Seattle civil rights organizations join chorus of opposition to media hate

Reclaim the Media:

Groups criticize Beck, Dobbs and other "Mad Haters" for misusing the media to spread hate, fear and lies

Civil rights organizations representing a broad range of Northwest communities came together this week to condemn hateful and deceptive messages which have become prevalent in the national media.

The joint statement comes on the eve of Fox News broadcaster Glenn Beck's visit to Washington State, during which he will receive the key to the City of Mt. Vernon in a widely criticized move by Mayor Bud Norris.

The complete statement is below, jointly released by (in alphabetical order): American Muslims of Puget Sound, Casa Latina, El Centro de la Raza, the NAACP (Seattle/King County chapter), the National Organization for Women (Seattle chapter), the Northwest Media Action Grassroots Network, One America, Reclaim the Media, Seattle Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Washington Bus and the Youth Media Institute.

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As civil rights organizations representing a diverse range of communities in Western Washington, we deplore and condemn the recent increase of extremist, often racially-charged rhetoric in the national media.

Commentators like Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh and others have used their national media platforms to stoke racial division and hatred. From his current position on the Fox News Network, Beck infamously claimed that the president himself is "a racist," with "a deep-seated hatred of white people and white culture." At CNN in 2006, Beck threatened American Muslims, suggesting that they might be placed in Internment camps.

On the same network, Lou Dobbs routinely promotes outlandish conspiracy theories about Latino immigrants--intended to promote nativist fear and hate. Dobbs has used his program to air the views of extremist organizations like the Minutemen and FAIR--designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Beck, Dobbs and Limbaugh have also railed against liberal policies (health care reform, environmental preservation, local media accountability) by comparing them with Nazi Germany, the Italian Fascists and Saddam Hussein. This rhetoric is profoundly at odds with the principles of our democracy, because it immediately discards the very hope of honest debate in favor of intimidation, falsity, and the cultivation of an "us versus them" mentality. It needlessly divides our communities, it steals our power to connect authentically as citizens and neighbors, and it represents the worst of our national political and moral vocabulary.

We are strong believers in free speech, and these men are entitled to their views, however extreme and however out of step with core American values. But hateful diatribes, hugely amplified by the nation's most powerful broadcasting corporations, cross a line when they lead to real-world hate crimes targeting vulnerable people and communities. Such speech silences other speech, and represents an active threat to justice and our democracy.

By stirring up racial animosity and by reviving the specter of McCarthyist red-baiting, Beck, Dobbs, Limbaugh and other extreme right media figures are now playing the role of "mad haters," turning American values upside down with their distorted media looking glass. We reject their "tea party" of misinformation, hatred and fearmongering.

article originally published at Reclaim the Media.

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey