The upcoming Dutch elections could be Wild(ers)

wpid-2012-03-02-07.11.45.jpg

The Los Angeles Times reports the Netherlands appears to have caught the nationalism bug, mere weeks before its next national election.

Wilders has since surged to the top of the polls ahead of the nation’s parliamentary elections March 15. He appears unlikely to become prime minister because most rival parties have ruled out joining a government coalition with him as its head, but he could become a kingmaker.

The 53-year-old politician, whose mother’s family is originally from Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country and a former Dutch colony, promises to restore Holland to its white, Christian roots.

He wants to ban the Koran, which he has likened to Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” shut all mosques, and pull the Netherlands out of the European Union. He’s an isolationist. He wants to halt all foreign aid.

He’s been a fixture in the Dutch parliament, with his signature platinum blond streaked hair and far-right views, since first elected to the body in 1998. But Wilders’ message has resonated in recent years with a growing number of voters in a country where a perceived loss of national identity due to immigration is a much greater concern than unemployment.

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Posted in Netherlands, parliamentary elections | Leave a comment

I received a request today to delete a blog post. I did what was asked of me.

Photo: Anthony Moretti 2Oct2016

Photo: Anthony Moretti 2Oct2016

I received a request today to delete a blog post. I did what was asked of me.

I’m not going to refer to the post, except to note that the details involved a real event and came from an established newspaper.

I will say removing the post was the right thing to do.

I enjoy blogging. I look for those interesting or humorous or sad or thought-provoking or controversial stories and I want to share them. I also blog about various things that I find interesting. No matter what I post, I hope the message makes people think. Sure, sometimes the post will elicit a raw emotion; but when real news is involved, I want people to think about what they’re reading and consider how that event can help us be a better human race.

At no point do I seek to embarrass, harm, hurt or humiliate someone. But when I do, I’ll do the right thing.

Every news story involves real people; they are unique individuals with their own hopes, dreams, goals and plans. Sometimes they make news even when they don’t want to. Journalists need to report these stories because those events happen in their communities. I don’t have to add them to my blog, though I do for the reasons mentioned above.

There’s a big difference between having to and wanting to report something. Not forgetting that is a valuable lesson.

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This is what being an “enemy of the people” looks like

Photo: Anthony Moretti 2Oct2016

Photo: Anthony Moretti 2Oct2016

Imagine you are an upstanding member of your community. You are respected. You are admired.

And then you quickly become a pariah.

Say you alert top officials in your town that the water is not safe, and that local residents and the many tourists are getting sick because of it.

Say that almost everyone is impressed by the evidence you have.

Except your brother.

Who is the mayor.

He tells you that fixing the problem will be costly. Raising taxes is never popular, you are reminded.

He lets you know that once the news spreads about the toxic water that tourists will stop showing up. Bad PR can be crippling after all.

He gets the town’s newspaper editor to change allegiance to him and from you.

Your brother uses his power to sway public opinion; the consensus around town now is that you are a liar; you are dangerous; you want to destroy the local way of life.

Soon, you are “an enemy of the people.”

Your family suffers.

Nonsense?

Well, think about your answer as you watch “An Enemy of the People”.

And also consider what the Daily Beast (from which the synopsis is taken) thinks about the relevance of Henrik Ibsen’s work today.

With [President] Trump having declared the press the enemy, it would fit our exact circumstances today a little better if the newspaper had stood courageously with Stockmann. On the other hand, the portrait of media timidity is all too apt, is it not? I’m sure there were a lot of Americans who thought at any number of points over the past 18 months that surely the press would “stand up and do its duty.”

Posted in culture, freedom of speech, freedom of the press | Leave a comment

Mr. President, which tyrant were you channeling when you suggested the media was the “enemy of the American people”?

Photo: Anthony Moretti 19Jan2017

Photo: Anthony Moretti 19Jan2017

President Trump, demonstrating yet again that he’s either crazy or crazy like a fox, attacked the media a few days ago. Taking to Twitter (a modern convenience, by the way), the president wrote:

Those words have been used by tyrants to denounce individuals or groups who dared to question authority. The consequences of being labeled such are never good.

We are told by the Daily Beast that Robespierre gave the term a “good work out,” noting that he said:

To enemies of the people…the state owes “nothing but death.”

The first Soviet leader used the term “enemies of the people” shortly after the 1917 revolution. Vladimir Lenin suggested that

all leaders of the Constitutional Democratic Party, a party filled with enemies of the people, are hereby to be considered outlaws, and are to be arrested immediately and brought before the revolutionary court.

Almost always lacking proof to support the claim, Soviet leaders — most especially Joseph Stalin — sent millions of citizens into exile or to their death because they were “enemies of the people.”

Of course, the Soviets weren’t alone; their satellite states adopted similar police-state tactics. So did other tyrants elsewhere around the world.

The missing and the dead are in the millions.

‘But wait,’ you tell me. ‘It would never reach that point here.’

Did the French people think that? The Russians? The Germans? The Cambodians? The Argentinians? Remember, the list of tyrants is long.

It’s been more than 40 years since a president has had such hatred for journalists. Richard Nixon, whose distrust of almost everyone made him seem odd and frightening, loathed the media. Unfortunately, as The Atlantic noted, Nixon’s strategies for shutting out journalists have continued. Those tactics include limiting the media’s access to the president, promptly challenging media narratives that the White House dislikes and deflecting media efforts to understand how policy decisions were made. (CJR offered a detailed examination of how President Obama succeeded in stiff-arming the media. This is the same Obama who spoke so highly of the White House press corps in the final hours of his presidency.)

Perhaps the most important difference between Nixon loathing the media in the early 1970s and Trump doing so in the late 2010s is technology.

Yet, the Los Angeles Times has taken a look at Trump’s disdain for the media and suggests his use of social media tells only part of the story. It reports:

Bill Burton, who served as deputy press secretary in the Obama administration, said that while social media now allows politicians to communicate differently than in the 1970s and 1980s, when television was the best way for an administration to relay a message, hammering the media was never considered in the White House where he worked.

“Sure, the president disagreed with coverage,” said Burton, noting a certain contempt for Fox News, and then-host Glenn Beck in particular. “But this president has shown an overt, vocal discontent with a sacred institution vital to this democracy.”

Over the weekend, the administration could have backed down from what President Trump tweeted. Today’s Columbia Journalism Review newsletter reminds us that the president’s men instead reiterated his assertions.

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus backed up Trump’s comments during an interview with John Dickerson on CBS, describing recent reporting on Trump’s ties to Russia and his relationship with the intelligence community as “grossly inaccurate, overstated, overblown,” and “total garbage.” Dickerson pushed back on Priebus, asking, “Is the strategy now to answer any question by just turning it back on the media and using a fight with the media as a way to try to control the storyline?”

If that’s his strategy, it has a lot in common with that of Latin American populists like Hugo Chavez, writes Joel Simon for CJR. Like Trump, Chavez sought a mobilized, committed base rather than broad support, so he deliberately sought to create a more polarized society by undermining the press. “The necessary first step of a strategy of fomenting greater political polarization is to marginalize the media, and more broadly to undermine its ability to provide a shared, unifying narrative,” writes Simon. At the rally Trump held in Florida on Saturday, The Washington Post’s Jenna Johnson and David Weigel bore witness to the ever widening divide between Trump supporters and those who oppose him.

Trump cannot exile the journalists he doesn’t like; America is not a police state. But he can use the power of “The Bully Pulpit” to enrage his supporters — and there are millions of them — and convince them that journalists are attempting to destroy his presidency. By extension, the people could subscribe to the idea that their dreams of America being great again would not come true. At least one U.S. academic thinks the conditions are favorable for Trump to continue neutering and ostracizing the media.

If he were to succeed, no journalist would be jailed (or worse); rather, his or her credibility would be doomed. And America would stop being be the nation it currently is.

Posted in America, freedom of the press, Journalism, the importance of history, Trump administration, United States | Leave a comment

Americans urged to be on the lookout for…

Ohio, July 2014

Ohio, July 2014

…radical Islamist…

…journalists…

…from Sweden…

…claiming to be seeking safety…

…from recent terror attacks there…

…who are entering the country…

…illegally through Mexico…

…in order to take your job.

Should you see these enemies of the people…

…you are encouraged to call Russia.

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URGENT: Details of Swedish terror event unfolding

Public domain

Public domain

STOCKHOLM — (NOT AP): Sweden’s prime minister Gustav Storiorden has urged his country remain calm after Friday night’s terror attack.

“We are a strong and resolute people,” the prime minister said during a hastily called press conference at Erik the Red Mountain, about 50 miles from Stockholm and where he had been enjoying a weekend of skiing and drinking.

The attack happened after fans of the Djurgarden hockey team threw stuffed teddy bears on the ice after their team gave up three 3rd period goals to Skelleftea.

Djurgarden’s loss dropped the team into 6th place, while Skelleftea remains in last place.

“One second the ice was white, and, like boom, the next we were surrounded by bears,” Skelleftea goaltender Olaf Olaf said. “But we have a strong Viking heritage, especially in Minnesota I am told, so we know not to be afraid of bears.

The attack on the players sent fans running in fear, as the Swedish police tried to figure out who to punish. Throwing teddy bears is punishable by a 10 krona (approximately $1.30) fine and the loss of drinking privileges for one week.

The attack drew international headlines when U.S. president Donald Trump stated that the hockey fans were radical Islamic Swedish terrorists who would immediately be banned from entering the U.S.

“They are horrible people, sad, evil,” the president said. “They will never set foot in Madison Square Garden.”

When asked about President Trump’s response, Prime Minister Storiorden uttered a popular Swedish proverb: “Arga katter far rivet skinn.

(And what does Stor i Orden mean? Find out here)

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Meet Mike Wilson. He just cut the president of the United States a new one.

Photo: Anthony Moretti 19Jan2017

Photo: Anthony Moretti 19Jan2017

Mike Wilson is an editor at the Dallas Morning News. That makes him an Enemy of the People, according to Donald Trump.

You do remember the president’s tweet, don’t you?

Mr. Wilson has invited the president and all of us to learn more about the Enemies of the People who work at his newspaper. His op-ed is worth your time.

We have enemies of the people who make maps, cover high school baseball, send tweets about the Cowboys, assign book reviews, critique restaurants, track North Texas home prices and write profiles of tech entrepreneurs. One enemy of the people spends his days talking to grieving families and carefully crafting the stories of the dead.

 

Posted in Investigative journalism, Journalism, journalism students | Leave a comment