Erickson Didn’t Invent Anti-White Rhetoric–But He Is Exploiting It

I think Jim Naureckas’ Erick Erickson/David Duke equation (FAIR Blog, 7/14/10) is overdrawn. Erickson was playing off remarks by King Samir Shabazz, the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) member who stood in front of the largely African-American polling place in Philadelphia with a night stick in his hand. Shabazz is on record in another context saying that black men should kill white people, including children: “You want freedom, you’re going to have to kill some crackers. You’re going to have to kill their babies.” So Erickson is not, as Jim says, “hallucinating” this kind of language–just exploiting it.

Erickson and the rest of the right-wing media establishment are trying to create a major scare by painting the NBPP as a black version of the Ku Klux Klan. But while there are certain rhetorical similarities, and these should not be lightly dismissed, the Klan actually killed black children. And while the NBPP is notorious for its hateful rhetoric–which deserves condemnation, to the extent that this marginal group warrants notice at all–there’s scant evidence that its race-baiting language has ever been acted upon. The group seems to exist only to attract attention through its vile, racist rants.

So Erickson’s suggestion that this creepy, powerless group is actually likely to start “killing our kids”–and that the Obama administration is abetting this slaughter of white children–is simply politics. By linking Obama to violent black rhetoric, Erickson and his talk radio and Fox News allies are trying to turn this weak episode into a summer Swift Boat for the November elections. In other words, Erickson and his colleagues are engaging in racial rabble-rousing, much like the NBPP–but with a much more prominent platform and to much greater effect.

David Duke would not disapprove.

About Steve Rendall

Senior Media Analyst and Co-producer of CounterSpin Steve Rendall is FAIR's senior analyst. He is co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR's national radio show. His work has received awards from Project Censored, and has won the praise of noted journalists such as Les Payne, Molly Ivins and Garry Wills. He is co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (The New Press, 1995, New York City). Rendall has appeared on dozens of national television and radio shows, including appearances on CNN, C-SPAN, CNBC, MTV and Fox Morning News. He was the subject of a profile in the New York Times (5/19/96), and has been quoted on issues of media and politics in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and New York Times. Rendall contributed stories to the International Herald Tribune from France, Spain and North Africa; worked as a freelance writer in San Francisco; and worked as an archivist collecting historical material on the Spanish Civil War and the volunteers who fought in it. Rendall studied philosophy and chemistry at San Francisco State University, the College of Notre Dame and UC Berkeley.