Tuesday, March 08, 2011


Ron Schiller, NPR's former senior vice president of fundraising (he quit last week), was filmed by James O'Keefe's crew discussing a possible $5 million contribution to NPR with two guys who identified their (fictional) organization as "founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood." Schiller didn't take the money, but he said some embarrassing stuff:

SCHILLER: The current Republican Party, particularly the Tea Party, is fanatically involved in people's personal lives and very fundamental Christian -- and I wouldn't even call it Christian. It's this weird evangelical kind of move... it's been hijacked by this group that...

"MUSLIM": The radical, racist, Islamophobic, Tea Party people?

SCHILLER: It's not just Islamophobic, but really xenophobic. Basically, they believe in white, middle America, gun-toting -- it's pretty scary. They're seriously racist, racist people.

This has upset a lot of people who think all Muslims are sharia-seeking jihadists, and who think all liberals are ideologically indistinguishable from Stalin and Mao.

Can we at least not lie to ourselves? As this becomes a big scandal marked by endless self-righteous huffing and puffing, can we at least tell the truth, which is that this is not a debate about neutrality or privatization? Can we admit that if the ideological poles were reversed -- if NPR were a culturally conservative government-funded organization, and a prominent representative of the organization revealed right-wing cultural biases on tape -- the people who are howling right now would be rushing to the representative's defense?

We know this because they defend religious right military chaplains who proselytize. We know this because they still greatly admire General Jerry Boykin, the guy who said of a Muslim enemy, "I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol" (and who was promoted rather than disciplined after saying it).

The point is that the military is part of the government, and is culturally right-wing -- and the right never deounces ideological statements like Boykin's that cross the line. As we discuss Schiller (and we will, endlessly), let's at least try to remember that. Let's try to remember the obvious fact: that this is about the right trying to win one for its side, not about trying to keep things balanced. The right would have no problems whatsoever with a government-funded Fox News, and I don't care how much rightists deny that.

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