On Saturday, the Kalamazoo Gazette published an article titled “Residents urged to ignore radio show host’s rally” about an upcoming racist rally organized by Internet radio talk show host Hal Turner. The article, written by Alex Nixon, primarily relied on Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety chief Dan Weston to urge residents of Kalamazoo to “ignore” the rally. In the article, the call to “ignore” the protests is made two times, with Weston telling the community to “ignore his [Turner's] rally cry to gather and meet” and saying “the best thing the community can do is put this on ‘ignore.’”
However, Nixon’s article largely ignores the reasons why residents of Kalamazoo and Michigan might be inclined to protest the rally and essentially leaves Hal Turner’s record unexamined. Nixon fails to examine Turner’s history of making extremely racist and violent statements and his past associations with white supremacist organizations. This is particularly disconcerting as Turner specifically has called for violence against people of color in Kalamazoo, stating on his website that Kalamazoo needs “a couple of lynchings.” Moreover, this is only the most recent of a series of similar statements that Turner has made in his career, many of which have advocated direct violence towards people of color. For his part, Turner says “I advocate what I am willing to do,” suggesting that far from being mere rhetorical threats Turner’s threats should be taken very seriously.
However, readers of the Kalamazoo Gazette article would not have learned this. Instead, they would learn that one of the most controversial things Turner has done is broadcast the home addresses and telephone numbers of New Jersey’s Supreme Court justices to show that they could be “gotten to” by “angry people” upset over a ruling on civil unions. Unfortunately, this statement is relatively minor for Turner, who last year advocated targeting legislators for “assassination” if they voted for pending immigration reform legislation. However, both these statements are nothing compared to his advocacy of “machine gunning” immigrants at immigrants rights rallies, moving African-Americans back to Africa in chains, and cutting the throats of Jewish Americans. None of this was reported in the Gazette article, instead readers learned that Turner was charged with assault last year after a confrontation with a protestor.
Similarly, readers would have learned that Turner has invited “a number of white supremacist organizations,” a statement that is true although misleading given that Turner has more or less invited the entire racist right to attend the rally, including well-known groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Nations, and the National Socialist Movement. Nixon’s article also fails to report that far from being simply a rally organized by out-of-town racists, the rally will also feature speakers from Michigan including a leader of the Ku Klux Klan named Randy Gray and another racist talk show host named James Wickstrom.
The more one reads about the racists involved in the organizing of this rally, the more absurd the police chief’s call to “ignore” the rally seems, as does the Gazette’s focus on the familiar story of how many police will be protecting Turner and his fellow racists. Like so much of the corporate media’s reporting on white supremacist events, the Gazette turned to discussing possible security preparations rather than Turner’s racism or the larger framework of institutional racism into which Turner fits. Instead of that discussion, readers learn that at a rally organized by Turner in May there were 300 police officers present. The Gazette also reports that there “were no serious incidents,” again focusing on the confrontational aspect of the event rather than on the bigger story of what led people to protest Turner.