After learning of the SPLC's director Mark Potok's description of Swain as an "apologist for white supremacists," the Tennessean newspaper turned the episode into a controversy by publishing a front-page story on the angry exchange between Potok and Swain. Then, in the interest of equal time, on October 24, the Tennessean published a front-page response by Swain, entitled Learn to listen to voice of dissent with respect. Here is an excerpt:
. . . Given the potential for gross misunderstanding, I would like to elevate the dialogue a bit. I am a professor of political science and law who often teaches a popular seminar on hate groups in America. Seven years ago, I wrote a book titled The New White Nationalism in America: Its Challenge to Integration. The book warned of rising racial and ethnic conflict because of a set of converging conditions that created a devil brew for racial unrest. Since then the conditions I warned of have heightened. My position remains that racial hatred and bigotry are real and that they can rear their ugly head against any community, including the white community.
It is also true that there are –isms within communities that seek to silence defectors. Ridiculous double standards exist for racial and ethnic minorities. Can anyone imagine that white people would expect all other white people to agree on every issue? Nonetheless, minorities are expected to express solidarity in their political views.
I believe that the continuation of a peaceful American society will depend on our learning how to respectfully listen to one another. One of the most troubling facets of life today is the powerful movement by left-leaning organizations and governmental officials to engage in character assassination, by labeling anyone who disagrees with their liberal utopian vision for society as unworthy of participating in the conversation about our nation's future. A quick look at global history reveals the dangers of following such a short-sighted approach.
Today, conservatives and Christians (of which I am both) are targeted by groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center that regularly seek to discredit us. The war on free speech is so pervasive that the White House has deigned to attack Fox News for unflattering coverage of the Obama administration. Americans have cause to worry. . . .
I agree with Professor Swain that there are those on the political left who do not hesitate to go for the jugular when engaging in dissent, especially if they even suspect that you're not taking the "correct" line on race. However, spiteful retaliation is alive and well among the rightwing, or "conservatives," as well. Members of this faction are just as adept at distorting the intentions of their adversaries, and often engage in outright colorful fabrications. Although Swain might not perceive it, there exists also the "conservative utopian vision for society." And, given the media outlets that broadcast literally hundreds of talk shows weekly, rightwingers are able to spread their messages far and wide. As Swain says, however, there is currently an attempt brewing on the left to assassinate her character.
Soon after the Tennessean newspaper published its initial article and Swain's response last week, talk show host Lou Dobbs invited Swain on his radio show. (They claim a friendly, professional relationship, as she is a frequent guest on both his radio and television shows.) There she tried to explain her position, and why she felt the Bodeker film was worthwhile from the standpoint of frank discussion. But once he was apprised of the SPLC's charge of "racism" against Bodeker, Dobbs did not seem to have a further interest in learning anything about the film or the background of the charge against Bodeker. He began to talk over Swain's attempted explanations, even though Dobbs himself is on the SPLC's hit list of "racists." Bodeker is charged by the SPLC with publicly referring to Barack Obama with an "ethnic slur," one that is not considered quite as severe as the forbidden "N" word that Jesse Jackson leveled at Obama back in 2008.
Although he takes the title "Mr. Constitution," it is clear that Dobbs' interest in the Constitution's principles is negligible. One wonders if the SPLC had not added his name to their "hate" list, in attempting to shut down his ability to engage in free speech over the subject of illegal immigration, whether Dobbs would rise to the defense of free speech at all. It appears that it's only his own free speech that concerns him. A Nat Hentoff he is not.
A Republican sycophant he is. He calls himself "Mr. Independent," along with the self-description of "radical centrist," whatever that is. Except for the issue of immigration, in which he expresses disagreement with the conventional Republican advocacy of open borders and amnesty, Dobbs has always toed the party line. Throughout the Bush administration, he carried as much water for the Republican party as all the rest of the rightwing talk show hosts. He recited the items on that proverbial "daily memo" every day as faithfully as Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage, et. al. Whatever the talk show blabbermouths were complaining about or promoting on any given day, Dobbs was right there reciting the same mantras.
However, now that his compatriots are out of the White House, and a Democrat is in, he feels free to assume an "antiwar" posture. Only recently has he become a vocal advocate of bringing home American troops from all those worthless exploits abroad. Throughout George W. Bush's tenure, one never heard the "bring them home" theme from Dobbs. Instead, in its place, he carefully peppered his talk with the safe catchphrase of "support the troops." At that time, he appeared to share the view, along with his "conservative" buddies, that those who wished to see the end of foreign hostilities did not support the troops. He was wise enough to play both ends against the middle, so that he would not lose face with his Republican chicken hawks.
Like most people on the right, Dobbs is as quick to hurl the "racist" charge at a perceived transgressor as any multi-cult inspired leftist. Earlier this year, a perfectly sane sounding male caller to his radio show, who appeared to be a fan of Dobbs, offered the suggestion that, given the current circumstances of unemployment, etc., in the country, it might be best to end all immigration, legal as well as illegal. This gave Dobbs the opportunity to take his Super Anti-racist stance. The caller had said nothing about race, but before he could be more explicit with his reasoning, Dobbs inferred racial motives and accused him of being "hung up on group identity." Listeners never got to hear the response of the obviously shocked caller, who did not expect such a reaction from the supposed champion of the country's welfare.
Dobbs accepts the questionable premise that there is racial discord throughout the land. This leads to a form of logic that the only way that racial peace can be attained is for all the races to mix it up sexually and reproduce biracial offspring. As one-half of an interracial marriage himself, he claims to "encourage" such practice.
In a recent conversation with a white woman caller to his radio show, Dobbs cooed over the news from her that, of her four daughters, two are interracially married. He thought this was a perfectly wonderful way to solve what he perceives as America's severe "social problem." And why shouldn't everyone get on board and emulate this woman's daughters? After all, Dobbs and the caller concurred, almost chanting in unison, "It is the year 2009!" By this "late date," you see, every American should be in tune with the times. Apparently, all people should be on the track of desiring to see an end to their own ethnic group, along with the eradication of all the races as we found them here on earth.
Dobbs is known to talk endlessly (and childishly) about the United States as a "melting pot." (Remember that propaganda about the "huddled masses" you learned in the third grade?) He appears to see the value of America primarily through this "melting pot" metaphor. Yet it is clear from what we are learning about so many recent immigrants arriving from disparate parts of the world, being inculcated with this country's values or customs, or even its legal system, is the last thing on their minds. (We will soon be facing serious demands from Muslims for the practice of sharia law already coerced as a second legal system in several European countries. See This isn't Holland anymore.) Sane people understand the urgency of maintaining Western American culture, in order to sustain the country's democratic institutions, including that Constitution of which Dobbs is supposedly so fond.
Geraldo Rivera is wrong in his charge against Dobbs that he is "scapegoating" immigrants. On the contrary, Dobbs is concerned with the "illegal" variety only. He has no problem with the ultimate transformation of the country's culture to Latino or Arab or Somali or with the ramifications that such changes would bring. Dobbs claims that he is not for amnesty, but he might as well be. A moratorium on all immigration would never cross his mind, and we see what happens to anyone who brings up the topic to him.
After the way he pounced on that naïve, unsuspecting male caller, one wonders if, in Dobbs' moral constellation, anyone is permitted to cleave unto his own "group identity," and to want to see it preserved and perpetuated, in spite of the fact that this might not contribute to the harmony that Dobbs believes ethnic biracialism would bring.