Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hate Speech on Helium: Victoria Jackson's Anti-Gay, Anti-Muslim Web Show

By Garrett FitzGerald
November 17, 2011

Saturday Night Liver alumna turned Tea Party darling Victoria Jackson has been no stranger to controversy over the last couple of years, repeatedly making headlines by stoking concerns over President Obama's citizenship and resemblance to the anti-Christ, and by loudly (like, really loudly) criticizing Fox's "Glee" for turning teens to a life of homosexuality

Well, Jackson is now upping the ante on her particular brand of intolerant wackadoodlery by launching a new web-based weekly talk show called "Politichicks." The show, which resembles nothing so much as an ultra-conservative spoof of "The View," premiered this week, and ever true to form Jackson spent most of the first episode trotting out tired conservative talking points about Islam and homosexuality with her new friends, Ann-Marie Murrell and Jennie Jones of the conservative rag The Patriot Update, and anti-reproductive rights activist Jannique Stewart.

Here's the full episode, if you're up for it:

The show is, admittedly, almost too uncomfortable to watch at times. And it's not entirely because of the perpetuation of bigoted stereotypes, gross over-generalizations, and bizarre conservative conspiracy theories, although we'll get to those in a minute (Muslims in the meat-packing industry? What?). These elements make the show deeply problematic, but what makes it truly painful to watch is the visible discomfort the other women feel toward Jackson and the completely forced repartee they attempt whenever Jackson allows them others to get a word in edgewise. 

The opening segment is given over to a discussion underscoring the conservative fascination with the non-issue of the purported Islamicization of America. In general, the panelists' claims about Islam are based on the tactic of depicting Islam as if it were one monolithic entity rather than a global constellation of highly contextualized articulations of religious tradition and meaning, and then reducing this monolithic depiction to the worst excesses, real or imagined, they can call to mind. Highlights include Jackson's recurring claim that "Muslims kill gays," the resuscitation of arguments over the non-Ground Zero non-mosque being a symbol of Muslim conquest, a bizarre mini-tirade by Jackson that involves George Soros and Muslims in the meat industry, and a discussion of the "creeping threat" of Shariah law in the United States.

For the most part, the claims being made by the four panelists are wholly unsupported by corroborating evidence or, you know, reality. Jackson tries to back up her non sequitur about Muslims in the meat industry with some anecdotal evidence from a friend of a friend who works in a meat factory, which already qualifies as Grade A hearsay before Jackson admits that one of those friends is leading evangelical climate change denier Cal Beisner, whose advice should probably be taken with a grain of salt. If you're having trouble finding a grain of salt with which to take Jackson's anecdotal evidence of Muslim infiltration of the meat processing industry, stick with Cal Beisner and you can pick one out of the ocean once water levels have risen to your doorstep.

The basis for the panelists' shared concern over the creeping threat of Shariah - and seriously, I have yet to receive an explanation as to why Shariah is always creeping - boils down to the say-so of anti-Shariah advocate Frank Gaffney, who Ann-Marie Murrell describes as "one of the experts on Islamization in America." This is the same Frank Gaffney, mind you, who is on record claiming that the Obama administration, the Center for American Progress, and even this year's Conservative Political Action Conference have all been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood. 

Frank Gaffney is not an expert on Shariah, end of story. If you don't believe me, consider his sworn testimony during a hearing to prevent the construction of a mosque complex in Murfreesboro, TN. Despite the fact that the attorneys seeking an injunction against the mosque's construction asked the court to enter Gaffney as an expert witness, while on the stand, under oath, Gaffney made the claim, “I don’t hold myself out as an expert on Sharia Law. But I have talked a lot about that as a threat.” Either he truly is no expert on Shariah (likely) or he is a liar (not off the table).
The segment on Islam is rounded out by some wholly reprehensible, hyperbolic claims about how put-upon conservative Christians are because, according to Jackson:
"We're not aloud to say 'In Jesus' name, amen' because of separation of church and state, but their religion, they're allowed to beat up and behead their wife legally in America because we're open to all religions."
And one final gem from Murrell: 
"All Muslims aren't terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims. That's just a fact." 
Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Factually wrong. Morally wrong. Wrong.  That is not a fact. That is, in fact, the opposite of a fact.
I've heard this claim from conservatives too many times before, and it is time we laid it to rest.

Not all terrorists are Muslims. In fact, not even most terrorists are Muslims. The FBI has a chronological list of all terror attacks on US soil from 1980 to 2005, and - this is the important bit - only 6% of the attacks involved Islamist extremism. That means that here in the United States, a whopping 94% of known terrorists are not Muslim. Europol, the European Union's criminal intelligence agency, posts a similar list each year entitled the "EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report." The numbers in Europe are there are even more stark, with terror attacks perpetrated by Muslims accounting for only 0.4% of terror plots in the EU from 2006-2008. The most recent report, when issued early next year, will include the details from this summer's horrific attack in Norway, carried out by a man "calling for a Christian war to defend Europe against the threat of Muslim domination."

Those are facts.

But the Politichicks don't limit themselves to perpetuating falsities about Islam. After a brief interlude in which Jackson denounces Eric Holder and Janet Napolitano for having "dead eyes" (your guess is as good as mine), the discussion moves to the topic of same-sex marriage. 

At this point, in one of the most flawless feats of mental gymnastics I've ever witnessed, Ann-Marie Murrell manages to label New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's  call to repeal DOMA as a "government intrusion issue" because the repeal of DOMA would somehow force churches to perform marriages between same-sex couples. So, the repeal of discriminatory federal regulation is a government intrusion issue because Ann-Marie Murrell is worried it might impose on her religious freedoms in a way presumably wholly distinct from the way it currently imposes on the social security benefits, tax benefits, veteran and military benefits, federal employment benefits, immigration benefits of same-sex couples, and basic rights and dignity of same-sex couples. Right. I mean, that's just a fact. 

A unifying current runs beneath the surface of "Politichicks," fed be the crocodile tears shed in a non-stop conservative pity party predicated upon the idea conservatives are unfairly labeled as intolerant, racist, and prejudiced when they air their intolerant, racist, prejudiced views. Murrell ends the show with a plea to liberals to respect the rights of conservatives to express themselves. As if there is some sort of equivalency, some ridiculous false relatvism between the the hateful rhetoric pervading every minute of this program and the beliefs of those who would denounce intolerance when they hear it.

The left's sometimes pathological fear of even the specter of intolerance has, at times, absolutely prevented the condemnation of intolerance where such condemnation was required. Our fetishization of relativism is absolutely known to the right, and it is precisely this tendency among liberals that Murrell is attempting to exploit in the closing moments of "Politichicks." But know this: tolerating intolerance does not make you more tolerant, it just makes you complicit in the furtherance of intolerance. And I, for one, am committed to naming and confronting the gross intolerance on display in "Politichicks" for as long as I can tolerate watching it. 

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