Democracy Now! was on the scene this morning when dozens of protesters held an International Human Rights Day Immigration Vigil outside Elizabeth Detention Center in New Jersey. In a dramatic civil disobedience action, eight protesters were arrested after chaining themselves outside the facility in order to show solidarity with detainees and families separated by deportations. The vigil was part of a national campaign to urge President Obama and Congress to pass immigration reform and end deportation quotas. The U.S. has deported over 1.5 million people under the Obama administration and roughly 1,000 people continue to be scheduled for deportation each day. This piece was produced by Democracy Now! multimedia fellow Cassandra Lizaire.
Meanwhile in Texas, today an activist with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance who infiltrated the El Paso Detention Center in Texas spoke to Democracy Now’s Renée Feltz about the nearly 800 people held at the facility–including six pregnant women. Dozens have been paroled based on “credible fear” asylum claims, but continue to be detained. Click here to listen to the interview.
Last week, Democracy Now! spoke by phone with a detainee at the same facility named Kumar, who said some protesting detainees had planned to go on a hunger strike but changed their mind after guards threatened to put them in solitary confinement.
Some demonstrators claim they have been held more than a year pending their deportation, while others say they are still being detained even though their asylum bids have been approved. The group DreamActivist has launched a petition calling for a full review of the facility.
READ: Visions of Freedom: Havana, Washington, Pretoria & the Struggle for Southern Africa, 1976-1991
On Wednesday, Democracy Now! will look into the relationship between the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and in Cuba under Fidel Castro, which has drawn more attention after President Barack Obama shook hands with Cuban President Raúl Castro today as he made his way to speak at the podium during the memorial to Nelson Mandela.
We will speak with Piero Gleijeses, author of the new book, Visions of Freedom: Havana, Washington, Pretoria, and the Struggle for Southern Africa, 1976-1991. Gleijeses argues that it was Cuba's victory in Angola in 1988 that forced Pretoria to set Namibia free and helped break the back of apartheid South Africa. In the words of Nelson Mandela, the Cubans "destroyed the myth of the invincibility of the white oppressor ... [and] inspired the fighting masses of South Africa."
Read the prologue from his book below.
In 1991, Nelson Mandela traveled to Cuba to meet with then-President Fidel Castro on one of his first international trips after being freed from prison. Mandela called the Cuban Revolution "a source of inspiration to all freedom-loving people" and thanked Cuba for supporting the African National Congress at a time when it was banned in South Africa and condemned by the United States. "Who trained our people, who gave us resources, who helped so many of our soldiers, our doctors?" Mandela said to Castro. "You have not come to our country — when are you coming?"
Earlier today, Cuban President Raúl Castro spoke at the Mandela memorial in South Africa. Watch part of his speech
AMY GOODMAN: Let's go back to that moment in 1991 that Raúl Castro just described when Mandela traveled to Cuba to meet then-President Fidel Castro.
NELSON MANDELA: Before we say anything, you must tell me when you are coming to South Africa. You see—no, just a moment, just a moment, just a moment.
PRESIDENT FIDEL CASTRO: [translated] The sooner the better.
NELSON MANDELA: And we have had a visit from a wide variety of people. And our friend, Cuba, which had helped us in training our people, gave us resources to keep current with our struggle, trained our people as doctors, and SWAPO, you have not come to our country. When are you coming?
PRESIDENT FIDEL CASTRO: [translated] I haven't visited my South African homeland yet. I want it, I love it as a homeland.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Nelson Mandela in 1991, soon after he was released from jail, visiting President Fidel Castro in Cuba, thanking him for his support. The United States had provided surveillance intelligence to the apartheid regime in the early 1960s that located Nelson Mandela in hiding, that led to his arrest and subsequent 27 years in prison. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report.
USA Today hyping a poll that contradicts others finding public support for the Iran deal. Has public opinion shifted? Not really--you simply have to look at what the polls are asking.
In part 2 of our interview with Danny Schechter, who has made six nonfiction films on Nelson Mandela, including Mandela in America, he recalls the impact of the anti-apartheid leader's visit to eight cities, including New York, Detroit, Oakland and Los Angeles. Schechter is also author of the new book, Madiba A to Z: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela.
AMY GOODMAN: I'm Amy Goodman, with Juan González. Today, the day after the death of Nelson Mandela, we honor him with our guest today, Danny Schechter, and his film, the film that he did called Mandela in America. Danny, just introduce the film for us that we're about to play an excerpt of.
DANNY SCHECHTER: Well, first of all, the visit by Nelson Mandela in 1990 was completely unexpected, and the impact to it and the impact it had was unexpected. We went to a prominent cable network in America trying to get them to—you know, to underwrite this documentary. They threw us out. They said, "No. You know, prominent people come to New York all the time. No big deal," kind of thing. They were totally wrong. I mean, this visitor filled Yankee Stadium, almost unheard of. And everywhere he went, he was greeted in the streets. A hundred thousand or more people in Harlem turned out to see him. And I was—
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: There was a ticker tape parade, which only happened because David Dinkins was the mayor at the time, because I don't think any other mayor—any other mayor would have given a ticker tape parade to somebody who had just come out of prison, being as a political prisoner.
DANNY SCHECHTER: Yeah, and he told me, Dinkins, you know, that they had to explain to Nelson Mandela what a ticker tape parade was. He didn't know. And, in fact, there was no more ticker tape at that time.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Right.
DANNY SCHECHTER: They had to import it from Connecticut. But this film is not just about New York. It's about eight cities in 11 days. I traveled with Mandela to all these different cities. And in each city, there was a different kind of response—in Detroit, led by unions; in Oakland, California, a very multiracial community, led by virtually everyone—Ron Dellums was there; and so, and in L.A., of course, every big star turned out. So it kind of represents America, as well, in that period of 1990, a period of great hope and a period also of great resistance against apartheid. The support for Madiba, the support for the ANC was, you know, pervasive among young people in America. And I tried to capture that in this film. I think it stands up.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, Yankee Stadium was astounding.
DANNY SCHECHTER: Yeah, I think it stands up as a—you know, as a record of those times, showing how people from all walks of life in America came together, inspired by, unified by Nelson Mandela and the ANC. And I think that we can learn a lot from looking at that experience and seeing not only our successes, but our failures, our weaknesses, as a social movement to be able to pull something like that off. And in my book, I got a chance to talk to the people closest to Mandela, who share some pretty extraordinary reflections and recollections about the impact he had on them and on South Africa. And I think it's a book that looks at him through the prism of the alphabet, A to Z.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain.
DANNY SCHECHTER: Well, you know, I looked at it thematically, that there isn't just one Nelson Mandela, but there were many. So one section is A for athlete, his adoration of boxers and himself as a boxer. Another is a diplomat, how he in fact became a diplomat. C maybe—and B was a bully. You know, he actually was a very tough guy, and he got very stubborn when he wanted something done, and he fought with his colleagues, sometimes losing, sometimes winning. So he was seen by others as a leader, but not the leader, not—you know, not like some kind of charismatic personality. That differentiated him from Obama today, where we looked at a president as sort of being the top dog. Mandela was a leader of a movement and of a people.
AMY GOODMAN: Madiba, where did he get that name, this term of affection throughout Africa?
DANNY SCHECHTER: Yeah, the term—yeah, it's a tribal term. He was, you know, a tribal person. And Madiba is—was a honorific term of support that caught on in South Africa, and everybody calls him by that name. But others call him Pata. Others called him "the old man," you know? It depended. He had a number of different names, but he had a presence in people's lives, and so everybody thought they knew him, but they all sort of knew one aspect of him.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask you this question. In your film, Mandela in America, there are all these images of Nelson Mandela and, of course, his wife at the time, Winnie Mandela, who was with him when he came out of prison, with him when he came to the United States, but that's not who he ended his life with. At the age of 80, he married Graça Machel, the former wife of Samora Machel. Tell us briefly about who she is.
DANNY SCHECHTER: Yeah, I was also privileged to meet Samora Machel traveling with Jesse Jackson in Mozambique in 1986.
AMY GOODMAN: He was the president.
DANNY SCHECHTER: Before he was killed in a suspicious plane crash. Graça Machel is a remarkable woman, a leader, a activist on behalf of children's rights. She was a minister in Mozambique, a very accomplished person in her own right. And she's sort of taken a back seat, didn't compete with Madiba for attention, but, you know, was at his side for the last 18 years. And I think she, herself, will have a lot of interesting things to say about her experiences in this romance that Madiba had with her, which, you know, in a way, was—when he met Winnie, they were both very young. They were only together for a short amount of time. And, of course, it was one of the great tragedies of his life, and when the two of them, you know, found, when they—when he came out of prison, that they had both changed and wanted different things. And that led to, you know, a divorce that was very painful for both of them. They reconciled, and their families are, you know, part of the same family. But I think Graça Machel brought another dimension into his life, and she is, I believe, one of the heroes of this whole process and also a liberation fighter from Mozambique who deserves a lot of credit in her own right.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you also, when you mentioned the A-to-Zs, D for diplomat, that most people are not aware, unless they've studied carefully South African history, that Nelson Mandela was actually doing negotiating with the South African Afrikaner government while he was in prison, long before—
DANNY SCHECHTER: He says—he says no. He says no. He says he was facilitating negotiations, because he hadn't been appointed by the ANC. But he was in contact with them surreptitiously, covertly, through emissaries, through—to the man who has been left out of so much of this, you know, remembrance today, which is Oliver Tambo, his law partner and the person who kept the ANC alive over all those years. So, you know, Tambo deserves a tremendous amount of credit. He was not even allowed in the United States for many years by—you know, because of Cold War McCarthy-era laws. But he pursued and persisted this vision of bringing this movement together. You know, don't forget, this movement fought on many fronts. It was involved in sanctions. It was involved in lobbying. It was involved in activism. But it was also involved militarily, in combat with the apartheid system, and the Cuban army came to, you know, the defense of South Africa in Angola, where it defeated the apartheid army, which was invading Angola. And they were beaten back, and that led to the negotiations. So, even Mandela can't claim credit for everything, and he shouldn't be given credit to everything, and he wouldn't give himself credit to everything.
AMY GOODMAN: There is this amazing moment when he came to the United States at a town hall—I think it was in Harlem—where he's interviewed by Ted Koppel of ABC. And he's asked why he embraces Yasser Arafat, and he was very staunch. And he said, "I support who supported us."
DANNY SCHECHTER: That's absolutely right. When we went to Miami, the Cuban exiles in Miami protested his coming to the city. They had a plane flying around with a big sign calling him a communist and all the rest of it. And he said, "It's completely unreasonable to criticize us for our support from Fidel Castro and others, when the American government wouldn't even talk to us." And, you know, he was very clear about who his friends were. And later on, as you pointed out earlier, Amy, he was one of the few leaders to actually criticize Bush and criticize the war in Iraq very strongly. And he kind of fell from favor in certain American circles as a result of that. He was—what one woman in Miami at a union convention that he spoke to, the AFSCME convention, said, "He's a stand-up leader, unlike a lot of our leaders who sell us out."
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, interestingly, as I recall, during his inauguration, Fidel Castro got by far the greatest ovation from the people attending it, because of that sense of gratitude that the South African political leadership had over the role of Cuba in helping them achieve liberation.
DANNY SCHECHTER: Well, that's covered in my film also, an encounter between Mandela and Castro, which was, you know, shown in Cuba, but nowhere else, and it was in my—it was in my film, Mandela in America. So you can see all these different—my film Countdown to Freedom about the election and about what happened there. You know, he was threatened. There was an assassination plot against him during the—they discovered later. And, of course, Chris Hani, one of the leaders—
AMY GOODMAN: Against Mandela.
DANNY SCHECHTER: Against Mandela—was assassinated. This was a violent, brutal period. It, you know, looked today—
AMY GOODMAN: Chris Hani was assassinated.
DANNY SCHECHTER: Yeah, today it looks like "Kumbaya," you know, everybody singing and cheering, but they were very worried. In fact, you know, I met with Joe Slovo, one of the leaders of the ANC and the Communist Party, and I said, "Joe, what are you afraid of now?" He had just returned to South Africa. We were sitting in his backyard. And he says, "Danny, what I'm thinking about right now is what happened in Nicaragua, where the Sandinistas lost an election; what happened in Chile, where the people who supported Allende were hunted down, jailed and killed." That's what could happen to us here. And that's what led to a lot of the compromises that they made.
Like other boys my age, I grew up with unlimited access to smut. At 23, I wonder if it's totally screwed me up.
It was the era of Kazaa and we knew no better. Among my group of male friends at my austere private elementary school, watching, discussing and even sharing pornography became a sexual outlet. With the ease of downloading, we would burn CDs and swap them in school with “clever” titles taken from some album with a vague penis reference (like Will Smith’s ignominious “Big Willie Style”). That way, we could talk about porn in public, asking each other on field trips, “What did you think of that new Craig David CD I burned for you?” The “inside joke” rose to evil middle-school comic genius when other students bought the actual music albums to get in on the trend. It was a typical preteen hijink, except that the images on those CDs were far more raw than the traditional Playboy pin-up.
Both of my parents were shrinks, and even though I was generally comfortable talking about sex in my household, porn — especially the porn I was watching — just had to be taboo. It was inexplicably gross, divorced from the concept of sex as it had been explained to me. If sex was a man inserting his penis into a woman’s vagina, then how did girls drinking cum out of champagne glasses fit into that picture? Because of its unspeakable nature, Internet porn became inextricably linked with the anxiety of being caught.
I would sneak downstairs to the family computer once the house was dark. As I would settle into the polyester-cotton seat of the swivel chair and open a browser, my heart would thump with a mix of thrill and shame, my ears perked for any reason to abort my mission — zip, pull and dart with an excuse ready about checking the weather for tomorrow. (An excuse that worked more than once. I was a tidy kid). The terror and guilt would only be overridden with lust once the videos began to stream. It was an addict’s high, a high-stakes heist for sexual pleasure — an association that would not soon recede in my primal brain.
I distinctly remember the first time I ejaculated. Even back then it felt weirdly insidious — an innocent, exuberant, almost ancient moment of sexual development, stained with the futuristic debasement of a flashing screen. I leapt up from the chair at the family computer and bounded upstairs to the bathroom. I looked into the mirror, truly proud that I could now fulfill my procreative proclivities, and raised my arms and said out loud to myself, “I can be a dad.”
When I was 13, we moved to a new house with a lock on the computer room door. I was still cautious, but a few times I had my pants down when I heard the clicking of someone jiggling the locked doorknob.
Were you watching pornography?
We checked the history, and there were porn sites on it.
Must be a virus.
It’s an impasse that many parents and children have known. It’s not just that it’s embarrassing, it’s paralyzing — no one knows how or exactly why to move forward. What, you want me to admit that I was watching porn? What does that do? Am I supposed to be ashamed of this? Do you expect me to stop? Everyone I know is doing this!
* * *
Those of you who’ve browsed youporn.com or redtube.com or any other porn site know the set up. The sidebar will list the categories: Mature, Hentai, S&M, gangbang, foot fetish, redhead. Under each category there are pictures and videos (but c’mon, who would look at pictures when there are videos?), and with a fast enough Internet connection, you can skip to your favorite part of a video and move on to another.
Lesbian kissing *click* blow job *click* cum shot *click* threesome *click* orgy
With a teenage sex drive only inhibited by a vague shame, I quickly fell down a “kink spiral.” After all, we’re talking about reaching climax — when the overriding thought is often just “more!” The unknown, the unseen, was sexy to me, and I pursued novelty with vigor.
I found myself rapidly desensitized to online images. If a threesome was kinky last week, then I’d need something wilder this week. To reach climax, I had to find that same toxic mix of shame and lust.
By my sophomore year in high school I felt torn. Even though I was fairly certain that most guys my age were regular porn watchers, I felt ashamed about the type of porn that I was watching (not something that even the son of psychotherapists was eager to share with friends).
In English class, we were reading “The Scarlet Letter” and the teacher told us to write down a secret that we would never want anyone to know. I scribbled down, “I’ve watched cartoon porn.” (Actually, I was so frightened of discovery that I wrote it in code). And I had. And MILF porn. And “bukkake.” And rape. And all manners of things that I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing in real life — for moral reasons, sure, but also because it wouldn’t even necessarily turn me on to do these things in real life. But I had watched them, and I was ashamed. And I wasn’t sure if I should be or not.
For one thing, I wasn’t hurting anybody. And for another, these sites put that pornography up there! They must be doing that because people want to watch it, right? I didn’t dream it up. I just clicked through the categories of what was there by popular demand. So it was normal, right? Did that make it OK?
* * *
These questions continued to bother me. I worried that real girls wouldn’t do it for me. So my senior year in high school, I decided to quit. Cold turkey. For five months. I actually decided not to masturbate at all, and I had few sexual encounters. It was refreshing, and I definitely became more easily turned on by “traditional” things — including the women around me.
But when I started having sex, I realized that I had far from cleansed myself, even though I had continued (and continue still) to keep up my boycott on pornography. I had trouble getting and maintaining an erection with the first three women I slept with. This didn’t feel like a small matter. It seemed like all the schoolyard jockeying ultimately came down to that moment of phallic power, and I just couldn’t do it. Was I more turned on by porn than by real women? What did that mean about my sexuality?
I starting seeing a young woman regularly, and some confluence of alcohol, weed, no condom, and the trust, comfort, and affection I felt with her allowed me to start enjoying sex — to an extent. I wouldn’t acknowledge it, but the majority of nights I had “good sex” I was intoxicated. And, what’s worse, I was fantasizing about porn during sex.
It was a dissociative, alienating, almost inhuman task to close my eyes while having sex with someone I really cared about and imagine having sex with someone else or recall a deviant video from the archives of my youth that I was ashamed of even then.
I’ve talked with other millennial men who’ve experienced this, and it’s not particularly surprising. A decade before we were having intercourse, our neural pathways associated ejaculation with an addictive, progressive perversity that demanded a superlative overstimulation — skipping from climactic scene to climactic scene so that it’s always the most novel, deviant, kinky.
Furthermore, because I learned to cum from watching porn (I had watched porn even before I had first ejaculated), I never even had the chance to learn how to achieve an orgasm without a voyeuristic element — through an exploration of my bodily sensations or fantasies of intimacy that I conjured myself. I — and I don’t think I’m alone here — conditioned myself with the help of Internet pornographers to pair the feeling of ejaculation with the specific images that those sites provided. And even years later, I couldn’t cum without them.
This didn’t stop me from cumming, of course, since the images were seared into my brain. I can still exactly recall videos that I haven’t watched for six or seven years.
Even now, my “fantasies” are essentially rooted in the fantasies of my 14-year-old self. Age discrepancies in sex? Rape or S&M? These are fantasies of power and domination. This is not a particularly unusual (or necessarily bad) sexual preference, but it’s a nearly predetermined result for an immature adolescent being given a vast selection of pornography with no guidance.
I worried that Internet porn had forever warped my sexual development. I mean, if it’s playing on loop in my head, can I ever really stop “watching” porn?
* * *
It’s gotten better. I’ve had several long-term relationships, read some Foucault and even had a chance to experiment a bit with kinkier sex. What helped the most was talking to friends, particularly women, who have had more positive relationships with masturbation. A female friend explained how she used to have rape fantasies and wasn’t thrilled about it, so through masturbation she found ways to be turned on by “beauty,” whether a sculpted body or an open field. Another friend who had been masturbating from a very young age but had never watched pornography told me that she never fantasized in a voyeuristic way, but instead would remember a particular setting or feeling that aroused her, like waking up next to someone in a mess of sheets.
Now, I’m trying to reprogram myself — unlearn my socialized sexuality. But that’s left me very confused. I mean, what am I really trying to do? Discover my “natural” sexual attraction? Sexiness is always constructed — it used to be normatively hot to be fat and pale! What’s really the alternative to the socialized, porn-inspired sexiness that I’m seeking?
I think in the end, I just want to feel good about feeling good — to dislodge disgrace, guilt and addictive perversity from the part of my brain that controls arousal. I think kinky sex is wonderful; it acknowledges how shame, domination and weirdness truly pervade sexuality. But, I want to be able to explore kink — not be resigned to it. I’m grateful for my generation’s embrace of sexual liberation, but this feels more like a cage.
I feel estranged from my sexuality, like it’s somebody else’s. I want to reclaim my sexual desires. I’m not attempting to perform conversion therapy on myself to rid myself of the demons of my porno past. I’m trying to go back to 2002 and take away the computer and figure out what feels good through honest sensual exploration.
I lay in the bathtub and let the warm water rise around my thighs. My exposed parts feel unduly detected, like they know they’re the center of attention. I close my eyes and touch. Chest, stomach, hips — hair, neck, shoulders. Once I get to my penis, the discrepancy in sensitivity is startling. Rather than restraining fantasies, or intentionally focusing on them to get off, I try my best to be mesmerized by the touch — as though I’m only just discovering myself.
I can get off without thinking of anything “shameful” or pornographic, but it’s not as much fun — it physically doesn’t feel as good. Should I just resign myself to replaying MILFs with whips and chains in my head as I fuck someone I’ll never find sexy? Maybe I can find a cougar I can love or a partner who can convincingly role-play? Or should I keep exploring my body and hope that the pollution of XXX videos slowly clears from my masturbatory fantasies to reveal more dream-like, meditative, present, fleshy, alive states of mind and body?
If there’s an answer out there, it’s probably on the Internet.
Isaac Abel is the pen name of a Brooklyn-based journalist who writes about issues of sexuality and gender. He loves getting responses to his columns and suggestions for stories. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Related Stories
A new piece by veteran investigative reporter Seymour Hersh argues that the Obama administration's case against Syria over a sarin gas attack last August relied on cherry-picked intelligence.
The Washington Post warns Democrats not to veer too far to the left, CBS helps Amazon.com with some drone PR, and we take a look at the media hype about the so-called "knockout game."
When a paper runs a puff piece actually headlined "When It Comes to Testimony, He's a Go-To Guy," that's way better than a full-page ad. That's the favor that USA Today extended to right-wing economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin.
Could this become one of the biggest gun control victories of 2013?
A year after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, America’s gun nuts are in a major tizzy over what may be the biggest and most unlikely victory for sane firearms policy in 2013: the National Football League’s rejection of an assault rifle TV ad in the upcoming Super Bowl.
“There was a time when a black man couldn’t kiss a white woman on TV. That day has passed,” wrote Robert Farago on his TruthAboutGuns blog about the NFL's decision to ban the ad from Georgia gunmaker Daniel Defense. “Yet a firearms company can’t advertise its products on network TV. It’s high time that ballistic barrier was broken.”
Farago’s twisted sense of history was hardly alone in pro-gun circles. What a bunch of hypocrites! The 2nd Amendment is ultimately what allows the NFL to even exist,” wrote TreeManTwo on the website of Guns & Ammo magazine, which broke the story last Friday that the NFL rejected the ad for violating its advertising policy. “It does have to do with us being able to keep and protect our rights to do things like play football.”
The 60-second ad is not exactly the most gripping Super Bowl commercial. It follows a cleancut young white man driving home, where we learn that he is a recently returned vet and a new father who is worried about his wife and baby. He’s “responsible for their protection,” the voiceover says, adding that, “no has the right to tell me how to defend them,” and that he’s chosen “the most effective tool for the job.” The ad doesn’t show a real gun, but ends with the company’s logo: a drawing of a military-style assault rifle.
According to Guns & Ammo, the gun maker bought local TV advertising time during the 2012 Super Bowl from NBC. This time around the NFL barred Fox, the network nationally airing the Super Bowl, from running the ad. When the gun maker offered to replace its logo with an American flag, the NFL rejected that too. The League’s policy has an exception for stores that sell firearms and other wares, but apparently Daniel Defense’s weapons and apparel stores didn’t clear that threshold, said UCLA law professor and gun historian Adam Winkler.
“Conservatives like Michelle Malkin were quick to point out—not incorrectly—a certain hypocrisy behind the NFL’s policy and how they apply it,” Winkler wrote in a New Republic piece. “Though the policy prohibits firearms and ads that promote movies and video games that are 'excessively violent,' the League has approved ads in which characters get 'electrocuted, run over by buses, kicked, punched, tackled, thrown out of high-rise buildings, and attacked by crotch-biting dogs,' according to Malkin. The NFL’s policy also prohibits ads for movies and video games with 'overtly sexual material'—even though that condition seems to be met by at least half the Super Bowl’s ads.”
The contradictions about arguably one of America's most violent team sports drawing a line against a bland but provocative TV ad are almost endless. Even comments on the Guns & Ammowebsite didn’t know where to begin with the NFL’s morals. “NFL—won’t show this ad, but you have made me have a talk to my 8 year old daughter about what an erection is and why you might need a doctor if it is lasting for more then 4 hours,” wrote Mad Dad.
Winkler noted “this isn’t the first time the NFL and its broadcast partners ran afoul of gun advocates.” In 2012, “they were furious when sports commentator Bob Costas, during halftime of a Sunday Night Football game, blamed the ‘gun culture’ after Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend before taking his own life. Challenging the very essence of gun rights ideology, Costas had the audacity to say that ‘handguns don’t save lives.’”
A year before, Winkler said that pro-gun forces accused the NFL of “being behind ESPN’s firing of Hank Williams Jr., who sang the rousing theme on Monday Night Football. William’s offense: On an episode of ‘Fox & Friends,’ he compared Obama to Hilter.”
There’s even more fodder for paranoid gun nuts that the NFL will not be intimidated by the gun lobby's threats. In 2011, Wisconsin loosened state law to let people with gun permits carry concealed weapons in public. The gun lobby failed to pressure the Green Bay Packers into letting people bring concealed guns into Lambeau Field. “What could be safer, they ask, than a stadium full of lawful gun owners?” Winkler wrote. “You know, more guns, less crime.”
Right-wing blowhards such as Alex Jones have proclaimed that the NFL’s decision was “anti-liberty,” “anti-family” and “anti-American,” and said that the NFL was conspiring with President Obama to use the Super Bowl for propaganda as Adolph Hitler did with the 1936 Olympics, and called for Americans to boycott the NFL. That’s about as likely as for the League to get serious about preventing player’s brain injuries—when physical contact drives the NFL's more than $9 billion annual revenues.
But on the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, the NFL’s refusal to air a milquetoast TV ad about an anxious father wanting a military-style assault rifle might become one of the biggest gun control victories of the year. And that’s pretty shocking.
The National Rifle Association and its allies stopped new federal gun control laws, which were supported by 90 percent of the American public and by President Obama last spring. The gun lobby pressured the last state in the country that banned people from carrying guns in public, Illinois, into weakening that law. It led a successful recall campaign against two Colorado state legislators who supported tougher gun controls.
Some blue states, notably New York, acted quickly after Sandy Hook to update gun laws. But until now, it’s been a bad year for gun control. “Yet gun advocates may finally have found an opponent they can’t beat: The National Football League,” wrote Winkler. “If there’s one thing Americans love more than their guns, it is football.”Related Stories
In his obituary for Nelson Mandela, the Times' Bill Keller went into detail about Mandela's armed efforts to overthrow the apartheid state--seemingly in an effort to belittle them.
Fareed Zakaria said of Nelson Mandela, "He was greatly inspired by Gandhi, by the nonviolent struggle." If you're familiar with Mandela's life story, you know this is misleading.
This lie lives on largely because of a sensationalist media who never met a cannabis scare story they didn’t like.
The mainstream media is in a frenzy over claims that marijuana smoking is causing an epidemic of ‘man boobs’ (a relatively common condition known scientifically as gynecomastia).
Watch the videos below to see Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman on MSNBC's “Melissa Harris-Perry" last Saturday, where she joined the discussion on remembering the complexities of Mandela, the anti-apartheid movement's influence on a generation, and more.
Watch Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman on MSNBC's “Melissa Harris-Perry” show this Saturday from 10am-noon ET.
By Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan
The holiday season is upon us. Sadly, the big retailers are Scrooges when it comes to paying their staffs. Undergirding the sale prices is an army of workers earning the minimum wage or a fraction above it, living check to check on their meager pay and benefits. The dark secret that the retail giants like Wal-Mart don’t want you to know is that many of these workers subsist below the poverty line, and rely on programs like food stamps and Medicaid just to get by. This holiday season, though, low-wage workers from Wal-Mart to fast-food restaurants are standing up and fighting back.
“Wal-Mart was put in an uncomfortable spotlight on what should be the happiest day of the year for the retailer,” Josh Eidelson told me, reporting on the coordinated Black Friday protests. “These were the largest protests we’ve seen against Wal-Mart ... you had 1,500 stores involved; you had over a hundred people arrested.” Wal-Mart is the world’s largest retailer, with 2.2 million employees, 1.3 million of whom are in the U.S. It reported close to $120 billion in gross profit for 2012. Just six members of the Walton family, whose patriarch, Sam Walton, founded the retail giant, have amassed an estimated combined fortune of between $115 billion-$144 billion. These six individuals have more wealth than the combined financial assets of the poorest 40 percent of the U.S. population.
The Oscar Shortlist Interviews: 2014 Nominees Include "Dirty Wars," "The Act of Killing," "The Square"
This week the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the 15 films left in the race for the Documentary Feature Oscar. A record 147 films had originally qualified in the category. Watch our interviews with three of the filmmakers who made the shortlist, and see all of our Oscar-related coverage over the years.
We interview investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill and filmmaker Rick Rowley when "Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. "One of the things that humbles both of us is that when you arrive in a village in Afghanistan and knock on someone’s door, you’re the first American they’ve seen since the Americans that kicked that door in and killed half their family," Rowley says. "We promised them that we would do everything we could to make their stories be heard in the U.S. ... Finally we’re able to keep those promises."
We spend the hour with Joshua Oppenheimer, the director of the groundbreaking documentary called "The Act of Killing." The film is set in Indonesia, where, beginning in 1965, military and paramilitary forces slaughtered up to a million Indonesians after overthrowing the democratically elected government. That military was backed by the United States and led by General Suharto, who would rule Indonesia for decades. There has been no truth and reconciliation commission, nor have any of the murderers been brought to justice. As the film reveals, Indonesia is a country where the killers are to this day celebrated as heroes by many. Oppenheimer spent more than eight years interviewing the Indonesian death squad leaders, and in "The Act of Killing," he works with them to re-enact the real-life killings in the style of American movies in which the men love to watch — this includes classic Hollywood gangster movies and lavish musical numbers. A key figure he follows is Anwar Congo, who killed hundreds, if not a thousand people with his own hands and is now revered as a founding father of an active right-wing paramilitary organization. We also ask Oppenheimer to discusses the film’s impact in Indonesia, where he screened it for survivors and journalists who have launched new investigations into the massacres. The film is co-directed by Christine Cynn and an Indonesian co-director who remains anonymous for fear of retribution, as does much of the Indonesian film crew.
As Egyptians marked the second anniversary of the Egyptian revolution, we looked at the new documentary that captures the ongoing protest movement in Egypt well after the downfall of Hosni Mubarak. "The Square" follows a group of activists as they risk their lives in the uprising that ousted Mubarak only to face further threats under the transitional military regime. We’re joined by the film’s Egyptian-American director, Jehane Noujaim, at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Noujaim’s previous work includes the famed Al Jazeera documentary, "Control Room."
Watch our full interview with Jane Goodall and Vandana Shiva at the recent International Women’s Earth and Climate Initiative Summit, where they discussed their decades of work devoted to protecting nature and saving future generations from the dangers of climate change. A renowned primatologist, Goodall is best known for her groundbreaking work with chimpanzees and baboons. An environmental leader, feminist and thinker, Shiva is the author of many books, including "Making Peace with the Earth: Beyond Resource, Land and Food Wars" and "Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace." Click here to see all of our climate change coverage.
It's not unheard of for journalists to express strong opinions about how the United States should conduct its wars. But sometimes reporters express their opinions by attributing them to others.
A review of guest list points to Kelly being even more of a go-to media destination for conservatives.
Since the show's debut on October 7 and through November 29, Fox News' The Kelly File has hosted conservatives significantly more often than progressives and has surpassed even Fox's Hannity in its divide between guests on the left and right.Megyn Kelly's Primetime Show: Same Old Slanted Fox
The Kelly File Hosted Conservatives Three Times More Often Than Progressives. 56 percent of guests on The Kelly File were conservative, while only 18 percent were progressive.
Four Of The Top Five Guests On The Kelly File Were Conservative. Of the five guests with at least seven appearances in the period studied, four were conservative: Fox News digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt (14 appearances), American Enterprise Institute fellow Marc Thiessen (13), talk radio host and Fox News contributor Monica Crowley (7), and Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume (7). The only progressive in the top five was talk radio host Richard Fowler (7).
The Kelly File's Guest List Was More Conservative Than Hannity's. Conservatives on Hannity enjoyed a 2-to-1 advantage over progressives; however, conservatives on The Kelly File had a 3-to-1 advantage. The proportion of conservative guests on The Kelly File was higher than the proportion on Hannity -- 56 percent to 50 percent.Kelly Claimed That Her Show Would "Balance Out" On Guests And That Fox Is "Fair and Balanced"
Kelly Claimed Partisan Affiliation Of Her Guests "Will All Balance Out And You'll See Both Sides." On the October 13 edition of Fox's #MediaBuzz, host Howard Kurtz asked Kelly if viewers will "see more Republicans than Democrats" on her show, to which Kelly replied:
KURTZ: What about the counter-notion that maybe as a counterweight that Fox News leans right. Does your show lean right?
KELLY: I don't think that's true. I think what we do at Fox News is fair and balanced broadcasting. And so, you know if you tune in to see my show at 9 pm, you're not going to see the same stories as you see on the front cover of The New York Times necessarily. You know, that's not what we get paid to do, is just follow the marching orders of media that we do believe leans left. That there's plenty of options if people want that. But Fox News gets paid for telling the full story, the complete story, and having both sides of the argument presented in a way.
KURTZ: But will I see more Republicans than Democrats?
KELLY: It depends on the night and the story. You know? I mean, hopefully no, over the course of a week or two, it will all balance out and you'll see both sides. [Fox News, #MediaBuzz, 10/13/13, via Media Matters]
Fox Promo Promised The Kelly File Would "Make Sure The Viewers Hear It Straight." In a teaser promoting her new show, Kelly File host Megyn Kelly said:
KELLY: My obligation as the host of The Kelly File is to make sure the viewers hear it straight. We are going to have the best guests with the best analysis, and I am there to keep everybody honest. It's the news of the day but with a little heat. [YouTube, 9/26/13]
Kelly Claimed She Would "Present Both Sides Of The View." As a guest on the October 3 episode of The O'Reilly Factor, Kelly promoted her show as "a news program" that "will present both sides of the view":
KELLY: It's going to be a live broadcast, and so it's going to be a news program, a breaking news program, not an opinion program. So I'm not going to be the female Bill [O'Reilly].
But I mean I'm not going to be somebody like you what needs to happen with the sequester and showdown. That's not going to be what I'm there for. I will present both sides of the view. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 10/3/13, via LexisNexis]Methodology
Media Matters reviewed all transcripts of The Kelly File and Hannity in the Nexis database between October 7 (The Kelly File's debut) and November 29 and recorded all guest appearances. Guests were coded for ideology based on their own self-identification or public affiliation with an openly ideologically organization or media outlet. When ideology was difficult to determine, we coded such guests as neutral.
Chart by Oliver Willis.Related Stories