Thursday, March 15, 2012

Right-Wing Pundits Smear Soledad O’Brien As ‘Anti-Semitic’ And Racist

By Eli Clifton/Think Progress

contentious CNN interview by Soledad O’Brien with editor Joel Pollak set off a firestorm of vitriolic name-calling against O’Brien from the far-right, with some critics going so far as to falsely accuse the CNN anchor of anti-Semitism.
In a March 8, interview, O’Brien challenged Pollak’s assertion that a video from 1990 showing President Obama, then a law student, hugging late Harvard Law Professor Derrick Bell was a “smoking gun” for Obama’s true beliefs on “racial division and class warfare.” Pollak’s manufactured controversy hinged on characterizing Critical Race Theory (CRT) as “hold[ing] that the Civil Rights Movement was a sham and that White Supremacy is the order and it must be overthrown.” Prodded by Pollak to define CRT, O’Brien accurately characterizedit as a theory that “looks into the intersection of race and politics and the law.” (Watch it here.)
While Pollak in his eagerness to hype his “bombshell” video mischaracterized CRT as a radical theory that calls for a war against white people, animosity on the far right has been pointed at Soledad O’Brien for correcting his inaccurate statements. Chris Loesch, husband of CNN contributor Dana Loesch, tweeted (HT: Little Green Footballs):
And Michelle Malkin, writing on David Horowitz’s, claimed that O’Brien defended CRT and Bell because “she masks her political activism under the banner of corporate media ‘diversity.’” Malkin continues:
[L]iberal minority journalists simply can’t resist carrying water for Obama. That’s because their journalistic unity demands political unanimity. If you don’t accept the left-leaning agenda of “social change” journalism, you’re enabling racism. If you don’t support the pursuit of racial hiring goals as a primary journalistic and academic goal, you’re selling out.
Noticeably, neither Loesch and Malkin offer any evidence that CRT calls for “war against white people” or that O’Brien’s comments were rooted in anti-Semitism or racism. Indeed, the increasing politicization of anti-Semitism accusations has raised eyebrows among many in the Jewish community. Sarah Wildman, a columnist for the International Herald Tribune and PBS, wrote in The Jewish Daily Forward last January:
[W]hen anti-Semitism is falsely applied, we must also stand up and decry it as defamation, as character assault, as unjust. That is why when we debase the term by using it as a rhetorical conceit against those with whom we disagree on policy matters, we have sullied our own promises to our grandparents. For if we dilute the term, if we render the label meaningless, defanged, we have failed ourselves, our legacy, our ancestors, our children.
While Loesch and Malkin are quick to throw around incendiary accusations, it might be helpful for them to explain why they believe O’Brien’s defense of CRT and critical questioning of Joel Pollak justify accusing an award winning CNN anchor of racism and anti-Semitism.
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