All of which makes MSNBC’s retention of Patrick Joseph Buchanan such a big problem for a network that prides itself, with some justification, on Leaning Forward (consistent with the cornerstone tagline of MSNBC’s promotional campaign). As a grassroots organization takes aim at Buchanan (the same way this org trained its sights on Glenn Beck when he ruled the roost at Fox), what’s at stake is MSNBC’s rising stature as a news franchise for which racial and ethnic diversity is apparently becoming more than a lip-service issue.
The network faces a thorny short-term dilemma — one of its commentators is an enemy of that kind of inclusion; taking him off the air undercuts that inclusion — but a longer-term reality: Buchanan’s presence compromises MSNBC’s new evolving public identity.
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A long and tireless exponent of conservative ideology and the primacy of white Christian tradition, and for years an MSNBC political commentator, Buchanan has become the target for Color of Change, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization involved in lobbying, public education and grassroots political action on behalf of black and minority Americans.
Buchanan (a syndicated columnist and the author of 11 books) has just published “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?” The book, among other things, posits the idea that racial, ethnic and cultural diversity have corrupted what is, in his view, now and always essentially a white Christian nation. Diversity, he suggests, has polluted the American ideal; inclusion of a wider range of people and perspectives in the national life has damaged the country.
In an October interview with Thom Hartmann of “The Thom Hartmann Program,” Buchanan resisted any disavowal of the idea that nonwhites have inferior genes:
But this is nothing new. As far as the mid-80’s, Buchanan flirted with anti-Semitic positions, ultimately drawing fire from William F. Buckley Jr., when the patron saint of modern conservatism wrote about Buchanan’s columns on the gulf war. In an exhaustive 1991 National Review essay on anti-Semitism, Buckley said “I find it impossible to defend Pat Buchanan against the charge that what he did and said during the period under examination amounted to anti-Semitism ...”
The Boston Globe reported in 1992 that during his time as a White House aide and speechwriter, Buchanan “suggested in a memo to President Nixon that efforts to integrate the U.S. might only result in 'perpetual friction' because blacks and the poor may be genetically inferior to middle-class whites.”
Media Matters, writing about the “Suicide” book this month, observed that: “Buchanan eulogized [white supremacist Sam] Francis in a May 2005 column, writing, ‘When God created him, He endowed Sam with a great gift — one of the finest minds of his generation. Sam did not waste it.’ In Buchanan's book ‘State Of Emergency’ … Buchanan lamented that Francis was fired after he suggested that only whites have the appropriate ‘genetic endowments’ to keep America from collapsing.”
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Jillian Rayfield, at TPM Muckraker, culled a dozen other curious quotes from Buchanan’s latest book. Here’s three of them:
On the group UNITY: Journalists of Color, which advocates for more racial and ethnic diversity in journalism:
“Half a century after Martin Luther King envisioned a day when his children would be judged ‘not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character,’ journalists of color are demanding the hiring and promotion of journalists based on the color of their skin. Jim Crow is back. Only the color of the beneficiaries and the color of the victims have been reversed.”
On the changing national demographic:
“Our intellectual, cultural, and political elites are today engaged in one of the most audacious and ambitious experiments in history. They are trying to transform a Western Christian republic into an egalitarian democracy made up of all the tribes, races, creeds, and cultures of planet Earth. They have dethroned our God, purged our cradle faith from public life, and repudiated the Judeo-Christian moral code by which previous generations sought to live.”
On the Jim Crow era:
“Perhaps some of us misremember the past. But the racial, religious, cultural, social, political, and economic divides today seem greater than they seemed even in the segregation cities some of us grew up in.
“Back then, black and white lived apart, went to different schools and churches, played on different playgrounds, and went to different restaurants, bars, theaters, and soda fountains. But we shared a country and a culture. We were one nation. We were Americans.”
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“In general, Buchanan is pushing a vision of America that portrays white people and ‘white culture’ as genuinely American, and diversity and multiculturalism as a threat to America. Buchanan tries to blame the country's economic problems on programs like affirmative action, welfare, and food stamps — programs which help vulnerable and disadvantaged Americans of every race, but which Buchanan and others on the far right have portrayed as only helping lazy and undeserving minorities. He takes every opportunity to stoke the racial anxiety and fear that exists among some white people. In short, Buchanan wants to pit white people against people of color. He believes in it, he thinks it's good political strategy, and in his new book he encourages the GOP to become "the white party."
“If Buchanan didn't have a powerful media platform, he'd be just another person with outdated, extremist ideas. But it's irresponsible and dangerous for MSNBC to promote his hateful views to an audience of millions.”
“I'm writing to demand that you fire Pat Buchanan immediately. Buchanan has a long and consistent history of peddling white supremacist ideology as legitimate political commentary, on your network and elsewhere. He recently went on a white supremacist radio show to promote his new book -- which argues that increasing racial diversity is a threat to this country and will mean the “End of White America.”