Apparently, I keep interesting company: I'm like peas in a pod with Joseph Stalin, Garrison Keillor, Fred Phelps, Osama bin Laden, The Pulitzer Prize, and Bruce Springsteen, according to neoconservative David Horowitz whose website Discover the Networks (DTN) includes me in a recent update to its "Guide to the Political Left."
Fred "God Hates Fags" Phelps, a liberal? (Isn't that a bit like Fox News "accidentally" turning Mark Foley into a Democrat?) Bin Laden too? Yep. Claiming to track the shadowy links from environmental, peace and social-justice organizations in the US to terrorists and far-right ideologues, DTN uses two time-tested tools, guilt by association and misstating an organization's values to score points with the far right, to map a vast leftwing conspiracy--and it targets a surprising range of Minnesota-based individuals and organizations.
Horowitz, the contentious lefty-turned-neocon who's now funded by rightwing foundations, tries to connect the dots from Zinn to Zarqawi with the site, and he doesn't let typos and outright falsehoods get in the way of this thesis. The site exists to define "the left's (often hidden) programmatic agendas." But a scan through many of its posts suggests that organizations having missions that differ from Horowitz's own get the toughest scrutiny for rather un-hidden agendas--groups that are Muslim or seek a balanced approach to the Israel/Palestine conflict are dubbed anti-Israeli, organizations opposing the Iraq occupation or the Patriot Act are anti-American, pacifists are equated with communists.
A few of the local groups that are featured:
• ISAIAH, an interfaith organization of some 75 religious congregations from St. Cloud to St. Paul "who have committed themselves to each other in order to build power for a worldview that prioritizes racial and economic justice." Among the group's misdeeds, in Horowitz's eyes: being an offshoot of the "radical Gamaliel Foundation in Chicago, which campaigns for numerous leftist agendas, including 'the Civil Rights of Immigrants.'"
• St. Olaf College: While no text accompanies this post, Discover the Networks links to four columns, all deriding the Northfield-based institution for hosting its annual Nobel Peace Prize Forum. In two articles by Katherine Kersten and one by Powerline's Scott Johnson, the college is ridiculed for nonviolent tactics for peace and accused of aiding in student recruitment by "activist left-wing pacifist groups" without offering a counterpoint.
• Nonviolent Peaceforce: This St. Paul-based NGO's mission is "to disrupt military actions" according to DTN, but Nick Mele of NVP says that's not true: "Our mission is to support and encourage the efforts of local peace makers by protecting them from violence." Aside from listing the NGO's address incorrectly, DTN also incorrectly states that the Nonviolent Peaceforce is part of United for Peace and Justice. He adds, "It's news to me... that Pax Christi USA, of which I personally have been a member for nearly 30 years (most of that time while serving as a US diplomat in the US foreign service), is anti-American."
• Friends for a Non-Violent World: This St. Paul group uses Quaker traditions to promote nonviolent alternatives to war. DTN chides: "In FNVW's view, violence is never, under any circumstances, a justifiable means of dealing with foreign enemies. Rather, the organization places its faith entirely in what it deems 'the goodness in all people.'"
• Centro Campesino: According to DTN, this Owatonna, Minnesota-based NGO "seeks to remove all restrictions on immigration to the U.S." Again, an overstatement. Jesus Torres of Centro Campesino writes to say that's not true: they simply seek fairness in immigration policies, citing four areas of focus: "Family Reunification, Roads to Permanent Residency and Citizenship, Human, Labor and Civil Rights, Respect and Dignity."
Then there's the entry for the Center for Independent Media, parent organization of the blog through which I get my "leftist blogger" cred in Horowitz's eyes, replete with errors. For starters:
• Minnesota Monitor is not looking for a state coordinator; we've had one for months.
• Our state coordinator, Robin Marty, contrary to Horowitz's claim, is not male.
• Marty does not blog for Drinking Liberally, which is a nationwide network of people who get together to talk politics over beer, not a blog.
• The passage Horowitz cites in Marty's bio was not, in fact, written by her.
Need I go on? Aside from nitpicking bios, which are, all in all, pretty fair, what's also curious about the Center's entry is that a.) it only cites examples of the Minnesota program, Minnesota Monitor, and not the older, more visible Colorado Confidential, and b.) it backs up its assertions through links to rightwing partisan blogs like Minnesota Democrats Exposed. No problem there, really, but DTN's sourcing--the most-cited publication is Horowitz's own FrontPage Magazine--betrays the fairness and balance it purports (DTN aims to "to avoid conflating subjective judgments about policy differences with factual descriptions of attitudes expressed by the individuals and organizations listed on this site"). For example, the Minneapolis-based Target Foundation, the generous philanthropic wing of the Minneapolis store chain whose executives give almost exclusively to Republicans, is ridiculously tagged "radical left." Who says? The Capital Research Center, a rightwing thinktank founded by a former Senior VP at the Heritage Foundation.
Other Minnesota mentions:
Women Against Military Madness (WAMM)