Who Is the Right’s Charles Johnson?

Looks like others are starting to notice that John Doe debates like a foul-mouthed twelve-year-old. For the record, I think Dan Riehl’s original criticism of Glenn Beck, while valid, was over the top, but it’s hilarious to hear Doe equate him with Charles Johnson, because it seems to me that Doe is the Johnson wannabe, not Riehl.  While Charles Johnson smears decent conservatives as too “extreme,” John Doe smears decent conservatives as not extreme enough.


Charles Johnson’s Character Problem, Exhibit #6,174

Andrew Breitbart recently got into a fight with WorldNetDaily’s Joseph Farah over WND’s idiotic obsession with Barack Obama’s birth certificate.  Now, one would imagine this would be reassuring to those who devote considerable attention to the problem of “extremism” and “bad craziness” on the Right, and that perhaps someone like that would give credit to Breitbart for standing up to Farah.

Unless, of course, that someone happens to be slanderous knuckle-dragger Charles Johnson.

To him, the story is – despite having quoted absolutely nothing to imply anything of the sort – that Breitbart somehow “want[s] us to think [he] didn’t see it coming” that Birtherism would come up at the Tea Party Convention.

There’s no reasoning with you.  The only real flaw with Dennis Prager’s takedown of your lies is that he seems to think you still have a modicum of conscience to which he could appeal.

Dennis Prager Drop-Kicks the Little Green Football

The great Dennis Prager has penned an excellent takedown of libelous abomination Charles Johnson that really deserves to be reposted in full (hat tip to Robert Stacy McCain):

On Sunday, The New York Times Magazine featured an article on Charles Johnson, whose website — littlegreenfootballs — had for years been very popular among conservatives and among all those who believed that Islamic terror and Islamic religious totalitarianism were the greatest expressions of contemporary evil. The reason for the article was that Mr. Johnson has made a 180-degree turn and is now profoundly, even stridently, anti-right. This is my letter to him.

Dear Charles:

As you know, over the years, I was so impressed with your near-daily documentation of developments in the Islamist world that I twice had you on my national radio show — both times face to face in my studio. And you, in turn, periodically cited my radio show and would tell your many readers when they could hear you on my show.

So it came as somewhat of a shock to see your 180-degree turn from waging war on Islamist evil to waging war on your erstwhile allies and supporters on the right. You attempted to explain this reversal on Nov. 30, 2009, when you published “Why I Parted Ways With The Right.”

You offered 10 reasons, and I would like to respond to them.

First, as disappointed as I am with your metamorphosis, I still have gratitude for all the good you did and I respect your change as a sincere act of conscience. But neither this gratitude nor this respect elevates my regard for your 10 points. They are well beneath the intellectual and moral level of your prior work. They sound like something Keith Olbermann would write if he were given 10 minutes to come up with an attack on conservatives.

1. Support for fascists, both in America (see: Pat Buchanan, Robert Stacy McCain, etc.) and in Europe (see: Vlaams Belang, BNP, SIOE, etc.).

Associating the American right with fascism is done only by leftist ideologues and propagandists, not by serious critics. It is akin to calling everyone on the left a Communist. As for the specific examples, forgive me, but in 28 years as a talk show host and columnist, I had never heard of Robert Stacy McCain or of Vlaams Belang. Nor did the BNP or SIOE register on my intellectual radar screen.

I looked them up and found that McCain is a former editor at the Washington Times charged with racist views. So what?

The BNP is the British National Party, a racist group that in the last U.K. general election received 0.7 percent of the popular vote. So what?

SIOE stands for Stop Islamisation of Europe. I perused its website, and while there are ideas I disagree with (e.g., the group does not believe that there are any Muslim moderates), the desire to stop the “Islamization” of Europe is hardly fascist; it is more likely animated by anti-fascism.

Vlaams Belang is a Flemish nationalist political party that won 17 out of 150 seats in Belgium ’s Chamber of Representatives. From what I could gather from a cursory glance at the party’s platform, it is an ultra-nationalist Flemish party, many of whose language protection and secessionist ideals are virtually identical to those of the Party Quebecois, a party passionately supported by the left.

In any event, what do any of these groups have to do with mainstream American right institutions such the Hoover Institution, the Heritage Foundation or the American Enterprise Institute; or with mainstream conservative publications and websites such as the National Review, the Weekly Standard, Townhall.com or Commentary; or with mainstream American conservatives such as Bill Kristol, Thomas Sowell, Hugh Hewitt, Charles Krauthammer, George Will, Bill Bennett, Michael Medved, Dennis Prager, as well as Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh?

2. Support for bigotry, hatred, and white supremacism (see: Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Robert Stacy McCain, Lew Rockwell, etc.).

I agree with the late William Buckley that some of Pat Buchanan’s views could be construed as anti-Jewish; I don’t know who McCain or Lew Rockwell represent among mainstream conservatives; and to label Ann Coulter a white supremacist (or bigot) is slander.

3. Support for throwing women back into the Dark Ages, and general religious fanaticism (see: Operation Rescue, anti-abortion groups, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, the entire religious right, etc.).

“The entire religious right” wants to throw “women back into the dark ages?” As a religious (Jewish) conservative, perhaps I am a member of that group, and I find the charge absurd. The one example you give — anti-abortion — is invalid. To those who regard the unborn as worthy of life (except in the almost never occurring case of it being a threat to its mother’s life), opposition to abortion is no more anti-woman than opposition to rape is anti-man. The only people who wish to throw women into the dark ages are the people you, Charles, used to fight. That is why your change of heart has actually hurt the battle for women’s dignity and equality.

4. Support for anti-science bad craziness (see: creationism, climate change denialism, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, James Inhofe, etc.).

So, Charles, all those scientists who question or deny that human activity is causing a global warming that will render much of life on earth extinct are “anti-science?”

Has the possibility occurred to you that those who are skeptical of what they consider hysteria cherish science at least as much as you do? In fact, they suspect that — for political, social, financial, psychological and/or herd-following reasons — it is the “global warming” hysterics who are more likely to be anti-science.

Activist scientists, liberal media and leftist interest groups brought us the false alarm of an imminent heterosexual AIDS pandemic in America , the false alarm about silicon breast implants leading to disease and the nonsense about how dangerous nuclear power is. They were anti-science, not us skeptics who have been right every time I can think of.

5. Support for homophobic bigotry (see: Sarah Palin, Dobson, the entire religious right, etc.).

This charge is particularly ugly. It appears that you have decided to fight all the “hate” you allege to be on the right with your own hate. Why exactly is it “homophobic bigotry” to want to maintain the millennia-old definition of marriage as the union of men and women? The hubris of those who not only want to change the definition of the most important institution in society but believe everyone who ever advocated male-female marriage was a bigot — meaning everyone who ever lived before you, Charles — is as breathtaking as it is speech-suppressing.

6. Support for anti-government lunacy (see: tea parties, militias, Fox News, Glenn Beck, etc.).

What you call “anti-government lunacy” most Americans regard as preserving the greatest protector of individual liberty — limited government.

7. Support for conspiracy theories and hate speech (see: Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Birthers, creationists, climate deniers, etc.).

I am no fan of Alex Jones, who, coincidentally, has attacked me on his website as a “Jewish propagandist.” But please. The amount of hate speech in one Keith Olbermann commentary dwarfs any 12 months of Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. In any event, the real irony here is that before your inexplicable change, it was you who devoted years to documenting the greatest amount of hate speech on earth today — that coming from within the Islamic world. If you still hated hate speech, you would still be doing that important work.

As for believing in conspiracy theories, your new team wins hands down — from multiple assassins of JFK to the American government being behind 9-11 (it was even believed by a high-ranking member of the Obama administration) to the war in Iraq waged on behalf of Halliburton.

8. A right-wing blogosphere that is almost universally dominated by raging hate speech (see: Hot Air, Free Republic , Ace of Spades, etc.).

From what I have seen, your examples do not justify your charge. Moreover, for every right-wing “raging hate” speech website, there are probably three on the left. The major conservative sites are overwhelmingly rational and devoid of “raging hate.” Given my longtime respect for you, Charles, it pains me that it is your list of 10 reasons for abandoning the right that is a prime example of “raging hate.”

9. Anti-Islamic bigotry that goes far beyond simply criticizing radical Islam, into support for fascism, violence, and genocide (see: Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, etc.).

I saw Pamela Geller’s site (The New York Times Magazine article about you cited it — Atlas Shrugs — and mentioned nothing remotely approaching your charges against her or her site) and I’ve interviewed Robert Spencer. Your charges against them only cheapen the words “fascism,” violence” and “genocide.”

10. Hatred for President Obama that goes far beyond simply criticizing his policies, into racism, hate speech, and bizarre conspiracy theories (see: witch doctor pictures, tea parties, Birthers, Michelle Malkin, Fox News, World Net Daily, Newsmax, and every other right wing source).

The charge is a lie. Period. Those who cannot argue with the right always accuse it of racism. It used to work, Charles. But it is increasingly obvious to all but fellow leftists that the charge is specious. Opposition to President Obama has nothing to do with his race. Indeed, he continues to be more popular than his policies.

When you were on the politically and morally right side, Charles, you provided massive evidence for your positions. Now you throw verbal bombs. What happened? If you would like to tell me on my radio show, you are invited to do so. I miss you.

The Vile One promises a more comprehensive rebuttal tomorrow, but claims that Prager’s last point is invalid because…somebody anonymously left a “racist” comment on his article.  Grow up, Chuck…

I’d love to see Johnson take Prager up on his offer for a radio interview, even if it would be kinda like Jackie Chan vs. Jackie Mason.  Adding Stacy into the mix would be icing on the cake.

Little Green Freakshow

There’s a special place in hell waiting for Charles Johnson, regardless of whether or not he believes it’s really there.

Once one of the heavy hitters of the blogosphere (he helped in blowing the lid off Rathergate and founding Pajamas Media), in the past couple years Johnson has shifted the focus of Little Green Footballs to rooting out any perceived extremists (real & imagined alike) from the right-of-center, a venture that has its place (I’ve made clear my opposition to Birthers, Paultergeists, and other genuine loons & bigots), but for Johnson that crusade has morphed into something else entirely: a smear campaign based on specious (if any) evidence against…well, darn near every conservative blogger & commentator who isn’t him.

Ever expressed doubt as to man’s contribution to global warming?  Evolution?  You’re an extremist who has to be destroyed.  Host a blog, but don’t police the comment threads to Johnson’s exacting, jackbooted standards?  You obviously endorse every word there, then.  Is there an out-of-context or unsourced quote attributed to you floating around the Internet?  Good enough for Chuck!  Burn the witches!

Mind you, I hate Ron Paul every bit as much as the next sensible conservative, but that doesn’t justify dishonest attacks on him.  Likewise, I happen to believe in evolution (yes, I’ve changed my position since reading Godless, thanks in part to the excellent work of Dr. Francis Collins), but is creationism in public schools really a dire threat to the Union?  Please.

It was only natural that Johnson would jump on the bandwagon to keep Rush Limbaugh out of the NFL, and his conduct in this matter perfectly illustrates the (empty) content of his character.  Ace picked up on Johnson’s sleazy peddling of a fraudulent list of racist Rush quotes, and his utter indifference to their veracity.  Now the Media Research Center has released a report on the smear campaign, in which they mention Johnson as one of the perpetrators.  Johnson’s reaction?  Does he feel a shred of professional or personal obligation to honesty?  Nope: “I’ve finally made it. I’m an “offender” in this Rush Limbaugh idolizing article at the far right Media Research Center. My life is complete.”

That and a list of “racist and race-baiting quotes from Rush Limbaugh that are sourced and verified”:

“Right. So you go into Darfur and you go into South Africa, you get rid of the white government there. You put sanctions on them. You stand behind Nelson Mandela — who was bankrolled by communists for a time, had the support of certain communist leaders. You go to Ethiopia. You do the same thing.”

If Johnson or Media Matters would care to explain how speculation about the motives behind inconsistent stances on Iraq & Darfur (right or wrong) constitutes racism, I’d love to hear it.  Speaking bluntly about racial components to political issues is not “race-baiting.”

“Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.”

Rather than a “look at those violent blacks on the field!” comment that Johnson would like you to believe this is, it comes from a larger discussion on class & maturity in NFL culture—in which he compliments San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson and Philadelphia Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison as “the two most classy individuals playing in the National Football League today, in skill positions.”  As clicking on their names reveals, a little context can be a dangerous thing.

“Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?”

I can’t find context for this one (maybe Rush was trying to prod lefty sensibilities), but okay, it sure doesn’t sound good.  Absent a good contextual basis, he should apologize.  But is Rush Limbaugh a racist?  Ask his producer.

“Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.”

Rush apparently said this early in his radio career, to an unintelligible black caller.  Crude?  Insensitive?  Yes, but Rush openly regrets it, and an ill-considered quip uttered in frustration is hardly worth crucifying the guy over.

“I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. They’re interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well. I think there’s a little hope invested in McNabb and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he really didn’t deserve.”

This is commentary on media sensibilities regarding race, not race baiting.  Next.

“Obama’s America: white kids getting beat up on school buses. You put your kids on a school bus, you expect safety, but in Obama’s America, white kids now get beat up, with the black kids cheering, ‘Yeah! Right on! Right on!’”

*sigh* Johnson has already been called out for this faux controversy.

Since I began writing this post, Johnson has updated his post with the Snopes analysis of the “disputed” (that’s LGF-speak for what the rest of us call “phony”) Rush quotes—y’know, the only ones that show any actual racism.  He offers them without commentary, expresses no regret for his role in peddling them, and probably didn’t add them until it occurred to him that they might help him save face.  To Charles Johnson, blogging means never having to say you’re sorry.

Why the obsession with smearing people?  Why the abandonment of integrity?  Who knows—maybe his departure from Pajamas Media left him with a chip on his shoulder.  Maybe he’s overcompensating for similar charges that have been leveled against him in the past.  Whatever the cause, Little Green Footballs is no longer worthy of its once-revered place in the blogosphere, and is now nothing more than a Little Green Freakshow.