Monthly Archives: February 2010

(Updated) CPAC 2010 starring Hannah Giles, the deranged Andrew Breitbart, and a crazy mob

While I was filming for a forthcoming project at CPAC, I was confronted by Hannah Giles, Andrew Breitbart and a mob of crazed teabaggers. They were enraged by an article I wrote for about James O’Keefe’s attendance of and assistance with a white nationalist event featuring open racialists Jared Taylor and John Derbyshire as well as Kevin Martin of the right-wing front group Project 21. Project 21, by the way, is a black front group created and is operated by white conservative operatives to provide cover to figures like Taylor.

Did O’Keefe plan the event with his friend, the white nationalist Marcus Epstein? O’Keefe’s role in helping out with and freely attending the event, along with his palling around with characters like Epstein and Taylor highlighted a career filled with racist pranks, from his ACORN pimp costume minstrel show (see Bradblog on the deceptive means Breitbart used to push the pimp costume myth) to his “affirmative action bake sale,” in which he and his friends charged white students extra for baked goods while minorities ate for little or nothing. Then there are his diaries about the hell of living in a multicultural university environment. James O’Keefe, the apparent hero of the conservative movement’s youth wing, is what racism looks like today.

The only time Breitbart and his goon squad get upset about racism is when they think it is somehow being directed against white people like themselves. That’s why a particularly manic mob member who wouldn’t stop using the word “rubric” seemed to argue to me against the existence of the Congressional Black Caucus because it would not allow a hostile conservative congressman to join. And it’s why when CPAC chose as its keynote speaker the race-baiter Glenn Beck, who claimed Obama has “a deep-seated hatred for white people.”

It is also worth noting that CPAC played host to Thomas Woods, a former leader of the white supremacist League of the South and contributor to the neo-secessionist Southern Partisan magazine. And that CPAC held a seminar called “Abraham Lincoln: Friend or Foe of Liberty?” led by Thomas DiLorenzo, another League of the South figure who insists Lincoln was the very embodiment of evil. The presence at CPAC of Islamophobes Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller (Geller once argued Obama was “involved with a crack whore in his youth”), promoters of the European neo-fascist Geert Wilders, can not be overlooked either. And stay tuned for my interview with Birther leader Philip Berg, who insisted Obama was actually an Indonesian Muslim who should be tried for treason and possibly executed. These people must have left their sheets at the dry cleaners.

Breitbart’s tirade against me was filled with irony. The most glaring projection was that I was using “Alinsky tactics,” referring to left-wing community organizer Saul Alinsky. For the record, I skimmed Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” about 14 years ago and can hardly remember what was in it. However, Breitbart’s boy, James O’Keefe, boasted to the LA Times that Alinsky’s book was the blueprint for his work.

Breitbart went on to say that calling someone a racist was the worst thing anyone could do. Actually, there is something worse than that: promoting and paying a racist. And that’s what Breitbart is doing with O’Keefe. Meanwhile, Breitbart has some interesting views of his own on racial issues. Besides calling the Holocaust Museum shooter James von Brunn a “multiculturalist, just like the black studies and the lesbian studies majors on college campuses,” Breitbart has howled about “black studies intimidation.” As usual, he only sees racism when it is supposedly directed against white people like himself.

According to a recent study by the Pew Center on the States, one out of every 100 adults in the United States is in prison. One of every nine black males between the ages of 20 and 34 has been behind bars, a scandalous statistic owing itself in part to the failed and racially biased drug war, which mandates the warehousing of non-violent drug offenders for long periods of time.

I look forward to working with James O’Keefe on prison reform.

Crazy Mobs at CPAC

I was mobbed on two occasions at CPAC while shooting a short documentary for the Independent Film Project. I was prepared for some hostility after the crazed Andrew Breitbart declared jihad but I have to admit that by the end, I was pretty drained. The first mob, which consisted of about 40 people, gathered after Hannah Giles confronted me and asked me to apologize to James O’Keefe, who is being hailed at CPAC as the movement’s victim hero. I talked to Giles, who was totally civil, along with a few more crazed members of the mob for about 45 minutes, until they dispersed. Giles refused to say who was funding O’Keefe but conceded that he never appeared in any ACORN offices dressed as a pimp. (That contradicts earlier claims by Breitbart and O’Keefe).

The second mob was inadvertently incited by Breitbart, who ran into me as I was trying to escape from a few parasitic and barely coherent characters who felt unsatisfied by their interactions with me during the second mobbing. Breitbart introduced himself by telling me (weirdly), “You’re the best at what you do,” or something to that effect, then came unhinged and unleashed a tirade of insults, refusing to let me speak. I’m sure some of his right-wing fans will celebrate his uninterrupted temper tantrum. Others will see Breitbart as the unstable and desperate character he is. Meanwhile, most sane people will not care.

Because I was shooting for an IFC show that is scheduled to air in May, I am awaiting authorization from the network to post a little footage online. If I get it, I’ll have some video out by late tomorrow or Monday.

Update: Video should be ready for tomorrow, assuming I get approval. Here’s a classic Breitbart freakout, courtesy of Tommy Christopher (highlights include Breitbart’s refusal to address O’Keefe’s pimp costume, his discussion of Gary Bauer, Dan Savage and mucus; his description of me as “evil, evil, evil;” and his blaming of Wade Rathke for the plight of inner city African-Americans):

“We’re all parasites.” This is Operation Streamline.

When an architect named Norman Pfeiffer designed the Evo DeConcini Federal Courthouse in Tucson, Ariz., he claimed to have been inspired by its natural surroundings. “From afar,” Pfeiffer told Architecture Week, “the desert tells little of what it knows. … But upon closer scrutiny it reveals its true self.”

The 413,000-square-foot, $67.3 million monolith that Pfeiffer erected blends easily with the pale desert landscape flanking downtown Tucson. The earth-toned structure appears so bland a casual passer-by might not even take a second glance. Only a few observers have ventured inside to witness the spectacle that takes place on the third floor.

The show begins each day at 1 p.m., when about 75 undocumented immigrants just captured along the U.S.-Mexico border are marched into the room in leg irons and manacles and compelled all at once to plead guilty to entering the country illegally. Although the proceeding has the trappings of a trial, the defendants never challenge the charges against them, and are clearly discouraged from doing so. They know their fate is preordained: deportation to a border town, separation from their families and occasionally a few months in a privatized prison.

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“A Disaster! Right In New York!”

On February 9, Intelligence Squared sponsored a debate on the resolution: “The US should step back from its special relationship with Israel.” Debating in favor of the resolution were Roger Cohen and Rashid Khalidi; against it were former US Ambassador to the European Union Stuart Eizenstat and former Israeli Ambassador to the US and ex Tel Aviv University President Itamar Rabinovich. I was among the overflow crowd of several hundred people that packed New York University’s student union for the event.

The debate was introduced by Robert Rosenkranz, the insurance magnate who launched Intelligence Squared through his foundation. He set the tone by commenting, “Well this could be the year that Iran gets the bomb… And getting back to a nuclear Iran, Israel might well be our best shield. Israel did the U.S., in the region, a favor, I would argue, by bombing the Syrian reactor. Maybe it will do the dirty work again so we don’t have to tolerate a nuclear Iran.”

(Intelligence Squared Executive Producer Dana Wolfe is a former staffer to Benjamin Netanyahu; Rosenkranz’s daughter-in-law, Stephanie Hessler, who helps him direct the foundation, is an outspoken neocon who has defended torture and assailed Obama’s policies on prosecuting accused terrorists).

Eisenstat led the argument against the resolution. He insisted that pulling away from Israel would be “a sign of American weakness” that would send a chill down the spine of our European allies, as though America would pull away from Great Britain next. Then he made a point I’d never heard before: Israel, with its massive arsenal of nuclear weapons, was actually “stopping nuclear proliferation” in the Middle East. A few more of Eisenstat’s arguments:

–Israel “was forming a 21st century culture.”
–Ehud Barak offered Arafat 95 percent of the West Bank and Arafat “walked away;” “There is no reliable Palestinian partner.”
–Countries in the “Moslem” world were not sufficiently “dependent American allies” like Israel has been
–Saudi Arabia is not a reliable ally because it exports “Wahabinism.” Only Israel can be depended on in the Middle East.
–The Palestinian response to “dismantling settlements [in Gaza], dismantling 3000 people” was rocket fire. Again, there is no “Palestinian partner.”

The most baseless of Eisenstat’s points, in my view, was that, “The Palestinians would have a state by now if there was a Palestinian Martin Luther King.” This often repeated canard went unchallenged by Cohen and Khalidi, who had been handed a golden opportunity to inform the audience about Mubarak Awad, Jamal Juma, Mohammad Othman, and the hundreds, if not thousands, of non-violent activists who have been killed, deported, captured, and tortured by Israel. The debaters could have said, “If Martin Luther King were Palestinian, he would have been assassinated or jailed and tortured.” And they could have highlighted Eisenstat’s unintentional, but apt, comparison of Israel to the Jim Crow South. Instead, when Khalidi was asked about Eisenstat’s point during Q&A, he launched into an analysis of the Madrid conference of 1991. This was the biggest missed opportunity of the night, in my opinion.

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