Reporter Jose Antonio Vargas wrote a moving piece for the New York Times magazine about his status as an undocumented immigrant. One hope is that his story might improve the tone and substance of media coverage of immigration; Vargas has suggested as much, at one point tweeting this message: Undocumented Immigrant trending. So let's drop "Illegal" and "Alien." No person is illegal or an alien. His story has received a tremendous amount of media attention. But as Monica Novoa pointed out at ColorLines, too much coverage has dwelt on Vargas' "illegal" status: Vargas' story has drawn enormous media attention and […]
Last week, Washington Post reporter Dan Balz explained that Newt Gingrich was "an idea-spewing machine" and a "one-man think tank"–even warning that "a keen intellect can also translate into the appearance of intellectual superiority." Well OK. A few days in Balz's paper, readers learned that in a recent speech Gingrich called Barack Obama a "food stamp president." Which I think must be some wonky think tank rhetoric. Matthew Yglesias also noted that in the same appearance, Gingrich advocated a return to Jim Crow-era voting laws, saying: "But maybe we should also have a voting standard that says to vote, as […]
Newsweek's cover story this week is on the plight of college-educated white men aged 35-64. The magazine laments that "this hitherto privileged demo isn't just on its knees, it's flat on on its face." The subhead of the piece asks, "Can manhood survive the lost decade?" Now, I have much sympathy for all who are struggling with unemployment. But are middle-aged, college-educated white males flat on their face and worthy of a trend cover story? It's hard to square that with the piece's own admission that their jobless rate is just above 5 percent. Most demographic groups would give anything […]
The Sunday New York Times (4/17/11) ran a big front-page piece on John Tanton, founder of the anti-immigration organizations Federation for American Immigration Reform and Center for Immigration Studies. I guess it's positive that someone in corporate media is finally paying attention to Tanton's racism (long documented here at FAIR–1/1/93–and by groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center–Winter/08), and reporter Jason DeParle does include a good deal of damning information about Tanton and some of his own racist words. But he also manages to interview almost exclusively people currently or formerly affiliated with Tanton's groups (six of these people in […]
This Saturday I'll be on a panel at Left Forum titled "Racism and Resistance in the Immigration Debate," with former FAIR communications director Isabel Macdonald, Monica Novoa of Drop the I-Word, Sonia Guinansaca of the New York State Youth Leadership Council and Esther Kaplan of the Nation Institute, moderated by my former Paper Tiger colleague Denisse Andrade. Below is the description. I'll be talking about my recent article, "Time to 'Drop and Leave' Loaded Language," among other things. If you're in the New York area, stop by for what should be a very interesting conversation. Racist, dehumanizing terms such as […]
While defending Rep. Peter King's (R.-N.Y.) congressional hearings on domestic Muslim extremism, Bill O'Reilly (3/9/11) scoffed at the notion that the biggest domestic terror threats in the U.S. come from the "radical right" and not from homegrown Muslims. After playing a clip of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Mark Potok making that argument, O'Reilly responded: Are you kidding me? The radical right? The last terror act assigned to them was the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995. In reality, acts of political violence connected to the far right are a regular occurrence. To make his claim, O'Reilly even had to overlook […]
Today the New York Times reports that an arrest has been made in connection with an attempted bombing at the Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane, Washington. As we pointed out here, the case has generated relatively little media coverage–in contrast to attempted domestic terrorism attacks (or even alleged plots) connected to Muslims. The suspect is Kevin Harpham–as the Times points out, he is linked to a white supremacist group: Law enforcement officials would not say whether Mr. Harpham had links to extremist groups. But the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks such groups, said that its research showed […]
One of the big problems with recentcoverage of immigration was the portrayal of the state of Arizona as a remarkably violent place due to the flood of unauthorized immigrants.It was a stew of misinformation, and one of the most prevalent claims was that Phoenix was The Kidnapping Capital of the Country (and No. 2 inthe entire world). That story always looked a little shaky, as this ThinkProgress review pointed out (7/9/10). Now it looks like there could be more problems. A brief item in the New York Times today (3/4/11) reported that Phoenix's public safety managerwas suspended while an audit […]
The owner of the Washington Redskins football team, Dan Snyder, is suing the local City Paper for publishing an unflattering cover image of him–namely, a photo doctored to include devil horns. That imagewasaccompanied by an article about Snyder'sbusiness practices. Rob Capriccioso of Indian Country Today points out (2/1/11) thatthe suit alleges the cover art is "the type of imagery used historically, including in Nazi Germany, to dehumanize and vilify the Jewish people." And, well…. The claim comes as ironic to many observers since Native Americans have for over a decade been suing Snyder for his use of the Redskins name […]
As we approach the Monday holiday, we're hearinga Pentagon lawyer suggest that Martin Luther King would support the war in Afghanistan. That makes it an ideal time torecall a 1995 column by FAIR founder Jeff Cohen and longtime associate Norman Solomon (Media Beat, 1/4/95). The full column appearsbelow, and is archived here. The Martin Luther King You Don't See on TV by Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon It's become a TV ritual: Every year in mid-January, around the time of Martin Luther King's birthday, we get perfunctory network news reports about "the slain civil rights leader." The remarkable thing about […]
The Scott sisters (Gladys and Jamie) were serving doublelife sentences in a Mississippi state prison over the supposed role they played in an armed robbery that amounted to $11. At the end of 2010 their sentences were suspended by Governor Haley Barbour, provided that Jamie receive a kidney donation from her sister. The sisters' ordeal, as columnist Richard Prince wrote back in November,came tonationalattention thanks largely to a November 2008 piece in the Black Commentator by Nancy Lockhart, which then spread throughout black-oriented blogs andtalk radio, as well as the alternative media (Prince cites a piece by James Ridgewayof Mother […]
On Friday, Fox News anchor Trace Gallagher took a study that says there are 100,000 fewer Hispanics in Arizona than there were before the debate over the state's disputed anti-immigrant law, and reported it as 100,000 fewer "illegals." By conflating Hispanics with "illegals," Gallagher inadvertently illustrates the case made by opponents of the law.
I clicked on the Washington Post website on Sunday and saw this: We Overreact to Prejudice Instead of Airing It Out By Kathleen Parker Only someone who's pondered Barack Obama's "fullbloodedness" and Elena Kagan's distance from "mainstream" America (hint: She's Jewish, and from New York!) can do this. Parker also wrote a memorable column about Barack Obama being too "girly," then explained in a follow-up that, unlike African-Americans,she has the "luxury of seeing people without the lens of race." Kathleen Parker is indeed an expert in "airing out" prejudice.