James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

  • Archives

  • May 2021
    S M T W T F S
     1
    2345678
    9101112131415
    16171819202122
    23242526272829
    3031  
  • Categories

  • Subscribe

Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

WorldNetDaily ‘journalism’ and ‘Christian’ racism

Posted by James McPherson on August 12, 2010

I have to admit that when I see the url for WorldNetDaily, wnd.com, I automatically start coming up with appropriate alternative meanings for the abbreviation: Phrases such as WackjobNewsDelivery, or WhyNotDeceive, or WildNewDistortions, or WhiteNutjobDelusions, or WhoNeedsDetails, or WeNeedDrugs.

But I read something the other day referring to WorldNetDaily as a leading “Christian website.” If that’s true (and despite the supposed Christian faith of its founder/editor and its promoting of some Christian books, I’m not sure I’d agree), it’s no wonder that Christianity has such a bad reputation with so many people.

WND claims to be a news site, but makes no effort to hide its clearly biased perspective (or its sales pitches to the gullible). For example, the third “story” right now is about a conference to “take America back” (back from whom, as usual, is unclear). The story quotes WND founder and editor Joseph Farah, while promising:

Speakers at the conference, which is followed by a weeklong Royal Caribbean cruise called “The Tea Party at Sea,” includes such stalwarts as Rep. Michele Bachmann, Ann Coulter, Alan Keyes, Tom Tancredo, Jerome Corsi, Aaron Klein and David Kupelian. Farah – who’s also speaking – is now offering a peek at the conference’s still-developing program. With “this slate of speakers, topics and discussions,” he ensures, “the event will more than live up to its name.”

Not surprisingly, the conference will generate cash for Farah’s organization while also promoting his own book, which has the same title as the conference he is organizing.

The WND “daily poll” from yesterday asked the question, “What part of the Obama-eligibility saga has made you most doubt his legitimacy?” That’s about as unbiased as me asking, “Which WND conspiracy theory do you find to be the craziest?” The difference is, I don’t pretend to be “an independent news company dedicated to uncompromising journalism, seeking truth and justice.”

Besides Farah’s writings, WND regularly features the writing of such “journalists” as Coulter, Corsi and Michael Savage (and Pat Buchanan, but he apparently works for every media organization, including msnbc). But as with most websites, even scarier that the identifiable writers (well, maybe except for Savage) are the anonymous lunatics who post comments.

Here are a few examples, taken from almost 3,000 “questions” the commenters think the media should ask Barack Obama ((I’ve copied and pasted, so the goofy misspellings, random capitalization, and grammar and punctuation issues were in the original; all comments are from different people):

Wouldn’t you won’t you oh pretty please stop asking the Schutzstaffel SS (aka Secret Service) funnel you the white magic dust powder and charging it to me? This cracker works two jobs to just get by and can’t afford to pay for your drug habit. Are you leaving a disgusting white film all over the White House that will have to be ServiceMastered the day you are impeached and executed for treason or imprisoned for life for all of your felonies? Also, on that day, could you and Michelle refrain from stealing any of the objet d’art left over from the great Clinton burglary in the White House as they were packing up? Thank YOU Soetoro.

Yes, you have fooled the people, but you will be found out. God help you, because, Mr. Obama, I can assure your Muslim religion will not.

Hussein Obama is the biggest, most constant LIAR of all the Liars in D.C., and THAT is saying something. He took us decent folks by surprise, as we have never seen, or expected, a usurper for Pres, let alone such a LIAR and low-down Red Communist filth pig, make it into the Oval Office. … I am pleased at your miserable predicament – LIAR, spiller of innocent blood, Communist, the Holy One has a perfect count of how many babies you have conspired to murder. They cry for justice to th Holy One of Israel. You can believe this – He listens and soon justice, the thing you hate and fear, will be served to you because of your rebellion and evil. Do you think you can LIE your way out of God’s justice?

Dear usurping, racebaiting, America hating, teleprompting, mongrel in chief…

If you look nto obama’s back ground He has never been around anyone but comunist ,his white tras mother was a communist both his father and step father were America hating communist ,his grand parents were communist…

I hear Hillary Clinton may challenge you for the 2012 Democratic nomination.[?] Maybe you should prepare for “CRONE WARS”. :o)

Why do you direspect our flag, our rights to our official days of prayer, and brainwash our children into singing praises to you in official school class rooms where they’re not allowed to speak the name of Jesus Christ but they can worship Obama? Please explain why these things are happening in our country that was founded on the moral structure of the Word of Almgihty God, not Alah or Mohammed.

You bowing down to those countries who are against America,and telling them we aren’t a Christian nation, where did you get that? Do you really think we Christian Americans are that dumb to fall for your crap?

Your consistent twisting of the US Constitution’s wording of “Freedom of Religion” with your own devious “freedom of worship” makes me wonder if this is not Taqiyya under the guise of progressive ideology.  If “Religion” is used, an argument could be made that Islam is an “Ideology”, not a “Religion”. In substituting “Worship”, blanket protection is given to those who idolize Mohammed through the “Theocracy” that is Islam. This is an obvious chess board move.

WND editor Farah has become one of the leading proponents of the “birther” movement. Birther conspiracy also is the primary focus of the organization he founded–devoting much of its early effort to the wacky Vince Foster suicide conspiracy theory–before moving on to WND.

That organization, the Western Journalism Center, now is led by Floyd Brown, who also has his own website but is perhaps most noteworthy as the producer of perhaps the most infamous racist political ad in history, the “Willie Horton” ad used against Michael Dukakis in 1988.

The website of the Western Journalism Center (“journalism” apparently being used ironically in this case) also draws a smaller but perhaps even nuttier and scarier following of racist conspiracy loons, who keep asking questions along the lines of “When can we get this Muslim usurper out of the White House?” Samples from one post alone (about Michelle Obama’s trip to Spain) include comments such as the following (again, all from different commenters):

[Michelle Obama] cared less about the annoited ones birthday(maybe) and when she gets home she going on another vacation with her half black half and both piglets.

Does the word LYNCH ring a bell? We need to get the BIGGEST LYNCH PARTY together,and head for Washington, D. C.

I SAY US KICK THE MAKE BELIEVE MARIE ANTOINETTE AMAZONIAN BITCH OUT OF THE WHITE HOUSE ALONG WITH HER HALF BREED OF A HUSBAND WHO PREFERS MEN.

Michelle is nothing more than a monkey bitch spending Americans tax money and she doesn’t give a rats a$$ about the rest of the Americans who are struggling financially. After all the monkey bitch and her magic negro husband were elected by the masses of liberals kool-aid drinkers and the whites who thought they could erase their collective guilt by electing Osama Obama the magic negro and his monkey bitch wife!!!

The idiots that voted for this muslim communist deserve him but We Americans that did not vote for that sleezy slime bag that came for the sewer have to be punished.

I was born in 1944, back before the blacks were allowed to set at the front of the bus, not in the back, and when they had to have their own fountains to drink from and their own public rest rooms. I will not use the N word, but what the Obamas are doing is what was called N_ _ _ _ r Rich back in those days. If they got a dollar for picking cotton, hey would go out and spend ten dollars. Looks like their intelligence level has remained the same over al these years. Guess you can take them out of the innercity, but you can’t take the innercity out of them.

Tea Party folks keep claiming they’re not racists. Maybe most of them aren’t. But a fair number of the “Christians” who hang out at wnd.com and the Western Journalism Center obviously are racists, along with being stupid in many other ways.

And though it may be impossible to keep up with the garbage spewing forth, it would be nice if more of those Christian readers and Tea Party fans of the two sites who aren’t racist jackasses would call out the ones who are.

Posted in Journalism, Politics, Religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Rocking the cradle for political change

Posted by James McPherson on October 12, 2008

Last night I had the honor of leading a post-play discussion after Whitworth University’s second night of “The Cradle Will Rock.” The pro-union musical satire, written in 1937 by Marc Blitzstein as part of the New Deal’s Federal Theatre Project, is set during the Great Depression and seems particularly timely considering events of the past couple of weeks.

As demonstrated in the 1999 film by the same title (partially fictionalized, which is unfortunate because the reality is compelling enough), the government tried to block the first performance of the play. But some creativity on the part of director Orson Welles (also one of the key figures in both radio and film history, of course) and others involved managed to circumvent the attempted ban–while demonstrating the power of both art and a unified commitment to action.

As I have noted previously, Christians adhere to a wide range of religious views, and carry out the perceived tenants of their faith in many ways. Nonetheless I was impressed by the fact that a Christian university theatre group would offer such a bold play, which happened to open while the university’s board of trustees was on campus.

Impressed, but not surprised–the Whitworth theatre program, under the guidance of Diana Trotter (who directed this play), Rick Hornor and Brooke Kiener, consistently takes on tough topics ranging from patriotism to religious hypocrisy to genocide–while also going beyond the Whitworth stage to actively engage local schools and the community as a whole. The cast (aided by the piano of music professor Ben Brody) did an excellent job with the suddenly all-too-real play, evoking laughter and tears, and reminding me yet again of why I’m so proud to be associated with the university.

In another coincidental and somewhat ironic note, the play openly criticizes the news media, and was performed in Cowles Auditorium–a campus building named after a member of the same family that owns the local newspaper, the Spokesman-Review. That’s the same newspaper that last week cut 60 more members of its staff (the fourth staff reduction in the eight years I’ve been here), which publisher Stacy Cowles justified as a “pre-emptive strike” against losses that have not yet occurred. The Spokesman-Review also continued its conservative pro-business streak of electoral endorsements last week, favoring John McCain four years after being among the minority of American newspapers that endorsed George W. Bush. The newspaper’s recent actions again provide support for my argument that, for a number of reasons, today’s mainstream media are more conservative than liberal.

To quote the movie’s tagline, “Art is never dangerous–unless it tells the truth.” The same might be said of journalism. If you happen to be close enough to Spokane to do so, you should catch the Whitworth production at 2 p.m. today, or next Friday or Saturday (Oct. 17 and 18) at 8 p.m.

Posted in Education, History, Journalism, Personal, Politics, Written elsewhere | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Favoring a Christian president–or not

Posted by James McPherson on August 19, 2008

Despite criticism leveled at John McCain for saying last year that he would prefer that the United States have a Christian president, most Americans apparently agree. Not that it matters much–despite the loons who still maintain that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim, no non-Christian has mounted a serious candidacy for decades, other than perhaps Mormon Mitt Romney (a definitional issue too complicated to get into here, but which may cause interesting problems for social conservatives if McCain tabs Romney as his vice presidential nominee–see the arguments here and here).

The mixed emotions among people of faith about Romney’s candidacy point out a significant problem with the “Christian president” theme. Even those who prefer a Christian leader don’t agree is about what kind of Christian president they want. Should he (or she, assuming we’ll someday get there) be in line with John Hagee, Jeremiah Wright, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, the “Jesus for President” folks, or some other version of Christianity?

Should it be someone who believes that even Christian founding fathers intended for a separation of church and state, or someone who believes that those founders intended to create a “Christian nation” (though as religious scholar Stephen J. Stein points out in a recent article in Historically Speaking, “Virtually all Protestant clergy at the time were persuaded that the Antichrist was the pope”–the leader of the same church that now provides conservatives with much of their support (along with five of the nine members of the Supreme Court)?

How does one decide which candidates–or non-candidates–are Christian enough? Heavy conservative contributor Rev. Sun Myung Moon owns the Washington Times, which has become perhaps the best-known conservative newspaper other than the Wall Street Journal. Yet Moon, who also founded the American Family Coalition and calls himself a Christian, also refers to himself and his wife as “the first couple to have the complete blessing of God, and to be able to bring forth children with no original sin.” Despite Moon’s wacky views, I don’t know of any conservative Christian candidates who refuse his money or who seek to be excluded from the Times.

Like every other regular faculty member at the university in which I teach, I am a Christian. So is one of my best friends, but we disagree on many things. The university president, in his latest quarterly message to alums and friends of the university, lists among 15 things he loves about the school: “An environment in which people who disagree with each other protect each other. I have yet to meet a faculty member on the liberal-conservative continuum who wants to silence his or her counterparts. In fact, faculty and staff members at Whitworth recognize that, ultimately, freedom to disagree provides protection for their ideas.” I can’t think of any faculty member here, though, who would make a good U.S. president.

Many conservatives hated Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, all of whom were “Christian presidents” who expressed their faith more often and more comfortably than conservative heroes Barry Goldwater (who fell short of the presidency, of course) and Ronald Reagan. They generally disliked Roosevelt for his practical application (government intervention) of what he saw as Christian duty, while bashing Carter for failing to apply his own Southern Baptist views strictly enough. The two worst presidents of my lifetime–and the two generally recognized as the most religious–have been Carter and George W. Bush.

One key question is how a president should demonstrate his faith. Jerry Falwell once suggested that preachers should stay out of politics. But one of Bush’s biggest appeals was his willingness to state publicly his belief in Christ. One thing seems certain, however: a president who professes Christian principles and then seriously fails to live up to those principles–to me, Clinton and Bush are obvious examples–ill serves both the nation and his fellow Christians.

In addition, as I suggested yesterday with my discussion of the Saddleback Church forum, the nation also is poorly served when it stresses the faith of its president above all else. Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin noted before the forum that Abraham Lincoln would likely fail to measure up to today’s religious standards for presidential candidates (he might also be viewed as too inexperienced and too homely to be a serious candidate, of course).

All else being equal, I’d prefer a Christian president. But if there’s an honest non-Christian candidate who will do more to reduce the budget deficit, produce a workable national health care plan, and keep us out of foolish illegal wars, I say bring on the heathen.

Added note: Somewhat related to this post (and perhaps slightly more related to yesterday’s), this al-Jazeera column offers an interesting discussion of religion in America and of evil as defined by U.S. presidential candidates. For example:

If religious interviews were done with such fanfare and influence in a Muslim country, democratic or otherwise, western and especially US media would have made mockery of such an imposition of religious fundamentalism on political process. 

For most outsiders, the US is in denial over its own “evil doing” around the world. Obama and McCain could see evil in Darfur but would not admit that the invasion and occupation of Iraq on false premises or for oil is no less an evil act.

THURSDAY UPDATE: Columnist Kathleen Parker, who takes a generally conservative position on most issues, also criticizes the Saddleback forum.

Posted in Politics, Religion, Written elsewhere | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The science of cross burning for Christ

Posted by James McPherson on June 28, 2008

An Ohio “science teacher” has been fired for promoting his Christian faith by, among other things, telling students that the theory of evolution is wrong because the Bible does not support it (something I suspect the science teachers at the Christian university where I teach would dispute), and by using an electronic device to burn crosses into the arms of students. The teacher claimed that the mark was an “X”: I’ve included a photo below so you can judge for yourself.

In my favorite quote from the original story, a friend (who brings to mind the phrase, “With friends like these…”) apparently told the Columbus Dispatch: “With the exception of the cross-burning episode. … I believe John Freshwater is teaching the values of the parents in the Mount Vernon school district.” Might that be termed the Ku Klux Klan defense?

After the firing, the Dispatch noted that Freshwater “had declared himself a free-speech martyr.” Funny, I thought the Christian martyr was the man who died on the cross, not the guy who physically abused kids that he was supposed to be teaching about how God’s world really works.

Now I’m taking off to camp, fish and commune with nature–three of the best reasons to live in the Pacific Northwest in the summer. Assuming I can find and afford gas to get back home, I’ll pick up the blogging again in a few days. If you’re new to the site, perhaps you’d like to catch up with what I’ve written previously. Regardless, there are some great resources linked at your right for news, opinion and education about media and politics.  And if I’m not back before then, Happy Fourth!

Posted in Education, Journalism, Legal issues, Personal, Politics, Religion, Science | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »