Racist Literature Distributed in Berkeley
A study in hate, the left/right convergence, and media spin
Berkeley, April 11, 2007
Summary of the Facts
During the first few days of April, 2007, racist literature was distributed in several Berkeley, California neighborhoods by members of an out-of-town white supremacist group.
Local residents who found the material were shocked at the anti-black, anti-Jewish and almost gleefully malicious messages on the flyers and newspapers -- which were produced by the White Aryan Resistance, a virulent hate group founded by KKK member Tom Metzger, currently headquartered in Temecula, in Southern California.
The racist literature was reported to the police, who determined that no crime had been committed, since political opinions -- even ignorant, racist, hate-filled opinions -- fall under the rubric of constitutionally protected free speech. The material did not contain any specific threat of violence, so no charges were filed.
The incident did not receive national coverage, but was mentioned in a few local media outlets, with articles appearing in The Daily Californian, The Berkeley Daily Planet, Inside Bay Area, and a brief mention in The San Francisco Chronicle.
A peculiar aspect of the media coverage is that almost none of the news organizations actually showed what the material looked like. Only The Daily Californian article (linked above) reproduced the flyer shown here, which was one of many.
(All of the news reports focused on one of the other flyers, which calls on "white" people to avenge the mid-1970s' Zebra Murders, one of the worst serial-killing sprees in American history, in which black members of the Nation of Islam killed at least 16 people whom they perceived as white, in an attempt to start a race war.)
However, one detail in particular about the coverage struck me: In almost all of the media reports, mention is made of "anti-Semitic" material -- yet it is never described.
The Plot Thickens
Fortunately, a news report broadcast on local television station KTVU includes a few brief images of the hate literature. These go by in a flash, and are not specified by the reporter, but are partially visible for a second or two as they are arranged on a table by a police spokesperson. An online version of the KTVU report can be found here, at least for now.
And in those few brief moments, the anti-Semitic flyer is indeed shown.
This is a freezeframe taken from the KTVU report. Because of the low resolution of the video, and because the flyer is wrinkled and not lying flat, the words are not completely clear. But by cross-referencing this image with the one shown below, the entire message can be discerned. It says:
JOIN the UNITED STATES ARMY and FIGHT for ISRAEL
The same flyer is shown upside-down elsewhere in the KTVU report. I took this freezeframe...
...and rotated it so that the words are upright. From this angle, the wrinkle in the paper distorts the image in a slightly different way, but it confirms the wording of "JOIN the UNITED STATES ARMY and FIGHT for ISRAEL" and also reveals a stereotypical big-nosed Jew giving orders to an American soldier.
[UPDATE:] zombietime reader Paul G. finally located this orginal version of the flyer shown in the TV report. This is what the color version of it looks like. I'll let you decide if it's anti-Semitic or not.
Now, there's no question that these materials were produced by the extremist right-wing anti-Semitic group called White Aryan Resistance. Their name and address are visible on the material. And there's no question that the message they're promulgating is a racist, hateful conspiracy theory.
Which makes it all the more shocking to realize that the EXACT SAME MESSAGE is also frequently stated by the anti-war "Left."
Left-Wing Hate and Right-Wing Hate Become Indistinguishable
The photographs shown below were all taken by me at left-wing anti-war rallies in the San Francisco Bay Area (including some in Berkeley itself) over the last few years. These signs are just a small sampling of similar political opinions visible at these rallies and across the left side of the modern political spectrum, all saying the same thing: that the United States military in effect fights for Israel.
The anti-war left and the racist far-right have come full circle and are now in total mutual agreement: Israel controls US military policy.
The first image was taken at the March 20, 2004 anti-war rally; the second one was taken at the February 16, 2003 anti-war rally. Both were left-wing events, as were all the rallies shown below.
Both of these signs were on display at the August 12, 2006 anti-war rally.
Both of these pictures were also taken at the March 20, 2004 rally.
And on and on.... These "No Blood for Israel" signs seem to crop up at practically every single left-wing protest.
And it's not just at rallies that such sentiments are expressed. The same conspiratorial demonization of Israel as a master manipulator can be found in "progressive" publications, Web sites and blogs as well. A tiny sampling:
In this essay (one of several by him of a similar nature), influential left-wing professor and pundit Juan Cole says essentially the same thing as the White Aryan Resistance, though perhaps a bit more verbosely:
Now the U.S.' occupation of Iraq is making it even more hated in the Muslim world. It is a policy hatched in part by AIPAC, WINEP, and their associated "thinkers." The cynical might suggest that they actively want the U.S. involved in a violent struggle with Muslims, to make sure that the U.S. remains anti-Palestinian and so will permit Israeli expansion.
(Note: AIPAC and WINEP are pro-Israel groups, often described as "The Jewish Lobby.")
The far-left political magazine Counterpunch ran a story
that says the American army fights for Israel -- identical to what the racists at W.A.R. say.
Liberal columnist Eric Alterman expounds on the commonly held left-wing view that America is doing Israel's military bidding in this piece for The Nation.
Those are just the tip of the iceberg: all over the left-wing political landscape one can find sentiments along the same lines -- that Israel is dictating US foreign policy.
And it goes the other way too: the White Aryan Resistance Web site even sells videos of Noam Chomsky.
What to make of all this?
If one can't tell the difference between the far-left and the far-right these days, do the labels even have meaning anymore?
The Media's Subconscious Bias?
The question that nags at me is this:
Why did the media fail to describe the "anti-Semitic" literature distributed by W.A.R. in Berkeley? The reporters surely saw the material, as most of the other flyers and publications were described in the various news reports. Of them all, it seems only that one was left unmentioned.
Was this not a random oversight, but instead a conscious or subconscious decision? One wonders if the reporters, upon seeing the anti-Israel flyer and perhaps realizing that its sentiment was identical to the sentiment of the anti-war movement, decided to just sweep that particular detail under the rug.
All the reports mention the fact that there was anti-Semitic material found, and it was decried and condemned by the various people quoted in the article. But then why -- when the exact same messages are displayed at left-wing rallies -- does the media not produce news reports exposing the anti-Semitism of the "peace movement"?
(If you know of links to clearer images showing the racist literature distributed in Berkeley, please send them to me here.)
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