FAQs - What to Do When...

Smeared by Right-Wing Demagogues:

Glenn Beck Defamed Me!

Or was it David Horowitz, or Ann Coulter, or Daniel Pipes, or any foot soldier in the army of right-wing smear artists?

First…Congratulations!

Now some practical suggestions. For examples of constructive responses, see Glenn Beck Attacks Brecht Forum and Alan Dershowitz Attacks Leftists on Human Rights

Respond Immediately

If your board of directors has not authorized staff to issue an immediate initial response online and to reporters you have already lost half the battle. With the Internet and cable news programs the 24-hour “News Cycle,” has been trimmed down to about 24 minutes. You or your group needs to put up a page online that refutes the false or malicious claims or the smears will become reality and get cited endlessly for all eternity in all forms known and unknown throughout the universe. If you do not have pre-approval, move as quickly as possible.

Don’t Mimic the Sewer Rhetoric of the Right

It makes you look cheap and tawdry to folks not already on your side. Sure it is tempting, but it is not constructive.

Respond calmly

But don’t hesitate to hold people accountable. PRA suggests the Three R Rule:

Rebut, Rebuke, Reaffirm.

It’s important to remember that while the tactics of the Right may be obvious to you, they are not necessarily obvious to others, even though they might be part of the political process. The ways in which the Right distorts and misleads the public must be carefully explained. Use a 3-step process. Rebut false and inaccurate claims. Rebuke those who use scapegoating or demagoguery. Reaffirm what a progressive goal or agenda would accomplish for the betterment of society.

For print publications, as for an op-ed to respond. They probably will say no, but then press them for a letter-to-the editor. Send the letter immediately. Ask if you can send it as an e-mail.

Don’t give in to Red-Baiting or Terrorist Baiting

Smear artists love to attack people and groups on the fringes of society. If you let them divide you from the outliers, it is only a matter of time befroe your name rises to the top of the list. So if I can't convince you it is morally wrong to abandon your allies, then at least realize that doing so only puts you or your group at greater risk. Watch Hitchock's film "Lifeboat." Discuss.

Get Allies to Support You

Don't tough it out, seek allies who will stand up and support you publically.

Support Your Allies

Because we are all in this together

Have a Sense of Humor

Seriously, have a sense of humor. Humor is a much healthier response than reversing the attack or whining.

Make it a Publicity Stunt

Be creative. Have flowers delivered to Glenn Beck mourning the death of his ethics. Video the delivery. Put it on You Tube.

Make it a Fundraiser

Celebrate being attacked. Host a costume party with folks dressing as famous villains of history. Ask for donations.


Examples

Glenn Beck Attacks Brecht Forum

Alan Dershowitz Attacks Leftists on Human Rights


Brecht Forum

Here is how the Brecht Forum responded to an on-air attack by Glenn Beck

Who's Afraid of the Brecht Forum? Apparently Glenn Beck

Mr. Beck, the infamous right-wing talk show host, targeted the Brecht Forum on his Fox News program on Monday, March 1st, equating the social justice movement with "danger" and conflating socialism with Nazism. Pulling clips from a September 2009 event at the Brecht Forum, “The Van Jones Effect,” Mr. Beck extended his attacks on Van Jones and continued his efforts to demonize the left and then find supposed links to the Obama administration.

[This new satirical video, sponsored by MoveOn.org Civic Action, Brave New Films, and the Service Employees International Union, humorously exposes Beck’s brand of the McCarthyist “Red Scare.” We encourage you to help spread it around.]

http://beck.cnnbcvideo.com/?rc=seiu.c2#

Contrary to Mr. Beck’s unfounded assertions, the Forum neither engages in political campaigning nor endorses positions taken by speakers who participate in its programs. The Brecht Forum has not attacked Mr Beck’s freedom to articulate his opinions and rejects as profoundly un-American his effort to silence us and all others committed to social justice in a country that badly needs it.

While the Brecht Forum is clearly on the left, it is an independent and open public forum dedicated to broad dialogue and debate on important public issues from a wide variety of points of view. It offers a year-round program of forums, classes, art exhibits, performances and popular education workshops.

These are times when creative thinking from all sectors of our society is urgently needed. We are in this together. Demagogues like Beck play the “blame game” and use misinformation, demonization, and scapegoating to feed their ego while failing to deliver constructive ways to move forward.

“The economic crisis is making Americans feel like their well-being is under attack, and so they look around for someone to explain the circumstances of the crisis," said Richard D. Wolff, economist and member of the Brecht Forum's Board of Directors. “Instead of answers, Beck has so far provided scapegoats by attacking all those who seek social justice. The Brecht Forum thus joins countless religious and civic leaders in rejecting Beck’s latest outburst. What we need is open discussion of all possible solutions.

Richard D. Wolff, author and economics professor, teaches at the Brecht Forum and is featured on the DVD Capitalism Hits the Fan.

While long-maligned from the right, views from the left have a lot to offer because we seek fundamental changes based on building fairness and equality for the benefit of all. We want everyone who wants a job to have one, healthcare for all, an economic system based on ensuring people’s rights rather than just property rights, rapacious greed punished rather than bailed out, and so on. We want what most people want.


The Brecht Forum then ordered a box of bottons that stated:


Attacked by Glenn Beck
(and proud of it!)


They had allies hand out hundreds at the Left Forum event in New York.


Alan Dershowitz Attacks Leftists on Human Rights

Columnist Alan Dershowitz is a preening self-impressed right-wing libertarian who smeared leftists in a June 1989 column entitled by one newspaper "Leftist Cacophony for Human Rights Grows Silent on the Beijing Massacre."

Dershowitz alleged silence on the part of numerous U.S. groups and individuals "who are most vocal in condemning the United States, Israel and other Western democracies whenever they deviate in the slightest from the highest norms of human rights." Alas, Dershowitz sunk to the lowest norms of yellow journalism by relying on an associate's quick and superficial series of misleading phone calls on which to justify his pre-conceived column. In fact, many of the groups and individuals blasted by Dershowitz condemned the violence in China.

Alex Cockburn in the Nation dissected the errors in the Dershowitz column, and the National Lawyers Guild, cited by Dershowitz as having no comment, is circulating a letter to newspapers from its director noting he twice told Dershowitz's associate of the Guild's opposition to the shooting of unarmed dissidents. When facts and ideology collide, the facts generally fail first.

One of the persons who was atttacked by name, attorney William Kunstler, confronted a newspaper that carrried the Dershowitz tirade:

Letter to the editor:
Criticism of Socialist Nations for Rights Violations by the Left
June 24, 1989

Prof. Alan M. Dershowitz's Op-Ed piece, "Leftist Cacophony for Human Rights Grows Silent on the Beijing Massacre" (June 11), is the last word in utter hypocrisy and falsehood. In essence, it accuses me and other individuals, organizations, and publications, identified by him as being spokespersons for the American left, of a "resounding chorus of silence" insofar as the Tian An Men Square blood bath is concerned. Referring to us all as "perennial democracy-bashers," he falsely and maliciously charges us with deliberately ignoring the tragic events of June 3-4 in Beijing because of our alleged unwillingness to criticize a socialist nation.

I can only speak for myself but I can say that his assertion that "(my) office told his associate that (I) would have no comment" is an unspeakable lie. My office never received any inquiry from his unnamed "associate" and, indeed, it would have been passing strange if I had ever authorized such a claimed response when I have characterized the slaughter of the students on the "CBS Evening News" as "a massacre." Moreover, I know that a number of left-wing journals, such as the Guardian and the Revolutionary Worker, were far more condemnatory of the Chinese action than was the President of the U.S.

In the past, Dershowitz has attempted to wean Jewish lawyers away from representing Father Daniel Berrigan because he considered the activist Jesuit an anti-Semite for his political criticism of Israel. He has also encouraged a congressional witch hunt of the National Lawyers Guild because it did not accept his invitation to send an observer to the trial of Anatoly Shcharansky. Lastly, it might be noted that he has never once criticized a single act of the Israeli government, including the shooting of hundreds of young Palestinians on the occupied West Bank and that country's sale of weapons to Iran or its transshipment of American arms to South Africa.

In the last analysis, he takes the position that, if others don't agree with his political priorities, they are "democracy-bashers." This is the height of intellectual arrogance but, when he buttresses his know-it-all-ism with outright falsehoods, he then has lost all right to be taken seriously.

WILLIAM M. KUNSTLER
New York

I was contacted by Dershowitz's associate by phone and asked for a comment on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild. I had been a co-chair of the NLG Civil Liberties Committee, which dealt with domestic issues. I sent Dershowitz's associate to the NLG national office, explaining that any comments from the NLG would have to be formulated in tandem with the NLG International Committee. Apparently the idea that a membership-based democratic organization needed to actually follow internal democratic procedures was alien to Dershowitz, who claimed the NLG had no comment.

This is an example of why organizations need a fast way to approve basic statements.


Urgent Care

Smeared by Right-Wing Demagogues:

Glenn Beck Defamed Me!

You Receive a Threat:

Take it Seriously

Organized White Supremacists Announce a Rally:

The Nazis are Coming! The Nazis are Coming!

Facing Government Repression

Common Sense Security and Applied Civil Liberties for Activists

Basics

Ground Rules and Tips for Challenging the Republican & Centrist Right

How to Fight the Racist & UltraRight

(Center for Democratic Renewal)

Ten Tips for Fighting Hate Groups of the Far Right

(Center for Democratic Renewal)

Tips for Campus Organizers

(Center for Campus Organizing)

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"Democracy Needs Facts"

-George Seldes
Muckraker, Journalism Critic, Anti-fascist
1890-1995


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