Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, The Huffington Post, the Independent Film Channel, Salon.com, Al Jazeera English and other publications. He is the author of the bestselling book Republican Gomorrah. His new book, just published, is Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel (Nation Books).
Last week, I reported for the Huffington Post that country singer Toby Keith had performed a pro-lynching anthem on the Colbert Report, and would be playing the same song soon on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and a slew of nationally televised talk shows.
The lyrics of Keith's song, "Beer For My Horses," which I transcribed, could hardly be less explicit -- "Hang 'em high, for all the people to see." In my piece, I also noted the racially tinged nature of the song's video and the forthcoming movie that Keith's song inspired.
Toby Keith's latest: Obama "talks, acts, and carries himself as a Caucausian."
During the week of October 21, far-right wing operative and former communist agitator David Horowitz deployed his allies to college campuses America to spout crude anti-Muslim invective and hype the threat of more terror attacks on the United States. Horowitz called this event "Islamofascism Awareness Week." Among his stable of campus speakers were noted Islam experts Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity.
"Islamofascism Awareness Week" was, from the beginning, little more than a marathon fashion show for the paranoid style. But it was not until Horowitz muscled his way onto the campus of his alma mater, Columbia University, on October 26 that his event attained the commanding heights of reactionary hysteria.
Actor Stephen Baldwin, the youngest member of the famous Baldwin brothers, is no longer playing Pauly Shore's sidekick in comedy masterpieces like Biodome. He has a much more serious calling these days.
Baldwin became a right-wing, born-again Christian after the 9/11 attacks, and now is the star of Operation Straight Up (OSU), an evangelical entertainment troupe that actively proselytizes amongactive-duty members of the US military. As an officialarm of the Defense Department's America Supports You program, OSU plans to mail copies of the controversial apocalyptic video game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces to soldiers serving in Iraq. OSU is also scheduled to embark on a "Military Crusade in Iraq" in the near future.
"We feel the forces of heaven have encouraged us to perform multiple crusades that will sweep through this war torn region," OSU declares on its website about its planned trip to Iraq. "We'll hold the onlyreligious crusade of its size in the dangerous land of Iraq."
The war in Iraq has sparked a parallel war between two of Washington's most prominent partisan political publications, The New Republic and the Weekly Standard. The war has been akin to the ongoing seige of Baghdad's Green Zone, with the Standard playing the role of Iraqi insurgents, lobbing mortars over the Green Zone gates while TNR rushes to shore up its defenses.
The war began on July 13, when The New Republic published a "Baghdad Diary" by "Scott Thomas," an Army private writing under a pseudonym about U.S. atrocities in Iraq. Thomas described his participation in the mockery of a female soldier disfigured by an IED, claimed he witnessed troops intentionally running over dogs in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and alleged that another soldier played with the skulls of dead Iraqi children.
In attempt to challenge the wild notion that atrocities could occur amidst a violent occupation, the neoconservative Weekly Standard's Matthew Goldfarb published an article declaring that TNR's Baghdad Diary was "looking more like fiction." Goldfarb's piece relied on a series of letters supposedly sent to him by active-duty soldiers that raised questions about the veracity of TNR's story.
On July 16, I attended Christians United for Israel's annual Washington-Israel Summit. Founded by San Antonio-based megachurch pastor John Hagee, CUFI has added the grassroots muscle of the Christian right to the already potent Israel lobby. Hagee and his minions have forged close ties with the Bush White House and members of Congress from Sen. Joseph Lieberman to Sen. John McCain. In its call for a unilateral military attack on Iran and the expansion of Israeli territory, CUFI has found unwavering encouragement from traditional pro-Israel groups like AIPAC and elements of the Israeli government.
But CUFI has an ulterior agenda: its support for Israel derives from the belief of Hagee and his flock that Jesus will return to Jerusalem after the battle of Armageddon and cleanse the earth of evil. In the end, all the non-believers - Jews, Muslims, Hindus, mainline Christians, etc. - must convert or suffer the torture of eternal damnation. Over a dozen CUFI members eagerly revealed to me their excitement at the prospect of Armageddon occurring tomorrow. Among the rapture ready was Republican Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. None of this seemed to matter to Lieberman, who delivered a long sermon hailing Hagee as nothing less than a modern-day Moses. Lieberman went on to describe Hagee's flock as "even greater than the multitude Moses led out of Egypt."