Archive for the ‘Heidi Beirich’ Category

Pot War, Muslim Travel Ban, Russia Probe: Jeff Sessions In The Middle Of Troubled Trump Issues – Benzinga

Embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the first U.S. senator to endorse President Donald Trumps candidacy, finds himself swept up in virtually every issue that has confounded the administrations efforts to advance any sort of an agenda.

Front and center is his role in whether the Trump team conspired with Russian agents to fix the November election, his subsequent recusal in March from the federal investigation into those ties and whether he broke his own promise to stay out of the affair.

Sessions is supposed to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee about Russia Tuesday, but the openness of the session is undecided.

Here are a few things to know about Sessions:

As a Republican senator from Alabama, he went out on a limb and endorsed Trump in February of 2016, when few people thought the real estate mogul had chance, and he was rewarded for his loyalty with the AGs job. Its been downhill ever since.

Last week, former FBI Director James Comey, without being specific, said he had information about Sessions related to Russia that he termed problematic to the investigation.

It was a tantalizing clue that there may be other complicating issues connecting the attorney general to the ongoing investigation, Sen. Chris Coons (DDel.) told Politico.

Comey also said he asked Sessions, his boss, not to leave him alone with Trump after an awkward meeting in February, when Comey alleged that Trump asked him to drop the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynns visits and meetings with pro-Kremlin Russians.

Sessions had also said under oath during his confirmation hearing that he had not had contact with the Russians during the election campaign, then admitted it in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee when reports surfaced he indeed had meetings. It was then that Sessions recused himself.

Sessions played a key role in Trumps two executive orders seeking to ban Muslims from first seven, then six nations. His comments about Muslims played a part in the acting attorney general, Sally Yates, refusing to enforce the order.

Yellen was subsequently fired by Trump in January. Both the first and second bans were blocked by federal courts, and the Muslim prohibition now appears headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sessions is also strongly opposed to guest worker visas that allow immigrants to work temporarily in the United States.

Sessions was named head of the Trump campaigns national security advisory committee in March 2016 and was pivotal to Trump naming Flynn as national security advisor, even though it was known that Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence about meeting with the Russians and discussing U.S. sanctions against Russia for the 2014 invasion of neighbor Ukraine.

Sessions was also instrumental in the naming of Pence as Trumps running mate, and Pence subsequently led the Trump presidential transition team.

Sessions has a history of making racially inflammatory remarks, and his nomination to a federal judgeship in 1986 was denied because of the accusations.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Heidi Beirich told the Washington Post that Sessions has been guilty of using hate speech, and that his presence close to Trump a tragedy for American politics.

Sessions has vowed to wage war on the increasing number of states that have passed marijuana laws allowing it for medicinal and/or recreational use. However, a bipartisan budget committee has rejected Session’s attempts to get money for the effort.

I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store, Sessions said March 15, comparing it to heroin.

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Pot War, Muslim Travel Ban, Russia Probe: Jeff Sessions In The Middle Of Troubled Trump Issues – Benzinga

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June 12, 2017   Posted in: Heidi Beirich  Comments Closed

‘Holocaust Revisionist’ Organization Upset At Being Labeled A ‘Hate Group’ – Forward

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A self-described group of Holocaust revisionists has taken issue with being designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Deir Yessin Remembered, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., says that its mission is to spread awareness about a 1948 massacre by Jewish militias that, by some estimates, killed more than 100 Arab villagers. However, the organizations activities have also expanded to include Holocaust denial.

Heidi Beirich, director of SPLCs Intelligence Project, said Deir Yassin Remembered was added to the centers lists of hate groups for 2017 due to the groups support of Holocaust deniers and its questioning of historically accurate facts about the Holocaust, the Michigan news website MLive.com reported on Friday.

Indeed, one blog post on Deir Yessin Remembereds website takes issue with the existence of the Final Solution, the existence of gas chambers, and the number of Jews killed in concentration camps.

The SPLCs annual list of hate groups includes 917 groups across the country this year, 28 of which are in Michigan.

Contact Jesse Bernstein at bernstein@forward.com or on Twitter @__jbernstein.

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‘Holocaust Revisionist’ Organization Upset At Being Labeled A ‘Hate Group’ – Forward

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March Against Sharia Targets Muslims in US – Newsweek

ACT for America founder Brigitte Gabriel saysthe Islamic law known as Sharia is taking over the land, eclipsing the U.S. Constitution, with radical clerics turning the nation into a modern-day caliphate.

That isnt even remotely true, but the inconvenient fact is unlikely to stop anti-Islamic zealots who disguise their Islamophobia as a humanistic concern about Sharias infringement on American civic life.

This Saturday, ACT for America is holding March Against ShariaMarch for Human Rightsevents in more than two dozen American cities. We, at ACT for America, are committed to protecting women and children from Sharia Law, says the groups website, and its impact on Muslim women and children, including honor killing and Female Genital Mutilation. We must ensure that every woman and child enjoy the protection afforded by the U.S. Constitution.

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ACT for America

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks radical organizations across the United States, ACT for America is the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in America, claiming 280,000 members and over 1,000 chapters. The group was founded in 2007 by Gabriel, who is a Lebanese Christian. The following year,it launched Stop Shariah Now, which would presumably ‘inform and educate the public about what Shariah is, how it is creeping into American society and compromising our constitutional freedom of speech, press, religion and equality.

That campaign and related efforts have resulted in anti-Sharia legislation in several states. Those laws, however, are often supported by Republicans who are themselves far more prone to fundamentalism than the Muslims they fear. In a report called “Manufacturing Bigotry, the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding found that 80 percentof the 102 anti-Sharia bills were sponsored or co-sponsored by an overlap legislator, or legislator who sponsored or co-sponsored a restrictive law targeting undocumented immigrants, women seeking reproductive health options, workers seeking to organize and voter identification.

Brigitte Gabriel, founder of ACT for America, on Fox News. Fox News

There is no ability under the Constitution to impose Sharia law, says Heidi Beirich, who directs the SPLCs Intelligence Project. The vast majority of religious adherents, regardless of their faith, understand the American ideal of separation between church and state.

Gabriel turned down requests for comment over email and social media. But last year, speaking at an ACT for America conference, she called her group the NRA of national security, an apparent reference to the National Rifle Association. During the talk, she suggested that some Syrian refugees are members of the Islamic State. She also lambasted Chobani, a yogurt company that is a popular target of the far-right because it hires refugees.

For all the fearmongering by ACT for America, Sharia creep remains the stuff of right-wing fantasy. It seizes on reports of criminal behavior by American Muslims, including female genital mutilation and honor killings. Both are troubling yetextremely rare. Nor is there any evidence that mainstream Muslims are attempting to foist those fringe practices on the American population at large.

This is an attempt to make Muslims seem like these insidious, creepy beings whose only role here is to come and steal constitutional rights, says Beirich.

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March Against Sharia Targets Muslims in US – Newsweek

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5 Questions with Heidi Beirich | Aspen Ideas Blog

You oversee the Southern Poverty Law Centers yearly count of the nations hate and hardline anti-government groups. Is the number of these groups growing? And can you give an example of a few that have developed more recently?

These groups have been growing, and for some time. The number of hate groups started rising in 2000 after the Census Bureau, for the first time, announced publicly that in the 2040s there would be no white majority in the US. That obviously was a motivator for white supremacist groups to recruit, and they did aggressively. There were 602 hate groups in 2000 and there are 917 now. Obamas election was also a factor, as well as the economic meltdown in 2008. But the most important factor leading to the growth of these groups is Americas changing demographics.The hate movement is capitalizing on this with those who share racial resentmentsand have built a backlash that comprised part of the electoral coalition behind President Trump, namely the Alt-Right. In the last year, it was organizations such as Daily Stormer or Identity Europa that saw the biggest gains in terms of new chapters. They hitched their messaging to the Trump campaign and as a result, saw great increases in their ranks. Daily Stormer now has 400,000 page views a month and in the last year, moved from an online website to a real world organization with 30 chapters. The way the antigovernment movement, which includes gun extremists and those who think Democrats are out to destroy them, grows is a bit different. It tends to add organizations and chapters when Democratic presidents are in office, which happened under Clinton and Obama. In 2016, their number of chapters fell, likely as they watched the Trump campaign excel and eventually win in November.

Hate crimes spiked in the US following the November election. Whats the status of hate crimes now, six months after the election?

The SPLC documented about 1,800 hate crimes and bias incidents from the day of the election through February. It was an extraordinary number of such events, which typically occur in much smaller numbers during a similar period of time. The most targeted populations immigrants and Muslims were also subject to demonization during the election campaign. As we often say at SPLC, hate speech has real world consequences and they can be terrifying for the groups subject to demonization. Also, many of the crimes were specifically committed in Trumps name. In the first month or so, about twenty percent of the incidents perpetrators referred directly to him.

Whats the goal of collecting data around the problem of hate?

The most important objective is to demonstrate that this is a continuing problem in America that needs to be addressed. Too often, people work under the assumption that all of Americas horrifying racial past is history. But a white supremacist governing structure didnt disappear with the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts in the mid-1960s. And racists, who were backed up in their beliefs by law since the founding of the country, dont just abandon those beliefs overnight. Detoxifying race in this country is a long-term project. Simply documenting that hate crimes are happening matters greatly in dealing with this problem.We should also hold accountable those who demonize populations for political reasons or other ends for the violence their words can unleash.

Hate crimes are brutally undercounted. The DOJ (Department of Justice) has conducted three major statistical studies of survey data compiled annually by the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). These analyses make it clear that the number of hate crimes in the US is much larger than other counts, at 250,000 annually. Think about that for a second. The FBI reports about 5500 hate crimes annually, and has for decades. The NCVS data, however, says the number is 30 times that amount. That means the undercounting is serious and the system for collecting data on hate crimes basically broken. If we really documented 250,000 hate crimes a year, this issue would be a national crisis. We, as a country, would be working on it with policies and dedicating resources to it. But due to the undercounting, it simply isn’t a top priority in our political system. The UK, which has millions fewer residents than the US, counted over 50,000 hate crimes last year. It’s possible to do better, if we care about the issue.

Youre speaking in the America I Know track at the Festival. What dont most Americans know or understand that you wish they did?

I wish they better understood the role hate continues to play in our political system and culture. Most Americans dont realize how many of these groups exist, how often ideas from white supremacist circles make it into mainstream media and politics, and how much that impacts our society. Many people dont realize that nearly all domestic terrorist attacks, or attempted attacks, are committed by white supremacists and not radical Islamists. In fact, our domestic terrorism problem is indigenous mostly, meaning it’s motivated by ideas about white superiority that are part of our culture, not some foreign import like radical Islam. Dylann Roof, who was driven by white supremacist ideology to kill black people in a Charleston church, is the norm for terrorists domestically. There is a certain naivet on this point that I wish did not exist because we cant combat these ideas if we dont know about them, dont care about them, or refuse to acknowledge them. We can only fix such problems when we are fully aware they exist.

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Anti-Sharia rallies around the US denounce Islam while stoking concerns among Muslim groups – Los Angeles Times

Speaking out about what they believe are the ills of Islam, anti-Sharia law activists demonstrated nationwide Saturday, but were met by counter-protesters who assailed their rhetoric as insensitive and demeaning.

Members of Act for America, which has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, gathered in parks and plazas across the country, organizing nearly two dozen so-called March Against Sharia rallies, stoking concerns and counter-events by Muslim leaders who say the group is spewing hate.

In Atlanta, an assortment of militia men brandishing assault rifles, supporters of President Trump waving American flags and mens rights activists wearing helmets descended on Piedmont Park, a leafy oasis in the citys affluent, liberal Midtown neighborhood.

In New York, nearly 100 people attended a rally near lower Manhattan. They were outnumbered by counter-protesters, and the two sides hurled insults across two rows of police barricades.

Commies, screamed the anti-Sharia demonstrators.

Fascists, retorted the counter-demonstrators.

Some anti-Sharia marchers in Orlando, Fla., such as Sheryl Tumey, noted the timing of event, two days before the one-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting, as a reason to protest. The gunman, who killed 50 people at the gay club, had been inspired by Islamic State extremists.

We live here and that touched us and that was a terrorist, said Tumey, 50. We are here and they want to bring in a religion of hate and oppression.

And so it went around the country in Chicago, Denver, Seattle, San Bernardino and elsewhere, where anti-Sharia marchers took to the streets and were met by their foes.

The demonstrators were protesting a set of religious and legal codes that have never been part of American jurisprudence and seem extremely unlikely to take root in the foreseeable future. Legal experts have said there is no mechanism by which any foreign criminal or civil code can trump U.S. laws, and laws mandating religious practices would be a clear violation of the Constitutions separation of church and state.

Nevertheless, joggers took out their earbuds and cyclists stopped pedaling, aghast as the small Atlanta crowd chanted, USA! USA! and spoke fervently of terrorism, female genital mutilation and beheadings. A small gaggle of counter-protesters held up placards and shouted, No Hate! No Fear! Muslims Are Welcome Here.

We have to protect America, our citizens and our way of life, said Lila Mercer, 49, an assistant manager for a big rig dealership who had traveled 40 miles from Auburn, Ga., for her first protest.

Sharia law does not belong in America, she said as she waved a homemade placard that said GOD BLESS USA.

Behind her, Michael Williams, a two-term Republican state senator who is running for governor, waved a tiny U.S. flag as he posed for photographs with armed members of Georgia Security Force III% militia

We all need to come together, put aside some of our petty differences and unite together to fight Sharia law, Williams shouted through a bullhorn to the crowd of about 50 people. We do not need it in our country. Overseas in Europe and other places, theyre throwing people off of buildings, theyre decapitating people because they do not believe the things they believe.

The event, where some men gripped rifles, drew concerns from passers-by.

Is this safe? a mother asked, anxiously covering her babys head as she passed a cluster of men in camouflage fatigues wielding long guns. What is this? Im just trying to take a walk with my girlfriends.

Zack Schneeberger, an IT project manager, 36, who walked up to the group with his wife and 6-month-old while waving a rainbow flag, said the Atlanta neighborhood was a haven of love and diversity.

Why bring assault rifles? You do not bring bullets to get a clear understanding, he said.

Act for America, which boasts that it has more than 500,000 members, said the rallies were about defending democracy and pushing back against Sharia law. The law is a philosophical code derived from Islamic scripture and meant to guide observant Muslims. In addition to civil and criminal law, it prescribes a wide range of faith practices, such as abstaining from alcohol and praying five times a day.

Many aspects of Sharia law run contrary to basic human rights and are completely incompatible with our laws and our democratic values, the group wrote on its website touting the rallies.

Brigitte Gabriel, who founded Act for America in 2007, has in recent years made a barrage of anti-Muslim comments.

During a speech at the Joint Forces Staff College in 2007, Gabriel said a practicing Muslim who believes the word of the Koran to be the word of Allah who goes to mosque and prays every Friday, who prays five times a day this practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen of the United States.

Her group has worked in state legislatures pushing anti-Sharia law initiatives.

Gabriel has also touted her ties to Trump.

Last year, she posted a Facebook photo of her and Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. And in March, Gabriel tweeted that she was in Washington, D.C., for a meeting with members of the Trump administration. Officials with the administration later said she attended a brief meeting with a member of the legislative staff.

In recent months, she has lauded Trumps proposed travel restrictions, which would temporarily bar travel to the United States from six majority-Muslim countries. So far, the proposal has been stalled in federal courts and could be headed for the Supreme Court.

Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that tracks the activities of hate groups nationwide, said Gabriels group is meant to defame Muslims and Islam as a whole.

They spew hate, Beirich said.

In February, the law center reported that its count of hate groups in the country increased for the second consecutive year and that the number of anti-Muslim organizations had nearly tripled within a year. The group, among other things, attributed the growth to Trumps incendiary rhetoric on Muslims.

Corey Saylor, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Saturday his group was helping to organize counter-protests. CAIR was among 129 groups that urged mayors of cities where the rallies were scheduled to disavow them.

Its simple: This group does not like Muslims, he said of Act for America.

In Atlanta, many attending the rally insisted they were not against all Muslims.

Were marching against a politicized Islam, said Yosef Ozia, 23, a member of Proud Boys, a far-right mens group founded by Gavin McInnes, the libertarian provocateur and co-founder of Vice Media.

Yet there was some resistance to counter-protesters who chanted, “Muslims are welcome here.”

“They’re not welcome!” one woman attending the rally shot back.

“Do you have room in your home for them?” another hollered.

“There’s only one religion in the world that can’t get along, and that’s Islam,” said Jacob Hudson, a small business owner and Trump supporter who traveled 150 miles to the rally from Birmingham, Ala.

Muslims who oppose violence need to stand up and disavow extreme terror in the name of Islam, said Hudson, 31.

“Until they do that, we’ll do it for them,” he said.

Times staff writer Lee reported from Los Angeles and special correspondent Jarvie from Atlanta. Times staff writer Barbara Demick in New York and Caitlin Doornbos of the Orlando Sentinel contributed to this report.

kurtis.lee@latimes.com

Twitter: @kurtisalee

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UPDATES:

9 p.m.: This article has been updated with a higher reference to the unlikelihood of Sharia law being imposed in the United States.

7:50 p.m.: This article has been updated with more comments from Atlanta protesters.

6:25 p.m.: This article has been updated with additional protests in other cities.

This article was originally posted at 1:45 p.m.

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Anti-Sharia rallies around the US denounce Islam while stoking concerns among Muslim groups – Los Angeles Times

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Anti-Muslim Hate Will March in 30 Cities This Weekend – Daily Beast

Donald Trump is Tinder for bigots. His campaign and presidency has helped countless bigots hook up with each other, and we will see another example of that this Saturday with anti-Muslim rallies scheduled in nearly 30 locations across America.

These rallies are organized by ACT for America!, an organization founded by Hanah Kahwagi, who goes bythe alias of Brigitte Gabriel, and who has preached that practicing Muslims cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America. As Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) spokesperson Heidi Beirich explained, ACT for America is the nations largest anti-Muslim hate group.

But ACT is now teaming up with Neo Nazis and white supremacists for these upcoming rallies. For example, Saturdays rally in Arkansas is being organized by well known Neo-Nazi Billy Roper, Beirich noted. As the SPLC website details, Roper has been working hand in hand with ACT to organize this event, including joining a recent conference call with ACT leaders. Roper, who boasts of being the son and grandson of Klansmen, not only joined the neo-Nazi National Alliance, but also Council of Conservative Citizens which, per the SPLC, served as Charleston terrorist Dylann Roofs gateway into white nationalism.

And in New York City, the lead speaker at the ACT anti-Muslim rally is Gavin McInnes, a man referred to by some as a hipster white nationalist. In reality hes just as vile as the older generation of bigots. McInnes, a co-founder of VICE who left years ago, has written articles for the white supremacist publication VDARE, where he has denigrated Muslims as well as Asians.

Hes also an apologist for white supremacist terrorism. Just a week ago he penned an article titled The myth of White terrorism in which he claimed that white supremacist killings are as low as death from spider bites. McInnes also wrote that only five Americans have been killed in recent years by white terrorists, conveniently leaving out numerous other white supremacist terror attacks, the most notable being Roofs murder of nine African Americans in 2015.

But to say McInnes, an avid Trump supporter, is simply a white supremacist who hates Muslims would be unfair. Hes much more despicable than that. McInnes has also blamed women for domestic violence, tweeting: Every guy I’ve ever known to be involved in a domestic was the result of some cunt trying to ruin his life.

And he has stoked anti-Semitism with his YouTube video, 10 Things I Hate About Jews, where among other things he slams Jews for not being grateful enough that America defeated the Nazis and claiming that Jews have a real hatred for white males.

ACT is claiming its anti-Muslim rallies, intentionally scheduled for Ramadan, are actually anti-Sharia rallies. Of course the reality is that sharia law is never coming to the United States. First, there are no American Muslims trying to replace our American system of laws with one based on the Quran. To be clear, as a Muslim myself, I would be the first to be protesting if any Muslim American group was actually calling for Islamic law to be imposed in the United States. Secondly, sharia law could never be imposed in the United States because of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution as well as the First Amendment.

In reality the only people advocating for laws based on their religious text in the United States are conservative Christians. For example, Mike Huckabee has called to amend the Constitution so its in Gods standards. Rick Santorum also pushed for Christian sharia law declaring in 2012 while running for President that “our civil laws have to comport with a higher law: God’s law.” And of course Mike Pence has invoked the Bible as the basis to discriminate against the LGBT community.

I wish we could dismiss ACT as nothing more than hateful bigots on the fringes of society but we would be making a mistake. This hate group has numerous ties to Trump and his administration. ACT founder Gabriel was recently welcomed to the Trump White House with open arms. And Gabriel, who also has tried to convince Jewish and Christian groups not to engage in interfaith work with Muslim Americans, recently bragged that ACT for America has a direct line to Donald Trump, and has played a fundamental role in shaping his views and suggested policies with respect to radical Islam.

Gabriel is rightACT and the Trump administration are intertwined. Last year, Trumps CIA Director Mike Pompeo proudly accepted ACTs National Security Eagle Award. Sebastian Gorka, a Trump national security “expert,” has spoken before many ACT chapters. Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn was on ACTs Board of Directors. And Steve Bannon, while editor of Brietbart, provided Gabriel a place to spew anti-Muslim hate for years.

But now ACT is teaming up with not only the Trump administration but with neo-Nazis and white supremacist to demonize Muslims. The silver lining is that many other groups who embrace American values and reject hate are planning counter rallies. As Madihha Ahussain,specialcounselfor anti-Muslim bigotry at Muslim Advocates explained, As ACT plans hateful rallies across the country, we have heard from organizations across the country about how they are planning and preparing to stand with their Muslim neighbors and friends.

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This is truly a fight for the soul of America. We cannot allow ACT and its allies in hate to go unchallenged. If you believe in an America thats welcoming of diverse faiths and races, then please stand up and speak out. We need your voices to help drown out those spewing hate.

I can assure that if ACT is successful in its goal of marginalizing Muslims, it will next target other minority groups because its coalition of hate will demand it. And by the time they come for your community, there may be no one left to speak for you.

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Anti-Muslim Hate Will March in 30 Cities This Weekend – Daily Beast

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5 Things The Media Gets Wrong About White Supremacist Hate – HuffPost

White supremacist terror is at the top of peoples minds after a white supremacist stabbed and killed two menwho were defending two young black women, one in a hijab, from his bigoted rant in Portland, Oregon, last month.

The incident attracted widespread media coverage,which in turn drew criticism from many people on Twitter whodenounced news outletsfor not labeling the attack as terrorism.

Theres a familiardouble standardin how the media treatsviolenceby white supremacists versus violenceby Islamist extremists. Its time to getit right.

HuffPost spoke to two experts Farai Chideya, a journalist who has been reporting on white nationalism for more than 25 years, and Heidi Beirich, the head of the Southern Poverty Law Centers Intelligence Project, who has been studying white extremist groups since 1999 to discuss the problem of white supremacist hate today, and how the media can do a better job covering it.

Portland Police Bureau/Handout via REUTERS

This is what the media should know:

The one thing that bothers me the most about media coverage of these incidents is that theyre not frequently enough put in the context of the fact weve had ton of domestic terrorism recently, Beirich told HuffPost.

Beirich noted a recent spate of white supremacist attacks in the U.S. In addition to the May 26 Portland attack, theres the March 20 murder of 66-year-old Timothy Caughman, who was black, by a man who traveled to New York City expressly to kill African-American men, andthe May 22 killing of Richard Collins III, a black college student in Maryland, by a man who belonged to a white supremacist Facebook group.

When it comes to Muslim terrorism, nobody questions its a problem thats an ongoing threat a security problem, radicalization problem, et cetera which it is, Beirich said. But when it comes to Portland or Dylann Roof[the 2015 Charleston church shooter], they always seem to appear as one-offs.

Outlets covering last weeks truck and knife attack in London, for instance carried out by three men identified as Islamist extremists often made a point of mentioning the bombingin Manchester, England, two weeks before.

But many news outlets covering the stabbing attack in Portlandfailed to mention other recent U.S. attacks by white supremacists, such as the one in Maryland just a few days earlier.

Meanwhile, more domestic terrorism incidents in the U.S. have been carried out by people associated with white supremacist ideologies than by people with radical Islamist ideologies, Beirich noted.

Intracking deadly terror attacks in the U.S., the New America Foundation has counted 11 attacks by Islamic extremists since 9/11, compared to 21 by far-right extremists. Between the 9/11 attacks and the 2016 Orlando, Florida, nightclub shooting, more people were killed in the U.S. by right-wing extremists than by Islamic extremists, the foundation said.

Americans shouldnt be surprised by the frequency of white supremacist attacks, since they are rooted in a long history of racial discrimination, Beirich said. As she puts it, until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, white supremacy was the law of the land.

Im disturbed by this cycle [of attacks], Chideya told HuffPost. But we began as a country that said all men are created equal but there was slavery, and women were not allowed to vote.

This is a continuation, she added. Were not done, just because people are uneasy with how long the history is and how prevalent the issue is. We have to give up thinking this is rare.

Keystone-France via Getty Images

White supremacist hate doesnt just manifest as violent extremism, Chideya noted.

People frame it as weird guys with fringe beliefs no, Chideya said. White supremacists dont just wear hoods and give Nazi salutes. White nationalists are in the U.S. government.

She pointed toinstitutionalized white nationalism, like voting laws, mentioningNorth Carolinas voting practices an example of de facto white nationalism. The courts recently found that the states legislative districts were drawn to intentionally disadvantage black voters.

Chideya also mentioned political white nationalism, like in the White House,calling out the links between the white supremacist movement and upper echelons of the federal government.

She listed President Donald Trumps chief strategist Steve Bannon, who led Breitbart News, a publisher of white nationalist content, and Trump aide Sebastian Gorka, who reportedly has ties to a Nazi-aligned group. When Beirich spoke to HuffPost in April, she also pointed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has received awards from and hasspoken at eventsfor an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center lists asan anti-Muslim hate group.

In terms of how news media could do better, Chideya pointed to coverage of Greg Gianforte, who was elected to Congress in Montana last month and was found to have made donations to candidates with ties to white nationalist groupswhich Rewire reported just days before his election. Gianforte made national news when he physically attacked a reporter on the eve of the election.

Chideyasaid members of the news media were slow to surface Gianfortes links to hate groups, which she thought should have come out sooner.

In general, reporters need to become more adept at tracking not just extremist white nationalism, but also when it enters the mainstream, like in Montana, Chideya said. The same way you run a background check on politiciansfinances, run a check on if they are connected to extremist ideologies.

REUTERS/Colter Peterson

News outlets havebeen repeatedly criticized for theirslowness to label attacksby white perpetratorsas terrorism, while theyre quick to use the labelwhen attackers are perceived as nonwhite orother andspecifically, Muslim.

What is terrorism? Acts designed to inspire terror. But somehow, we dont call this terrorism,Chideya told HuffPost of the Portland attack. When a Muslim terrorist kills one, two, five people, its immediately labeled terrorism. But when a white nationalist kills one, two, five people, its not labeled terrorism. But theyre the same.

We have to be aware as journalists of the labels we use, she added.

The issue of how to label any given attack is complex. As CNN reports, for an attack to be labeled a hate crime, a perpetrator has to attack someone based on their identity for example, their race, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity. For an act to be labeled terrorism, the perpetrator has to be motivated by political or ideological beliefs.

But the line is blurry. Many people condemned the government for not labeling Dylann Roof a terroristafter he killednine black people in a Charleston church in 2015 and specifically said he was there to shoot black people, according to witnesses.

Officials themselves can be slow to use the terrorist label when white attackers are involved, adding to the challenge for journalists.

Its too early to say whether last nights violence was an act of domestic terrorism or a federal hate crime, an FBI special agent told reporters the day after the Portland attack, per CNN.

Beyond the inconsistent labeling, there are other discrepancies in how the media treats violent attacks by white supremacists versus by Islamist extremists.

White attackers are often portrayed as lone wolves with mental health issues, while Islamist attackers are simply terrorists. The Muslim community is made to answer or apologize for Islamist extremism, while white Christians dont get similar requests. Theres deep digging intohow Islamic extremists were radicalized but thats not the case for white extremists.

Plenty of terrorists have had mental health issues, Chideya told HuffPost. There isa more general presumption that white people are good and innocent in American culture at large and journalists come from that culture.

And when someone perceived as Muslim commits an attack, thenews typically receives far more coveragethan an attack by a white supremacist would.

This double standard is perpetuated fromthe nations highest office, as Trump continues torespond selectivelyto terror attacks duringhis presidency.

After Islamist extremists attacked London, for instance,hecondemned the violence on Twitterthe same day. After the Portland attack,Trump waited more than two days before tweeting about it.

Theres crickets from Donald Trump when theres white nationalist violence, Chideya said. But theres a deluge with Muslim violence.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

News organizations are sometimes concerned about giving extremists too much attention, which could feed into their desire for publicityandspur copycats.

Beirich recognizes the issue, but she maintains that reporters need to pay more attention not less to the issue of white supremacist hate.

I know there are concerns about journalists who dont want to report on a neo-Nazi rally where four people show up, because those groups are just seeking attention and thats a valid point, Beirich said. But when were talking about domestic terrorism and hate crimes related to white supremacy thats a real thing.

I understand not wanting to draw attention to small instances, she added, noting specifically the series of news stories about white supremacist flyers on college campuses.But when people are getting killed because of this, weve got to pay attention.

Deciding how much of a platform to provide extremists is an inevitable transaction of journalism, Chideya noted.

Sherecalled a time years ago when she was conducting a phone interview with a woman in the white supremacist movement. At the end of the interview, Chideya asked: Im black would you have granted me the interview if youd known that?

The woman responded: Probably not but on the other hand, every time I talk to a reporter, people will read your article and come find me.

You can write a piece saying [white supremacists] are cowards, and there still will be people who come over to their side, Chideya told HuffPost. That doesnt mean you dont do journalism you just do it as well as you can.

Good reporting on white supremacist movements will recognize that there is a range of people within any movement.

Its a question of journalism: Not every story is about Derek Black, she said, referring to a man The Washington Post profiled after he left the so-called alt-right movement. Nor about the worst violent person in the movement.

Jim Urquhart/Reuters

Not only do we have domestic terrorism inspired by racism, but also we have a hate crime problem and the dimensions are not understood, Beirich said.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, for instance, puts out a report of around 5,000 to 6,000 hate crimes each year. But when the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics did a large-scale study from 2007 to 2011, Beirich noted, it found the number of hate crimes closer to 260,000per year.

If people were looking at these data points more, we would be talking about ways to combat this problem, Beirich said. This leads to less public policy interest in domestic terrorism committed by white supremacists and allows Trump to minimize these threats. We should not leave him off the hook.

After Saturdays attack by Islamist extremists in London, British Prime Minister Theresa May called for a new strategy on terror.Trumpcalled on the courtsto reinstate his travel ban on certain Muslim-majority countries a move that was roundly criticized.

By contrast, after the Portland attack, Trumpmade no calls to change policy to prevent future attacks.

The facts and the context have to be put out there by media, Beirich said. We need policies to address this.

America does not do a good job of tracking incidents of hate and bias. We need your help to create a database of such incidents across the country, so we all know whats going on. Tell us your story.

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June 9, 2017   Posted in: Heidi Beirich  Comments Closed

Connecting The Dots From The Portland Stabbings To The White … – Mintpress News (blog)

The line between free speech and hate speech is getting finer in Trumps America.

Jeremy Christian enters for a court appearance at Multnomah County Circuit Court in Portland, Ore., on, June 7, 2017. Christian is accused of killing two passengers and wounding a third aboard a light-rail train. (Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian)

NEW YORK, United States A man hurls anti-Muslim insults at a young woman in a headscarf and then stabs two commuters to death in Oregon. President Donald Trump pushes his ban on travelers from majority-Muslim countries towards a Supreme Court showdown. His vice president, Mike Pence, warns of genocide against Christians in the Middle East.

American Muslims watch these developments closely, wary of signs of an anti-Muslim bias in the White House that could trickle through society and make it more likely that they experience verbal attacks, watch local mosques get torched or take a beating from thugs on the way home from work.

Still, is there a connection?

Do so-called dog-whistle signals from the West Wing fuel violent outrages? Case in point is that of Jeremy Christian, 35, who was charged with killing two passengers aboard a commuter train in Portland after they tried to stop him from harassing two young women who appeared to be Muslim.

Or, are critiques of Islamism from Trump supporters and other right-wingers legitimate examples of free speech, and not hate speech? Should they be expected in a country that is at war with the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq and Syria, and where IS-linked terror strikes in Manchester, London and Paris reawaken the horrors of 9/11?

Left-leaning civil society groups are sounding the alarm. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an anti-bigotry watchdog, counted a threefold rise in the number of what it deems anti-Muslim hate groups in the US, to 101 in 2016 from 34 in 2015.It traces a line right to the Oval Office.

We dont seem to have support in the White House for battling hate when hate is out of control, and people are suffering for it, Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLCs intelligence-gathering team, told Middle East Eye.

As police stand guard, armed anti-Muslim protestors, who did not want to give their names, stand across the street from a mosque during a demonstration in Richardson, Texas, Dec. 12, 2015. (AP/LM Otero)

Two leading groups ACT for America and the Center for Security Policy (CSP) have shifted their emphasis in recent years, building relationships with local and national politicians and advocating against refugees from Syria and other hotspots, according to SPLC researchers.

Beirich pointed to Trumps temporary travel ban on people from several majority-Muslim countries, which has been blocked by lower US courts, and his 26 May statement marking the start of the Holy month of Ramadan.

Such annual memos are typically cheery, but Trumps offering this year added less-festive lines on the terrorists and their perverted ideology that were responsible for barbaric terrorist attacks in Britain and Egypt.

Beirich also pointed to Pences oratory at the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians on 11 May, when he described IS atrocities in the Middle East as nothing short of genocide against people of the Christian faith.

Mike Pences comments about the Christian faith under fire is a narrative that is pushed among the evangelicals where he finds his base the social conservative movement, which is overridden with some of the most anti-Muslim organisations, like the Family Research Council, that we list as a hate group, and others, Beirich told MEE.

There is always this attempt to privilege Christians as victims and not realize that the majority of victims of IS violence and that kind of extremism are, of course, people in Muslim countries. There just seems to be some extreme reticence on the part of this White House to acknowledge that situation and square that.

This debate about the persecution of Christians has been reignited by the release of a documentary, called Faithkeepers, produced by the Clarion Project, a group that the SPLC criticizes for pushing anti-Muslim propaganda.

The film is screening across the US and deals with religious-based attacks on Christians and other minorities in the Middle East.

James Zogby, co-founder of the Arab American Institute (AAI), a civil society group, called it a not-so-subtle attack on Islam for conflating real-life attacks on Christians by IS militiamen with the insidious insinuation that such persecution is at the heart of the Muslim faith.

Ryan Mauro, from the Clarion Project, disagreed. The movie merely documents real-life cases of Christians and others being killed and forced from towns and villages that had been their homes for generations, he said.

Theres nothing bigoted about describing a long-standing pattern of a problem with any geographic area, Mauro told MEE.

Zogby and other critics put a lot more effort into attacking our film, calling people Islamophobes and part of a secret Zionist conspiracy than they put effort into stopping this type of persecution in the first place, Mauro added.

Protesters outside the Houston ISDs Arabic Immersion Magnet School carry signs reading Qatar out of my school and Everything I ever cared to know about Islam was taught to me by Muslims on 9-11-2001 on the first day of school, Aug. 24, 2015. |

For Mauro, data-driven arguments are a legitimate tool against radical Islam. The First Amendment of the US Constitution safeguards both the right to practice a faith, but also the free-speech rights to scrutinize the religion and politics of others.

Its fine to criticize any religion or philosophy and we should not confuse criticism with bigotry until it crosses the line into wholesale negative depictions and stereotypes of all of it the faiths adherents, Mauro told MEE.

He acknowledged that anti-Muslim sentiment and bigotry can lead to Portland-style violence, but noted that such attacks are more likely reactions to IS beheadings on YouTube than populist politicians talking about them afterwards.

Trump has toned down his anti-Muslim campaign rhetoric to more mainstream positions, Mauro added.

The so-called Muslim ban was re-classified as a security-based restriction on travel from six Middle Eastern countries, he said. During his first foreign trip, to Saudi Arabia, Trump changed tack for a shared platform with Saudi King Salman and other Muslim leaders.

Trumps language in Riyadh gave more attention to nuance than in the past. Calling out Islamist extremism, even using the term Islamic terror, is acceptable, as long as youre responsible by referring to our Muslim allies, and Trump did that, Mauro said.

Others are unconvinced. For AAI director Maya Berry, Trump is more comfortable discussing Islam overseas than addressing his domestic population of some 3.3 million American Muslims that he once accused of cheering on the 9/11 attackers.

Were hearing the common message that Islam is foreign from this administration. President Trump seems to be able to have the conversation with foreign leaders as opposed to addressing the American Muslim community and the concerns we have here, Berry told MEE.

For Beirich, the celebrity-turned-politician has already shown his true colors.

Some of what Trump said in Saudi Arabia wasnt horrific, but he still cannot frame anything except as Muslims and extremism. Its like the two go hand-in-hand in his mind, Beirich told MEE. Im skeptical of anything he has to say that may all of a sudden make us think hes not so horrible on this issue because I dont buy it.

Stories published in our Hot Topics section are chosen based on the interest of our readers. They are republished from a number of sources, and are not produced by MintPress News. The views expressed in these articles are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect Mint Press News editorial policy.

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Connecting The Dots From The Portland Stabbings To The White … – Mintpress News (blog)

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‘We Have Revitalized White Supremacist Thinking in the Mainstream’ – FAIR

Janine Jackson interviewed Heidi Beirich about white supremacist violence for the June 2, 2017, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.

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Janine Jackson: Some media reported a study a year or so back from the New America Foundation that found that in the years since the September 11th attacks, white supremacists and anti-government radicals had killed nearly twice as many people in the United States as Muslim radicals. Researchers said white supremacist violence was an ignored threat that too often goes under the radar. But when the Washington Post runs a headline that says, Trump Is Quick to Tweet About Terror and TV, Slower on Things Like the Attack in Portland, it isnt ignoring an actits transforming it.

Terror is something with social significance that requires a social response. The attack in Portlandin which two people were killed defending two brown-skinned teen girls against a white man yelling at them to get out of his countryis somehow different. Its tiresome to continue noting media double standards, how a white person who kills and attributes it to racial hatred becomes a troubled individual; we wait for police to determine what really provoked the crime. While a Muslim attacker goes straight to page one as the face of evil, emblematic of a danger greater than themselves.

US corporate media resist saying people like Jeremy Joseph Christian are part of something larger, beyond themselves, because that has implications. But he isso what are they? Heidi Beirich is the leader of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center. She joins us now by phone from Georgia. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Heidi Beirich.

Heidi Beirich: Thanks for having me.

JJ: The last time we had you on, we talked about how, when then-candidate Donald Trump was slow to disavow the Ku Klux Klan, media called it a stumbleas though Trump had misspoken, or was confused about the existence of white supremacy and its role in campaigns like his own. Now Donald Trump is president, and Southern Poverty Law Center, I understand, tracked some 900 attacks in his first ten days [after the election]. Well, no one thinks Trump invented right-wing extremism, but are we seeing, maybe, a new strain of an old disease?

Heidi Beirich: When you talk about white supremacy, youve got to take a hard look at our culture, because it is endemic, and it was here from the day this country startedeven before, actually.

HB: Yeah, I dont think theres any question but that we are seeing a new strain of an old disease, and it was encouraged, certainly, by the Trump campaign. And the hate incidents that broke out theres almost 900 of them, like you said, right after the electionwere the result of the rhetoric in the campaign. I dont think anybody nowadays thinks that you can simply bash a population like Mexicans, as Trump did, or Muslims, and not get a result that ends up in violence in some cases. And so thats the situation we find ourselves in, and we have revitalized white supremacist groups, white supremacist thinking in the mainstream. Its really been a horrible turn of events thats occurred over the last 16 months.

JJ: I know that you are not in the business of quantifying who is more violent than whom. Thats kind of a mugs game, and more a deflection from a conversation than anything. But you have suggested that white supremacy is an unusually combustible mental framework. What do you mean by that?

HB: What we find again and again, in particular with domestic terrorist acts or heinous hate crimes, like what happened in Portland, is that people exposed to white supremacy, people who suck it in, the Dylann Roofs of the world, the Jeremy Christians of the world, often go on to commit violent acts. If you just look at the list of domestic terrorist attacks, lets say since Timothy McVeigh in 1995, theres a handful that are the result of people who have radical interpretations of Islam. But the bulk of the incidents involve people who have come to view whites as superior, and who view this country as essentially undergoing a race war, and they make these violent acts, they do these things, in their minds, to save the country, in particular for white people. Its a very insidious mode of thinking that justifies things like genocide, ethnic cleansing. And so its not surprising that we would get violence out of people who come to believe in these ideas.

JJ: Well, if media were really concerned about domestic terror attacks per se, it seems that we would hear the name you just mentioned, Tim McVeigh, that wed be hearing that night and noon, wouldnt we, because in fact, that attack was back in 1995, but Tim McVeigh is still sort of a figure in some of these circles.

The Portland murder suspects tribute to the Oklahoma City bomber.

HB: Yeah. Look, Jeremy Christian had a poem or a tribute to McVeigh on his Facebook page. The cell of neo-Nazis which ended up with internecine battles and two men killed that was in Tampa a week and a half ago, they had a picture of McVeigh in their office. And people seem to have forgotten, some sort of amnesia after the 9/11 attacks, which of course were horrific, but up to that point, McVeighs bombing in Oklahoma City was the largest loss of life ever in a domestic terrorist incident. Some 180-plus people were killed, including children.

And after 9/11, it was as thoughthis type of terrorism of course continued to occur, but it was though it didnt matter, right? All the focus was on the Muslim community, on radical interpretations of Islam, and there was just a reluctance to understand that terrorism comes in more than one form. And of course its much easier to point the finger abroad or to a community that you can easily other and say is not part of usmeaning, in recent years, the Muslim community. When you talk about white supremacy, youve got to take a hard look at our culture, because it is endemic, and it was here from the day this country startedeven before, actually, with English settlers and so on. And there just seems constantly to be a reluctance to treat that kind of terrorismand hate crimes, I might addas seriously as what is influenced by groups like ISIS or Al Qaeda.

JJ: Well, let me ask you: State officials, and the media following their lead, were hesitant to describe massacres in Rwanda as genocide, partly because such terms track national interest, so-called, whos a friend and whos an enemy, and partly because the term carried implications, it carried responsibilities, and it called for action. I wonder, what would it mean to recognize, not that white hate violence happensyou know, that moment of discovery should be long overwhat would it mean to recognize it as terroristic? What would be the next phase after we see it?

HB: If people were to come to that position, government officials in particular, right, then it becomes a policy problem, and one that needs to be addressed. Then we might come to think that more resources should be put at combating this kind of terrorism, and not all the focus always be on the Muslim community.

We would probably strengthen our hate crime laws, which are just all over the map. There are large classes of people, depending on what state youre in, that are not protected. My home state of Alabama, the LGBT community has no protections. Theres no mandatory reporting.

In fact, the Department of Justice itself says the number of hate crimesthis is based on survey datais about 250,000 a year in the US, and the FBI only reports like 5,000. That gap right there, between 250,000 and 5,000, shows you how little we seem to care about this issue. And, you know, when it comes to the Trump administration, they can barely get it out of their mouths to condemn these acts of violence.

JJ: And, of course, it isnt just what Trump is not saying, and what signals hes sending with that. There is also, as youve just noted, resource expenditures. In that light, I wonder if you could explain what I understand is happening with the Countering Violent Extremism program. It seems to reflect this White Houses priorities.

HB: Well, it absolutely does. In the latter years of the Obama administration, they changed Countering Violent Extremism programs, which are basicallya lot of its school counseling, childrens programs, things that can help keep people from falling into the hands of extremists.

And they changed these programs to not just focus on the Muslim community, but to also support groups that were trying to get people out of white supremacy. So there were a bunch of grants awarded, late in the Obama administration, to do this work, but the checks hadnt been signed.

But then, after Trumps win, it was crickets. And our understanding, from leaked reports, is that in Trumps view, it should be countering violent Islam, not countering violent extremism. And it shows, once again, the Trump administration doesnt seem to care about hate crimes against people of color, but they also seem to ridiculously think that terrorism cant have a white face, right, that its all coming from ISIS and whatnot, and its just false. So at this point were going to have policies put in place that act like McVeigh didnt exist.

JJ: I know that you dont support censorship as the way forward. I wonder, what are some of the positive actions that you see when you look around that seem to you usefulnot just that make us feel better, and Im not opposed to feeling better, but that seem to you useful in resisting, or in speaking back to white supremacist violence?

HB: Sure. Well, I think in Portland, for example, there was a really positive rally with some 600 people that involved an Islamic center there, where people in the city said, we do not support this guy, right, and the kind of hate violence weve just seen. Were seeing things like that across the country. We also have a lot of mayors and states taking positive moves on creating hate crimes units, taking hate crime issues more seriously, investing in that, creating welcoming communities. These things are really, really important. And although the Trump administration might not care about this, down the road, somebody will.

And so thats sort of the best of America. And hopefully sometime shortly, well have a different election outcome, and that will be allowed to flourish, not just at the state and local level, but for the whole country.

JJ: And any thoughts on media? When I was booking you, I said I knew youd be very busy, and Im sorry for that, in a way. I think that US reporters should have a deep bench right now on white supremacist violence. It shouldnt be a concept that sort of springs up anew, and then is forced on them and they need to look into it. It really is, of course, as a story, something that could keep a journalist busy every day.

HB: Sure. Well, I have to say, given the state of the media, where theres been high turnover in newsrooms and new people coming in, that a lot of folks dont really have this more historical perspective on white supremacy, let alone to the 1990s. But weve got to remember, its only the mid 60s when we dismantled the legal framework that kept segregation, Jim Crow and black oppression in place. So we are not that far from having written in law that black people should be treated worse than white people.

And so I think that nowadays, if youre involved in covering American politics, you have got to know the history of the civil rights movement, and something about American history, and you need to know the violence that has been coming out of groups like the Ku Klux Klan, and others inspired by hate ideas, almost since the founding of the country to today, and its sort of a fundamental thing to know about.

I am somewhat happy, because Ive seen in certain newsrooms more specialization on these issues, largely in response to the Trump campaign, because they keep coming up, and because theres so much domestic terrorism, but we could use more expertise in the media ranks about these issues.

JJ: Weve been speaking with Heidi Beirich of Southern Poverty Law Centers Intelligence Project, which publishes the Intelligence Report and the Hatewatch blog. Find them online at SPLCenter.org. Heidi Beirich, thank you so much for joining us this week on CounterSpin.

HB: Thanks for having me.

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Pot War, Muslim Travel Ban, Russia Probe: Jeff Sessions In The Middle Of Troubled Trump Issues – Benzinga

Embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the first U.S. senator to endorse President Donald Trumps candidacy, finds himself swept up in virtually every issue that has confounded the administrations efforts to advance any sort of an agenda. Front and center is his role in whether the Trump team conspired with Russian agents to fix the November election, his subsequent recusal in March from the federal investigation into those ties and whether he broke his own promise to stay out of the affair. Sessions is supposed to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee about Russia Tuesday, but the openness of the session is undecided. Here are a few things to know about Sessions: As a Republican senator from Alabama, he went out on a limb and endorsed Trump in February of 2016, when few people thought the real estate mogul had chance, and he was rewarded for his loyalty with the AGs job. Its been downhill ever since. Last week, former FBI Director James Comey, without being specific, said he had information about Sessions related to Russia that he termed problematic to the investigation. It was a tantalizing clue that there may be other complicating issues connecting the attorney general to the ongoing investigation, Sen. Chris Coons (DDel.) told Politico. Comey also said he asked Sessions, his boss, not to leave him alone with Trump after an awkward meeting in February, when Comey alleged that Trump asked him to drop the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynns visits and meetings with pro-Kremlin Russians. Sessions had also said under oath during his confirmation hearing that he had not had contact with the Russians during the election campaign, then admitted it in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee when reports surfaced he indeed had meetings. It was then that Sessions recused himself. Sessions played a key role in Trumps two executive orders seeking to ban Muslims from first seven, then six nations. His comments about Muslims played a part in the acting attorney general, Sally Yates, refusing to enforce the order. Yellen was subsequently fired by Trump in January. Both the first and second bans were blocked by federal courts, and the Muslim prohibition now appears headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Sessions is also strongly opposed to guest worker visas that allow immigrants to work temporarily in the United States. Sessions was named head of the Trump campaigns national security advisory committee in March 2016 and was pivotal to Trump naming Flynn as national security advisor, even though it was known that Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence about meeting with the Russians and discussing U.S. sanctions against Russia for the 2014 invasion of neighbor Ukraine. Sessions was also instrumental in the naming of Pence as Trumps running mate, and Pence subsequently led the Trump presidential transition team. Sessions has a history of making racially inflammatory remarks, and his nomination to a federal judgeship in 1986 was denied because of the accusations. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Heidi Beirich told the Washington Post that Sessions has been guilty of using hate speech, and that his presence close to Trump a tragedy for American politics. Sessions has vowed to wage war on the increasing number of states that have passed marijuana laws allowing it for medicinal and/or recreational use. However, a bipartisan budget committee has rejected Session’s attempts to get money for the effort. I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store, Sessions said March 15, comparing it to heroin. Related Links: Comey Demolishes Infrastructure Week, Calls Trump A Liar I Read The Tweets Today, Oh Boy: A Week In The 140-Character Life Of Donald Trump _______ Image Credit: By Office of the President-elect – https://greatagain.gov/sessions-highlights-6819d2478fc5#.ow7rot78y, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons Posted-In: News Futures Previews Politics Travel Legal Events Markets Best of Benzinga 2017 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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‘Holocaust Revisionist’ Organization Upset At Being Labeled A ‘Hate Group’ – Forward

wikimedia A self-described group of Holocaust revisionists has taken issue with being designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Deir Yessin Remembered, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., says that its mission is to spread awareness about a 1948 massacre by Jewish militias that, by some estimates, killed more than 100 Arab villagers. However, the organizations activities have also expanded to include Holocaust denial. Heidi Beirich, director of SPLCs Intelligence Project, said Deir Yassin Remembered was added to the centers lists of hate groups for 2017 due to the groups support of Holocaust deniers and its questioning of historically accurate facts about the Holocaust, the Michigan news website MLive.com reported on Friday. Indeed, one blog post on Deir Yessin Remembereds website takes issue with the existence of the Final Solution, the existence of gas chambers, and the number of Jews killed in concentration camps. The SPLCs annual list of hate groups includes 917 groups across the country this year, 28 of which are in Michigan. Contact Jesse Bernstein at bernstein@forward.com or on Twitter @__jbernstein.

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March Against Sharia Targets Muslims in US – Newsweek

ACT for America founder Brigitte Gabriel saysthe Islamic law known as Sharia is taking over the land, eclipsing the U.S. Constitution, with radical clerics turning the nation into a modern-day caliphate. That isnt even remotely true, but the inconvenient fact is unlikely to stop anti-Islamic zealots who disguise their Islamophobia as a humanistic concern about Sharias infringement on American civic life. This Saturday, ACT for America is holding March Against ShariaMarch for Human Rightsevents in more than two dozen American cities. We, at ACT for America, are committed to protecting women and children from Sharia Law, says the groups website, and its impact on Muslim women and children, including honor killing and Female Genital Mutilation. We must ensure that every woman and child enjoy the protection afforded by the U.S. Constitution. Subscribe to Newsweek from $1 per week ACT for America According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks radical organizations across the United States, ACT for America is the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in America, claiming 280,000 members and over 1,000 chapters. The group was founded in 2007 by Gabriel, who is a Lebanese Christian. The following year,it launched Stop Shariah Now, which would presumably ‘inform and educate the public about what Shariah is, how it is creeping into American society and compromising our constitutional freedom of speech, press, religion and equality. That campaign and related efforts have resulted in anti-Sharia legislation in several states. Those laws, however, are often supported by Republicans who are themselves far more prone to fundamentalism than the Muslims they fear. In a report called “Manufacturing Bigotry, the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding found that 80 percentof the 102 anti-Sharia bills were sponsored or co-sponsored by an overlap legislator, or legislator who sponsored or co-sponsored a restrictive law targeting undocumented immigrants, women seeking reproductive health options, workers seeking to organize and voter identification. Brigitte Gabriel, founder of ACT for America, on Fox News. Fox News There is no ability under the Constitution to impose Sharia law, says Heidi Beirich, who directs the SPLCs Intelligence Project. The vast majority of religious adherents, regardless of their faith, understand the American ideal of separation between church and state. Gabriel turned down requests for comment over email and social media. But last year, speaking at an ACT for America conference, she called her group the NRA of national security, an apparent reference to the National Rifle Association. During the talk, she suggested that some Syrian refugees are members of the Islamic State. She also lambasted Chobani, a yogurt company that is a popular target of the far-right because it hires refugees. For all the fearmongering by ACT for America, Sharia creep remains the stuff of right-wing fantasy. It seizes on reports of criminal behavior by American Muslims, including female genital mutilation and honor killings. Both are troubling yetextremely rare. Nor is there any evidence that mainstream Muslims are attempting to foist those fringe practices on the American population at large. This is an attempt to make Muslims seem like these insidious, creepy beings whose only role here is to come and steal constitutional rights, says Beirich.

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5 Questions with Heidi Beirich | Aspen Ideas Blog

You oversee the Southern Poverty Law Centers yearly count of the nations hate and hardline anti-government groups. Is the number of these groups growing? And can you give an example of a few that have developed more recently? These groups have been growing, and for some time. The number of hate groups started rising in 2000 after the Census Bureau, for the first time, announced publicly that in the 2040s there would be no white majority in the US. That obviously was a motivator for white supremacist groups to recruit, and they did aggressively. There were 602 hate groups in 2000 and there are 917 now. Obamas election was also a factor, as well as the economic meltdown in 2008. But the most important factor leading to the growth of these groups is Americas changing demographics.The hate movement is capitalizing on this with those who share racial resentmentsand have built a backlash that comprised part of the electoral coalition behind President Trump, namely the Alt-Right. In the last year, it was organizations such as Daily Stormer or Identity Europa that saw the biggest gains in terms of new chapters. They hitched their messaging to the Trump campaign and as a result, saw great increases in their ranks. Daily Stormer now has 400,000 page views a month and in the last year, moved from an online website to a real world organization with 30 chapters. The way the antigovernment movement, which includes gun extremists and those who think Democrats are out to destroy them, grows is a bit different. It tends to add organizations and chapters when Democratic presidents are in office, which happened under Clinton and Obama. In 2016, their number of chapters fell, likely as they watched the Trump campaign excel and eventually win in November. Hate crimes spiked in the US following the November election. Whats the status of hate crimes now, six months after the election? The SPLC documented about 1,800 hate crimes and bias incidents from the day of the election through February. It was an extraordinary number of such events, which typically occur in much smaller numbers during a similar period of time. The most targeted populations immigrants and Muslims were also subject to demonization during the election campaign. As we often say at SPLC, hate speech has real world consequences and they can be terrifying for the groups subject to demonization. Also, many of the crimes were specifically committed in Trumps name. In the first month or so, about twenty percent of the incidents perpetrators referred directly to him. Whats the goal of collecting data around the problem of hate? The most important objective is to demonstrate that this is a continuing problem in America that needs to be addressed. Too often, people work under the assumption that all of Americas horrifying racial past is history. But a white supremacist governing structure didnt disappear with the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts in the mid-1960s. And racists, who were backed up in their beliefs by law since the founding of the country, dont just abandon those beliefs overnight. Detoxifying race in this country is a long-term project. Simply documenting that hate crimes are happening matters greatly in dealing with this problem.We should also hold accountable those who demonize populations for political reasons or other ends for the violence their words can unleash. Hate crimes are brutally undercounted. The DOJ (Department of Justice) has conducted three major statistical studies of survey data compiled annually by the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). These analyses make it clear that the number of hate crimes in the US is much larger than other counts, at 250,000 annually. Think about that for a second. The FBI reports about 5500 hate crimes annually, and has for decades. The NCVS data, however, says the number is 30 times that amount. That means the undercounting is serious and the system for collecting data on hate crimes basically broken. If we really documented 250,000 hate crimes a year, this issue would be a national crisis. We, as a country, would be working on it with policies and dedicating resources to it. But due to the undercounting, it simply isn’t a top priority in our political system. The UK, which has millions fewer residents than the US, counted over 50,000 hate crimes last year. It’s possible to do better, if we care about the issue. Youre speaking in the America I Know track at the Festival. What dont most Americans know or understand that you wish they did? I wish they better understood the role hate continues to play in our political system and culture. Most Americans dont realize how many of these groups exist, how often ideas from white supremacist circles make it into mainstream media and politics, and how much that impacts our society. Many people dont realize that nearly all domestic terrorist attacks, or attempted attacks, are committed by white supremacists and not radical Islamists. In fact, our domestic terrorism problem is indigenous mostly, meaning it’s motivated by ideas about white superiority that are part of our culture, not some foreign import like radical Islam. Dylann Roof, who was driven by white supremacist ideology to kill black people in a Charleston church, is the norm for terrorists domestically. There is a certain naivet on this point that I wish did not exist because we cant combat these ideas if we dont know about them, dont care about them, or refuse to acknowledge them. We can only fix such problems when we are fully aware they exist.

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June 11, 2017   Posted in: Heidi Beirich  Comments Closed

Anti-Sharia rallies around the US denounce Islam while stoking concerns among Muslim groups – Los Angeles Times

Speaking out about what they believe are the ills of Islam, anti-Sharia law activists demonstrated nationwide Saturday, but were met by counter-protesters who assailed their rhetoric as insensitive and demeaning. Members of Act for America, which has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, gathered in parks and plazas across the country, organizing nearly two dozen so-called March Against Sharia rallies, stoking concerns and counter-events by Muslim leaders who say the group is spewing hate. In Atlanta, an assortment of militia men brandishing assault rifles, supporters of President Trump waving American flags and mens rights activists wearing helmets descended on Piedmont Park, a leafy oasis in the citys affluent, liberal Midtown neighborhood. In New York, nearly 100 people attended a rally near lower Manhattan. They were outnumbered by counter-protesters, and the two sides hurled insults across two rows of police barricades. Commies, screamed the anti-Sharia demonstrators. Fascists, retorted the counter-demonstrators. Some anti-Sharia marchers in Orlando, Fla., such as Sheryl Tumey, noted the timing of event, two days before the one-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting, as a reason to protest. The gunman, who killed 50 people at the gay club, had been inspired by Islamic State extremists. We live here and that touched us and that was a terrorist, said Tumey, 50. We are here and they want to bring in a religion of hate and oppression. And so it went around the country in Chicago, Denver, Seattle, San Bernardino and elsewhere, where anti-Sharia marchers took to the streets and were met by their foes. The demonstrators were protesting a set of religious and legal codes that have never been part of American jurisprudence and seem extremely unlikely to take root in the foreseeable future. Legal experts have said there is no mechanism by which any foreign criminal or civil code can trump U.S. laws, and laws mandating religious practices would be a clear violation of the Constitutions separation of church and state. Nevertheless, joggers took out their earbuds and cyclists stopped pedaling, aghast as the small Atlanta crowd chanted, USA! USA! and spoke fervently of terrorism, female genital mutilation and beheadings. A small gaggle of counter-protesters held up placards and shouted, No Hate! No Fear! Muslims Are Welcome Here. We have to protect America, our citizens and our way of life, said Lila Mercer, 49, an assistant manager for a big rig dealership who had traveled 40 miles from Auburn, Ga., for her first protest. Sharia law does not belong in America, she said as she waved a homemade placard that said GOD BLESS USA. Behind her, Michael Williams, a two-term Republican state senator who is running for governor, waved a tiny U.S. flag as he posed for photographs with armed members of Georgia Security Force III% militia We all need to come together, put aside some of our petty differences and unite together to fight Sharia law, Williams shouted through a bullhorn to the crowd of about 50 people. We do not need it in our country. Overseas in Europe and other places, theyre throwing people off of buildings, theyre decapitating people because they do not believe the things they believe. The event, where some men gripped rifles, drew concerns from passers-by. Is this safe? a mother asked, anxiously covering her babys head as she passed a cluster of men in camouflage fatigues wielding long guns. What is this? Im just trying to take a walk with my girlfriends. Zack Schneeberger, an IT project manager, 36, who walked up to the group with his wife and 6-month-old while waving a rainbow flag, said the Atlanta neighborhood was a haven of love and diversity. Why bring assault rifles? You do not bring bullets to get a clear understanding, he said. Act for America, which boasts that it has more than 500,000 members, said the rallies were about defending democracy and pushing back against Sharia law. The law is a philosophical code derived from Islamic scripture and meant to guide observant Muslims. In addition to civil and criminal law, it prescribes a wide range of faith practices, such as abstaining from alcohol and praying five times a day. Many aspects of Sharia law run contrary to basic human rights and are completely incompatible with our laws and our democratic values, the group wrote on its website touting the rallies. Brigitte Gabriel, who founded Act for America in 2007, has in recent years made a barrage of anti-Muslim comments. During a speech at the Joint Forces Staff College in 2007, Gabriel said a practicing Muslim who believes the word of the Koran to be the word of Allah who goes to mosque and prays every Friday, who prays five times a day this practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen of the United States. Her group has worked in state legislatures pushing anti-Sharia law initiatives. Gabriel has also touted her ties to Trump. Last year, she posted a Facebook photo of her and Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. And in March, Gabriel tweeted that she was in Washington, D.C., for a meeting with members of the Trump administration. Officials with the administration later said she attended a brief meeting with a member of the legislative staff. In recent months, she has lauded Trumps proposed travel restrictions, which would temporarily bar travel to the United States from six majority-Muslim countries. So far, the proposal has been stalled in federal courts and could be headed for the Supreme Court. Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that tracks the activities of hate groups nationwide, said Gabriels group is meant to defame Muslims and Islam as a whole. They spew hate, Beirich said. In February, the law center reported that its count of hate groups in the country increased for the second consecutive year and that the number of anti-Muslim organizations had nearly tripled within a year. The group, among other things, attributed the growth to Trumps incendiary rhetoric on Muslims. Corey Saylor, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Saturday his group was helping to organize counter-protests. CAIR was among 129 groups that urged mayors of cities where the rallies were scheduled to disavow them. Its simple: This group does not like Muslims, he said of Act for America. In Atlanta, many attending the rally insisted they were not against all Muslims. Were marching against a politicized Islam, said Yosef Ozia, 23, a member of Proud Boys, a far-right mens group founded by Gavin McInnes, the libertarian provocateur and co-founder of Vice Media. Yet there was some resistance to counter-protesters who chanted, “Muslims are welcome here.” “They’re not welcome!” one woman attending the rally shot back. “Do you have room in your home for them?” another hollered. “There’s only one religion in the world that can’t get along, and that’s Islam,” said Jacob Hudson, a small business owner and Trump supporter who traveled 150 miles to the rally from Birmingham, Ala. Muslims who oppose violence need to stand up and disavow extreme terror in the name of Islam, said Hudson, 31. “Until they do that, we’ll do it for them,” he said. Times staff writer Lee reported from Los Angeles and special correspondent Jarvie from Atlanta. Times staff writer Barbara Demick in New York and Caitlin Doornbos of the Orlando Sentinel contributed to this report. kurtis.lee@latimes.com Twitter: @kurtisalee ALSO Neo-Nazi website raises $150,000 to fight Southern Poverty Law Center lawsuit ‘I’m with my kids’: Chicago man shot dead after pleading with teen gunman A new generation of Democrats isn’t waiting for the party to tell it what to do UPDATES: 9 p.m.: This article has been updated with a higher reference to the unlikelihood of Sharia law being imposed in the United States. 7:50 p.m.: This article has been updated with more comments from Atlanta protesters. 6:25 p.m.: This article has been updated with additional protests in other cities. This article was originally posted at 1:45 p.m.

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June 11, 2017   Posted in: Heidi Beirich  Comments Closed

Anti-Muslim Hate Will March in 30 Cities This Weekend – Daily Beast

Donald Trump is Tinder for bigots. His campaign and presidency has helped countless bigots hook up with each other, and we will see another example of that this Saturday with anti-Muslim rallies scheduled in nearly 30 locations across America. These rallies are organized by ACT for America!, an organization founded by Hanah Kahwagi, who goes bythe alias of Brigitte Gabriel, and who has preached that practicing Muslims cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America. As Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) spokesperson Heidi Beirich explained, ACT for America is the nations largest anti-Muslim hate group. But ACT is now teaming up with Neo Nazis and white supremacists for these upcoming rallies. For example, Saturdays rally in Arkansas is being organized by well known Neo-Nazi Billy Roper, Beirich noted. As the SPLC website details, Roper has been working hand in hand with ACT to organize this event, including joining a recent conference call with ACT leaders. Roper, who boasts of being the son and grandson of Klansmen, not only joined the neo-Nazi National Alliance, but also Council of Conservative Citizens which, per the SPLC, served as Charleston terrorist Dylann Roofs gateway into white nationalism. And in New York City, the lead speaker at the ACT anti-Muslim rally is Gavin McInnes, a man referred to by some as a hipster white nationalist. In reality hes just as vile as the older generation of bigots. McInnes, a co-founder of VICE who left years ago, has written articles for the white supremacist publication VDARE, where he has denigrated Muslims as well as Asians. Hes also an apologist for white supremacist terrorism. Just a week ago he penned an article titled The myth of White terrorism in which he claimed that white supremacist killings are as low as death from spider bites. McInnes also wrote that only five Americans have been killed in recent years by white terrorists, conveniently leaving out numerous other white supremacist terror attacks, the most notable being Roofs murder of nine African Americans in 2015. But to say McInnes, an avid Trump supporter, is simply a white supremacist who hates Muslims would be unfair. Hes much more despicable than that. McInnes has also blamed women for domestic violence, tweeting: Every guy I’ve ever known to be involved in a domestic was the result of some cunt trying to ruin his life. And he has stoked anti-Semitism with his YouTube video, 10 Things I Hate About Jews, where among other things he slams Jews for not being grateful enough that America defeated the Nazis and claiming that Jews have a real hatred for white males. ACT is claiming its anti-Muslim rallies, intentionally scheduled for Ramadan, are actually anti-Sharia rallies. Of course the reality is that sharia law is never coming to the United States. First, there are no American Muslims trying to replace our American system of laws with one based on the Quran. To be clear, as a Muslim myself, I would be the first to be protesting if any Muslim American group was actually calling for Islamic law to be imposed in the United States. Secondly, sharia law could never be imposed in the United States because of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution as well as the First Amendment. In reality the only people advocating for laws based on their religious text in the United States are conservative Christians. For example, Mike Huckabee has called to amend the Constitution so its in Gods standards. Rick Santorum also pushed for Christian sharia law declaring in 2012 while running for President that “our civil laws have to comport with a higher law: God’s law.” And of course Mike Pence has invoked the Bible as the basis to discriminate against the LGBT community. I wish we could dismiss ACT as nothing more than hateful bigots on the fringes of society but we would be making a mistake. This hate group has numerous ties to Trump and his administration. ACT founder Gabriel was recently welcomed to the Trump White House with open arms. And Gabriel, who also has tried to convince Jewish and Christian groups not to engage in interfaith work with Muslim Americans, recently bragged that ACT for America has a direct line to Donald Trump, and has played a fundamental role in shaping his views and suggested policies with respect to radical Islam. Gabriel is rightACT and the Trump administration are intertwined. Last year, Trumps CIA Director Mike Pompeo proudly accepted ACTs National Security Eagle Award. Sebastian Gorka, a Trump national security “expert,” has spoken before many ACT chapters. Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn was on ACTs Board of Directors. And Steve Bannon, while editor of Brietbart, provided Gabriel a place to spew anti-Muslim hate for years. But now ACT is teaming up with not only the Trump administration but with neo-Nazis and white supremacist to demonize Muslims. The silver lining is that many other groups who embrace American values and reject hate are planning counter rallies. As Madihha Ahussain,specialcounselfor anti-Muslim bigotry at Muslim Advocates explained, As ACT plans hateful rallies across the country, we have heard from organizations across the country about how they are planning and preparing to stand with their Muslim neighbors and friends. Get The Beast In Your Inbox! Start and finish your day with the top stories from The Daily Beast. A speedy, smart summary of all the news you need to know (and nothing you don’t). Subscribe Thank You! You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason. This is truly a fight for the soul of America. We cannot allow ACT and its allies in hate to go unchallenged. If you believe in an America thats welcoming of diverse faiths and races, then please stand up and speak out. We need your voices to help drown out those spewing hate. I can assure that if ACT is successful in its goal of marginalizing Muslims, it will next target other minority groups because its coalition of hate will demand it. And by the time they come for your community, there may be no one left to speak for you.

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June 9, 2017   Posted in: Heidi Beirich  Comments Closed

5 Things The Media Gets Wrong About White Supremacist Hate – HuffPost

White supremacist terror is at the top of peoples minds after a white supremacist stabbed and killed two menwho were defending two young black women, one in a hijab, from his bigoted rant in Portland, Oregon, last month. The incident attracted widespread media coverage,which in turn drew criticism from many people on Twitter whodenounced news outletsfor not labeling the attack as terrorism. Theres a familiardouble standardin how the media treatsviolenceby white supremacists versus violenceby Islamist extremists. Its time to getit right. HuffPost spoke to two experts Farai Chideya, a journalist who has been reporting on white nationalism for more than 25 years, and Heidi Beirich, the head of the Southern Poverty Law Centers Intelligence Project, who has been studying white extremist groups since 1999 to discuss the problem of white supremacist hate today, and how the media can do a better job covering it. Portland Police Bureau/Handout via REUTERS This is what the media should know: The one thing that bothers me the most about media coverage of these incidents is that theyre not frequently enough put in the context of the fact weve had ton of domestic terrorism recently, Beirich told HuffPost. Beirich noted a recent spate of white supremacist attacks in the U.S. In addition to the May 26 Portland attack, theres the March 20 murder of 66-year-old Timothy Caughman, who was black, by a man who traveled to New York City expressly to kill African-American men, andthe May 22 killing of Richard Collins III, a black college student in Maryland, by a man who belonged to a white supremacist Facebook group. When it comes to Muslim terrorism, nobody questions its a problem thats an ongoing threat a security problem, radicalization problem, et cetera which it is, Beirich said. But when it comes to Portland or Dylann Roof[the 2015 Charleston church shooter], they always seem to appear as one-offs. Outlets covering last weeks truck and knife attack in London, for instance carried out by three men identified as Islamist extremists often made a point of mentioning the bombingin Manchester, England, two weeks before. But many news outlets covering the stabbing attack in Portlandfailed to mention other recent U.S. attacks by white supremacists, such as the one in Maryland just a few days earlier. Meanwhile, more domestic terrorism incidents in the U.S. have been carried out by people associated with white supremacist ideologies than by people with radical Islamist ideologies, Beirich noted. Intracking deadly terror attacks in the U.S., the New America Foundation has counted 11 attacks by Islamic extremists since 9/11, compared to 21 by far-right extremists. Between the 9/11 attacks and the 2016 Orlando, Florida, nightclub shooting, more people were killed in the U.S. by right-wing extremists than by Islamic extremists, the foundation said. Americans shouldnt be surprised by the frequency of white supremacist attacks, since they are rooted in a long history of racial discrimination, Beirich said. As she puts it, until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, white supremacy was the law of the land. Im disturbed by this cycle [of attacks], Chideya told HuffPost. But we began as a country that said all men are created equal but there was slavery, and women were not allowed to vote. This is a continuation, she added. Were not done, just because people are uneasy with how long the history is and how prevalent the issue is. We have to give up thinking this is rare. Keystone-France via Getty Images White supremacist hate doesnt just manifest as violent extremism, Chideya noted. People frame it as weird guys with fringe beliefs no, Chideya said. White supremacists dont just wear hoods and give Nazi salutes. White nationalists are in the U.S. government. She pointed toinstitutionalized white nationalism, like voting laws, mentioningNorth Carolinas voting practices an example of de facto white nationalism. The courts recently found that the states legislative districts were drawn to intentionally disadvantage black voters. Chideya also mentioned political white nationalism, like in the White House,calling out the links between the white supremacist movement and upper echelons of the federal government. She listed President Donald Trumps chief strategist Steve Bannon, who led Breitbart News, a publisher of white nationalist content, and Trump aide Sebastian Gorka, who reportedly has ties to a Nazi-aligned group. When Beirich spoke to HuffPost in April, she also pointed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has received awards from and hasspoken at eventsfor an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center lists asan anti-Muslim hate group. In terms of how news media could do better, Chideya pointed to coverage of Greg Gianforte, who was elected to Congress in Montana last month and was found to have made donations to candidates with ties to white nationalist groupswhich Rewire reported just days before his election. Gianforte made national news when he physically attacked a reporter on the eve of the election. Chideyasaid members of the news media were slow to surface Gianfortes links to hate groups, which she thought should have come out sooner. In general, reporters need to become more adept at tracking not just extremist white nationalism, but also when it enters the mainstream, like in Montana, Chideya said. The same way you run a background check on politiciansfinances, run a check on if they are connected to extremist ideologies. REUTERS/Colter Peterson News outlets havebeen repeatedly criticized for theirslowness to label attacksby white perpetratorsas terrorism, while theyre quick to use the labelwhen attackers are perceived as nonwhite orother andspecifically, Muslim. What is terrorism? Acts designed to inspire terror. But somehow, we dont call this terrorism,Chideya told HuffPost of the Portland attack. When a Muslim terrorist kills one, two, five people, its immediately labeled terrorism. But when a white nationalist kills one, two, five people, its not labeled terrorism. But theyre the same. We have to be aware as journalists of the labels we use, she added. The issue of how to label any given attack is complex. As CNN reports, for an attack to be labeled a hate crime, a perpetrator has to attack someone based on their identity for example, their race, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity. For an act to be labeled terrorism, the perpetrator has to be motivated by political or ideological beliefs. But the line is blurry. Many people condemned the government for not labeling Dylann Roof a terroristafter he killednine black people in a Charleston church in 2015 and specifically said he was there to shoot black people, according to witnesses. Officials themselves can be slow to use the terrorist label when white attackers are involved, adding to the challenge for journalists. Its too early to say whether last nights violence was an act of domestic terrorism or a federal hate crime, an FBI special agent told reporters the day after the Portland attack, per CNN. Beyond the inconsistent labeling, there are other discrepancies in how the media treats violent attacks by white supremacists versus by Islamist extremists. White attackers are often portrayed as lone wolves with mental health issues, while Islamist attackers are simply terrorists. The Muslim community is made to answer or apologize for Islamist extremism, while white Christians dont get similar requests. Theres deep digging intohow Islamic extremists were radicalized but thats not the case for white extremists. Plenty of terrorists have had mental health issues, Chideya told HuffPost. There isa more general presumption that white people are good and innocent in American culture at large and journalists come from that culture. And when someone perceived as Muslim commits an attack, thenews typically receives far more coveragethan an attack by a white supremacist would. This double standard is perpetuated fromthe nations highest office, as Trump continues torespond selectivelyto terror attacks duringhis presidency. After Islamist extremists attacked London, for instance,hecondemned the violence on Twitterthe same day. After the Portland attack,Trump waited more than two days before tweeting about it. Theres crickets from Donald Trump when theres white nationalist violence, Chideya said. But theres a deluge with Muslim violence. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters News organizations are sometimes concerned about giving extremists too much attention, which could feed into their desire for publicityandspur copycats. Beirich recognizes the issue, but she maintains that reporters need to pay more attention not less to the issue of white supremacist hate. I know there are concerns about journalists who dont want to report on a neo-Nazi rally where four people show up, because those groups are just seeking attention and thats a valid point, Beirich said. But when were talking about domestic terrorism and hate crimes related to white supremacy thats a real thing. I understand not wanting to draw attention to small instances, she added, noting specifically the series of news stories about white supremacist flyers on college campuses.But when people are getting killed because of this, weve got to pay attention. Deciding how much of a platform to provide extremists is an inevitable transaction of journalism, Chideya noted. Sherecalled a time years ago when she was conducting a phone interview with a woman in the white supremacist movement. At the end of the interview, Chideya asked: Im black would you have granted me the interview if youd known that? The woman responded: Probably not but on the other hand, every time I talk to a reporter, people will read your article and come find me. You can write a piece saying [white supremacists] are cowards, and there still will be people who come over to their side, Chideya told HuffPost. That doesnt mean you dont do journalism you just do it as well as you can. Good reporting on white supremacist movements will recognize that there is a range of people within any movement. Its a question of journalism: Not every story is about Derek Black, she said, referring to a man The Washington Post profiled after he left the so-called alt-right movement. Nor about the worst violent person in the movement. Jim Urquhart/Reuters Not only do we have domestic terrorism inspired by racism, but also we have a hate crime problem and the dimensions are not understood, Beirich said. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, for instance, puts out a report of around 5,000 to 6,000 hate crimes each year. But when the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics did a large-scale study from 2007 to 2011, Beirich noted, it found the number of hate crimes closer to 260,000per year. If people were looking at these data points more, we would be talking about ways to combat this problem, Beirich said. This leads to less public policy interest in domestic terrorism committed by white supremacists and allows Trump to minimize these threats. We should not leave him off the hook. After Saturdays attack by Islamist extremists in London, British Prime Minister Theresa May called for a new strategy on terror.Trumpcalled on the courtsto reinstate his travel ban on certain Muslim-majority countries a move that was roundly criticized. By contrast, after the Portland attack, Trumpmade no calls to change policy to prevent future attacks. The facts and the context have to be put out there by media, Beirich said. We need policies to address this. America does not do a good job of tracking incidents of hate and bias. We need your help to create a database of such incidents across the country, so we all know whats going on. Tell us your story.

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June 9, 2017   Posted in: Heidi Beirich  Comments Closed

Connecting The Dots From The Portland Stabbings To The White … – Mintpress News (blog)

The line between free speech and hate speech is getting finer in Trumps America. Jeremy Christian enters for a court appearance at Multnomah County Circuit Court in Portland, Ore., on, June 7, 2017. Christian is accused of killing two passengers and wounding a third aboard a light-rail train. (Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian) NEW YORK, United States A man hurls anti-Muslim insults at a young woman in a headscarf and then stabs two commuters to death in Oregon. President Donald Trump pushes his ban on travelers from majority-Muslim countries towards a Supreme Court showdown. His vice president, Mike Pence, warns of genocide against Christians in the Middle East. American Muslims watch these developments closely, wary of signs of an anti-Muslim bias in the White House that could trickle through society and make it more likely that they experience verbal attacks, watch local mosques get torched or take a beating from thugs on the way home from work. Still, is there a connection? Do so-called dog-whistle signals from the West Wing fuel violent outrages? Case in point is that of Jeremy Christian, 35, who was charged with killing two passengers aboard a commuter train in Portland after they tried to stop him from harassing two young women who appeared to be Muslim. Or, are critiques of Islamism from Trump supporters and other right-wingers legitimate examples of free speech, and not hate speech? Should they be expected in a country that is at war with the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq and Syria, and where IS-linked terror strikes in Manchester, London and Paris reawaken the horrors of 9/11? Left-leaning civil society groups are sounding the alarm. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an anti-bigotry watchdog, counted a threefold rise in the number of what it deems anti-Muslim hate groups in the US, to 101 in 2016 from 34 in 2015.It traces a line right to the Oval Office. We dont seem to have support in the White House for battling hate when hate is out of control, and people are suffering for it, Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLCs intelligence-gathering team, told Middle East Eye. As police stand guard, armed anti-Muslim protestors, who did not want to give their names, stand across the street from a mosque during a demonstration in Richardson, Texas, Dec. 12, 2015. (AP/LM Otero) Two leading groups ACT for America and the Center for Security Policy (CSP) have shifted their emphasis in recent years, building relationships with local and national politicians and advocating against refugees from Syria and other hotspots, according to SPLC researchers. Beirich pointed to Trumps temporary travel ban on people from several majority-Muslim countries, which has been blocked by lower US courts, and his 26 May statement marking the start of the Holy month of Ramadan. Such annual memos are typically cheery, but Trumps offering this year added less-festive lines on the terrorists and their perverted ideology that were responsible for barbaric terrorist attacks in Britain and Egypt. Beirich also pointed to Pences oratory at the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians on 11 May, when he described IS atrocities in the Middle East as nothing short of genocide against people of the Christian faith. Mike Pences comments about the Christian faith under fire is a narrative that is pushed among the evangelicals where he finds his base the social conservative movement, which is overridden with some of the most anti-Muslim organisations, like the Family Research Council, that we list as a hate group, and others, Beirich told MEE. There is always this attempt to privilege Christians as victims and not realize that the majority of victims of IS violence and that kind of extremism are, of course, people in Muslim countries. There just seems to be some extreme reticence on the part of this White House to acknowledge that situation and square that. This debate about the persecution of Christians has been reignited by the release of a documentary, called Faithkeepers, produced by the Clarion Project, a group that the SPLC criticizes for pushing anti-Muslim propaganda. The film is screening across the US and deals with religious-based attacks on Christians and other minorities in the Middle East. James Zogby, co-founder of the Arab American Institute (AAI), a civil society group, called it a not-so-subtle attack on Islam for conflating real-life attacks on Christians by IS militiamen with the insidious insinuation that such persecution is at the heart of the Muslim faith. Ryan Mauro, from the Clarion Project, disagreed. The movie merely documents real-life cases of Christians and others being killed and forced from towns and villages that had been their homes for generations, he said. Theres nothing bigoted about describing a long-standing pattern of a problem with any geographic area, Mauro told MEE. Zogby and other critics put a lot more effort into attacking our film, calling people Islamophobes and part of a secret Zionist conspiracy than they put effort into stopping this type of persecution in the first place, Mauro added. Protesters outside the Houston ISDs Arabic Immersion Magnet School carry signs reading Qatar out of my school and Everything I ever cared to know about Islam was taught to me by Muslims on 9-11-2001 on the first day of school, Aug. 24, 2015. | For Mauro, data-driven arguments are a legitimate tool against radical Islam. The First Amendment of the US Constitution safeguards both the right to practice a faith, but also the free-speech rights to scrutinize the religion and politics of others. Its fine to criticize any religion or philosophy and we should not confuse criticism with bigotry until it crosses the line into wholesale negative depictions and stereotypes of all of it the faiths adherents, Mauro told MEE. He acknowledged that anti-Muslim sentiment and bigotry can lead to Portland-style violence, but noted that such attacks are more likely reactions to IS beheadings on YouTube than populist politicians talking about them afterwards. Trump has toned down his anti-Muslim campaign rhetoric to more mainstream positions, Mauro added. The so-called Muslim ban was re-classified as a security-based restriction on travel from six Middle Eastern countries, he said. During his first foreign trip, to Saudi Arabia, Trump changed tack for a shared platform with Saudi King Salman and other Muslim leaders. Trumps language in Riyadh gave more attention to nuance than in the past. Calling out Islamist extremism, even using the term Islamic terror, is acceptable, as long as youre responsible by referring to our Muslim allies, and Trump did that, Mauro said. Others are unconvinced. For AAI director Maya Berry, Trump is more comfortable discussing Islam overseas than addressing his domestic population of some 3.3 million American Muslims that he once accused of cheering on the 9/11 attackers. Were hearing the common message that Islam is foreign from this administration. President Trump seems to be able to have the conversation with foreign leaders as opposed to addressing the American Muslim community and the concerns we have here, Berry told MEE. For Beirich, the celebrity-turned-politician has already shown his true colors. Some of what Trump said in Saudi Arabia wasnt horrific, but he still cannot frame anything except as Muslims and extremism. Its like the two go hand-in-hand in his mind, Beirich told MEE. Im skeptical of anything he has to say that may all of a sudden make us think hes not so horrible on this issue because I dont buy it. Stories published in our Hot Topics section are chosen based on the interest of our readers. They are republished from a number of sources, and are not produced by MintPress News. The views expressed in these articles are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect Mint Press News editorial policy.

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June 9, 2017   Posted in: Heidi Beirich  Comments Closed

‘We Have Revitalized White Supremacist Thinking in the Mainstream’ – FAIR

Janine Jackson interviewed Heidi Beirich about white supremacist violence for the June 2, 2017, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript. MP3 Link Janine Jackson: Some media reported a study a year or so back from the New America Foundation that found that in the years since the September 11th attacks, white supremacists and anti-government radicals had killed nearly twice as many people in the United States as Muslim radicals. Researchers said white supremacist violence was an ignored threat that too often goes under the radar. But when the Washington Post runs a headline that says, Trump Is Quick to Tweet About Terror and TV, Slower on Things Like the Attack in Portland, it isnt ignoring an actits transforming it. Terror is something with social significance that requires a social response. The attack in Portlandin which two people were killed defending two brown-skinned teen girls against a white man yelling at them to get out of his countryis somehow different. Its tiresome to continue noting media double standards, how a white person who kills and attributes it to racial hatred becomes a troubled individual; we wait for police to determine what really provoked the crime. While a Muslim attacker goes straight to page one as the face of evil, emblematic of a danger greater than themselves. US corporate media resist saying people like Jeremy Joseph Christian are part of something larger, beyond themselves, because that has implications. But he isso what are they? Heidi Beirich is the leader of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center. She joins us now by phone from Georgia. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Heidi Beirich. Heidi Beirich: Thanks for having me. JJ: The last time we had you on, we talked about how, when then-candidate Donald Trump was slow to disavow the Ku Klux Klan, media called it a stumbleas though Trump had misspoken, or was confused about the existence of white supremacy and its role in campaigns like his own. Now Donald Trump is president, and Southern Poverty Law Center, I understand, tracked some 900 attacks in his first ten days [after the election]. Well, no one thinks Trump invented right-wing extremism, but are we seeing, maybe, a new strain of an old disease? Heidi Beirich: When you talk about white supremacy, youve got to take a hard look at our culture, because it is endemic, and it was here from the day this country startedeven before, actually. HB: Yeah, I dont think theres any question but that we are seeing a new strain of an old disease, and it was encouraged, certainly, by the Trump campaign. And the hate incidents that broke out theres almost 900 of them, like you said, right after the electionwere the result of the rhetoric in the campaign. I dont think anybody nowadays thinks that you can simply bash a population like Mexicans, as Trump did, or Muslims, and not get a result that ends up in violence in some cases. And so thats the situation we find ourselves in, and we have revitalized white supremacist groups, white supremacist thinking in the mainstream. Its really been a horrible turn of events thats occurred over the last 16 months. JJ: I know that you are not in the business of quantifying who is more violent than whom. Thats kind of a mugs game, and more a deflection from a conversation than anything. But you have suggested that white supremacy is an unusually combustible mental framework. What do you mean by that? HB: What we find again and again, in particular with domestic terrorist acts or heinous hate crimes, like what happened in Portland, is that people exposed to white supremacy, people who suck it in, the Dylann Roofs of the world, the Jeremy Christians of the world, often go on to commit violent acts. If you just look at the list of domestic terrorist attacks, lets say since Timothy McVeigh in 1995, theres a handful that are the result of people who have radical interpretations of Islam. But the bulk of the incidents involve people who have come to view whites as superior, and who view this country as essentially undergoing a race war, and they make these violent acts, they do these things, in their minds, to save the country, in particular for white people. Its a very insidious mode of thinking that justifies things like genocide, ethnic cleansing. And so its not surprising that we would get violence out of people who come to believe in these ideas. JJ: Well, if media were really concerned about domestic terror attacks per se, it seems that we would hear the name you just mentioned, Tim McVeigh, that wed be hearing that night and noon, wouldnt we, because in fact, that attack was back in 1995, but Tim McVeigh is still sort of a figure in some of these circles. The Portland murder suspects tribute to the Oklahoma City bomber. HB: Yeah. Look, Jeremy Christian had a poem or a tribute to McVeigh on his Facebook page. The cell of neo-Nazis which ended up with internecine battles and two men killed that was in Tampa a week and a half ago, they had a picture of McVeigh in their office. And people seem to have forgotten, some sort of amnesia after the 9/11 attacks, which of course were horrific, but up to that point, McVeighs bombing in Oklahoma City was the largest loss of life ever in a domestic terrorist incident. Some 180-plus people were killed, including children. And after 9/11, it was as thoughthis type of terrorism of course continued to occur, but it was though it didnt matter, right? All the focus was on the Muslim community, on radical interpretations of Islam, and there was just a reluctance to understand that terrorism comes in more than one form. And of course its much easier to point the finger abroad or to a community that you can easily other and say is not part of usmeaning, in recent years, the Muslim community. When you talk about white supremacy, youve got to take a hard look at our culture, because it is endemic, and it was here from the day this country startedeven before, actually, with English settlers and so on. And there just seems constantly to be a reluctance to treat that kind of terrorismand hate crimes, I might addas seriously as what is influenced by groups like ISIS or Al Qaeda. JJ: Well, let me ask you: State officials, and the media following their lead, were hesitant to describe massacres in Rwanda as genocide, partly because such terms track national interest, so-called, whos a friend and whos an enemy, and partly because the term carried implications, it carried responsibilities, and it called for action. I wonder, what would it mean to recognize, not that white hate violence happensyou know, that moment of discovery should be long overwhat would it mean to recognize it as terroristic? What would be the next phase after we see it? HB: If people were to come to that position, government officials in particular, right, then it becomes a policy problem, and one that needs to be addressed. Then we might come to think that more resources should be put at combating this kind of terrorism, and not all the focus always be on the Muslim community. We would probably strengthen our hate crime laws, which are just all over the map. There are large classes of people, depending on what state youre in, that are not protected. My home state of Alabama, the LGBT community has no protections. Theres no mandatory reporting. In fact, the Department of Justice itself says the number of hate crimesthis is based on survey datais about 250,000 a year in the US, and the FBI only reports like 5,000. That gap right there, between 250,000 and 5,000, shows you how little we seem to care about this issue. And, you know, when it comes to the Trump administration, they can barely get it out of their mouths to condemn these acts of violence. JJ: And, of course, it isnt just what Trump is not saying, and what signals hes sending with that. There is also, as youve just noted, resource expenditures. In that light, I wonder if you could explain what I understand is happening with the Countering Violent Extremism program. It seems to reflect this White Houses priorities. HB: Well, it absolutely does. In the latter years of the Obama administration, they changed Countering Violent Extremism programs, which are basicallya lot of its school counseling, childrens programs, things that can help keep people from falling into the hands of extremists. And they changed these programs to not just focus on the Muslim community, but to also support groups that were trying to get people out of white supremacy. So there were a bunch of grants awarded, late in the Obama administration, to do this work, but the checks hadnt been signed. But then, after Trumps win, it was crickets. And our understanding, from leaked reports, is that in Trumps view, it should be countering violent Islam, not countering violent extremism. And it shows, once again, the Trump administration doesnt seem to care about hate crimes against people of color, but they also seem to ridiculously think that terrorism cant have a white face, right, that its all coming from ISIS and whatnot, and its just false. So at this point were going to have policies put in place that act like McVeigh didnt exist. JJ: I know that you dont support censorship as the way forward. I wonder, what are some of the positive actions that you see when you look around that seem to you usefulnot just that make us feel better, and Im not opposed to feeling better, but that seem to you useful in resisting, or in speaking back to white supremacist violence? HB: Sure. Well, I think in Portland, for example, there was a really positive rally with some 600 people that involved an Islamic center there, where people in the city said, we do not support this guy, right, and the kind of hate violence weve just seen. Were seeing things like that across the country. We also have a lot of mayors and states taking positive moves on creating hate crimes units, taking hate crime issues more seriously, investing in that, creating welcoming communities. These things are really, really important. And although the Trump administration might not care about this, down the road, somebody will. And so thats sort of the best of America. And hopefully sometime shortly, well have a different election outcome, and that will be allowed to flourish, not just at the state and local level, but for the whole country. JJ: And any thoughts on media? When I was booking you, I said I knew youd be very busy, and Im sorry for that, in a way. I think that US reporters should have a deep bench right now on white supremacist violence. It shouldnt be a concept that sort of springs up anew, and then is forced on them and they need to look into it. It really is, of course, as a story, something that could keep a journalist busy every day. HB: Sure. Well, I have to say, given the state of the media, where theres been high turnover in newsrooms and new people coming in, that a lot of folks dont really have this more historical perspective on white supremacy, let alone to the 1990s. But weve got to remember, its only the mid 60s when we dismantled the legal framework that kept segregation, Jim Crow and black oppression in place. So we are not that far from having written in law that black people should be treated worse than white people. And so I think that nowadays, if youre involved in covering American politics, you have got to know the history of the civil rights movement, and something about American history, and you need to know the violence that has been coming out of groups like the Ku Klux Klan, and others inspired by hate ideas, almost since the founding of the country to today, and its sort of a fundamental thing to know about. I am somewhat happy, because Ive seen in certain newsrooms more specialization on these issues, largely in response to the Trump campaign, because they keep coming up, and because theres so much domestic terrorism, but we could use more expertise in the media ranks about these issues. JJ: Weve been speaking with Heidi Beirich of Southern Poverty Law Centers Intelligence Project, which publishes the Intelligence Report and the Hatewatch blog. Find them online at SPLCenter.org. Heidi Beirich, thank you so much for joining us this week on CounterSpin. HB: Thanks for having me. Subscribe: iTunes | Android |

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June 7, 2017   Posted in: Heidi Beirich  Comments Closed


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