015 Republican Presidential Debate, Fox News publicly backed Kelly in the dispute. However, Shine executed Ailes’s tactic of playing both sides of the fence by instructing all on-air talent that none of them should defend Kelly against Trump.

2.     Fox News has a yearly “trunk show” during which female employees are forced to dress and undress in front of other staff:

In addition, each year Fox News conducts a “trunk show” at which female on-air personalities pick out their wardrobe. Fox News’s “trunk show” requires its female employees, including Tantaros, to dress and undress in front of Fox News’s wardrobe personnel in the middle of a room without even the benefit of a curtain to act as a dressing room.

3.     Ailes, the network’s former chairman and CEO, was apparently obsessed with the sexual orientation of his employees, repeatedly and in separate meetings asking Tantaros:

“Is Greg Gutfeld gay?”;

“Is Dana [Perino] a lesbian?”

4.     Tantaros accuses former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (also a former Fox News contributor) of sexual harassment:

On or about August 18, 2015, former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown (“Brown”) appeared on Outnumbered. Brown made a number of sexually inappropriate comments to Tantaros on set, including, and in a suggestive manner, that Tantaros “would be fun to go to a nightclub with.” After the show was over, Brown snuck up behind Tantaros while she was purchasing lunch and put his hands on her lower waist. She immediately pulled back, telling Brown to “stop.” Tantaros then immediately met with Shine to complain, asking him to ensure that Brown would never be booked on the show again. Shine said that he would talk to Scott. Thereafter, Shine and Scott ignored Tantaros’s complaint, and continued to book Brown on Outnumbered.

5.     Fox News, according to the suit, operates a number of sock puppet accounts it uses to attack its own talent:

At or around this same time, there was a large increase in negative social media posts about Tantaros. On information and belief, Fox News was the source of these negative comments, by posting them on its numerous “sock puppet” accounts. A “sock puppet” is a fake identity created to promote or tarnish someone through blogs and social networking sites which appear to be independent. It has been widely reported that Fox News maintains a large number of “sock puppet” accounts. On information and belief, media relations was also shopping negative stories about Tantaros, and leaking baseless and harmful information about Tantaros to discredit her and cause reputational harm.

Is Donald Trump Roger Ailes’ Last Campaign?

The New York Times reported Tuesday that former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, who resigned  from the company after he was accused by multiple women of sexual harassment, “is advising Donald J. Trump as he begins to prepare for the all-important presidential debates this fall.”

While the Trump campaign denies the story, the fact that the current GOP nominee and the former network chief are in contact with each other is not in dispute. And to anyone who understands the career of Roger Ailes, there is also no doubt that he is chiming in with advice for his friend. 

Ailes received widespread criticism in 2002 after Bob Woodward wrote that he had sent President George W. Bush ''an important-looking confidential communication” advising him on the course of action to take in the wake of 9/11. This was widely considered to be out of bounds for head of a news network whose job it was to cover the president, but Ailes apparently couldn’t help himself.

This is likely because he didn’t leave politics by choice. While Ailes cultivates the myth of being a campaign Svengali, he was forced out of politics after his racially divisive tactics became toxic to his clients. After he helped defeat Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential campaign, creating the notorious “Revolving Door” ad, Ailes ran Rudy Giuliani’s first New York mayoral race in 1989. He lost that election and then lost again when he was a consultant for a 1990 Senate race in Illinois, where he smeared his candidate’s opponent as a “complete fraud” and a “weenie.” Campaigns and Elections Magazine wrote at the time that Ailes was “a problem because he’s become an issue in so many campaigns. In any campaign where he’s involved, the editorialists are quick to point out that it’s Ailes doing the mudslinging. [Illinois Senate Candidate] Lynn Martin definitely got hurt by it. He really became a distraction and a bit of an albatross.”

While Ailes was undoubtedly brilliant at the stagecraft of campaigns, preparing candidates for debates and media interviews is where he excelled. He prepped Ronald Reagan for his 1984 debate against Walter Mondale, setting up the president with his most memorable line from the evening, “I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” In 1988, he set the stage for a live interview with Dan Rather that helped clear George H.W. Bush’s path to victory.

Ailes’ advice to candidates he prepped—like Ailes himself—could be blunt and bigoted. He reportedly told Bush, “You can't wear a short sleeve shirt—you'll look like a f**king f**got.”

Given the reins of a campaign, Ailes would incorporate the same racially divisive tactics over and over again: for Nixon in 1968, Bush in 1988 and Rudy Giuliani in 1989, when he tried to win by stoking tensions between New York’s black and Jewish communities. Under Ailes’ leadership, Fox News has followed a similar pattern, consistently pushing the most racially divisive stories.

After his role in the losing 1990 Senate campaign in Illinois, even Ailes worried that his presence would sink Bush’s reelection effort. He left politics and produced a television show for Rush Limbaugh before heading to CNBC and eventually founding Fox News with Rupert Murdoch.

Trump’s campaign could offer Ailes one last chance to prove his mettle. The GOP nominee's embrace of racially divisive tactics is right out of Ailes’ 1968, 1988 and 1989 playbook: draw white voters to the polls by stoking racial fears and grievances. With Ailes’ dramatic flair and his talent for live television, it would only make sense for Donald Trump to turn to him for assistance.

But while Ailes' stink of defeat from the early 1990s might have worn off, the American electorate has significantly changed, leaving in doubt whether a strategy that is fully dependent on drawing out a certain segment of white voters could still lead to victory.

A Professional Obituary For Roger Ailes

Amid multiple accusations of sexual harassment, Roger Ailes is reportedly in talks to depart his position as chairman and CEO of Fox News. 

To those of us who observed Ailes from the outside, this comes as a shock, despite multiple reports that Rupert Murdoch and his sons wanted the network chief out. He was a skilled infighter who over the years had survived numerous internal fights against powerful foes in the News Corp/21st Century Fox universe.

Fox host Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment allegation brought about the end of his career. (It should be noted that accusations of sexual harassment have floated around Ailes for decades.)

The impact of this moment cannot be overstated. In 2010, at a meeting with progressive donors, I watched a very senior Democratic media consultant tell the audience, “Roger Ailes is a Republican operative with a news network. Give me $100 million and I can build the same thing.”

This was not true.

The operative underestimated the raw talent and ability Ailes brought to the task.

He didn't just create the behemoth of Fox News, running the network outside of Murdoch’s control. Ailes shaped the way we consumed cable news, sometimes at a granular level. The ubiquitous news crawl at the bottom of your television screen? That was a September 11, 2001, Fox News innovation.

Ponder this for a moment: What is the longest-running show on MSNBC?

Answer: Hardball.

It was Ailes who put the show and it’s host Chris Matthews on air when he ran America’s Talking, the precursor network to MSNBC.

In the early 1990s, Ailes built CNBC into the dominant business cable television network.

In the 1960s, Ailes rose from production assistant on the Mike Douglas Show to become its executive producer, as it bloomed from a local variety show to one of the most watched shows in America.

The Mike Douglas Show green room was where he met Richard Nixon and launched his political career.

It is this combination of talents that has led to the incredible power of Fox News and the damage Roger Ailes has wreaked on our country for nearly 50 years. His late friend Joe McGinniss, author of "Selling the President," a book about the 1968 campaign, said of Ailes in 2014: “From Richard Nixon to Rupert Murdoch, I think everyone he’s ever worked for has harmed this country in some way. I also think Fox News is an excrescence. And Roger knows that.”

Ailes’ most common tactic has been to use race as a weapon to divide the American people. In 1968 McGinniss himself quoted Ailes musing before a televised Nixon event, “You know what I’d like? As long as we’ve got this extra spot open. A good, mean, Wallaceite cab driver. Wouldn’t that be great? Some guy to sit there and say, ‘Alwright mac, what about these n**gers.’”

During George H.W. Bush’s 1988 campaign, he remarked to a reporter, “The only question is whether we depict Willie Horton with a knife in his hand or without it.”

And while denying he had anything to do with the infamous ad, Ailes’ testimony before the FECrevealed how he thinks about race and politics:

Q: Did the Bush committee have any policy about not using Mr. Horton's photograph?

A: I have no knowledge of that. I personally rejected the use of Mr. Horton in the advertisement.

Q: How is that?

A: A young researcher brought me a picture of him sometime and I tore it up and threw it in the wastebasket and said we’re not going to do that.

Q And why is that?

A: I knew the issue would backlash because of the liberal media.

Q: And what was that about?

A: When Republicans see Willie Horton they see a criminal, and when Democrats see Willie Horton they see a black.

Later, running Rudy Giuliani’s first mayoral campaign, he used similar tactics in an attempt to pit the black and Jewish communities of New York against each other.

During the Obama administration, Fox News never missed a chance to use minorities to scare its predominantly elderly, white audience. Bill O’Reilly mused openly on air that Rev. Jeremiah Write was Willie Horton “times a thousand.” As I’ve previously written, “That was the beginning of an almost endless list of divisive racial controversies stoked by Fox – Shirley Sherrod, the New Black Panther Party, and Glenn Beck’s statement that Obama was a racist. Each of these was designed specifically to scare white voters away from the President.”

Roger Ailes also represented the paranoid streak that infests the Right, from the Trump campaign to Glenn Beck. As I reported in the book I coauthored with David Brock, "The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned A Network Into A Propoganda Machine":

From the paranoid rants about the creeping threats of communism to odd comparisons between mainstream political leaders and Nazis, Glenn Beck gave voice to some of Ailes’s deepest fears about the Obama presidency. In October 2009, Obama adviser David Axelrod was interviewed during the First Draft of History conference, hosted by The Atlantic magazine. Addressing the polarization that was infecting political discourse, Axelrod mentioned a conversation he had once with a “significant figure on the right”—later revealed to be Roger Ailes—who tried to explain to him why conservatives were suspicious of the president.

Ailes told Axelrod he believed Obama wanted to form a national police force, based on a twenty-one-second clip from a speech where the president proposed a civilian force that would complement the military in providing humanitarian aid around the world. Axelrod quoted Ailes telling him, “You can understand why that has people very nervous. This has shades of Nazism.”

For the last three decades Roger Ailes has been a central force in our media. His departure from Fox News won’t change the network overnight, but the absence of Ailes will have an immeasurable impact, not just on Fox News but the entire media landscape.

Roger Ailes will go down in history as one of the most talented television producers ever, but his entire career has been an excrescence.

Right Wing Round-Up - 7/6/16

Perkins: Impeach Obama Over Trans Kids Using The Bathroom

As we have been noting throughout the day, Religious Right leaders have not been reacting well to reports that the Obama administration will direct schools to allow transgender students to use the restroom corresponding with their gender identity.

After claiming that the president is “sacrificing children to advance an evil agenda” and is intentionally causing “social chaos,” Perkins told Fox News’ Todd Starnes today that Congress should launch impeachment proceedings against the president in retaliation:

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins told me Congress must intervene to stop what he called an imperial president.

“If the president chooses to go forward with this outrageous order – then congress should begin impeachment proceedings,” he said.

Perkins said the decree should be “resisted with ever legal and moral instrument we have available to us in this country.”

“Every parent, every school board in America should absolutely refuse to sacrifice the safety of their children for the threat of taking away nine federal pennies that make up every educational dollar,” he said.

Starnes also quotes the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ronnie Floyd, who told him that the planned directive is “an outrageous attack on our Creator Himself, upon human sexuality and morality and a further advancement of the flagrant attack on religious freedom in our culture.”

Starnes added some thoughts of his own on the matter, comparing the transgender nondiscrimination directive to the challenges faced by executed anti-Nazi dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

The time has come for all Americans to stand up and defy this president's immoral agenda. If losing federal funding is the price we must pay to protect women and children – then so be it.

We will not betray what we know to be true for the government’s 30 pieces of silver.

The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer warned us about a time such as this. Not to speak is to speak, he once said. Not to act is to act.

Far too long American pulpits have remained silent on controversial cultural issues. Preachers don’t want to rock the boat. Parishioners don’t want to cause trouble. Far too long society has turned a blind eye as President Obama fundamentally transformed our nation.

But now the country stands at the edge of a great moral abyss. And we must ask ourselves -- do we defy the president and save the nation or do we keep the peace and sacrifice our children?

No, Juan Williams, The Culture Wars Are Not 'Done'

Fox News political analyst Juan Williams begins his latest column in The Hill by declaring, “Call in the dogs. Pack up the tent. Culture wars in American politics are done.”

According to Williams, Donald Trump’s triumph over the Republican field has defeated the Religious Right once and for all. If only it were so.

The real estate heir’s inability to clearly articulate policy positions and his acceptance by the GOP’s base should not be mistaken for surrender.

It demonstrates a stunning degree of tone deafness or perhaps a willful blindness that Williams would make the argument that the “culture wars” are dead in the immediate aftermath of North Carolina enacting HB2. Or in the aftermath of Tennessee’s state legislature passing a bill that would allow therapists to discriminate against patients based on their sexual orientation. (Thankfully the governor vetoed it.) Or Mississippi passing legislation that would allow businesses to deny services to LGBT individuals. Or Republican lawmakers in states across the country enacting an unprecedented number of anti-abortion laws.

Women’s access to birth control is still a matter of public debate and gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals can still face discrimination across wide swaths of our country in the workplace, in housing, and even when attempting to access basic services.

Perhaps Williams is ignorant of his own employer’s coverage of phony “War on Christmas” stories every holiday season.

Furthermore, claiming Donald Trump’s candidacy represents the end of the culture wars denies the basic premise of his campaign. His attacks on women, Muslims, immigrants and political correctness as a whole are part and parcel of the culture wars. Not to mention that in speech after speech he declares that if he is president “we are going to staring saying Merry Christmas again.” He says the Bible is his favorite book, a clear message to the Religious Right.

Donald Trump might be ok with Caitlyn Jenner using the women’s room — just as he claims his ban on travel into the United States by Muslims will not apply to the newly elected mayor of London — but that doesn’t mean his White House will be friendly to groups whose rights are under assault from conservatives.

The vast majority of his policies are simply a jumble of word salad punctuated with rambling non sequiturs about “winning” and “making America great again.” His pronouncements on abortion rights are incoherent and sometimes out of step with the Right, but he has nevertheless pledged to support anti-choice legislation and appoint judges who will seek to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Many of the generals who have led the culture war for decades are rallying to Trump’s cause. Phyllis Schlafly is actively calling on Christian leaders to support the presumptive Republican nominee, announcing, “there will be only two viable candidates to choose from this fall, only one of whom will safeguard our country against immigration — and Jesus will not be on the ballot.”

Other anti-abortion warriors are now endorsing Trump following the announcement that John Mashburn, a longtime ally of the movement as a Senate staffer, has joined his campaign as policy director.

“If elected, no doubt John Mashburn will serve you well as you fulfill your campaign promises to defund Planned Parenthood, advance and sign into law the popular Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and appoint Justices to the bench who will protect and defend the Constitution,” wrote Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser.

Far from surrendering, Donald Trump represents a new front in battles that have been waged for decades. A candidate who is more than happy to use racial and religious resentment to win the Republican nomination, and who leaves no doubt he would continue to do so in the White House, does not represent the end of the culture wars.

Fox News' Favorite Sheriff Will Speak To Radical Anti-Government Oath Keepers

David Clarke, the sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, and a favorite of Fox News and the right-wing media, will deliver the keynote address to a meeting of the New York chapter of the radical anti-government group Oath Keepers next month, according to an invitation on the group’s website.

Clarke’s association with the anti-government fringe is nothing new: In 2013, he accepted the “Constitutional Sheriff of the Year” award from the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, a group that believes that county sheriffs are the highest law enforcement officers in the country and have a duty to defy federal laws on issues like gun control and health care. At that event, he shared the stage with Oath Keepers head Stewart Rhodes and a number of other radical activists.

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Oath Keepers as “a fiercely antigovernment, militaristic group” summarizing the group’s philosophy like this:

The core idea of the group is that its members vow to forever support the oaths they took on joining law enforcement or the military to defend the Constitution. But just as central is the group’s list of 10 “Orders We Will Not Obey,” a compendium of much-feared but entirely imaginary threats from the government — orders, for instance, to force Americans into concentration camps, confiscate their guns, or cooperate with foreign troops in the United States. These supposed threats are, in fact, part of the central conspiracy theory advocated by the antigovernment “Patriot” movement of which the Oath Keepers is a part — the baseless claim that the federal government plans to impose martial law, seize Americans’ weapons, force those who resist into concentration camps, and, ultimately, push the country into a one-world socialistic government known as the “New World Order.” In 2013, the group took on a more aggressive stance, announcing the planned formation of “Citizen Preservation” militias meant to defend Americans against the New World Order.

Rhodes, the group’s founder, regularly turns to the far-right media to promote conspiracy theories about a coming civil war in which the federal government will use some combination of race war, Jade Helm 15gun lawsEboladeath campsBlack Lives Matter and radical Islamists to subdue an unarmed and unprepared population.

Speaking at a New York Oath Keepers event last year, Rhodes warned of a government plan to “cause chaos, and in the middle of all that chaos, spark a race war, and in the middle of that, unleash these ISIS cells that are now all over the country”:

At a gathering in Arizona last year, Rhodes said that Sen. John McCain “should be hung by the neck until dead” for being “a traitor to the Constitution.”

Clarke has been embraced by Fox News, and even by politicians like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, in part because of his fiery dismissal of critiques of the criminal justice system and in particular of the Black Lives Matter movement. They are seemingly willing to ignore Clarke’s association with an extremist fringe movement.

Scott Walker's Black Lives Matter Adviser Calls Movement 'Black Slime'

At the first Republican presidential debate last month, the Fox News moderators asked Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker about the Black Lives Matter movement. As we noted at the time, Walker’s answer seemed bland but contained a coded message for regular Fox News viewers : that he had discussed the issue “many times” with Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a frequent Fox News guest who specializes in denying racial disparities in the criminal justice system and in criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement.

Clarke took his criticism of Black Lives Matter to a new low this weekend when, as a guest on Fox News, he blamed the movement for the recent shooting of a sheriff’s deputy in Houston, saying, “I’m tired of hearing people call these people black activists, they’re not activists, this is black slime and it needs to be eradicated from the American society and the American culture.”

He urged viewers to push back “against this slime, this filth” and “these ugly people.”

Target's New Toy Policy Will 'Promote Transgenderism Among Children,' Warns Brian Brown Group

CitizenGo, the international citizen activism group for which the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown serves as a trustee, is joining the Right’s pile-on of Target for phasing out gender-specific signage in some of its kids’ departments, warning that the new policy will “promote transgenderism among children.”

In a petition circulated by CitizenGo’s US campaigns director, Josh Craddock, the group warns that Target, by removing signs like those distinguishing between “building sets” and “girls’ building sets,” has caved to pressure by “radical gender theorists” and “sexual radicals” who “want to erase distinctions between male and female, and promote transgenderism among children”:

But now, under pressure from radical gender theorists, Target decided to go "gender neutral" by removing "gender and signs and using gender indicators, especially as it relates to kids" from its stores. The sexual radicals who encouraged Target to reverse its policy ultimately want to erase distinctions between male and female, and promote transgenderism among children.

Faith2Action’s Janet Porter made a similar connection in promoting a boycott of the retail chain, claiming that the new policy is the result of “Bruce Jenner’s surgery… where he now pretends to be a woman full time.”

Franklin Graham led the Religious Right charge against Target earlier this week when he posted on Facebook that it is “not the gender-neutral people out there” who “made their stores strong”:

I think Target may be forgetting who has made their stores strong. It’s not gender-neutral people out there—it’s working American families, fathers and mothers with boys and girls they love. What’s next? Are they going to try to make people believe that pink or blue baby showers are politically incorrect? I have news for them and for everyone else—God created two different genders. Jesus said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female (Matthew 19:4). You can’t get any clearer than that. If you agree, share in the comments below—and let Target know what you think. Let them know that you are perfectly willing to shop where the genders God created are appreciated.

In an appearance on Fox News, Graham declared that “this whole gender-neutral business has gone too far,” accusing Target of “ignoring the millions of customers you have that are just hard-working families with children, and they’re not gender-neutral children, these are boys and girls, the way God made us.”

Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade, for his part, worried that the new Target policy would promote confusing among shoppers: “If you go to buy a gift for a boy who's nine or six or a girl who's nine or six, you want to be able to go to that section and pick out a toy they might want. Now you have to sit there and look at a blended area and wonder is this for a boy or is this for a girl?”

Scott Walker's Black Lives Matter Expert Wants Black Lives Matter To 'Shut Up'

Yesterday’s GOP presidential debate on Fox News, perhaps unsurprisingly, devoted less than a minute to the Black Lives Matter movement and its concerns. Fox’s Megyn Kelly directed exactly one question about the movement to one candidate, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who gave a bland answer about providing for better “training” for law enforcement officers.

But Walker’s answer contained one interesting tidbit, which he clearly knew would resonate with regular Fox News viewers. Walker referred in his answer to the advice of his “friend” Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, whom he noted had been a guest on Fox News:

Well, I think the most important thing we can do when it comes to policing — it's something you've had a guest on who's a friend of mine Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who's talked to me about this many times in the past — it's about training. It's about making sure that law enforcement professionals, not only in the way in to their positions but all the way through their time, have the proper training, particularly when it comes to the use of force. And that we protect and stand up and support those men and women who are doing their jobs in law enforcement. And for the very few that don't, that there are consequences to show that we treat everyone the same here in America.

Walker probably assumed that regular Fox viewers would recognize Clarke’s name, as the sheriff is a rising Tea Party star who makes frequent appearances on the conservative network to assure its viewers that the Black Lives Matter movement is wrong and that there are no racial disparities in policing.

In his Fox appearances, Clarke has said that he would have used “more force” against a group of black teenage girls who were tackled by police outside a swimming pool in Ohio, telling people who pointed out a racial component in the case to “shut up already”; blamed Sandra Bland for the way she was treated by the police; called a Ferguson, Missouri, plan to install a plaque memorializing Michael Brown an “appeasement” and a “disgrace”; derided criminal justice reform as an ineffective “social engineering experiment”; and declared that “the real issue in the country as it relates to crime” is “the disproportionate involvement by young black males.”

In response to the Black Lives Matter movement, Clarke offers a response made for Fox News:

"The real [problem] in the American ghetto, and it is not the American police officer, it is modern liberalism that has been a wrecking ball on the black community and the black family structure," Clarke said.

Clarke has taken his message to other conservative media outlets as well, insisting that Michael Brown“ chose thug life” so was “a coconspirator in his own demise” and claiming that President Obama is using controversies over police killings as part of a plot to “emasculate” law enforcement, “get rid of the Constitution” and implement a “socialist agenda.”

Clarke recently parlayed his conservative media stardom into his very own radio show on Glenn Beck’s The Blaze network, using one of his first programs to call for a revolution complete with “pitchforks and torches” in response to the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling. In a WorldNetDaily column, he wrote that the decision may have presented a “Lexington-Concord type moment.”

The Milwaukee County sheriff became a hero to the gun lobby when he urged his constituents to arm themselves rather than count on calling 911. He told conspiracy theorist Alex Jones that federal gun control laws could launch “the second coming of the American Revolution, the likes of which would make the first revolution pale by comparison.” And he used his speaking slot at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention this year to throw red meat to the crowd, including a call for the arrows on the Great Seal of the United States to be replaced with a semi-automatic rifle.

Walker clearly sees Clarke as an important ally: Earlier this summer, signed a pair of laws weakening Wisconsin’s gun regulations in Clarke’s office.

Fox And Its GOP Friends Stick With Offensive ‘Illegals’

At last night’s presidential debates hosted by Fox News, it was jarring to hear Fox personalities and Republican presidential candidates alike using the derogatory term “illegals” to refer to undocumented immigrants.

Fox and other conservative media outlets have rejected efforts — including Colorlines’ the Drop the I-Word campaign —  to stop using terms like “illegal immigrant” and “illegal alien.” Jose Antonio Vargas, a journalist who “came out” as an undocumented immigrant in 2011, started the following year to challenge media outlets’ use of the term “illegal immigrant.” In January, said its policy is to describe immigrants who are in the U.S. without authorization as “illegal immigrants,” but Fox News Latino reportedly does not use the term.

Last November, Fusion’s Felix Salmon published an overview of the policies various news organizations have adopted. Some, including the Associated Press, no longer use the term “illegal immigrant.” Some, like the New York Times, still do while encouraging reporters to also consider alternatives in a given context. Some find alternatives like “undocumented” or “unauthorized” to be confusing or bureaucratic.

But the sneering shorthand “illegals” is worse and there is a stronger consensus against its use — but not a universal one. In January, the Santa Barbara News-Press generated controversy, including vandalism of the paper’s building, when it used the term “illegals” in a headline. Fox ran a story about the vandalism with screen text declaring “Trouble with Illegals.”

A copyediting blog, commenting on the Santa Barbara controversy, declared it is no longer possible for journalists to “claim that the word illegal [used as a noun] can be neutral or objective.” Even the Wall Street Journal, whose stylebook says “illegal immigrant” is its preferred term, instructs, “Don’t use illegal or illegals as a noun.”

Despite having low expectations for Fox and the Republican candidates, it was striking to hear so many uses of “illegal” or “illegals” as a noun. Scanning through transcripts of the debates, I confirmed that Fox’s Bill Hemmer used the term twice in the also-rans debate, and Chris Wallace used it three times in the top ten debate. The term was also used by Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee, the latter in his sadly memorable formulation about “illegals, prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, all the people that are freeloading off the system now.”

This week, New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin wrote a follow-up piece to an article he published last month about immigration policy. In his new commentary, he reflects on feedback he received in opposition to his use of “illegal immigrant.” He says he will no longer use the term because it has become so widely regarded as pejorative.

Toobin says it is “clearly wrong” to use the term as a noun — to call someone “an illegal.” Former New York Times editor and columnist Bill Keller came to the same conclusion in late 2011, with help from readers and colleagues, after a column in which he had used “illegals” as shorthand for “illegal immigrants.”

Of course, given the state of the Republican Party on immigration, there were also plenty of uses of the term “amnesty” by candidates, including Jeb Bush making sure to qualify his support for a path to legal status for people now in the country —  “not amnesty” — and Ted Cruz, who slammed the other candidates for having supported “amnesty.” Bobby Jindal had another of the evening’s most memorable lines, declaring “immigration without assimilation is an invasion.” 

Right Wing Touts New Poll Pitting Religious Liberty Against LGBT Equality

Conservative media and Religious Right leaders and activists are touting a new poll that supposedly shows Americans “overwhelmingly” side with “religious liberty” over gay rights. The new poll, conducted by Fox News contributor Patrick Caddell, adopts right-wing framing that pits religious freedom and LGBT equality in conflict with each other. Even in that context, a majority agrees that both religious liberties and the rights of gays and lesbians are important, and that “there can be a common sense solution that both protects religious freedom and protects gay and lesbian couples from discrimination.”

Of course, religious liberty and LGBT equality can happily coexist, despite claims to the contrary from the Right, but anti-equality advocates touting the Caddell poll suggest that the “common sense solution” is a “truce” that would allow business owners to discriminate against gay people based on their religious beliefs. Anti-gay extremist Peter LaBarbera is arguing that the poll shows that people see a war on Christians coming out of the “homosexual activist movement” and he is urging Americans to push for repeal of existing “sexual orientation laws and gender identity laws.”

The Caddell poll, an online survey of 800 voters, asserts that more than two-thirds of Americans – 68% -- believe the government should not be able “to require by law a private citizen to provide a service or provide their private property for an event that is contrary to their religious beliefs.” More specifically, the poll claims that 82 percent of Americans supports the right of a photographer with religious objections to same-sex couples getting married to refuse to photograph a gay couple’s wedding.

Conservatives are complaining that the Caddell poll is being “ignored by the establishment media.” But there are some good reasons for that.

First, Caddell’s numbers are far out of line with other surveys that show Americans are uncomfortable with the can of worms that would be opened by allowing business owners to cite religion as a reason to opt out of laws that apply to everyone else.  In an article in the Atlantic in June, Robert Jones of Public Religion Research Institute writes:

By a margin of nearly two to one, Americans oppose allowing a small business owner to refuse products or services to gay and lesbian people, even if doing so violates their religious beliefs (60 percent oppose, 34 percent favor). Most religious groups oppose these exemptions; white evangelical Protestants are the only religious group with majority support for these exemptions, and even among this group, support is only a bare majority (51 percent).

PRRI has also reported that white evangelical Protestants were the only religious group that gives majority support – and then only 51 percent – to so called “religious freedom” laws designed to protect business owners and others who do not want to serve LGBT people or couples.

By contrast, 59% of white mainline Protestants, 63% of non-white Protestants, and 64% of Catholics oppose allowing small business owners to refuse service to gay and lesbian people on religious grounds, as do nearly three-quarters (73%) of religiously unaffiliated Americans.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll published in March of last year found that “nearly seven in 10 respondents say business should not be allowed to refuse service to gays,” even if that refusal if based on the owner’s religious beliefs.” And an earlier poll, a 2013 survey by Human Rights Campaign and Third Way, reported that when asked specifically about wedding-related services being provided by small businesses, “64% of voters were still opposed to new laws that would allow small businesses to deny wedding-related services based on their religious beliefs, compared to 31% in favor.”

Other polls show more of a split among Americans on the issue, but they too are far from the results Caddell reports. A Pew Research Center survey from last year found Americans about equally divided about whether businesses that provide wedding services should be allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples on religious grounds or whether they should be required to provide services. And an Associated Press-GfK poll from earlier this year found that while a slim majority of Americans said wedding-related businesses should be allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples, only 40 percent said businesses in general should be allowed to. 

Another reason journalists might view the poll with skepticism may be Caddell himself. Caddell is a Fox News regular who is useful to right-wingers by virtue of the fact that he describes himself as a Democratic strategist who helped get Jimmy Carter elected. But he has long since acted as an advocate for the Right by trashing the Democratic Party as the “tool” of special interests and saying “the left doesn’t care about ordinary people.”

Last year, on Sean Hannity’s show, Caddell denounced President Barack Obama as “a raging narcissist who has no grip on reality” and accused Republicans of not opposing him strongly enough. Caddell reportedly helped identify people to appear in an anti-Obama “documentary” distributed by the right-wing group Citizens United.

New York Magazine recently reported that Caddell has been speaking to Donald Trump “almost every day” about his campaign

Todd Starnes Calls On God To Send Hornets And Cicadas To Attack Obama

Fox News pundit Todd Starnes spoke at the Faith and Freedom Conference last Saturday in order to warn his Christian comrades that a war is coming. Starnes argued that if “our Founding Fathers” could see “these Republicans campaigning as culture war conservatives but governing as godless Democrats” they would “start another revolution.”

Standing before the audience to “sound a warning, an alarm,” Starnes claimed that “the American way of life is under attack” from an “active and aggressive war on religious liberty.” However, this war does not affect “the Jewish faith, or the Muslim faith, or the Hindu faith,” but instead is targeted only against “people of the Christian faith.”

As evidence for this war against Christianity, Starnes used the horror story of the upcoming Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of gay marriage bans. “Understand this,” Starnes commanded.

“This is not just about marriage; this is about whether or not a government can begin to put limitations on the conscience and the convictions of people of faith.” Christians, according to Starnes, are already facing “considerable adversity” as “our businesses, and our families, and our churches are in jeopardy.”

However, moral Christians should not be hopeless. Starnes finds hope for the salvation of America in the Old Testament’s Book of Exodus, in which God sent a “swarm of hornets to clear the battlefield” for an outnumbered Israelite army. This story, argued Starnes, should be the “battle prayer of every patriot saint:”

When the public schools tell students that our Founding Fathers were a bunch of terrorists: Send the hornets, Lord! Clear the field! When a teacher tells a little boy he can’t pray over his meal: Send the hornets, Lord! Clear that field! When the Pentagon tells them to take down a cross on a Christian chapel: Send those hornets! Clear the field! When the Supreme Court says they know better than God: Send the hornets, Lord! Clear the field!

And, when the president says that America is no longer just a Christian nation: Don’t send the hornets, Lord. Send the mosquitoes and the gnats, and the bumblebees and the lightning bugs and the cicadas! Send every critter you got, Lord! Clear the field!”

Sandy Rios 'Grieved To The Bone' That Gay Pundit May Destroy The Conservative Movement

Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, spoke to American Family Association’s Sandy Rios on her talk show “Sandy Rios in the Morning” this week about the danger of growing support for gay rights within the conservative movement.

Rios began the segment by discussing her concern regarding Guy Benson, a conservative commentator for the Salem Media Group-owned who recently came out as gay in a footnote to his new book, End of Discussion, coauthored by Mary Katharine Ham. Rios is not the only AFA affiliate to speak out against Benson, as American Family Radio’s Bryan Fischer also issued a statement calling for Benson’s replacement. Rios played a clip in which Megyn Kelly of Fox News tells Guy Benson on her show, “You are in a safe place here.”

Rios, who hired Benson to be the producer of her previous radio program, responded to Benson’s announcement by sharing that “when he came out last week it was a great shock to me, and very sad, very sad.” For Rios, “it’s not just a matter of Guy coming out; it’s that they’re coming out endorsing gay marriage. That’s not the main part of their book but it’s, it’s a huge part of their book. They’re both mainstream conservative voices.” Rios warned that “even though Guy smiles and is very sweet, I fear for the repercussions of this.”

“Guy Benson’s professed homosexuality is not a mere footnote, Sandy,” LaBarbera added. “And that’s the temptation of the new, I guess I’d call it soulless, conservatism.” LaBarbera explained that identifying as a gay Christian “makes no more sense, Sandy, than someone being a so-called porn-using Christian, or substitute any other sexual sin, and that doesn’t make a positive identity.”

“And yet,” bemoaned LaBarbera, “look what Megyn Kelly says. She says ‘you’re so brave.’ Why is it brave? You can tell there’s an approving tone when you watch the interview. It’s just bizarre that we’ve come to this point that somebody professes homosexuality and a quote ‘gay’ identity, which puts a really sort of nice face on it, is brave and that’s a sign of being honest, when actually it’s merely publicly embracing a sin.”

Rios, seemingly personally offended by Kelly’s “safe place” remark, responded, “Where did that, I mean, what could have been unsafe? I mean, Guy worked with me for years, and he’s still, he may not be happy with me discussing this publicly, but he would not be surprised, and certainly when he was working with me he was in a safe place. My love for him has not changed, but I am grieved to the bone, that he is, that this is an issue in his life.”

Rios added that she felt compelled to speak because, from her perspective, Benson’s coming out will have “detrimental, terribly detrimental effects on what it means to be a Christian conservative because it muddies the lines. And it’s also, if Salem does not care about this, Salem the Christian communications company, and if Heritage, who is fighting gay marriage, doesn’t care that they’re premiering a book that, you know, the authors, Mary Kathrine Ham has her own big following, are supportive of gay marriage, the lines are just being erased.”

Rios, still reeling from her grief, said, “Surely he must know that if the Supreme Court comes out and legalizes gay marriage all over the country people will be breaking the law if they oppose it in any way. So, uh, the normally clear-thinking guy is not thinking clearly, and neither is Megyn.”

“Yeah. I agree with you,” LaBarbera responded. “He also came out for nondiscrimination laws in the BuzzFeed article and those laws have been the basis for the persecution of people who oppose homosexuality.”

Comparing Benson with the “small number of openly homosexual people” who are against marriage equality, LaBarbera said that by embracing LGBT equality, Benson has joined a “radical” and “revolutionary” movement that “is all about normalizing homosexuality.”

“He says he’s standing on the shoulders of gay activists,” LaBarbera said, “and when I saw that I was like, ‘Well, which ones?’ Are you standing on the shoulders of the 1970s gay activists who scream in politicians’ faces? What about the homosexuals who will harass people, harass the psychologists to have them supposedly normalize homosexuality in the APA, the American Psychiatric Association, the direct-action homosexuals who use far-left techniques? I know he said he’s not with the far left, but, I mean Sandy, this is a movement that is all about normalizing homosexuality. That was a radical, a revolutionary goal. So which homosexual activist is Guy Benson standing on? That’s kind of troubling to me.”

Sandy Rios & Todd Starnes: Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Wife, The Radical Gay Left Is Indoctrinating Everyone, Everywhere

Sandy Rios, the American Family Association’s governmental affairs director and host of “Sandy Rios in the Morning,” spoke with Fox News pundit Todd Starnes at yesterday’s “Watchmen on the Wall” conference about the supposed danger posed by the gay rights movement.

Rios declared that the newest frontier of the gay left is the Girl Scouts, who have “initiated a new transgender policy where little boys who think they’re little girls can now be in Girl Scouts.” Starnes was equally concerned with this new nondiscrimination rule, observing that “the indoctrination” from the gay left “is in every single thing.”

“It’s in television, schools, the Scouts,” he said. “It’s in many churches now…it’s just non-stop.”

Striking fear in the hearts of parents everywhere, Rios warned, “if you are slow to catch up with this, please remember your kids are not safe in the places that they join: the clubs, the schools, the homes they visit. These are dangerous times and you’re going to have to really step up and guard your children.”

She added that she has started confronting Girl Scouts who are selling cookies to tell them “what Girl Scouting is all about now.”

“Your kids are not safe in the places that they join, the clubs, the schools, the homes they visit,” Rios added. “These are dangerous times and you are going to have to have to really step up and guard your children.”

Rios explained that the “ultimate goal” of the “radical gay left” is to “deconstruct the family” by breaking down “every barrier when it comes to that we have absolute sexual chaos.” This is an undisputed truth that “goes way back to Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto,” she said.

Starnes concluded that “when you look at the overwhelming evidence out there, there is something afoot. There is something going on in the public school system where there is some sort of radical indoctrination underway. And it’s not just in the big cities. We’re looking at something happening like this in Bentonville, Arkansas. Small towns, big towns, North, South, it’s happening all over.”  

Right Wing Round-Up – 2/13/15

  • Kyler Geoffrey @ Towleroad: AL Pastor Rails Against ‘Comedic’ Gay Marriages, Claims You’ll Be Able To Marry Roaches In 2016

Paranoia-Rama: Satan's 'Homosexual Agenda,' Obama’s Deadly Secrets And Sarah Palin 'Exposes' Fox News

RWW’s Paranoia-Rama takes a look at five of the week’s most absurd conspiracy theories from the Right.

According to the right-wing media, Sharia law is gaining a foothold in Michigan, President Obama is blocking the sale of miracle drugs and Satan is commanding the gay rights movement. But Sarah Palin has uncovered the most menacing threat to America of them all: criticism of Sarah Palin.

5) ‘Obama’s Deadly FDA Secret Could Kill You’

Emulating Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich, Fox News contributor and RedState founder Erick Erickson sells out his email list to questionable sponsors who prey on the conspiracy-minded and science-averse.

According to Media Matters, one email to Erickson’s list claimed that the federal government is suppressing a miracle cancer cure that healed Ronald Reagan. Another warned that President Obama and the FDA could kill “over 45 million Americans…including you” because they are refusing to release a “secret” cure to cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

But 45 million deaths is low compared to the potential toll of another “Obama scandal” that a RedState sponsored email warned could “wipe out 281 million Americans.”

4) Fox News Helping … Hillary?

At least according to Sarah Palin. Upset that Fox News host Bill O’Reilly mocked the prospect of Palin and fellow reality television star Donald Trump running for president as a “reality show,” Palin charged that O’Reilly is trying to undermine the conservative movement just as it prepares to take on Hillary Clinton.

Palin fumed that “quasi-right” media outlets like Fox News should wake up to the fact that “this is a war” against Clinton and should help the GOP unify and “surface the competitor who can take on Hillary or whomever it may be and win for this country.”

Palin made the rambling, self-pitying remarks , of course, on Fox News.

3) Sharia Law In Michigan

The preposterous right-wing conspiracy theory that the city of Dearborn, Michigan, is controlled by Sharia law has long been completely discredited, but that of course hasn’t stopped the Family Research Council’sTony Perkins and Jerry Boykin from promoting it.

Perkins recently spoke with Frank Gaffney, a fellow anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist, about the supposed rise of Sharia law in the U.S., and unsurprisingly, Gaffney joined in on the frenzy and referred to the city as “Dearbornistan.” He said the “Muslim-only” city of Dearborn has become a “ghetto” that is “too dangerous” to enter.

This might be news to the city’s residents, including one Army veteran who was able to find no shortage of stores selling haram goods like ham and liquor, along with a gentleman’s club, despite the claims of right-wing activists that the city is now imposing Sharia law.

2) Marriage Equality Turns Kids Into Government Property

A group of Catholic and Protestant leaders signed a statement this week warning that the legalization of same-sex marriage will lead “to the coercion and persecution of those who refuse to acknowledge the state’s redefinition of marriage, which is beyond the state’s competence.”

Signatories, including National Organization for Marriage founder Maggie Gallagher and prominent Proposition 8 supporter Rick Warren, warned that marriage equality for same-sex couples represents an even “graver threat” to society than divorce “because what is now given the name of marriage in law is a parody of marriage.”

By legalizing same-sex marriage, the statement reads, “a kind of alchemy is performed, not merely on the institution, but on human nature itself,” since same-sex marriage apparently “disregards the created order, threatens the common good and distorts the Gospel.” The statement even claims that marriage equality will turn children “in important legal respects, the property of the state.”

1) Gay Demonic Energy

American Family Radio host Bryan Fischer thinks that Satan makes people gay, so of course Fischer believes that Satan is also in command of the gay rights movement.

“I don’t think you will ever find a more directly demonic energy than when you deal with the homosexual agenda,” Fischer said this week. “They’re vicious. They are mean. You literally are staring into virtually the unvarnished energy of Satan himself when you come up against the forces that are pushing the homosexual agenda forward.”

Upset with the coverage of his comments, Fischer said that he feels bad for gay people, since they are “captives, prisoners of war” of Satan.

Putin Ally Builds New Orthodox News Network On Fox Model

Slate’s Joshua Keating is out with a profile of Konstantin Malofeev, the Russian oligarch who has become a full-time activist and benefactor to “traditional family” causes in Russia and Europe. Malofeev worked with the Illinois-based World Congress of Families to organize last month’s social conservative conference at the Kremlin. In fact, Malofeev sounds a lot like an American Religious Right leader when he argues that Christians are facing totalitarian persecution in the U.S. and western Europe:  

“Just as Christians in the West in Ronald Reagan’s time helped us against the evil of communism, we now have to return our debt to Christians who are suffering under totalitarianism in the West,” he says. “This so-called liberalism, tolerance, and freedom, these are just words, but behind them you can see the totalitarianism.” 

Asked for examples of this totalitarianism, he cites legal battles over U.S. businesses not providing flowers or cakes for gay weddings and the use of tear gas against anti-gay-marriage protesters in France. “We saw all of this in the 1920s in the Soviet Union. We know how it starts when the protection of minorities becomes the policy of the state,” he says. 

Keating’s profile makes it clear that Malofeev, currently under sanctions from the EU and Canada for allegedly financing Ukrainian rebels, has big ideas. He is monarchist who wants to see a return of the Czars and the reconstruction of the Russian empire. “We the Russian people are a divided nation, just as the Germans were after the Second World War,” he told Keating.

One of his Malofeev’s big ideas is a new Orthodox conservative television network modeled on the Fox News.  “We want to show the news in the way that Orthodox people, who are 70 to 80 percent of the population, see it.” The Orthodox Church has been a valuable ally for Russian strongman Vladimir Putin’s nationalist and anti-gay policies, and it seems likely that Malofeev’s openly propagandist channel will not meet the same fate as other independent news networks under Putin’s regime.  

The new network is just a YouTube channel for now, but Malofeev has hired as a producer enigmatic former Fox News employee Jack Hanick. We first encountered Hanick when he joined National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown last year at a Moscow roundtable organized by Malofeev and opined that “God called on” Russia” to “stand up for traditional values” where the rest of the world had failed.

Hanick was part of the planning committee for the World Congress of Families event although he said in a recent interview that he was there as a journalist, not an activist. (World Congress of Families dropped its official role in the event after Russia invaded Crimea, although top officials from the group remained involved in their personal capacities, and other Religious Right leaders like Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage were not deterred from attending.)

In an interview with the Russian website Colta earlier this month, Hanick voiced his support for a Russian law banning the “promotion of homosexuality” to minors and said that he had thought that gay rights organizations would also support the law. He also praised Fox News founder Roger Ailes for pioneering of unabashedly biased journalism, envisioning a world where journalists act as lawyers, presenting either side of a case and clearly stating their allegiances.  Ailes, he gushed, “changed television forever.”

Tony Perkins Uses Meriam Ibrahim To Promote Anti-Obama, Anti-Gay Agenda

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins has excitedly touted a big “get” for this week’s Values Voter Summit: Meriam Ibrahim, the Christian woman who was persecuted by the Sudanese government over charges of apostasy. Evangelicals in the U.S. were part of the international chorus of voices who worked to keep a spotlight on Ibrahim’s plight, and Ibrahim may wish to thank some of the activists who advocated for her freedom.

But Perkins and FRC have another agenda entirely: They have been using Ibrahim as a prop in their relentless, over-the-top attacks on the Obama administration — and their claims that Christians in America are themselves facing government persecution.

Ibrahim’s vividly compelling case — for being a Christian, she was shackled to a prison floor with one small child while pregnant, then gave birth in jail — drew worldwide attention. Ibrahim had a Muslim father but was raised by a Christian mother, and in 2011 she married a Catholic American, Daniel Wali.  She was arrested last September after being charged with apostasy — abandoning the Muslim faith — and for adultery given that the court didn’t recognize her marriage to a Christian.  This May she was sentenced to receive 100 lashes and be hanged.

An Amnesty International campaign on her behalf generated more than a million signatures. European leaders condemned her treatment and called for her release. In the U.S., religious and political leaders called for her freedom. A petition on the White House website pushed by Perkins and others gained more than 50,000 signatures.

On May 15, the White House condemned her sentence in a statement by National Security Council Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden, which urged the government of Sudan to respect Ibrahim’s religious freedom andto respect the fundamental freedoms and universal human rights of all its people.” The State Department also expressed concerns in May; Secretary of State John Kerry released a statement in June.

Ibrahim was freed on June 23, then re-arrested and detained briefly when she tried to leave the country. She was sheltered by the U.S. embassy for about a month until she was permitted to leave Sudan in late July. She is now living with her husband and children in New Hampshire.

Perkins has repeatedly used Ibrahim’s plight as a way to hammer the Obama administration. 

In late May, Perkins fumed:

While many international groups have taken up efforts to pressure the Sudanese government to release Meriam and her children, the Obama administration has said little, and done nothing.

Think about this: two innocent American children are imprisoned abroad as their life hangs in the balance. If President Obama will not act in a situation like this, what will he act upon? Does Obama care?

Fox News’ hosts got in on the act, even as its own website was contradicting those claims.  A May 31 Fox News story by Joshua Rhett Miller was headlined, “US 'fully engaged' in case of Sudanese woman sentenced to die for Christian faith.” It included a quote from the State Department:

Through the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, the White House and the State Department, we have communicated our strong concern at high levels of the Sudanese government about this case,” State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson wrote in an email. “We have heard from many, many Americans that they are deeply alarmed by [Ibrahim’s] plight. We have conveyed these views to the Government of Sudan.”

Yet the video at the top of that very story on the Fox News website featured Perkins saying the U.S. government was doing “so far, nothing that we can tell” other than condemning Ibrahim’s treatment. Megyn Kelly fumed that the State Department had “refused to say bupkis” about what the U.S. government was doing. If Perkins or Kelly were aware of the possibility that U.S. officials may have believed that quiet diplomacy would be more effective, they gave no hint of it.

Other conservatives piled on: On June 11, Nina Shea at the Hudson Institute wrote, “And, as Ibrahim looks toward an appeals court review of her case, President Obama and the U.S. State department have been silent about it.”

On June 12, FRC and Concerned Women for America held a rally in front of the White House. Perkins was joined by Obama-bashers Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Trent Franks. Perkins’ remarks were wildly inflammatory.  “There was a time when people of faith could sit down inside the White House and talk about these issues,” he said. Claiming that administration inaction was threatening the lives of Ibrahim’s children, Perkins said, “If this president is content with the blood of small children on his hands, then God help him.”

Perkins continued throughout the summer to complain that the Obama administration was doing nothing to help Ibrahim, even though he was told otherwise on his own radio show by a Republican congressman. On June 23, Perkins had Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., on his radio show to talk about the case. As Brian reported in RWW, Meadows undermined Perkins’ attacks on the administration:

Asked if the State Department was working to help Ibrahim and her children, Meadows reported that the U.S. has in fact worked vigorously behind the scenes to free Ibrahim: “I got off of a call not more than an hour or so ago and a number of agencies across the board are working hand-in-glove to make sure that this is handled quickly and efficiently. And I am heartened by what I heard on that phone call and really encouraged that this is a government that cares about people. Sometimes I wish they would speak up louder and quicker, but I can tell you behind the scenes a number of agencies are working to make sure that they are safe.”

In July, Perkins testified about the case at a congressional subcommittee hearing. One of his fellow panelists, Grover Rees, who served as a U.S. ambassador during the George W. Bush presidency, said that even though Ibrahim’s husband had said he was rebuffed by a U.S. consular officer when he sought help, Rees believed that government agencies were doing what they could. Rees said that “the State Department seems to be making amends, supplying appropriate attention and care.”

Perkins has even kept up the Obama-bashing rhetoric since Ibrahim’s release and safe passage to the U.S. In August, Perkins cited the case as a reason people think Obama is a Muslim.

Perkins isn’t alone. In August, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer allied himself with ISIS’s characterization of Iraq’s Yazidi minority and griped, “Obama will fight for Satan-worshipers but not for Christians!”

ISIS has been beheading Christian children and crucifying Christians by the side of the road. Christians for months have been fleeing Iraq in droves ahead of the murderous hordes of Al Qaeda. And Obama yawns.

When Christian wife and mother Meriam Ibrahim is imprisoned in Sudan for being a Christian, and forced to give birth in a filthy jail cell while shackled to the wall, Obama yawns. While Christian pastor and American citizen Saeed Abedini languishes in the hellhole of an Iranian prison, Obama yawns.

But when worshipers of Lucifer get in trouble at the hands of the same blood-thirsty savages, suddenly Obama springs into action.

What this reveals about the president’s religious sympathies I will leave for others to decide. But it can’t be good.

Real Persecution vs the Religious Right’s Persecution Complex

We have previously suggested that American religious conservatives should be ashamed of equating their policy disagreements or losses in legal disputes with the kind of brutal religious persecution experienced by Meriam Ibrahim and so many Christians and other religious minorities around the globe. But Perkins and others have been happy to use her case to promote their narrative that Christianity in the U.S. is on the verge of being criminalized.

Advocates for LGBT equality are often portrayed as persecutors of Christians, as in Perkins’ statement in June that he was wondering, “When are they going to start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians?” As part of FRC’s announcement that Ibrahim would be speaking at the Values Voter Summit, Perkins said: 

"Meriam's bold stand for Jesus Christ as she faced death has touched the hearts of people in every nation. Her incredible example of courage should inspire Christians in America to be bold and courageous in their faith as we witness growing religious hostility here in our country.”

At a July 23 hearing by the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, Perkins said:

“It is difficult to look at these facts [about Ibrahim’s case] and not understand then in the light of the current administration’s unilateral reinterpretation of religious freedom domestically. This administration believes religious beliefs should be quarantined to private spaces and excluded from the public space. This truncated view of religious freedom domestically, more accurately described as the freedom of worship, is matched by the administration’s failure to even address the growing threats to religious freedom internationally.”

In August, Dusty Gates, who works for the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, wrote in Crisis magazine that liberals were uncomfortable supporting Ibrahim because they don’t support religious freedom in the U.S.

Naturally, this victory for freedom (liber) is being celebrated, at least to some degree, by liberals of all kinds. A human being freed from oppression, especially from such extreme persecution as Ibrahim faced, seems to be a grand slam for the liberal cause. But with the Ibrahim case, as well as the larger situation of global anti-Christian persecution, is causing liberals to sweat a little. Just as they stand up to cheer, it seems that their impending jubilation is cut short; subdued by a palpable fear that maybe they shouldn’t be celebrating the thing they want to celebrate. “A victory for freedom? Hoora… Oh wait, for religious freedom? Uh oh….”

Gates even slammed the welcome given Ibrahim by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, saying the Nutter’s comparison of Ibrahim to Rosa Parks rather than to other religious martyrs was “a subtle attempt to hijack Ibrahim’s story: taking it out of its full context and using it as a vehicle for the liberal agenda.”

In June, Christian author Benjamin Corey called out right-wing claims of religious persecution in the United States:

Meanwhile in the United States, we’re going about our daily lives panicking with cries of religious persecution as well…although, they’re not the cries one would think. Instead of a collective focus on wide-spread human rights abuses and religious persecution in places like Sudan, North Korea where an estimated 33,000 Christians have been incarcerated in prison camps, or the estimated thousands who actually die for their religious faith each year, we’re focused on a first world version of persecution that’s not really persecution at all.

When A&E temporarily made the decision to disassociate with Phil from Duck Dynasty over anti-gay comments he made in the media, it was labeled as “persecution”.

When public business owners in the baking industry have insisted on the right to discriminate and faced just accountability, it becomes another example of “persecution”.

We even have potential presidential candidates perpetuating such a persecution complex, with figures like Rick Santorum falsely stating that people who oppose same sex marriage are being sent to re-education camps.

With all of the legitimate and horrifying human rights violations occurring in the world, some in America have sadly adopted a very first world, privileged, and self-centered version of persecution. Instead of doubling efforts to shed light on international abuses, we’ve seen a flood of first world persecution claims– from internet trolls right up to the right wing members of government.

…Let’s reserve the “persecution” word for the real thing– such as what we saw in the case of Meriam Ibrahim.

Using Ibrahim to Attack LGBT Human Rights

Perkins has also used Meriam Ibrahim’s case to promote his attacks on the Obama administration’s advocacy for the human rights of LGBT people who face brutal persecution in many countries. In June, he wrote,

President Obama, who can't find a few minutes to call for Meriam Ibrahim's release from a Sudanese prison, had plenty of time to fly to New York and fundraise for homosexual activists.

In a late August direct mail piece, Perkins complained angrily about the “utterly shocking” fact that the rainbow flag was flown over the US embassy in Israel during a gay pride celebration.

“This would be outrageous enough all by itself—but the reality of the big picture is more frightening by far. The global Obama crusade for gay rights is happening against a backdrop of the total collapse of his real foreign policy responsibilities. We are witnessing an unprecedented level of anti-Christian persecution around the world, a colossal, international, multifront assault on religious freedom. Yet in response to these atrocities, the administration has remained all but silent….This administration is pressuring other nations to adopt Barack Obama’s radical gay agenda—but not to observe the most basic universal human right of religious freedom.”

The rest of Perkins’ letter goes back and forth between portraying the administration as fixated on gay rights and unconcerned about persecuted Christians. “We had no choice but to stand up for Meriam — because the Obama administration wouldn’t, and didn’t.”

“I urge you to stand with FRC Action again today as we fight back against the Obama administration’s outrages — their devotion to the cause of sexual immorality and their simultaneous indifference toward Christians suffering persecution for their faith.”

All the while Perkins portrays advocacy for the human rights of LGBT people — who certainly face brutal persecution in many parts of the world — as extremism.

When we see the rainbow flag of the homosexual movement flying over our embassies in Tel Aviv, London, and Prague, we can see with our own eyes what an extremist is sitting in the Oval Office.

Similar language appears in a September 6 fundraising email from Perkins, which says in part:

With President Obama promoting the homosexual movement around the world through the Obama administration, yet not working to prevent Christians from being persecuted, jailed, even tortured and killed for their faith, FRC Action’s work has grown more important than ever before.

As far as we can tell, Perkins and other Religious Right leaders haven’t raised much of a ruckus about the persecution of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi who faces 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes after being convicted of “insulting Islam” by calling for religious tolerance, or about the imprisonment in Indonesia of Alexander Aan for publicly declaring himself an atheist.

The Values Voter Summit

Meriam Ibrahim may consider an appearance at the extremism-heavy Values Voter Summit as an opportunity to thank the thousands of Americans who advocated on her behalf while she was suffering in a Sudanese prison cell, and to celebrate the freedom of religion that she and her family enjoy in America.

Unfortunately, her attendance at the Values Voter Summit will put her in the company of people like the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, who argues that the First Amendment does not protect religious minorities in the U.S., and the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, who argues that Christians whose beliefs on the equality of LGBT people differ from his do not deserve “true religion freedom.” And it will include many activists, like the Benham Brothers, who cry anti-Christian persecution despite their own record of working to restrict the religious and political freedoms of others.

Americans of every political and religious stripe can admire Ibrahim’s exceptional strength and courage in the face of real persecution. The same cannot be said for those who are trying to exploit her moral authority to advance their own political agendas.

Todd Starnes Says LGBT Activists Will Demand Christians Be Deported; Religious Right Got There First

Fox News pundit Todd Starnes joins the parade of right-wing outrage about the Home & Garden Television Network pulling the plug on a show featuring David and Jason Benham after Right Wing Watch reported on David’s anti-gay activism.  Starnes posted a story about HGTV’s decision, then promoted it with a tweet that said,

Hmm, you mean the way Family Research Council spokesman Peter Sprigg said in 2008 that he would like to export homosexuals from the U.S. because homosexuality is destructive to society?  Sprigg apologized for using language that “did not communicate respect for the essential dignity of every human being as a person created in the image of God.” But since then he has said that gay sex should be criminalized.

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