From White House, Sanders calls for firing of ESPN host

Jemele Hill, who called Donald Trump a white supremacist

In the 21st century, the go-to move when someone expresses an unacceptable opinion is to try to get them fired. It’s a consequence of internet discourse: you can’t reach out and slap someone for, say, making a problematic joke about race and AIDS, but you can harness the power of social media to crowdsource complaints to their employer. When it comes to censoring bad speech, work is the new government. It was therefore kind of whiplash-inducing to see the original government—Government Classic, if you will—appeal to the power of ESPN to silence someone.

Monday night, SportsCenter host Jamele Hill tweeted that the president “owed his rise to white supremacy.” Conservative media has criticized ESPN for being too liberal, and the network duly chastised her for “inappropriate” remarks. Now seems like a good time to pause and point out that Hill’s tweets were probably unwise, from a career standpoint, but they are hardly inappropriate. There are good arguments to be made that Trump does owe his political success to white supremacists, and it’s appropriate for any American to criticize him for that. Anyway, despite this display of corporate submission, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said today from the White House briefing room that Hill ought to be fired.

Maybe there’s a precedent for a White House spokesperson saying in an official capacity that a critic of the president should lose her job, but I can’t think of one. It’s crazy, first of all, that the White House would even take notice. Huckabee Sanders’s remarks came in response to a direct question about Hill, but still—the obvious play is to say “who?” and move on. Setting aside the dignity-of-office issue, though, it’s nanners for the White House to single out one of the president’s critics and call for her to be fired.

Is ESPN supposed to understand these remarks as a request from the president? Will the most powerful man in the world be mad at the cable network if they don’t fire Hill? And if they do, what new era might it signal in American democracy? You don’t need bills of attainder when the executive branch can wreck the career of anyone whose criticism catches the attention of the president. Anyway, the important thing is that even as fundamental norms of American democracy break down, the Law of Trump Tweets remains inviolable:

 

Carlson agrees with King: “Nothing racist” about tweet

Fox News personality and racism expert Tucker Carlson

Boarding school graduate Tucker Carlson, whose first job out of college was an editorial position at Policy Review, knows something about the relationship between demographics and destiny. His father was George H.W. Bush’s ambassador to the Seychelles and ran the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, as well as Voice of America. His stepmother is the heir to the Swanson frozen food fortune. From these beginnings, Tucker somehow found his way into broadcasting and conservative politics. Yesterday he interviewed Rep. Steve King (R-IA) in this capacity, discussing the congressman’s controversial tweet from this weekend. And he held King’s feet to the fire in his signature, hard-nosed style. Quote:

Everything you said is, I think defensible, and probably right. The problem with the [other peoples’ babies] tweet was it suggested a racial component of American identity.

Yeah, that was the problem, wasn’t it? Fortunately, the two men talked it over, and they agreed there was nothing racist about King’s tweet. Video after the jump.

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Rep. King: Can’t “restore civilization” with “somebody else’s babies”

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) describes a beautiful sandwich only white people can eat.

For the last year or so, Representative Steve King of Iowa has flirted with white nationalism. It’s the kind of flirting where you drink four cocktails and just start talking, although King was presumably sober in October when he tweeted that “cultural suicide by demographic transformation must end.” That was ominous. “Cultural suicide” and “demographic transformation” are vague terms, but the accompanying photo with European ethno-nationalists Frauke Petry and Geert Wilders offered a hint of what he meant. This weekend, the congressman praised Wilders again and got a little more explicit:

To paraphrase an old joke: What do you mean “we,” white man? The tweet raises some obvious questions. Who are we, again? And which babies aren’t ours? While we’re at it, we should probably figure out what the congressman means by “restore civilization,” considering that he is tweeting this message using a cell phone that distributes his words via a worldwide communication network to people who can read. Mad Max it ain’t. The questions about what King means by “we” and “our civilization” and “somebody else” lie at the heart of this tweet and, increasingly, his whole perspective.

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Joke book “literally kills lives,” says person so right I cannot agree

A satirical cover from the recently-pulled Bad Little Children’s Books

Following accusations of racism, Abrams has taken the collection of satirical illustrations Bad Little Children’s Books off the market at the author’s request. The pseudonymous Arthur Gackley maintains that neither he nor his book is prejudiced, but that public outcry has made it impossible to have “the kind of dialogue I hoped to promote.” If that sounds suspiciously high-minded to you, you’ll love his quote in The Guardian:

This act of censorship is dangerous on so many levels, as free speech, satire and parody are tools to help make us a stronger society, not a more divided one.

Totally true re: speech and satire, but I question his use of the phrase “act of censorship.” When you pull your own book because people said you were a jerk for writing it, that’s not censorship. That’s free speech convincing you. I’m kind of surprised it did, though, because the speech used to condemn Bad Little Children’s Books seems like the wrong way to convince anybody. Example after the jump.

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“Islamic States of America” ad is straight Goebbels, not for profit

The title card from Secure America Now's 60-second election spot

The title card from Secure America Now’s 60-second election spot

Secure America Now is a non-profit, non-partisan organization. It doesn’t advocate for or against any specific candidate; it just brings “critical national security issues to the forefront of American debate.” Granted, its homepage includes such links as “Footage of Hillary in Prison,” “Prevent Four More Years of Obama’s Terrible National Security Policies,” and “Hillary Clinton is a Foreign Policy Disaster.” But those aren’t election advocacy. They’re just critical national security issues that mention presidential candidates by name. By the same token, the ad warning of an imminent Muslim takeover of the United States that Secure America Now released this weekend isn’t election-related. It’s just Nazi-style propaganda about the danger posed to America by adherents of a particular religion. Video after the jump.

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