Margaret Wente, a U.S.-born columnist for Canada’s Globe and Mail, wrote a commentary in February pondering how to prevent the populist movement overtaking the politics of her adopted country the way it has in the U.S. and much of Europe. Canada would seem fertile ground for populism: Twenty percent of Canadians are visible minorities, a fact very much in evidence at events celebrating the Toronto Raptors’ recent championship.
Rather than turn to Twitter for insight as do many U.S. reporters, Wente tracked down Eric Kaufmann, a Canadian-born professor of politics at the University of London’s Birkbeck College and author of White Shift: Populism, Immigration and the Future of White Majorities. Wente did an admirable job summarizing Kaufmann’s book so I’ll quote her verbatim:
Whiteshift (sic) argues that it’s time to open up room for a legitimate conversation about white anxiety over immigration and the rate of change, rather than treat the subject as automatically toxic. For too long, argues Mr. Kaufmann, the establishment left – with the help of the establishment media – has branded any challenge to immigration levels as illegitimate and racist. This is dangerous, he told me, because ‘we’re giving ammunition and oxygen to the far right.’
Kaufmann’s comments weighed on me as I read the liberal media’s coverage of President Trump’s Twitter tirade suggesting that Rep. Ilan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and two other freshman Congressional colleagues of color return to their ancestral homes if America was failing their hopes and expectations. Accusations of “racism” appeared in every article.
Moreover, the liberal media declared that anyone who disagrees is a racist as well. “Those who don’t condemn Trump’s racism are complicit in his bigotry,” is the headline accompanying a commentary by Pulitzer Prize winning Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker. Thundered The Atlantic: “Why Donald Trump’s Racist Language Isn’t Debatable.” Dozens of articles with the same admonishments appeared elsewhere.
“America, love it or leave it” is a patriotic sentiment that’s been around for decades, but no one considered it racist when it was leveled against opponents of the Vietnam war. For the record, Trump wasn’t the only high profile personality this month to suggest immigrants return to their home countries. Sharing the honor is Anne Applebaum, a Pulitzer Prize winning writer for the Washington Post, who tweeted on July 14: “I say we should send Ivanka back to the Czech Republic and Melania back to Slovenia.”
Trump is no champion of minorities or anyone else not of his Wonder Bread ilk. But if he is indeed the dyed-in-the-wool racist the media makes him out to be his appointment of former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations should have carried greater significance with headlines such as “Racist Trump Appoints Indian American U.S. Rep to the World.” Haley was born Nimrata Randhawa to an American Sikh family who emigrated from Punjab, India.
The media portrays all Republicans as racists, yet Haley is quite popular within the party despite having questioned Trump’s 2016 candidacy and publicly criticizing him since resigning her U.N. position. Some advocates are pushing for Trump to name her as his running mate in 2020. Trump spoke highly of Haley even after she resigned, a feat that eluded most other departing Trump cabinet members.
What distinguishes Haley from Omar and Tlaib and the rest of the “Squad” is she’s a person of considerably more accomplishment who deservedly commands respect. Haley also has demonstrated an aversion to the promotion of hatred, including as it relates to Israel. South Carolina under Haley’s leadership was the first state to pass so-called anti-BDS legislation, which punishes companies that participate in the economic boycotting of Israel. More than a dozen states have since followed suit.
Though not widely reported in the liberal media, Omar and Tlaib last week co-sponsored a bill opposing Congressional efforts to make improvements to the defense and security of Israel and sanction supporters of the terrorist group Hamas. The bill likened Israel to Nazi Germany.
Regardless of one’s position on Israeli politics, the country is of critical importance to America’s business, security, and strategic interests. Hundreds of major U.S. companies have opened offices in Israel hoping to attract the country’s world-class technology talent for projects that are critical to their futures. Two of these companies are the biggest employers in Tlaib’s Michigan backyard: GM, opened a research and development facility in Israel more than a decade ago, while Ford opened one last month.
Michigan more than two years ago passed legislation prohibiting boycotts against individuals or a public entity of a foreign state. Economic development officials are looking to strengthen the state’s ties to Israel and last month announced a partnership with an Israeli non-profit to help link Michigan startups with those in Israel. University of Michigan has a research and education partnership with two major Israeli universities looking to spur innovation and collaboration in biomedical sciences.
The media glosses over lies and other inconvenient truths about Omar and her narratives about U.S. injustice. The Congresswoman told a group of 400 suburban Minneapolis students about once encountering a “sweet, old …African American lady” who had been arrested for stealing a $2 loaf of bread to feed her “starving 5-year-old granddaughter.” Even the Washington Post conceded this story is false or embellished. Minneapolis police don’t arrest people for shoplifting unless there’s a likelihood of violence or further crime.
Then there’s Omar’s comments to the Council on American-Islamic Relations about “some people did something” on 9/11. The Washington Post and other media characterized CAIR as a “civil liberties group.” According to a 2006 report by Daniel Pipes, who the Post called “perhaps the most prominent U.S. scholar on radical Islam,” CAIR maintained ties with terrorist organizations, and that at least five CAIR employees and board members were arrested, convicted, deported, or otherwise linked to terrorism-related charges and activities.
The media is at the forefront of a movement to silence anyone who disagrees with them, even members of Congress. New York Times editorial writer Mara Gay attacked Senator Ted Cruz for setting the record straight about a Frederick Douglass quote that Colin Kaepernick misrepresented. “Frederick Douglass is an American hero, and his name has no business in your mouth,” Gay tweeted at Cruz.
Twitter last week banned an Angel mom who is critical of illegal immigration and the harm she says is caused by sanctuary cities. Kathy Zhu, a University of Michigan student, said she was stripped of her Miss Michigan beauty pageant title because of her conservative views.
Gratuitously labeling everyone racists who oppose or are threatened by illegal immigration is a tactic that Kaufmann, the U.K. professor, warned about. And evidence is mounting that its giving “ammunition and oxygen” to Trump’s re-election efforts.
Politico reported the Republican National Committee raised double in fundraising than the Democratic National Committee in June, the month in which the Democratic presidential debates were held. More alarming is the national media is losing its influence even among those who share its viewpoints.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the most-shared news link across social media after the first Democratic Party presidential debates was to Breitbart News, a conservative outlet mostly supportive of Trump. The headline: “Fact Check: Democrats Launch Primary Debate by Lying About Trump Economy.”
America has become a country mired in hate on both sides of the political divide and the media in its zeal for clicks is profiting from it. Nancy Pelosi got it right: The “Squad” are just four Congressional members who got no support for their opposition against a House emergency border funding bill. Omar’s and Tlaib’s BDS bill won’t pass either and U.S. businesses aren’t going to boycott Israel on their say so. It’s all a carnival side show that distracts from serious issues that need to be addressed.
America needs a media overseen by responsible grownups who will prevent, rather than fuel, the spread of populism and hate. Sadly, the only journalist I’ve found with an intelligent understanding of this issue is an American expat who feels “doubly blessed” she’s living in Canada.