As recently discussed on Pickled Politics, last week Jon Stewart and The Daily Show brilliantly exposed the fact that the unnamed person Fox News had been repeatedly claiming was allegedly financing Park51/Cordoba House (aka the “Ground Zero Mosque”) and with implied ties to radical Islamist extremists was actually the Saudi Arabian Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, the second-largest shareholder of Fox News’s parent company News Corp and an individual closely affiliated with News Corp’s primary owner Rupert Murdoch himself. Fox News have subsequently completely dropped their stories about the shadowy “unnamed financier”, and are apparently also refusing to respond to post-Daily Show queries about the matter. Nevertheless, the issue raises the following questions:
· Why is Prince Al-Waheed continuing to work closely with an American news channel which is a) actively involved in pandering to negative stereotypes about Muslims en masse and b) is simultaneously playing an active role in damaging relations between the West (especially the United States) and Muslim populations overseas ?
· Why are Fox News violating the principles of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli, considering that the latter was signed in 1797 directly by the Founding Father & 2nd US president John Adams and ratified & unanimously approved by Congress, and explicitly states that “as the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion….it has in itself no character of enmity towards the laws, religion, or tranquillity of Musselmen [ie. Muslims]” ?
· Why are Fox News effectively promoting militant Wahhabism as the “default” version of Islam ?
· Why are Fox News persecuting Sufis, the Muslim group which is the most forcefully opposed to Islamist extremism (particularly militant Wahhabism) and whom both Al-Qaeda and the Taliban have a murderous level of hatred for ?
· In summary, why are Fox News effectively doing Al-Qaeda’s dirty work for them ?
Some further facts about Fox News have also subsequently come to light. Despite the channel’s claims of being “fair and balanced” and their repeated denials of any bias towards, or association with, any of the major American political parties, Fox News’s parent company, News Corp, has now been confirmed as making a $1 million donation to the Republican Party. This is actually the single largest donation by any corporation, and has a number of ramifications, as summarised in the extracts below:
The News Corporation, controlled by Rupert Murdoch, contributed $1 million to the Republican Governors Association this summer, the Bloomberg news service reported this week.
The donation makes News Corporation the Republican group’s single “biggest corporate donor,” according to Bloomberg.
….Some progressives seized on News Corporation’s contribution as evidence of bias. Media Matters for America, the liberal media monitoring organization, claimed that “this large corporate donation to the G.O.P. underscores News Corp.’s role as an appendage of the Republican Party.”
From Nathan Daschle, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association:
“By contributing $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, Fox has crossed a bright line. Fox can no longer pretend that it is a ‘fair and balanced’ news organization when Rupert Murdoch greenlights a million dollar contribution to defeat Democratic governors.
“Time and time again, Fox News has defended itself against accusations that it is nothing more than a tool of the Republican Party. We know now that the reality is so much worse: they’re bankrolling the GOP. FOX’s news division is ignoring the fact that its own parent company made a direct and unprecedented partisan contribution to defeat Democrats. This is hypocrisy at its worst, and is a sad day for all of us who believe that an independent and impartial media is vital to our democracy.
“Not only does this contribution severely compromise Fox’s news reporting, but it even breaks Fox’s own promise to its shareholders that it won’t give money to benefit officeholders.”
Glenn Beck rally in Washington
In other news related to Fox, one of the channel’s most controversial and well-known anchors, Glenn Beck, who had previously stressed the need to “follow the money” in order to expose Park51/Cordoba House’s financiers, until Jon Stewart’s own exposé revealed that the trail led back directly to Fox News, organised a “Tea Party”-affiliated rally in Washington on Saturday which allegedly drew approximately 300,000, predominantly white, attendees. Beck himself has subsequently claimed that 500,000 people turned up, although American networks such as CBS along with other media sources such as the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC and the Washington Post have given the lower estimate of 87,000. The Tea Party has included incredibly ignorant senior opponents of Park51 who believe that Muslims, specifically Al-Qaeda terrorists, worship a “monkey-god”, thereby conflating them with Hindu devotees of Hanuman. Sarah Palin, who was also present at the rally, has previously stated that she would consider Beck for her running mate if she decides to formally bid for the presidency.
Glenn Beck spoke from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech at the same location, although Beck claimed that the timing was purely a coincidence and that he was unaware of the anniversary when organising the event. Reverend Al Sharpton, who simultaneously held a counter-rally, has accused Beck of trying to hijack the civil rights movement; Beck, who has a lengthy history of using explicitly religious rhetoric and has a literal interpretation of such matters (as opposed to using such terminology in the purely metaphorical sense), has similarly been accused by some American Christian organisations of perverting the message of Jesus and attempting to hijack Christianity.
Nevertheless, Beck repeatedly made references to “God”, including the need for Americans to “turn back to God” and for God to be “restored to the centre of American life”, not to mention his remarks during his subsequent follow-up show on Fox News that “the message he feels he’s supposed to give the audience is get behind the shield of God”. The rally itself was ostensibly to promote “restoring integrity, truth and honour to America”, a somewhat ironic notion considering Fox News’s dubious track record in such matters.
Glenn Beck: Obama’s America is like “the damn Planet of the Apes“
Beck, who is known to suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and has described himself as a “borderline schizophrenic”, also has a very long track record indeed of using racially-charged rhetoric, and has openly accused US President Barack Obama of being a “racist” with a “deep-seated hatred of white people”; furthermore, during a rant on his Fox News show on 4th August 2010 while Obama’s picture was displayed on the large video monitor next to him, Beck openly described Obama’s America as being like ”the damn Planet of the Apes“.
Beck has even unapologetically promoted a viciously racist and anti-Semitic book written in 1934 by Elizabeth Dilling, a Nazi-sympathising American author and activist who described “un-Christianized” “colored people” as “savages,” called Hinduism and Islam “debasing and degrading”, claimed that the world’s Jewish population were to blame for everything negative affilicting mankind, described “racial inter-mixing” as a “communist plot”, praised Hitler’s leadership, and attended Nazi party meetings in Germany during the late 1930s along with speaking at rallies organised by US-based Nazi groups after the start of World War 2; for many years after the end of the war, the author continued to make anti-Semitic remarks about several American presidents, including Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy.
Many South Asian readers of this website will be aware of certain historical precedents for liberal, intellectual, inclusive “bridge-builders” such as President Obama being obsessively opposed (and ultimately defeated) by more aggressive, ruthless and ambitious religious fanatics. As for their modern-day counterparts such as Glenn Beck and other members of the “conservative Right” in America, the behaviour of such demagogues increasingly reminds me of Ron Perlman’s character in the 1990s film The Last Supper. Readers who are familiar with that movie, especially the implications of what can be heard (but not seen) during the last few moments of the final scene, will be aware that the comparison is not exactly flattering.
|Post to del.icio.us|
Filed in: Current affairs,Media,Muslim,Party politics,Religion,United States