I guess Progressive Alaska got the ball rolling on tying together the three main elements of Sen. Ted Stevens' joint press conference last week:
1) The Senator's incredibly poor performance during parts of the conference.
2) The degree to which the press members there were either unwilling to, or incapable of confronting the Senator on important issues regarding his past performance.
3) The reporters' apparent lack of concern about or ignorance of the creepiness of Mark Steyn, the author Stevens was paraphrasing and recommending.
I've already written about this three times. Questions about Sen. Stevens' important role in creating the so-called "Enron exception" back in 2000 were covered last month on KUDO by Shannyn Moore, and in detail by The Alaska Report's Denis Zaki last week. Zaki's excellent article was based on his own research, and on information provided to the press by the Alaska Democratic Party.
Ishmael Melville at Kodiak Confidential quoted yesterday from my Thursday essay on how deplorable it is that the Alaska press corps seems to be acting as stenographers for Sen. Stevens' patently false meme that he cares about how much energy costs are hurting us, and now that he's discovered what is wrong, he's going to fix it. I still can't find mention in the Alaska press of Dennis Zaki's excellent work on this.
Celtic Diva was one of the few people who read my essays on this last week and immediately recognized Mark Steyn and his ideas for what they are - scare screeds cloaked in false Islamaphobia that are in reality racist, white power propaganda. She has now written two posts at Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis on this. She's also slightly modified the latter of them and published it at Pam's House Blend and DailyKos. Both national articles by CD have gotten some interesting comments.
Sen. Stevens' comment about Steyn's book, America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It, was offered to a reporter who asked him about the Patriot Act and Real ID, and "some Americans' concern that these are eroding our freedom..." Earlier on the same day as the press conference, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich had spoken about the "Protecting Alaskans' Rights" plank to his platform. I doubt Stevens knew that, but some of the reporters did. The Senator's response was consistent with many other statements on security issues he has made in the past seven years.
What Stevens said, in reply to the reporter, was "Re, uh, read, uh the book..uh, America Alone.. a lot of people com, uh, complain about that book, uh, but look, uh, he's a democraee, uh, uh. Look at, uh, the demographic concepts, uh, of that book."
Mark Steyn, the author of the book, as I pointed out Thursday, has, in his columns at various magazines and web sites, used terms like "Chinks," "Japs," "Gooks," and Wogs." In his book, Steyn states that Native Americans have become too powerful, and "in the old days, the White Man settled the Indian Territories," not the other way around.
Steyn has gotten a lot of things wrong over the past eight years - sort of like Sen. Stevens on the Patriot Act. Iconoclastic British writer, Johann Hari, quotes his colleague Geoffrey Wheatcroft on a few:
"Apart from predicting that George Bush would win the 2000 presidential election in a landslide, Steyn said at regular intervals that Osama bin Laden "will remain dead". Weeks after the invasion of Iraq he assured his readers that there would be "no widespread resentment at or resistance of the western military presence"; in December 2003 he wrote that "another six weeks of insurgency sounds about right, after which it will peter out"; and the following March he insisted that: "I don't think it's possible for anyone who looks at Iraq honestly to see it as anything other than a success story."
Steyn takes the basis for his book, an Islamized, authoritarian Europe, called Eurabia, from some of the writings of the brilliant, but single-minded British, Egyptian-born independent scholar, Bat Ye-or, who has devoted her career to, in the words of American historian Robert Benton Bretts, a flawed premise:
"[Her work] is strident and anti-Muslim. This is coupled with selective scholarship designed to pick out the worst examples of anti-Christian behavior by Muslim governments, usually in time of war and threats to their own destruction (as in the case of the deplorable Armenian genocide of 1915). Add to this the attempt to demonize the so-called Islamic threat to Western civilization and the end-product is generally unedifying and frequently irritating."
I regard this book that Stevens is recommending to us as a 21st Century "Protocols of the Elders of Mecca." It is false, it is harmful, and it cannot possibly lead to any good. Unfortunately, there is no lack of other books like it out there.
Peoples' beliefs in this kind of garbage aren't new. In the 1880s, in France, Edouard Adolphe Drumont published a book called La France Juive (Jewish France). It predicted a nightmarish, false image of a France dominated by Jews.
Stevens is falling for a false, hateful meme that has been enormously destructive, especially since the Bush Junta has been in power.
It is entirely fitting that Mark Begich issued his call for restoration of our rights the same day Stevens touted this hateful screed. And in the U.S. House race, where Rep. Don Young, along with Stevens, continues to help the far right steal our rights and our money, we have two candidates who know first-hand how powerfully awful hate can be to their own families.
Diane Benson, one of Alaska's civil rights icons, has fought prejudice with sheer guts and intelligence her entire life. And Ethan Berkowitz tells compelling, heart-rending stories of how European members of his family were destroyed by the end result of the kinds of hate exemplified in Drumont's and Steyn's books.
image - Diane Benson giving Elizabeth Peratrovich's 1945 civil rights speech, Mark Begich, Roy Peratrovich, Jr.
more on this Sunday