In the future, everyone will be a hatemonger for 15 minutes

Attacking Muslims and criticizing the Islamic faith are not the same thing.  The former is bigotry; the latter is subjecting a set of ideals and religious tenets to the same test that every other religion – including my own – should be subjected to.

That distinction is lost on many of the far-right professional anti-Muslims listed in a “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists” published by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  Unfortunately, it looks like the distinction is also lost on the SPLC itself.

Alongside such deserving targets as Frank Gaffney and Pam Gellar (the latter of whom once pushed the theory that Malcolm X was Barack Obama’s real father) the SPLC savages Daniel Pipes for such crimes as wrongly suggesting that the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was carried out by Islamists – an unfortunate error, but understandable a mere two years after the original World Trade Center bombing.  Also – you might want to sit down for this one – he says the Islamic State is Islamic in nature:

In a Sept. 10, 2014, article in The National Review, Pipes reacted furiously to President Obama’s “preposterous claim” that the Islamic State was “not Islamic” in nature. Contrary to Obama’s “idiocy,” he said, the infamous terrorist organization is “100 percent Islamic … profoundly Islamic.”

Only a radical would believe that ISIS represents all Muslims. Pipes is deemed a radical for saying that ISIS are Muslims in the first place.

The SPLC report also takes a shot at atheist ex-Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but the most despicable inclusion is that of practicing Muslim Maajid Nawiz, who has written consistently and clearly about how he believes elements of his religion should be reformed.   Apparently he got a lap dance once, so checkmate.  Also, this:

According to a Jan. 24, 2014, report in The Guardian, Nawaz tweeted out a cartoon of Jesus and Muhammad — despite the fact that many Muslims see it as blasphemous to draw Muhammad. He said that he wanted “to carve out a space to be heard without constantly fearing the blasphemy charge.”

The SPLC, it would appear, thinks tweeting a cartoon of Muhammad is an act of bigotry, because many Muslims see it as a blasphemous act.

In other words, they’re letting the most devout, illiberal members of the faith set the rules for everyone else, Muslim or not.  It’s like saying eating shellfish is an anti-semitic act, or using birth control is anti-Catholic bigotry.

Anti-Islam bigots like Gellar say that there’s no such thing as “moderate Islam,” and that the extremists are in fact accurately representing their faith.  Turns out that the storied Southern Poverty Law Center, in its own way, is saying the exact same thing.

The alt-right’s ultimate target

After a 2014 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, Hollywood agent turned extreme-right commentator Patrick Dollard weighed in thusly:


Dolllard still hates Muslims, but lately he’s been turning his attention elsewhere:

Yes, Dollard is something of a fringe character – even, to which he once contributed, disassociated themselves from him after his 2014 “slaughter all Muslims” tweet.  But he’s not the only Trump-supporting alt-rightist who despises the Jews.  Not even close:

She had seen her face superimposed on the body of a concentration camp inmate. She had been called “a slimy Jewess.” She had been told she “deserved the oven.” One anonymous individual had electronically harassed her for 19 hours straight.

Things got so bad that Bethany Mandel, a 30-year-old freelance writer in Highland Park, N.J., decided one afternoon last spring to drive to a nearby gun shop. A mother of two small children, she now keeps a .22 in her home.

What had she done to provoke so much vitriol? She posted some messages onTwitter drawing attention to the fact that Donald J. Trump seemed to have a lot of anti-Semitic supporters.


Anti-Semitism has been resurgent in Europe for years. But it has taken on a new dimension in the United States with the emergence of the Trump campaign, whose battle against political correctness has provided a kind of on-ramp for bigotry to enter the political mainstream.

During its investigation, the organization found that 2.6 million anti-Semitic messages were posted on Twitter from August 2015 to July 2016. Of those, 19,253 were directed at journalists.

There was a significant uptick starting early this year, when the presidential campaign began to intensify, the organization said in its report, to be released on Wednesday. More than 800 journalists have been the subject of anti-Semitic attacks on Twitter, with 10 of them receiving 83 percent of the total attacks.

The words appearing most frequently in the Twitter biographies of the attackers were “Trump,” “nationalist,” “conservative” and “white.” Many of the owners of the 1,600 Twitter accounts were anonymous, though at least two are prominent white supremacists: Andrew Anglin, the founder of the website The Daily Stormer, and Lee Rogers of the Infostormer.

The report was careful not to suggest that the Trump campaign “supported or endorsed” the anti-Semitic attacks, but noted that many had been sent by his supporters.

That’s why it was so startling to see the pro-Trump Ezra Levant gleefully spreading a meme revived by Germany’s extreme right, and associated with the freaking Nazis:

Lugenpresse literally means “lying press,” and while the term long pre-dates the Nazis, they’re the ones who really took it to the next level.  Lately, the word has been revived by Germany’s anti-immigrant PEGIDA movement, and now the Trump campaign:

“Tell the truth!” and “CNN sucks!” have become staples at nearly every Trump rally.On Saturday night, a new and foreign accusation came to the fore: “Lügenpresse!”

The term, which means “lying press” in German, has a history dating back to the mid-1800s and was used by the Nazis to discredit the media. In recent years, it has been revived by German far-right anti-immigrant groups. And on Saturday, it made an appearance at a Trump rally in Cleveland, Ohio.

After the rally finished, one man approached the press pen and shouted insults, accusing the media of being in the tank for the Clintons and being “bought and paid for.” Another man, wearing a Make America Great Again hat and holding a sign with the same slogan, walked up beside him and began yelling at the press that we were “lügenpresse,” adding that the phrase means “lying press” in German. The first man started shouting it too, then turned to the second and made a self-deprecating remark about not pronouncing it right.


The alt-right has been emboldened this year by Trump’s rise; the chairman of Breitbart News, who has spoken of his website being a home for the alt-right, is now Trump’s campaign CEO, and Hillary Clinton’s speech tying Trump to the alt-right launched the movement to new heights of notoriety. The embrace of a term like “lügenpresse” is, as [white nationalist leader Robert] Spencer says, classic alt-right; the proud “shitlords” of the movement take pride in embracing edgy terminology, the more anti-PC the better.

Like many of his alt-right brethren, Levant seems to think this is all a big laugh, a way to stick it to the politically correct virtue signalers.  I don’t think it will be so funny when his allies inevitably turn on him.

(Disclosure: when Levant’s The Rebel started up, I contributed to its now-dormant group blog, The Megaphone.  To give credit where it’s due, the site posted several pieces which went against its editorial line, including several anti-Trump posts.)

Landslide Hillary

A new ABC News poll has Clinton leading Trump by twelve points nationally.  Turn out the lights, the party’s over…

It’s no longer a question of whether Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States.  She could now shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and still win. (Who said that?)

The question now is whether Hillary could pull a Frank McKenna and sweep the country.  It’s never happened in a contested Presidential election – even Alf Landon,  Barry Goldwater and George McGovern avoided being shut out – but I certainly wouldn’t rule out the possibility.

Yes, there are reliably Republican states where Trump still looks to be comfortably ahead.  But that doesn’t mean anything if Republicans decide it’s a lost cause and stay home. 

The most dominantly Republican states are not in the Deep South but out West – Kansas, Wyoming, Oklahoma, the Dakotas, Utah.  And they’re in the Central and Mountain time zones.

Therefore, the results from the Eastern states will be known long before the polls close out West. If Hillary is comfortably ahead in Pennsylvania or Florida, the networks may declare her victory early on. (In 1984, the big three networks declared Reagan re-elected by 8:31PM Eastern; CBS called it at 8:01.)  This wold further depress Republican turnout, while Democrats salivating over the chance to humiliate Trump might rush out to make it happen.

Throw in Trump’s feeble ground operation, and the Trump supporters now openly saying the Republican leadership deserves to be punished for not showing sufficient deference to their idol, and we could have the makings of a once-in-a-lifetime wipeout in a few weeks.

Trump, and the Republicans who stood by and let him seize their party, deserve nothing less. In fact, there is one potential outcome that would be even better than a Hillary sweep: Clinton winning everywhere except Utah, and Evan McMullin – a principled and honest conservative – taking that state. Frankly, McMullin winning more electoral college votes than Donald Trump might be the only way Republicans save face in 2016.

I miss the old Donald Trump

NBC reports that business at Donald Trump’s luxury hotels has plummeted, and that The Trump Organization’s next hotel chain will be called “Scion.” (Fortunately, Toyota has no use for that name anymore.)

Bookings at the newly opened Trump International Hotel, Washington, D.C. on Pennsylvania Avenue also seem to be bearing the brunt of this contentious election cycle.

When it had its soft opening in September, rack rates for the basic 410-square “deluxe” rooms started at over $575 a night.

Checking the hotel’s online booking site, that same room type is now available for an unrestricted rate of $505, with a discount to $404 for AAA members, for at least the next two weekends and for the weekend after the presidential election.

By comparison, when searching Expedia for a five-star hotel in Washington, D.C., next weekend, a room at the St. Regis Washington, D.C. is available for $655 a night, while the Hay-Adams and others show as sold out.

The Trump family plans an official ribbon-cutting and press conference for the D.C. hotel on October 26, but for now, it’s the falling room rates that are getting noticed.

Despite its prime location and promotional mentions by Donald Trump himself, “empty rooms have forced hotel to reduce rates during the peak season,” noted New York Magazine.


“While the Trump name is a powerful brand name, it may also carry some negative connotation with travelers from around the world,” noted Keven Murphy, chair of the Hospitality Services Department, at Rosen College of Hospitality Management in Orlando.

Perhaps that’s why Trump’s newest hotel line, announced last month, won’t bear his name at all: The Trump Organization has dropped the name completely, going for Scion, which means “descendant of a notable family,” the company’s news release explained.

For all the damage Donald Trump has wrought since he launched his divisive neo-fascist campaign for President, the most damage was arguably self-inflicted.

It seems hard to believe now, but it really wasn’t too long ago that Trump was a legitimately beloved celebrity.   Everyone wanted to be like him in the 80s, everyone respected his comeback in the 90s, and everyone watched his TV show in the 2000s.  He was a uniquely American celebrity: unrepentantly wealthy, yet seemingly down-to-earth with a gift for self-deprecation.

How many other (alleged) billionaires would make commercials with Grimace?

Now we know, of course, that the entire Trump edifice was built in sand.  He harassed women, stiffed small businesses, and after Obama’s election to the Presidency outed himself as a believer in racist conspiracy theories.

More than anything, the rise (and, now, the fall) of Trump’s political career reminds me of the media frenzy that surrounded the OJ Simpson trial – another phenomenon that proved a well-known celebrity was really nothing like his popular persona.

I miss the days when I could watch the Naked Gun movies without thinking Nordberg brutally (and, um, allegedly) murdered two people in real life.  And I miss the days when Donald Trump was just a harmless, charismatic, entertaining distraction instead of something much more dangerous.

Will my son be safe from the online mob?

My oldest son has a unique way of saying “hello” to people.  Upon meeting him you may notice him staring at you for a moment, then rocking back and forth a little, gradually getting closer to you.  Once he knows you’re friendly, he may get right in your face, until your noses touch.

Thankfully, people have never been more aware of autism spectrum disorders, and almost everyone my son meets is understanding and kind.  But I do fear that someone may interpret his behavior the wrong way, especially as he gets older.

That’s why this story, from Australia, drew my attention:

Last week a Facebook user posted a photo of a man on a Melbourne tram and detailed her encounter with him as she saw it. The man was accused of being intimidating and threatening towards young women and more specifically young women of Asian decent. He was accused of being a drug user and called predatory. The post attracted in excess of 80,000 likes and was shared more than 10,000 times.  Immediately comments appeared under the post that called for various violent acts to be perpetrated against the man in retaliation. Among the frenzy of people tutting and mindlessly sharing the story was a prominent feminist activist and author, Clementine Ford, someone who does not shy away from publicly revealing the faces and names of alleged perpetrators. Hastags such as #silentnomore and #fightlikeagirl were added to the story and assisted in its circulation. The story was also picked up by the mainstream media and was published by online news outlets. Several hours after the story broke people who knew the man contacted the original poster, privately and publicly, and advised her that the man had Autism and often asks for high-fives on the tram (this has not been verified). It was suggested that he was not a violent person and was well known to at least some tram users. The post was not removed by the poster until she began to receive threats via private message. The threats against the poster were not necessary however it was also not necessary for her to post an identifying image of the man on a public forum with inflammatory remarks attached.


The Daily Mail published a follow up article on the 10th October 2016 which reveals that the man on the tram has Autism. Doing a search of Facebook hash tags for the original posters name reveals a handful of admissions from those who shared the original article expressing regret that they hadn’t looked into it more thoroughly before sharing. What is absent though is commentary from the original poster and high profile sharers like Clementine Ford.

If her twitter account is any indication, Ford is completely unrepentant:

The likes of Ford make me kind of understand how Donald Trump happened.

Many people have been disproportionately punished by online mobs, whether it’s Spike Lee posting address information for the wrong George Zimmerman or a snarky joke ruining Justine Sacco’s life.  That’s bad enough.

But it’s even worse when it happens to someone who is misunderstood and can’t conventionally defend himself.  And in an age where people are intoxicated by hunting down dissenters on the internet, I fear the most vulnerable people are going to be targeted.

As a parent of someone on the autism spectrum, that’s a terrifying thought.

My favorite Trumpster

One of the sad things about the rise of Trump is how I’ve lost respect for so many people I once admired, because they decided to throw their weight behind a person hopelessly unqualified to be President of the United States. In some cases, it’s like they’ve turned into completely different people.

Take John Nolte of Breitbart, for example. I often disagreed with him, but thought he seemed like a pretty decent guy – with a near-encyclopedic knowledge of classic film to boot. After a year on the Trump train, it’s hard to tell John Nolte from the Rifftrax parody of Nick Nolte.

But there is one Trump supporter for whom I’ve actually developed legitimate affection since Trump became the Republican nominee for President.  And here’s what he tweeted after unscientific online polls showed Trump “winning” a televised debate in which he was absolutely humiliated:

I majored in political science, so I know this is hopelessly, insanely wrong.  But Mitchell doubled down and has continued to rail against scientific polling – and common sense – ever since:



Why am I saying nice things about Bill Mitchell?  First of all, the unintentional comedy value of his twitter feed is off the charts.  Even Yoko Ono doesn’t come close.

More importantly, I’ll at least give Mitchell some credit for at least believing what he writes about his hero Trump.  I wondered if he was running some kind of parody account, but now I’m sure no one could stay committed to a bit for this long.

In my mind, that puts him a step above Republican politicians and conservative  commentators who know Donald Trump is erratic, uninformed, nasty and downright dangerous, but nonetheless back him for the most powerful job in the world.

Look at Ted Cruz, who bravely stood up to Trump at the convention only to sheepishly endorse him – in a Facebook post – when it momentarily looked like Trump could win.  Look at Paul Ryan, who has spent the last few years trying to expand the Republican base only to line up behind this white-nationalist thug.  Look at Hugh Hewitt, who backs Trump because of the Supreme Court, as though Trump could be trusted to live up to his word about Supreme Court nominations any more than he lives up to contracts with small business owners.

Heck, look at Trump himself, who has registered as a Democrat in the past, donated to Democratic candidates and once plugged gun control and single-payer health care.  Does he really believe what he’s been ranting and raving about in his campaign speeches?  Who knows?

If you must be an extremist, I’d at least prefer that you be a real extremist, not someone cynically play-acting at it for political gain.  If nothing else, Bill Mitchell seems to be honest about the insane things he says.  You can’t even give Trump or most of his high-profile supporters that much.

Red Ink

Hey, as long as we’re on the subject of once-great political parties who’ve collectively lost their friggin’ minds, let’s cross the Atlantic and see what Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is up to:

There must be a “socialist” solution to media ownership in the UK, Unite’s chief of staff insisted last night.

Speaking at a Momentum meeting on “Jeremy Corbyn and media bias,” Andrew Murray said there had to be a “change in ownership” away from the “tax exiles and ne’er-do-wells” who currently own most newspapers and broadcast media.

“In the end when we address media power, we have to address the question of ownership,” he said.

“People say we need better regulation, but the problem is ownership and control. That is the heart of it. And socialism applies to the media just as much as any other industry.”


One woman compared the British media to the spoon that Keanu Reeves’ character holds in The Matrix.

“In the Matrix Neo goes to see the Oracle and he sees a child bending a spoon and he wants to know how can I bend the spoon, and she says it’s not the spoon that bends, it’s you that bends and I really feel that it’s the media that needs to bend towards this newer type of politics that Jeremy Corbyn is trying to create.”

Paranoid people love their Matrix analogies, don’t they?  (And, yes, like most ridiculous, unworkable and vaguely totalitarian ideas, this was plugged in Salon not long ago.)

Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn couldn’t be more different in style, but the similarities between them and their political parties – conspiratorial, cultish, antisemitic and financially tied to hostile foreign powers – is truly striking.