Tea Party rhetoric twists the language of emancipation

Tea Party rhetoric uses the language of civil rights to manipulate America’s white working class

Tea Party activist Glenn Beck’s ‘Restoring Honor’ rally in Washington on 28 August 2010. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

This November, the United States will hold elections for 37 crucial seats in the Senate. At present, Democrats hold 57 out of 100. It’s a tenuous balance: if the Senate ends up with a Republican majority, President Obama’s ability to advance any part of his policy initiatives will be in grave doubt. As a result, this is already shaping up to be one of the meanest campaign seasons in history.

Enter Glenn Beck, a recovered alcoholic and cocaine addict, darling of the Tea Party movement, a loose association of arch-libertarians, social conservatives and those who are diffusely angry at “liberal elites”. Having hovered at the edge of rightwing shock jock media for years, Beck burst onto the national scene only recently, thanks in large part to the sponsorship of Roger Ailes, former Republican party adviser to Presidents Reagan and George HW Bush, and current head of Fox News.

Beck’s poisonous power to manipulate the sense of disenfranchisement felt by white middle- and working-class citizens is serious business. He scares me, he scares Democrats, and he even scares many traditional Republicans who feel he panders to extremists. Listening to Beck is not unlike attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. The world is broken down into simple ideals, laddered steps toward enumerated goals, reiterated creeds of belief and renunciation. As in AA, God is the only authority; admission of an engulfing corruption is the necessary starting point; and “restoration” of sanity is the goal.

Beck’s expressed agenda involves rescuing America from what he depicts as its current state of depravity. While Beck frequently claims that he is “not political” – “I’m an evangelist for America” – his diatribes draw relentless divisions among We, You, Them and Those. “We” are “patriots”. “They” are “traitors”, “progressives”, “socialists” and “Nazis”. Beck is a masterful narrator of “reverse” race and class grievance. Despite all data to the contrary, he asserts that it is whites who collectively suffer at the hands of black racists – Obama and his seven circles of “radical” “comrades” being the prime and reiterated example. “We” will “reclaim the civil rights movement” in the name of individual rights and freedoms, says Beck. “We will take that movement because we were the ones who did it in the first place.” Continue reading

Legal issue with foreclosures may affect other mortgage companies


By Ariana Eunjung Cha
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 22, 2010; 2:37 AM


Some of the nation’s largest mortgage companies used a single document processor who said he signed off on foreclosures without having read the paperwork – an admission that may open the door for homeowners across the country to challenge foreclosure proceedings.

The legal predicament compelled Ally Financial, the nation’s fourth-largest home lender, to halt evictions of homeowners in 23 states this week. Now Ally officials say hundreds of other companies, including mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, may also be affected because they use Ally to service their loans.

As head of Ally’s foreclosure document processing team, 41-year-old Jeffrey Stephan was required to review cases to make sure the proceedings were legally justified and the information was accurate. He was also required to sign the documents in the presence of a notary.

In a sworn deposition, he testified that he did neither.

The reason may be the sheer volume of the documents he had to hand-sign: 10,000 a month. Stephan had been at that job for five years.

How the nation’s foreclosure system became reliant on the tedious work of a few corporate bureaucrats is still a matter that mortgage lenders are trying to answer. While the lenders may have had legitimate cause to foreclose, the mishandling of the paperwork has given homeowners ammunition in their fight against foreclosure and has drawn the attention of state law enforcement officials.

Ally spokesman James Olecki called the problem with the documents “an important but technical defect.” He said the papers were “factually accurate” but conceded that “corrective action” may have to be taken in some cases and that others may “require court intervention.”

Olecki said the company services loans “from hundreds of different lenders,” but he declined to provide names.

Continue reading

Some Believe Obama Is Anti-American — New Research Shows Why

Published on Psychology Today (http://www.psychologytoday.com)

By Douglas LaBier, Ph.D.
Created Sep 20 2010 – 8:57am
Some recent research about the psychology behind smear campaigns explains why some people accept or believe in outright lies or distortions. A current example is the attempt to paint President Obama as anti-American, a secret Muslim, and pursuing a hidden socialist agenda. Recent polls show that these falsehoods are accepted by a growing number of Americans.

The new research reveals how and why such smear campaigns can take root. That’s important to know, in order to expose the efforts of those who push to increase the acceptance of falsehoods as part of a strategy for political gain.

Those efforts reflect a temporary but growing backlash against significant, massive shifts in our country. That shift is towards attitudes, values and behavior towards acceptance of diversity, empathy, policies that serve the larger common good, and recognition of global responsibility. My posts here are about the impact of these shifts upon psychological health and resiliency. The new research reveals some important information about the political/social backlash to the cultural shifts underway, and how to make sense of it.

Regarding the smear campaign against Obama, the research found that people are more likely to accept false representations, both consciously and unconsciously, when they are reminded of ways in which Obama is different from them – whether about racial, social class or other differences.

The study was led by researchers at Michigan State and others at University of Arizona, the University of British Columbia and Leiden University in the Netherlands. In four separate experiments (three were conducted before the Presidential election and one after), the researchers looked at both conscious and unconscious acceptance of political smears by mostly white, non-Muslim college students.

One part of the study consisted of showing some participants false blog reports that Obama is a Muslim or a socialist or that John McCain is senile. Another part looked at how rapidly participants could identify smear-relevant words such as “Muslim” or “turban” after Obama’s name was presented subliminally.

Among the findings: Participants who supported McCain said there is a 56 percent likelihood Obama is a Muslim. But when they were asked to fill out a demographic card asking for their own race, the likelihood jumped to 77 percent. This indicates that simply thinking about a social category that differentiated participants from Obama was enough to get them to believe the smear.

Participants who were undecided about the candidates said there is a 43 percent chance McCain is senile. That number increased to 73 percent when they simply listed their own age on a card. Undecided participants said there is a 25 percent chance Obama is a socialist, but that number jumped to 62 percent when they considered race. Continue reading

Ramadan Road Trip w/ Bassam Tariq and Aman Ali by Maria Kari


En route to Bozeman, Montana Bassam Tariq, 23 and Aman Ali, 25 drove their rental car over a rock and broke down on the side of a highway with nary a soul in sight except itinerant coyotes, mountain goats and the occasional bear.

Eventually, a tow-truck driver drove the boys into the closest town – all the while explaining the crosses lining the side of the highway. They were, he explained, the tombs of people who’d died in car accidents on the very highway the boys had spent a better part of their day stranded on.

Despite their obvious predicament the only thing on Tariq and Ali’s mind was whether or not they’d be able to make it for iftaar in the neighbouring state, North Dakota, the following evening.

“We could have been mauled by a gangster bear” laughed Ali, “yet all we could think of was getting to the next mosque in the next state.”

What originally began as a tour of 30 mosques in New York City last Ramadan culminated into a monumental and stirring 30-mosques-in-30 days, nationwide road trip.

Equipped with their laptop power inverter cords, mobile broadband and the $6000 which they raised the “old fashioned way” (through Facebook and Twitter) the boys set out on a 13,000 mile trip journeying from their hometown New York to California and back. Continue reading