So, how is he such a radical now? What explains the sudden turnaround? What explains the fact that people who have had dealings in the past with this specific person, with the imam behind the proposed Islamic center in downtown Manhattan and know him to be a moderate and who have said so out loud—what explains why they suddenly have decided that the man is so dangerous?
The difference is that now, this moderate imam‘s community center has been declared this month‘s new “scare white people” story. So, the truth about the imam doesn‘t matter anymore. The truth about the cultural center that they want to build downtown doesn‘t matter anymore. It‘s time to scare white people for political profit.
And this formula should be pretty familiar by now. We‘ve been through episodes of “scare white people” game recently. That was—one about Van Jones who was smeared on FOX News as a violent convicted felon. Of course, that wasn‘t true, but he still lost his job as a White House environmental adviser. Be afraid—be afraid of policy wonk, dorky guy Van Jones.
Of course, there was also ACORN, a mostly minority community-based organization attacked as a group of criminal thugs based largely on cooked-up deceptively edited videotapes created by right wing activists. Be afraid—be afraid of the minority community-organizing group made up of poor people.
Now, there was the completely ginned up New Black Panthers episode. White people, be afraid of two whacked out guys who braid their beard hair and hung out outside a polling station on Election Day a year and a half ago. We dug up the old tape so you can be afraid.
And, also, don‘t forget Shirley Sherrod, who, thanks to again to video-editing designed to be misleading, was portrayed as a racist Obama administration official—racist in that she was out to make sure white people didn‘t get any help from the Department of Agriculture. White people, be afraid—be afraid of Shirley Sherrod.
After all of these other very recent chapters in the scare white people political playbook: “A,” we should have been ready for it, but, “B,” it‘s quite clear that it‘s time for a new one. So, the Ground Zero mosque controversy was born.
What‘s worth noting about all of these different “scare white people” stories is that they‘re not really actual news stories. I mean, no real news organizations started running with this story as actual news. The best “scare white people” stories are invented out of whole cloth, from inside the media world, so they can be just the right kind of scary in just the right kind of way in order to drive just the right political consequence.
So, ultimately, if the conservative media drives this to make it big enough, then normal news organizations pick it up, too, sometimes because they‘re gilded (ph) into it by conservatives. But no non-FOX, non-conservative media outlet ever starts these things.