Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sykes Bravely Fights Coexistence

Charlie Sykes was in high-whine victim mode last week after he was called to task by the Interfaith Council of Greater Milwaukee for re-posting a so-called "parody" of a popular bumper sticker by fellow nut-job Tom McMahon on his vanity blog. The week-long episode featured all of the usual wing-nut defense mechanisms – double standards, attacks on the innocent messenger, lies about those concerned, complaints of "political correctness", etc. In the end, Milwaukee’s Teflon Charlie moves on to the next outrage, with the full blessing of the cowardly Journal Company.

McMahon – a minor player in the kook-right cheddarsphere – took the religious icons that make the word "COEXIST" in the bumper sticker and stuck in a hammer-and-sickle for the "e" and a swastika in place of the Star of David. The idea by McMahon (who Sykes strangely calls "brilliant" in his re-post) is apparently that those who believe in coexistence among people of different faiths are silly and would also choose coexistence over confrontation with Communism and Naziism. This is what passes for humor on the right-wing lunatic fringe. Get it? Ha ha. Ha.

Sykes – who rarely writes more than a couple of sentences, filling up his vanity site with e-mails from his favorite Republicans, Scott Walker and David Clarke, and links to dreck like McMahon, Jessica McBride and the strangely omnipresent Owen Robinson – took most of the heat for McMahon’s juvenile production because of his high mainstream radio (MSR) profile and his corporate sponsor, Journal Communications. After the Interfaith Council wrote to his employer asking that the post be deleted, Sykes basically told the distinguished group of clergy to stick it. Journal Communications, which pretends to be a good corporate citizen, stuck up for their fair-haired wing-nut. "I stand by Charlie’s response," said Sykes’ chief enabler, station GM Jon Schweitzer, who has presided over the transition of TMJ into an all-right-wing-all-the-time GOP propaganda vehicle.

Sykes’ response to the Council was remarkable for its smug sense of pretended outrage and disrespect for the Interfaith Council’s usually uncontroversial membership of reverends, rabbis and priests. Playing the "I come from a Jewish family" card, Sykes waxes indignant about the letter’s accurate description of the parody and the Council’s more-than-legitimate complaint that putting a swastika in the place of a Star of David as particularly offensive. He repeatedly calls the Council members "ignorant", accuses them of "bullying" and even summons up a self-righteous "shame on you". As such recklessly offensive wing-nuts always do when they get caught, Sykes wants to pose for holy pictures on the subject of anti-Semitism. "I have consistently spoken out against anti-Semitism and have been a strong supporter of Israel," and blah blah blah. Well, when it’s convenient for him anyway. He also slings more than a little straw-man mud, calling the Council to task because they supposedly failed to protest "this particular tactic when it has been used by the left," without mentioning that such a thing has never happened.

But Sykes’ primary point in his written response and during the long woe-is-me blabbering on his radio show on Wednesday appears to be that his posting of offensive nonsense on his vanity blog is a "flagrant act of free speech" and he gets to do it and you can’t stop him and na-na-na-boo-boo. "It is free speech that provokes more free speech," he says from his imaginary moral mountaintop. Except when someone disagrees with him, of course. Sykes and his ilk are more than willing to use whatever bully tactics they can to shut down speech at a festival in San Francisco that dares to be held near a Catholic church or to demand that professors who get out of line be fired.

Aw, poor Charlie – for all of his sanctimonious posturing about what anyone else might say, he is so put out by anyone who would dare hold him (or his employer) responsible for his own stupid statements. He declares the Council’s request as an attempt at censorship, conveniently forgetting that only governments censor. There is nothing wrong with concerned citizens who are understandably offended by the in-your-face dancing wing-nuts to ask their employers to get a grip and to avoid unnecessary offense.

Although fully ensconced in his knowing sanctimony and his cozy corporate cocoon, Sykes showed a bit of defensiveness by calling out the usual gang of idiots to offer tactical and predictable support and made sure he summarized all of it in a long post on Thanksgiving Friday. Always-helpful right-wing Marquette professor John McAdams did the dirty work of attacking the Interfaith Council itself for its apparently offensive social agenda of feeding the poor, health care for all and other traditionally religious concerns and for not clearing its members with Nut-Right Inc. Talk about "politically incorrect". The attack-the-messenger-to-get-the-focus-off-the-message tactic is standard stuff for the win-at-all-costs wing-nuts when they can’t win on the underlying issue, which is always. Rick Esenberg likewise gets into his defense-of-the-indefensible mode. Jessica McBride hilariously claims Sykes was being "phony soldiered", meaning, in her usual pretend-world, that lefties were "victimizing" Sykes the same way they supposedly "victimized" Limbaugh when he called all anti-war soldiers "phony". The only thing similar between the two flare-ups is that Limbaugh really did say the offensive thing that we said he did and Sykes really did sign on to an offensive parody. Lefties and Democratic politicians get hammered by wing-nuts through their echo chamber all day, everyday for things they said and didn’t say. But try to parse something out of their stupid mouths and you get more victimhood-squealing than anything the left has ever put together. Note to Sykes: Read your own books, especially the parts about false victimhood, being offended at every little challenge to yourself and excessive whining.

The bottom line on this whole imbroglio is that Sykes, McMahon and all their various defenders are, shockingly, against coexistence. "...there are some things – evils -- that we cannot simply ‘coexist with.’ These would include Communism and Nazism," writes Sykes. Fine, and the COEXIST sticker implies nothing like that, but that’s not the point of the parody. The point of the parody was that McMahon’s "lefties in Madison" whose cars bear the COEXIST sticker (by the way, there are plenty of them around here) are a bunch of naive nincompoops who are silly to think that we should all at least try to get along – or "sing Kumbaya", as Sykes puts it. To these deluded few, Islam - the faith of billions that happens to include a small minority of violent nut-bags - is the enemy. They prefer permanent war to peace – and a holy war, at that. That's the real shame and the real scandal. Stomping your feet and holding your breath until you turn blue about "free speech" and "political correctness" doesn’t change the fact that you are just plain wrong.

P.S.: And what is so bad about Kumbaya, anyway? It happens to be a great summer camp sing-along, and a religious one at that (Someone’s praying Lord...). I’ll take that over Lee Greenwood’s pathetic "God Bless the USA" (I always wondered about this: "where at least I know I’m free." "At least"? It’s like he’s miserable but "at least..." The guy seems to have other issues, does he not?). I think one response to this should be that more people get the COEXIST sticker and put it on their car. I get my favorite bumper stickers here in Milwaukee at the Peace Action of Wisconsin office in Riverwest, at 1001 E. Keefe.


krshorewood said...

Another example of Charlie McCarthyism. Overblow a suggestion on the part of ICGM and claim you are being bullied, when being the bully all along.

Chuck proves again that in Milwaukee no good deed goes unpunished, and why this city can't get ahead because of our stupid divisions -- countered in its own way by the coexist bumper sticker.

The question we have to ask the Journal is can metro Milwaukee afford this pathetic little man?

Anonymous said...

All Journal Company stockholders -- and there are thousands -- have to say when enough is enough.

That time is now. Tell Steve Smith that dissing the Interfaith Council, including the Archbishop himself, is not the way he was raised at St. Bernard's. Tell him he was taught that with freedom comes responsibility, and so with free speech comes responsibly speaking on issues.

Same goes for you, stockholders -- if you don't speak up responsibly on this, you're as cowardly as your company.

Anonymous said...

Ah, you are such a paragon of tolerance...

Charlie Sykes was in high-whine victim mode...fellow nut-job Tom McMahon...McMahon – a minor player in the kook-right cheddarsphere...his is what passes for humor on the right-wing lunatic fringe...As such recklessly offensive wing-nuts ...the long woe-is-me blabbering on his radio show ...all of his sanctimonious posturing about what anyone else might say, he is so put out by anyone who would dare hold him (or his employer) responsible for his own stupid statements...

Coexist, indeed.

Mike Plaisted said...


Who said anything about coexisting with Sykes? I mean, we do and we will because neither of us are going anywhere, thereby coexisitng by default, but that has nothing to do with the "great" religions of the world coexisting and all of us coexisting with them.

Just like Sykes violating his own stupid Rules by whining like someone victimized by a mean bully every time someone dares to take issue with what he says, you can't really be troubled by a few tart descriptive phrases, can you? Accusing Sykes of sanctimonious posturing -- which, since that's all he does on the radio, must be in his job description -- is nothing like the lies he and his MSR wing-nut brethern hurl at lefties, local and national, all day long. We "hate America", we don't support the troops, blah blah blah.

For people who do nothing but throw mud all day, you are all extremely thin-skinned. And, as a usual wing-nut tactic, you nit-pick a few things out of my post to make me look bad and deflect discussion of the actual issue, which you apparently think you can't win on the merits. I'm glad I have your attention.

Anonymous said...

Heh. And you're calling me too thin skinned?

Display Name said...

Maybe the Milwaukee Conservative Chorus will explain their views on how religions should get along, or not.

Or as the blue-eyed kids over at put it, the answer is Convert!

Zach W. said...

Michael, you summed this whole situation up better than I could have hoped to. Bravo!

Unknown said...

Good point about Sykes' gall trying to cast shame on the religious, for what, for "not getting the joke?" ha ha, very funny.

I dissect some of Sykes' ideology over at my blog, but you've put him in his place more solidly here.

also, I like Peace Action too, I volunteer with them sometimes.


Anonymous said...

This is the part that's really interesting to me:

"The idea by McMahon (who Sykes strangely calls "brilliant" in his re-post) is apparently that those who believe in coexistence among people of different faiths are silly and would also choose coexistence over confrontation with Communism and Naziism."

Really? The weakness of the left on these issues is shockingly obvious. While Naziism isn't the same as Islam, the latter constantly reveals itself as evil and intolerant in its actions. From the death threats over books and cartoons to 200 lashes for a gang-raped woman, the muslim world repeatedly presents one barbaric example of its true colors after the next. You'll say I'm racist, or something, but the point is not those acts themselves, but the non-reaction of the "good" muslims to these abuses. While Sykes appears to you to be intolerant, at least he is focused on the real hatred in the world while the dingbat left frets over a stupid, feel-good bumpersticker. How do I know the left wouldn't give a rip about naziism and communism? Simple: if you can't fit it on a bumpersticker, its a little too complex for blind children who pretend they're crown-ups.

I'm sure we could all count on the peaceniks over on Keefe to keep us safe. please....

Mike Plaisted said...


Boy, it really is amazing how far you guys want to go out on a limb to a) back up an offensive parody by one of your fellow travellers; b) reject the sort of coexistence and understanding that has been the bedrock of mainstream religious movements at least since Vatican II; and c) color Islam with most bigoted believe-the-worst broad brush nonsense that no one can ever get anywhere. It's the permanent crisis, the permanent fear that you want to perpetuate.

You're the tough guys looking for big enough groups of people to bomb and we're the pussies for looking for common ground.

Well, I'm comfortable here. Years from now, you will still be howling at the moon about "evil", screeching for your own self-righteous jihad and I'll be looking for peace, love and understanding, and finding it all over the world. What's so funny (or wrong) about that?

In the end, we coexist not because we want to, but because we will. Whoever we disagree with are not going anywhere. To think you can change that just by hating it and bombing it is delusional and worse.

Anonymous said...

Thousand of Sudanese have been demonstrating, demanding death for an English woman who named a teddy bear "Mohammed".

In the end we will coexist not because some people want to but when everyone agrees to it. Coexistence is a noble idea but it's a two way street.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to hear Mike's solution to appeasing Islamic Fundamentalists other than a bumper sticker and a democrat in the White House (which by the way won't do anything to stop their hatred of us and our "decadent" way of life).

Anonymous said...

These extremists are calling for the execution of a British schoolteacher in Sudan for allowing her class to name a teddy bear "Muhammad." Are you f'n kidding me? We're supposed to negotiate and "understand" with people like this?

Anonymous said...

Dang it stole my thunder. I encourage Peace Action to ship as many COEXIST stickers to Sudan as possible. Oops...that's beyond their parochial perspective.

Their concept of "COEXIST" like so many others: Affirmative Action, Separation of Church and State, Women's Rights...only applies to smackin down the all-powerful, bigoted white male. They are not meant as "universals" for all people to follow.

If Peace Action can't afford the postage to Sudan, maybe they could just drop them off at the offices of the Muslim Student Association and the Palestinian Student Organization at UWM while encouraging them to "COEXIST" with a fellow Palestinian who has the audacity to renounce terrorism.

Mike Plaisted said...

Oh, brother. We are getting a lot of mileage out of Muhammad the Teddy Bear, aren't we? "How can you coexist with them? Send the stickers to Sudan? Etc." Please.

I'm sure it is as hard for Muslim leaders to encourage coexistence when they have people in their flocks with no such interest squawking about this or that example of christian extremism. Letting the worst of people get in the way of the better way to go is the easiest cop-out in the world. Particularly with religion, there are always whack-jobs that will get in the way of progress. Especially if you are looking for an excuse not to coexist.

Coexistence is NOT a two-way street. Coexistence is the default position. "We" exist, "they" exist, therefore we co-exist. To not accept it means to want to change it means to hope or act to have "them" go away. Thus are holy wars waged.

Coexistence is not validation or even acceptance of the extremes. It seeks ground in the middle where it can be found. Every religion has those who seek to diminish and even destroy for their own perceived perpetuation. It is up to the rest of us to find a work-around to those who would divide us for division's sake.

Anonymous said...

Coexistence IS a two-way street, not a default position. "I" exist and "you" exist, therefore we "co-exist"; but all that means is that we are alive and on the same planet at the same time.

There are people who are not interested in finding a middle ground. These are those who hold extreme political, racial or religious beliefs. What middle ground can be found with the Khmer Rouge, Nazis or fanatics who seeks the death penalty for a mis-named teddy bear?

These people are at war with coexistence, the idea that different groups can get along in the same general neighborhood, that there is a "middle ground".

Some peoples' idea of "coexsistence" means something closer to "subjugation". All your good intentions mean nothing if the person (or people) with who you are dealing has no intention of reciprocating.

BTW, it's the "Muslim leaders" (the imams) who are inciting the Sudanese mobs.

Anonymous said...

"Coexistence is NOT a two-way street."

OMG Mike...did you really mean to say that?