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Print view: Maureen Dowd says everyone knows. Digby says nobody cares
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DIGBY AND DOWD LIMN THE RUBES! Maureen Dowd says everyone knows. Digby says nobody cares: // link // print // previous // next //

DIGBY AND DOWD LIMN THE RUBES (permalink): Maureen Dowd has no idea how her society works. We noticed this problem as we read her new column, in which she says that Osama bin Laden gains “the ultimate victory” when we display “the moral timidity that would ban a mosque from that neighborhood” (from the neighborhood “near ground zero”).

For our money, that declaration is strikingly dumb on its own; it’s the type of overwrought judgment which typically chases these issues around, from various sides of the aisle. But we noticed the columnist’s larger problem at a later point in her piece. At one point, Dowd writes the following about the sponsors of the Park51 project, showing her monumental lack of the first fracking clue:

DOWD (8/18/10): Have any of the screaming critics noticed that there already are two mosques in the same neighborhood—one four blocks away and one 12 blocks away?

Should they be dismantled? And what about the louche liquor stores and strip clubs in the periphery of the sacred ground?

By now you have to be willfully blind not to know that the imam in charge of the project, Feisal Abdul Rauf, is the moderate Muslim we have allegedly been yearning for.

“By now,” a person is willfully blind if he doesn’t know Rauf is moderate! In fact, millions of people don’t know or believe that Imam Rauf is “the moderate Muslim” for whom “we” have been waiting. These people are only “willfully blind” if by that you mean they watch Fox.

What did people watching Fox hear about Rauf last night? They heard the same things they hear every night, especially if they watch Hannity. They heard that Rauf is a man with frightening “radical views,” a man who wants to make this country “sharia compliant.” Hannity has been reciting the latter claim for weeks, dating back to a first discussion on May 20. This is some of what his viewers heard about Rauf last night:

HANNITY (8/17/10): And tonight, more details about the radical views of the imam behind the mosque continue to be uncovered, including his support of the idea of bringing sharia law to America…

Michael xx, this is what we hear. Women in Saudi Arabia have to deal with the morality police—they can’t be seen in public with men that they’re not related to. Women can’t drive. We see that women under sharia are stoned to death. Women that are raped must have four male eye-witnesses. This is sharia law, as it is applied, in reality, in countries all around the world. So this imam wants America to be sharia compliant. What is he saying when he says that?

It would be hard to overstate how gruesome and fake this segment was. But based on Hannity’s normal ratings, something like three million viewers heard a set of remarkable claims advanced against Rauf last night—claims they’ve heard of earlier programs. (Today, they’ll talk to their friends about what they heard.) But in the world according to Dowd, “you have to be willfully blind” if you don’t know, “by now,” that Imam Rauf is a moderate.

Who is “willfully blind” about this? We’ll nominate Dowd herself! And by the way, let’s not pretend that Dowd herself, or her hapless newspaper, has made the slightest attempt to challenge the things that are being said about Rauf every night on Fox. A Nexis search tells the tale: According to Nexis, the Times hasn’t published a single report, editorial or op-ed column which mentions this topic at all.

You can read every word the Times has published. You wouldn’t have the slightest idea that this claim has been directed at Rauf. If you’ve heard the claim being made, you can’t learn if it’s true or false.

(We searched on “Rauf AND sharia.” In a wider search, we found no indication that sharia law has ever been mentioned in the Times with respect to Rauf or his project. We got the same result when we searched the Washington Post, with one appalling exception: On Sunday, August 8, the Post published a stand-alone quotation in which Newt Gingrich claimed that “many of the people who organized” this project “are apologists for sharia, which is a form of law that I think we cannot allow in this country, period.” In a familiar parody of journalism, the Washington Post made no attempt to evaluate Gingrich’s claim.)

Alas! This is the way your discourse typically works, though clods like Dowd haven’t noticed. Powerful claims are pumped on Fox—are repeatedly broadcast to millions of citizens. Strong impressions are formed by these broadcasts—broadcasts which are widely ignored by our mainstream “news organs.” In the case under review, people have heard these claims about Rauf—and they’ve seen and heard no attempts at rebuttal.

Enter the dumbest person in town. She insists that everyone knows that Imam Rauf is a moderate!

It’s hard to be much dumber than this, though Dowd will surely keep trying. Meanwhile, for those who want a rebuttal of Hannity’s claims, we’ll always have Media Matters. The site has produced a series of posts about Hannity’s claims concerning sharia. For a starter, we’ll recommend this August 13 post by Terry Krepel—a piece which bears the headline, “Sean Hannity knows nothing about Sharia law.” But for the most detailed review of this topic, we’ll recommend this unsigned research piece, posted on the same day. This report quotes large chunks of Rauf’s 2004 book, What's Right With Islam—the book from which Hannity cherry-picked a single quote to create the claim he recites every night, in which he says that Imam Rauf wants the United States to be “sharia compliant.”

(Reading this detailed work by Media Matters, we thought of the way a couple of quotes got cherry-picked from Naomi Wolf’s best-seller, Promiscuities, creating a phony case against Candidate Gore in November 1999. In that instance, it was the mainstream press corps, rather than Fox, which led the mob all through the town, banging this drum for a month.)

Are people being “willfully blind” when they watch Fox News? If so, they’re also “willfully blind” when they read the Times, a paper which is too clueless, too frightened, too timid, too disengaged, to challenge the reams of disinformation which enter the discourse each night. Each evening, people get disinformed by Fox; they get left for dead by the Times the next morning. In the interplay between these two famous forces—the questing Fox, the spineless Times—America’s discourse gets fashioned.

We were intrigued by Digby’s view of that gruesome discourse in yesterday afternoon’s post, headlined “Orwellian Bubble.”

Digby quoted Kevin Drum, who had made an ingenuous comment. “The very first time I heard about the ‘Ground Zero mosque’ I thought it was literally a plan to build a mosque as part of the memorial at the rebuilt WTC site,” Kevin wrote. “I wonder how many people still think that?” Almost surely, the answer would be: A whole boatload of people! Major news organs are still being very careless—or very dishonest—in the way they describe the Park51 site.

Almost surely, many people believe that a mosque is being built right at ground zero. Beyond that, many people believe that its director wants to bring sharia law to this country—wants to see women stoned. They’ve been deceived in all the typical ways—with Fox pumping out the disinformation, with organs like the Post and the Times staying willfully silent. These people believe all kinds of things which are simply false.

Reviewing the carnage, Digby wrote what follows. For our money, it displays the kind of liberal hauteur which increasingly typifies Digby’s work, an hauteur which resembles the type of tribal loathing often described as “hatred:”

DIGBY (8/17/10): People who live entirely in the wing-nut noise machine honestly don't know the truth about the project and are being scared half to death by this propaganda. Those who are apathetic (most Americans) probably think as Kevin did, that the "mosque" is being built on the site of the WTC as part of the planned memorial, which just seems odd. I don't think you can underestimate how uninformed most people are on just about anything. But on this issue I think there's a very good chance that they are more misinformed than usual.

I could be wrong, though. Maybe most of the country really believes that it's insensitive for American Muslims to practice their religion near Ground Zero, in which case we have bigger problems.

To our ear, Digby looks down on the rubes from Olympus, as she persistently does. She doesn’t evince an ounce of sympathy for the fact that they’re being misled. Most Americans are “apathetic,” she haughtily sniffs—thus ignoring the millions of people who attempt to follow the news, but get disinformed by organs like Fox, then left for dead by the others. For the record, these people have also been left for dead by our largest “liberal” organs. Through our dick jokes and our X, B, N and R-bombs, we have made it pretty clear—their kind isn’t wanted here.

As she closes, Digby adds to her brief, noting there’s no correct view but hers. If the rubes really do disagree with her, “we have bigger problems,” she says. But tribalists are always like this. There is no view but theirs.

There’s no “right” or “wrong” about Digby’s post; we’d recommend that you ponder its tone. Can you feel respect or sympathy for the average shlub who gets his ass disinformed by Fox? Tribal haters will raise their hands—No! We libs have been like this forever.

Maureen Dowd says that everyone knows. Digby says the rubes don’t care. Traditionally, this is the way progressives lose. But lord! How good it can feel!

Special report: The thirty-year itch!

Tomorrow—part 3: Krugman explains
Friday: Start with Reagan