As Congress debates Health Care Reform, the stimulus package starts showing signs of positive impact, and the war on Afghanistan intensifies, what is the right wing media up to? First of all, they’re keeping the debate alive over the legitimacy of President Obama’s birth certificate. Second, they’re intensifying their attacks on the nonprofit organizations working on climate change, economic justice and other causes they deem “radical.” These attacks are no longer the sphere of the right wing blogosphere; they’re going mainstream, not surprisingly starting with FOX, but seeping into other media outlets including CNN.
The dissemination of conservative misinformation is certainly not a new thing. It’s a great tactic because it works — people really do believe things like ‘Health Care Reform will get rid of Medicare,’ ‘obesity is not a problem in America,’ and ‘Obama is destroying America on purpose.’ Democrats are in power for the first time in over 30 years and FOX is responding by doing its best to air the most fringe, radical, and oftentimes hateful rhetoric heard anywhere on the right.
Now, in the age of Obama, many progressive organizations find themselves as regular targets on the most watched news program in the nation. Glenn Beck of FOX News likes to illustrate a “tree” of linkages across organizations working on the left — think tanks, funders, organizing and advocacy groups, communications strategists — all working to bring down America, with Obama himself controlling the strings.
If only the left were so well coordinated.
Over the years, Tides has often been subjected to the rants, half-truths and lunatic assertions of the right wing. Beck has added Tides to his list of “extreme” left wing groups who are contributing to the “socialization” of America. And, he has more deeply attacked some of our most successful and impactful projects. According to Beck, the Apollo Alliance‘s efforts to generate green jobs for a green economy are just short of Stalinist. And FOX News says that Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff, the viral video that Tides helped incubate, is “teaching our children to hate and fear prosperity.”
As progressive ideas like green jobs become mainstream, the right is clearly threatened. Their falsehoods and perception warping is intensifying. So what do we do? Basking in our infamy can be fun, but it’s time for the vast left wing conspiracy to link arms, step into our power and fight back. There’s been a significant change in our ability to influence the public agenda, and just because we are in power, doesn’t mean that our work hasn’t diminished. In fact, we all need to pick it up several notches to reverse the erosion of rights that has gone on for the past 30 years. The Momentum community is addressing how individual issues can be transformed from hot buttons to powerful rallying points for larger movements, and we encourage progressives to join us. There is no room for complacency now.
Melissa Bradley is Tides’ Board Chair. This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.