Tuesday, June 2, 2009

* Cynthia McKinney and the extreme right: her return to racist radio, her ties to Mahathir

Those who read this blog regularly know that former Democratic Congressman and 2008 Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney has made common cause with members of the extreme far-right who share her opposition to Israel. I have reported on Cynthia McKinney's connections to conspiracy mongers, bigots and fascists such as Matthias Chang and David Pidcock (read here and here). I also reported on her interview on an internet radio program devoted to promoting anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and conspiracy theories (read here).

During that interview, McKinney got along swimmingly with her interviewer (who calls himself "Ognir") as he claimed in a bizarre, rambling manner that the president was somehow under the thumb of Rahm Emanuel. McKinney did not object when "Ognir" described Emanuel as having "Jew nationality and Jew loyalties". She didn't raise a peep as the host condemned a "Zionist" conspiracy for promoting gay marriage and medical marijuana to weaken the world's moral fiber. McKinney, in turn, talked in similarly paranoid (if less quirky) terms. She compared herself to Rosa Parks and declared herself a civil rights martyr. She also claimed that her campaign had been infiltrated by a "Zionist" spy whom she refused to name.

The meeting of the minds that was the first McKinney/"Ognir" interview lasted for more than an hour. Apparently, that didn't give McKinney a chance to fully explore these issues with Ognir, so she's done a second interview on the program, which is available on the hate speech website wakeupfromyourslumber.com (here).

This interview is of a piece with the first. Notably, for the first time, McKinney talks explicitly about her links to the far-right, recounting how her father worked with "members of the far-right and members of the far-left" to protest a meeting between Ariel Sharon and the governor of Georgia. (She seems to have an inflated view of her importance, somehow connecting Sharon's visit to Georgia with her failure to be reelected to Congress.)

She also briefly mentions her connection to former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad. Mahathir seems to have taken a liking to McKinney, having sponsored her attendance at several of his foundation's conferences in Kuala Lumpur and London devoted to anti-Israel activism. I'm not certain what McKinney is doing for a living these days, but the speaking fees from these events must be helpful. By the way, domestic Malysian oppostion to aspects of Mahatir's corruption, authoritarianism and promotion of racial dischord are discussed in a very well-written article by Ian Baruma in a recent New Yorker. (Read here. Subscription required.)

In that article, Baruma describes the central role that anti-Jewish and anti-Israel propaganda plays in Mahathir's politics, in spite of there being virtually no Jews in Malaysia and no connection to the Middle East conflict. Mahathir's anti-Israel rallies come across as a sort of ritual hate of the sort Orwell described in 1984. Mahathir and his close advisor Matthias Chang have made anti-Semitic conspiracy theories the focus of a pseudo-reform movement in reaction to the failure of Malaysia's currency and several of its banks in 1997's Asian finacial meltdown. Mahathir bailed out the banks owned by his family members and cronies and blamed the whole thing on George Soros and "Zionists".

When Anwar Ibrahim, the key opposition politician in Malaysia, began to get traction with a push for real reform and transparency, Mahathir had him thrown in jail on outrageous trumped up sodomy charges. Mahathir also smeared Anwar, of course, as an agent of the Jews. After Anwar's arrest, Mahathir called a cabinet meeting in order to justify the unjust. He presented a slide show consisting of current and former U.S. officials all of whom happened to be Jews.

Matthias Chang, Mahathir's long-time advisor, whose conspiracy theories regarding "money-lenders" McKinney touts (read here), is published in the U.S. by Willis Carto's neo-Nazi publishing house The Barnes Review/American Free Press. Mahathir and Chang have connections to the neo-fascist writer Michael Collins Piper, who, like McKinney, has participated in several of their conferences. (Read here.) Chang, in turn, provided a supportive statement to be read by Piper at a Barnes Review Holocaust denial conference. Chang's statement praised a list of American neo-fascists in the strongest terms.

Michael Collins Piper and Mahathir

Yvonne Ridley, Piper and Mahathir

Mahathir and his minions have enough of the characteristics of fascism to deserve that title: authoritarianism, anti-communism, anti-capitalism, cronyism, traditionalist religiosity, racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, anti-feminism, homophobia, nativism, idealistic propaganda shielding cynical opportunism, rhetoric concerning restoration of purity, opposition to imaginary traitorous conspiracies, etc. They also have opened extensive contacts both with Islamists and neo-fascists, specifically concerning the promotion of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Cynthia McKinney really needs to explain how a purported leftist like herself can justify making common cause with the racist, neo-fascist far right.

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