Please tell me I didn't just hear WWL's Garland Robinette say we should nuke Iraq!
"Low-level nukes," he said.
I couldn't get through on the phone to demand that WWL apologize, or fire Robinette.
It's the second time in a couple of weeks that he's suggested the United States should actually consider using nuclear weapons.
The first time was in a conversation a couple of weeks ago when Robinette asked a guest if bombing Iran with nuclear weapons was an option.
Robinette opened up the phone lines on Wednesday's
"think tank" toilet tank to ask listeners what the United States should do about Iraq -- stay the course, win the war, or pull out.
In his little tirade -- using that phony, deep-throated radio voice he projects to feign a self-righteous, educated opinion -- Robinette asked ad nauseum why the United States wouldn't just do whatever it has to do to win the war.
He characterized Iraq, and the entire Arab world, as filled with Islamic-crazed terrorists, suggesting that the only way to defeat them, is to hit them hard, over and over again, and to keep pushing them back.
What he fails to recognize is that it is that very attitude which is used to recruit more terrorists. If there's anything we should know by now, it's that the United States can never win hearts and souls by bombing the shit out of poor brown people. What he fails to conjure in his feeble mind is the notion that a lot of those people he's talking about nuking aren't terrorists, but don't want the sort of "freedom" or death tradeoff the United States is offering at the end of a rifle. Maybe Iraqis question the intentions of the United States, since we are the reason why "freedom" wasn't an option for them for over thirty years while the United States propped up Saddam Hussein. Maybe we're the terrorists Mr. Robinette!
Bottom line: People who suggest that we "nuke" countries lack the education and restraint to host radio shows broadcast across the United States, and as Mr. Robinette likes to advertise, streamed on the internet around the world.
Part of the problem is that hate radio has been allowed now for almost twenty years, ever since Ronald Reagan killed the "Fairness Doctrine" in 1987.
The Fairness Doctrine was a quaint FCC policy which Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party argued was limiting debate. What they really meant, was that the Fairness Doctrine limited their radical, right-wing views from being aired, because they would be immediately challenged and lampooned.
Witness the rise of Rush Limbaugh since 1987. Has debate on issues increased? Of course, you'd have to know what broadcast debates were like before 1987, but we could still ask the question, do broadcasters present their views, minimally with objective facts to support their arguments, or do they just ram the American public with the day's talking points to achieve partisan goals? If we still had the Fairness Doctrine, for example, would any broadcaster have allowed unchallenged Rush Limbaugh's statement that Michael J. Fox was opportunistically faking his Parkinson's symptoms to promote stem cell research?
Is it any wonder why the American middle class doesn't feel like it's being represented in the public sphere when people like Rush Limbaugh occupy the public air waves with their hate-filled rants and inconsequential filthy partisan attacks?
It's people like Rush Limbaugh who have trained an entirely new generation of broadcasters to promote the view that public participation in politics is futile.
And exactly who is served by that view?
WWL's "Spud" McConnell is worse. He's just a fat redneck hick. He still seems to think that Iraq attacked us on 9/11, and he projects the view that if anyone criticizes (i.e., Rush Limbaugh's arch-rival, Ted Kennedy) the Bush administration's incompetence in the execution of the war in Iraq, it could only mean that those critics are playing into the hands of the terrorists, rather than that they're trying to save American soldiers' lives:
We can't just pull out. I'd rather it be there than here. When you're own political opponents in your country say things, and they are quoted by our enemies ... If I were Ted Kennedy, and they were quoting me ... we're still Americans. I don't know.
Shut your fat ass Spud! Idiot! And by the way, if "you'd" rather be there than here, why don't you enlist?
It's people like Rush Limbaugh, Spud McConnell, and Garland Robinette -- all on WWL -- who are dumbing down civic discussion in our country. That's WWL's secret -- that it promotes an image of professionalism, when in actuality broadcasts programs hosted by dim-witted partisan hacks.
In a conversation with Bobby Jindal the other day, rather than ask Jindal why his OCS revenue legislation failed, and why Mary Landrieu was more successful in promoting her legislation, WWL's Tommy Tucker suggested that Jindal was somehow impaired by the democratic process.
When Jindal conveniently bypassed talking about why critics in other coastal states don't like the fact that Jindal's legislation because it would open up their coasts to oil drilling, he suggested that the reality was that he wasn't going to listen to critics, but was going to do what was right for Louisiana.
"The key word is 'reality'" said Tucker, "the reality of Washington, rather than what you read in your civics books."
Right -- we should burn those civics books and give the Hitler salute!
Again, who is served by disparaging civic participation in our democratic process? Hint: It ain't middle America.
We need to reintroduce the expression "I rightfully disagree" into our vernacular. We need the Fairness Doctrine restored, and we need to confiscate the licenses of broadcasters who spew hatred over our airwaves.
I frequently tolerate WWL because, tragically, in a broad spectrum of radio licenses in New Orleans, there is no other alternative for talk radio where local newsmakers are heard.
I'm afraid that other people just give up on radio altogether, conceding a powerful medium of communication to the purveyors of stupidity and hatred.
We can't give up. We have to fight back.
There is no place for the purveyors of hate-filled speech to exclusively own the means of mass communication in our democracy.
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting -- The Fairness Doctrine: How We Lost it, and Why We Need it Back
PBS' Now -- What Happened to Fairness?
Alternet -- Time for a Digital Fairness Doctrine
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