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“Imaginary Footage Roils Republican Race”: Trump Is Trying To Justify His Right-Wing Approach To Registering Muslim Americans

It doesn’t happen often, but once in a great while, videos that don’t exist can cause a stir. In 2008, for example, a variety of far-right activists claimed they saw footage of Michelle Obama referring to white people as “whitey.” The video was fictional – the conservatives who made the claims were lying – but the chatter surrounding the made-up story grew pretty loud.

More recently, Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina falsely claimed she’d seen an abortion-related video that does not, in reality, exist. Pressed for an explanation, Fiorina simply dug in, stubbornly pretending fiction is fact.

And this week, as Rachel noted on the show last night, we’re confronted once more with a high-profile Republican trying to make an offensive point by pointing to footage that exists only in the world of make-believe.

At issue are imaginary reports from 9/11 that Trump believes show “thousands and thousands” of Jersey City residents of Middle Eastern descent cheering when the Twin Towers fell. The Republican frontrunner initially made the claim late last week, but he’s now repeated it and defended it several times since – pointing to news coverage Trump claims to have seen, but which remains entirely imaginary.

[I]n a sign the campaign and Trump himself may be at least a little concerned about the way his comments are perceived, the Donald made an impromptu call to NBC News Monday afternoon. Offering reassurance that he had indeed seen video of the celebrations on television on and “all over the Internet,” Trump said, “I have the world’s greatest memory. It’s one thing everyone agrees on.”

Trump even asked for news organizations to apologize to him for fact-checking his made-up claim. “Many people have tweeted that I am right!” he argued on Twitter, as if this were persuasive.

Making matters slightly worse, Trump’s obvious nonsense was also briefly endorsed yesterday afternoon by one of his GOP rivals.

Dr. Ben Carson apologized for asserting the widely discredited allegation that thousands of American Muslims had celebrated the 9/11 attacks in New Jersey. He told NBC News on Monday that he’d been thinking of celebrations captured in the Middle East – and not New Jersey.

Adding his voice to claims most recently made by Republican front-runner Donald Trump, Carson told reporters twice on Monday that he’d seen the “film” of the celebrations. When asked by NBC News specifically if he meant in New Jersey, he replied yes. Later on Monday, his campaign began walking back the comment.

We’ve reached a very strange point in American politics. A candidate for the nation’s highest office is seen as having done something halfway admirable because he’s acknowledged a misstep in which he confused New Jersey and the Middle East.

As for Trump, NBC News’ Katy Tur asked the New York Republican yesterday, “Where did you see the video? We can`t find anything in our archives. Others can`t find anything in theirs.”

Trump replied, “I saw video. It was on television. How would I know? You`ll have to find it.  I`ve also seen it all over the Internet. I`ve seen it on the Internet over the years. I`ve seen it on the Internet.”

Actually, no, he hasn’t, because the video does not exist.

What’s more, let’s not forget that the point of this entire fiasco is that Trump is trying to justify his right-wing approach to registering Muslim Americans and spying on houses of worship. In other words, we’re talking about a racially charged lie about imaginary news reports, created to defend a racially charged policy agenda.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, November 24, 2015

November 26, 2015 Posted by | American Muslims, Donald Trump, Racial Profiling, Racism | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Deny Terrorists Their Power”: Terrorism’s Threat Lies Only In Its Psychological Effect

I have not seen the video.

Not saying I won’t, but for now, I’ve chosen not to. To rush online and seek out cellphone footage of two fanatics with machetes who butchered a British soldier in London on Wednesday, to watch them standing there, hands painted red with his blood, speaking for the cameras, would feel like an act of complicity, like giving them what they want, like being a puppet yanked by its strings.

Sometimes, especially in the heat of visceral revulsion, we forget an essential truth about terrorism. Namely, that the people who do these things are the opposite of powerful. Non-state sponsored terror is a tactic chosen almost exclusively by the impotent.

These people have no inherent power. They command no armies, they boss no economies, their collective arsenals are puny by nation-state standards. No, what they have is a willingness to be random, ruthless and indiscriminate in their killing.

But they represent no existential danger. The United States once tore itself in half and survived the wound. Could it really be destroyed by men using airliners as guided missiles? Britain was once bombed senseless for eight months straight and lived to tell the tale. Could it really be broken by two maniacs with machetes?

Of course not.

No, terrorism’s threat lies not in its power, but in its effect, its ability to make us appalled, frightened, irrational, and, most of all, convinced that we are next, and nowhere is safe. Here, I’m thinking of the lady who told me, after 9/11, that she would never enter a skyscraper again. As if, because of this atrocity, every tall building in America — and how many thousands of those do we have? — was suddenly suspect. And I’m thinking of my late Aunt Ruth who, at the height of the anthrax scare, required my uncle to open the mail on the front lawn after which, she received it wearing latex gloves.

I am also thinking of the country itself, which, in response to the 9/11 attacks, launched two wars — one more than necessary — at a ruinous cost in lives, treasure and credibility that will haunt us for years.

Have you ever seen a martial artist leverage a bigger opponent’s size against him, make him hurt himself without ever throwing a punch? That’s the moral of 9/11. The last 12 years have shown us how easily we ourselves can become the weapon terrorists use against us. This is especially true when video footage exists (How many times have you seen the Twin Towers destroyed?). After all, getting the word out, spreading fear like a contagion, is the whole point of the exercise.

That could not have been plainer Wednesday. Having reportedly run the soldier, Lee Rigby, down with a car, having hacked him to pieces with machetes, these men did not blow themselves up and they did not run. No, they spoke their manifestos, their claims of Muslim grievance, into the cellphone cameras of passers-by.

Almost instantly, this was all over television and the Internet. Almost instantly the voices of impotent men were magnified to a global roar. Almost instantly, we all stood witness.

Terrorism uses its minimal power to achieve maximum effect and this is easier than ever on a planet that is now electronically networked and technologically webbed. Our connectivity is an exploitable vulnerability.

But in the end, no, these people cannot destroy us. Can they grieve us? Certainly. But they cannot destroy us unless we help them do it.

Their most lasting violence is not physical, but psychological — the imposition of fear, the loss of security. We cannot control what such people do. But we can control our reaction thereto. So let it be finally understood: From time to time, we will face the desperate evil of impotent men. But the only power they have is the power we give them.

I propose we give them none.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., The National Memo, May 27, 2013

May 28, 2013 Posted by | Terrorism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Politics Without Purpose: September 11 Should Not Be Another Media Event

It was another one of those weeks in the capital when our leaders debated matters crucial to the survival of American civilization.

Did President Obama try to upstage the Republican presidential debate by asking to address a joint session of Congress that same night? And did House Speaker John Boehner dis the president, and the presidency, by denying him that slot?

Tempted though I was to weigh in on this important matter, I decided instead to head over to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, to preview a small but immensely powerful exhibit marking the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

There, displayed for the first time, are sacred relics of 9/11: the crumpled piece of the fuselage where the American flag had been painted on the Boeing 757 that crashed in a Pennsylvania field, a flight-attendant call button from the plane, a window shade, a landing gear strut, and a log book with the pages intact. The exhibit is simple and raw, without glass or showcases. Some dried mud caked on an airplane seatbelt was flaking off onto a tablecloth.

Nearby is the door from a fire truck crushed at Ground Zero and the beeper of a man who died in the South Tower. There’s a Pentagon clock frozen at about the time American Airlines Flight 77 struck the complex and the phone on which Ted Olson received the last call from his wife on the doomed plane. Most poignant, perhaps, is the postcard from another passenger, written to her sister the day before the crash to give the address of a new home in which she would never live.

The spare exhibit brought back the horror of that time. But it also reminded me of the pride in what followed, the national unity and sense of purpose.

The warm feelings didn’t last long, of course, destroyed by the war in Iraq and the politicization of homeland security. By now, we have lost all sense of purpose in politics, alternately distracted by Sarah Palin’s bus tours, Anthony Weiner’s private parts, David Wu’s tiger suit, Donald Trump’s birth-certificate campaign, and Dick Cheney’s broadsides.

Obama, whose uncertain trumpet has ceased to rally even his own troops, contemplated his long-delayed jobs agenda while lounging on Martha’s Vineyard last month. His leading Republican rival for the presidency talks of treason and secession. Another challenger arranges to quadruple the size of his California home (his defense: He’s only doubling the living space). Lawmakers play games with the debt ceiling and wound the nation’s credit rating but can’t agree on anything to put Americans back to work.

The political extraneousness of the moment, in other words, is like that of early September 2001. We spent those days amusing ourselves with Gary Condit and shark attacks. President George W. Bush spent August on a record-long ranch vacation. The biggest issue under debate: stem-cell research. Warnings about Osama bin Laden were ignored while the administration obsessed over rewriting a missile treaty with Russia.

What will it require to end the drift this time? A depression? Another attack? Or is there a less painful way to regain national purpose?

“For most people,” curator David Allison told me as I toured the Smithsonian exhibit, “Sept. 11 is only a media event.” The exhibit is a modest attempt at changing that, taking that day’s ruins out of storage and rekindling memory. The lucky few who see the exhibit during its short run will be reminded that there are things more important than whether the president addresses Congress on a Wednesday or a Thursday.

Consider the simple postcard, written by Georgetown economist Leslie Whittington to her sister and brother-in-law, as Whittington, her husband and their 8- and 3-year-old daughters headed off to Australia for a sabbatical. The card, postmarked Sept. 12 at Dulles Airport, must have been mailed just before the family boarded American Flight 77. The note says, in its entirety:

9/10/01

Dear Sara & Jay,

Well, we’re off to Australia. When we return we will have a new address (as of 11/30): 8034 Glendale Rd. Chevy Chase, MD 20815

We don’t know our phone # yet. While we are in “Oz”, email will work best for contacting us: whittinl@georgetown.edu.

Love, Leslie, Chas, Zoe & Dana

I thought about Sara receiving that postcard from her dead sister, and about those little girls who never made it to Glendale Road – because of 19 evil men and a government distracted by less important things.

Then I went out onto Constitution Avenue, where, across from the museum, a bus labeled “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” had just parked.

 

By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, September 2, 2011

September 3, 2011 Posted by | 911, Congress, Conservatives, Democracy, Democrats, Disasters, Freedom, GOP, Government, Ground Zero, Homeland Security, Ideologues, Ideology, Journalists, Lawmakers, Liberty, Media, National Security, Politics, President Obama, Public, Pundits, Republicans, Right Wing, Teaparty, Terrorism | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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