Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A speak out against commercial hate

Members of the "Hate Hurts America" interfaith coalition held a press conference this morning outside Talk Radio KNEW 910. KNEW is the San Francisco home of hate radio host Michael Savage. Not surprisingly KNEW is an outlet of Clear Channel, the megaconglomerate that claims 110 million listeners to its radio stations.

Savage's program claims 8 million listeners. He has quite a history of vicious statements about Muslims. For example Media Matters reports this:

"[W]hen I see [Muslim extremists] hanging from lampposts, with their guts hanging out, then I'll believe that there's a difference between radical Islam and the rest of Islam over there. But if I don't see that -- if I don't see the massive uprising against them, I can only assume that they're the shock troops of all of Islam in the Middle East."

He doesn't much like lesbians, Democrats or Hillary Clinton either. Recently he took off on the Quran:

"What kind of religion is this? What kind of world are you living in when you let them in here with that throwback document in their hand, which is a book of hate. Don't tell me I need reeducation. They need deportation. I don't need reeducation. Deportation, not reeducation. ..."

That is, he's a jerk who peddles prejudice and fear for profit.

Hate Hurts America points out to advertisers that they may not want to be complicit in the hate business. Some big companies, including Office Max, JC Penney and Autozone, have responded, dropping ads on Savage's program.

Today's press conference organized by the Muslin civil rights organization CAIR, promoted an interfaith petition asking other advertisers to get out of hate mongering. Speakers included lots of San Francisco's activists, including representatives of the Lt. Watada Support Committee, the American Friends Service Committee and Gerardo Sandoval representing the city supervisors.

But by far the most interesting speaker was Rabbi Harry Manhoff of the San Francisco Board of Rabbis who took as his text the famous statement of the German pastor Martin Niemoller -- "They came for the Communists, and I didn't object - For I wasn't a Communist; ... They came for the Jews, and I didn't object - For I wasn't a Jew; Then they came for me - And there was no one left to object." He explained [my paraphrase] that he had begun to worry -- though he had preached against the Bush Administration's Iraq invasion and suspension of habeas corpus within his own congregation, he hadn't really stepped out into the public eye with his criticisms. He was afraid taking too strong a presence would be used to criticize "my beloved Israel." But the kind of venom encouraged by Savage had convinced him he must speak out and reach across expected chasms.

In the words of the petition:

Hate-filled words can and do lead to violent actions.

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