How to respond to loaded racist questions on CNN

Read this for background. When did CNN start hiring racist nutjobs to replace the bimbos and empty suits? 04

With that being said, you are a Democrat. You are saying, "Let's cut and run." And I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, "Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies."

And I know you're not. I'm not accusing you of being an enemy, but that's the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way.

ELLISON: Well, let me tell you, the people of the Fifth Congressional District know that I have a deep love and affection for my country. There's no one who is more patriotic than I am. And so, you know, I don't need to -- need to prove my patriotic stripes.

For the record, this is a poor answer. I say this not to criticize Ellison, who was blindsided -- who expects that outright hard-right racism from CNN? -- but to point out that this sort of loaded question needs to be answered offensively. The correct answer would be to turn that question right around:

Well, I'm glad you did not actually ask that question, because if you had, it would have been a remarkable display of unconscionable bigotry and ignorance on your part. What I hope to accomplish in Congress... (redirect the discussion to issues).

And if he continues that line of questioning, you calmly state your patriotism and redirect to issues. You can't ever get this sort of racist to actually discuss real issues, but you can make it quite clear to anyone watching exactly what the agenda is.

If we don't learn to play offense, the bullies will win every time. Dems should probably go to some kind of mandatory aggressive media training as part of DC orientation.

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Embracing idiocy

I realize that starting a thought with "Last night, Glenn Beck said ..." is the intellectual equivalent of saying "Watch this ..." before you abuse some inhalants, so bear with me. Because, before too long, it will all make sense. On Wednesday's episode of Glenn Beck's new television show, the host was in the middle of a rapid-fire rant and said under his breath and about college professors, "Weasels."

Curious, I decided to look into Beck's obviously rich college experience. I wondered: Did Beck, during his undergraduate and possibly graduate years, come to dislike certain professors he encountered along the way? Perhaps an advisor rubbed him the wrong way. Maybe he took that one bad class we all ran into. Could Beck have been the victim of an overzealous campus disciplinary system?

Well, any of these three things could have happened to Beck while studying theology at Yale. Or all three. One thing is for sure. If they did happen, they happened in a very, very short period of time. Because Beck, that professor-hating right-winger, was only around them for one semester. So where was he getting his hatred of academia?

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Glenn Beck: Moron, menace or both?

Glenn Beck, one of conservative radio's most outspoken gasbags, made the jump to television Monday. Beck's new television show premiered on CNN Headline News. It only took Beck one show to jump the shark. So catch the train wreck before it's too late, because his 15 minutes of fame are fleeting.

Hailed as the perfect addition to the Headline News nightly lineup, Beck's show offers viewers a glimpse into how network executives view their attempt to recharge their sagging ratings: Hire a third-rate, right-wing hack and have him impersonate two parts Bill O'Reilly, one part Jon Stewart and one part Ryan Seacrest. Moron accomplished.

What remains to be seen is how long CNN will stand by Beck, who will no doubt continue to embarrass himself and the network on a nightly basis. If they care about journalism, not long. If they care about continuing cable news's slow march toward irrelevance, this could take a while.

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When will it stop?

It's rather convenient, really. I can set my watch by it. About once a month, sometimes more, an angry right-winger will steal the spotlight and say something so vile, so offensive, that I'm left to wonder when people will stop taking them seriously. Or, further, when what they say will land them in jail.

Sometimes the perpetrator is a pundit. Sometimes a politician. Sometimes a televangelist. No matter who they are, what they say is quickly absorbed into the public debate, where repudiations are rare and responses are given short shrift.

This remains the pattern, of course, until a Democrat speaks out. When that happens, the noise machine acts so shocked, so taken aback, that America seems unable to take its next collective breath until and unless the offender - whose words pale in comparison to a Republican's - is shamed in the public square. Or worse.

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The Historical Fiction of Glenn Beck

Honestly, I couldn't get through the whole thing. I did make it to the two minute mark where I caught Glenn Beck saying that more preachers died during the American Revolution than any other group and that "England hated the preachers" going on to say that "in fact, if you were a preacher you were mostly liked to be killed during the American Revolution" presumably by the British.

Well, there were 4,435 combat deaths on the American side during the Revolutionary War. All told, there were some 10,000 total deaths from disease and malnutrition among American forces in the various army camps. Of these I'm sure more than a few were preachers but I only know of one, Rev. Ebenezer Baldwin, A.M., the pastor of the First Congregationalist Church in Danbury, Connecticut who died of a fever unrelated to combat in October 1776. His death is well-known because he was the first chaplain in General Washington's army.

The suggestion that the British went around massacring civilians, much less clergymen, is simply a despicable lie. Yes, the London papers described the colonial revolt as a "Presbyterian Uprising" and yes, Congregationalist ministers in New England played a pivotal role in fomenting the American revolt especially in the critical years of 1774-1776. I have a two volume set in my library entitled Political Sermons of the Founding Era, 1730-1805 that points to the important contributions made to American political thought by American clergymen before, during and after the Revolution just as the clergy played a pivotal role in the English Revolution of the mid-seventeenth century.

As Dr. Ellis Sandoz, a political scientist formerly at Louisiana State University, writes in the preface, "the early political culture of the American republic was deeply influenced by the religious consciousness of the New England preachers."  He adds, "indeed, it was often through the political sermon—the 'pulpit of the American Revolution'—that the political rhetoric of the period was formed, refined, and transmitted."

Jonathan Mayhew, D.D., the Congregationalist preacher at the Old West Church in Boston from 1747 until his death in 1766 is credited for the phrase "no taxation without representation" during his vigorous opposition to the Stamp Act of 1765. His fifty-five page sermon in 1750 commemorating the centennial of the execution of Charles I entitled A discourse concerning the unlimited submission and non-resistance to the high powers  (pdf) is one of the most influential political essays on the nature of civil liberties in American history and considered by historians as the key political treatise written in colonial America. In the sermon, Mayhew explored the idea that Christians were obliged to suffer under an oppressive ruler, as some Anglicans argued. Mayhew asserted that resistance to a tyrant was a "glorious" Christian duty. In offering moral sanction for political and military resistance, Mayhew anticipated the position that many ministers took during the conflict with Britain. But Mayhew's key point rested on the ancient freedoms of the pagan pre-Christian Britons.

The English constitution is originally and essentially free. The character which J. Caesar and Tacitus both give of the ancient Britons so long ago, is, That they were extremely jealous of their liberties, as well as a people of a martial spirit. Nor have there been wanting frequent instances and proofs of the same glorious spirit (in both respects) remaining in their posterity ever since,--in the struggles they have made for liberty, both against foreign and domestic tyrants.--Their kings hold their title to the throne solely by grant of parliament; i.e. in other words, by the voluntary consent of the people.

No historian is going to dispute the view that clergymen played a role in the Independence movement but Glenn Beck is suggesting that clergy were the driving force. Nothing could be further from the historical record. John Witherspoon, a Presbyterian, was the only active clergyman among the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. It's true that Presbyterian and Congregationalist ministers, and hence their congregations, were largely for independence. However, it also true that many Quakers, who don't have ministers but rather believe that anyone may be called to pastoral ministry, and most Anglicans remained loyal to the Crown. Ministers of the Church of England were bound by oath to support the King and the Quakers were pacifists. It bears reminding that only a third of colonials were for independence, a third opposed and a third indifferent or neutral. Regionally at the start of the war, New England was the one most for independence and the South the most loyal to the Crown.

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