NYTimes Smears Capitol Protesters with Half-Baked Adjunct’s Lazy Opinions that they’re the KKK

  • Reporter quotes overwrought adjunct with a Religion PhD from Florida State to say its academic that all Trump protesters are basically the KKK
  • Author has laughable credentials and wrote a book on Zombies in American Culture
  • Interview filled with lies, bias, prejudices, bigotry, and confirmation bias

OUR RATING: Major Negligence. MSNBC-level basic journalistic negligence

Indicted Outlet: Elizabeth Dias | The New York Times | Link | Archive | February 7, 2021

The New York Times uses a community college adjunct from New Mexico to give us her opinions on the connections between the KKK and Christian conservatives in 2021. 

They quote her as a “writer and public scholar” and leave off the part where she wrote a book on “…the realities of the Zombie Apocalypse in American Culture.” 

The expert writer and public scholar makes sure to list on her wikipedia page, that she lives in Marianna Florida with her husband and three cats. [1]  

This is the moment in fact-check work when the rest of the article starts seamlessly writing itself. 

Major Violations:

  • Opinion as Fact
  • Assuming Bad Faith
  • Bad Sources
  • Missing Context
  • Collective Guilt
  • Smearing
  • Bigotry

Here’s how this trash starts out:

In the weeks following the attack on the Capitol, many Americans have argued over whether the violence was a singular event or an outcome of deeper forces. Voters, Congress and a former president are clashing over who is to blame.

What are ‘deeper forces’ when it comes to a major protest? Is that just a way of saying you want to project ideological motives on a group of people? It’s kind of the verbal foreplay before you want to get down to the dirty of maligning a mass of people for your imagined motives. Elizabeth Dias does nothing to honestly determine the motives of the pro-Trump protesters, she’s just out to push her own narrative.

One might wonder what ‘deeper forces’ are motivating and animating her work. What ‘deeper forces’ are percolating about at the New York Times to make sure that the narrative frame doesn’t budge one iota here, that not one whit of charity is given to the protesters or to the day’s primary victim: Ashli Babbitt, murdered while unarmed by someone who cannot even be named through official channels. 

But again when the frame is whether this is a ‘singular event’ or related to ‘deeper forces’ then what is she really trying to say? She’s prepping us for her argument that there are intrinsic things about Trump protesters that make them prone to violence. Imagine, however, if the shoe were on the other foot for a moment and we applied this logic to the Black Lives Matters protests of 2020. Cities are being burned, people like David Dorn are being murdered, and yet I don’t recall anyone saying that it was something inherent within the type of people who were protesting that such violence was happening. 

Did anyone try to connect the atheism of the group, or perhaps their particular religious denomination(s) with the violence seen across the country? Did anyone assign it to their skin color, their ancestry, their genetics? If they did it was in some obscure deplatformed magazine. Certainly no outlet as prominent as the New York Times would engage in such bold racism and bigotry. The next paragraph answers that question.

To Kelly J. Baker, a writer and public scholar of religion and racial hatred, the attack felt familiar, and it made her nervous. Many rioters, a largely white group, were motivated by religious fervor and saw themselves as participants in a kind of holy war. Some brought Confederate flags, others crosses. Some who invoked the name of Jesus were members of far-right groups like the Proud Boys, whose participants have espoused misogynistic and anti-immigrant views. Some were motivated by conspiracy theories and QAnon falsehoods as well as their conservative Christian faith.

Okay, so it’s a ‘largely white group’ who were ‘motivated by religious fervor’ engaged in a ‘holy war’ who were invoking the ‘name of Jesus’ and had all sorts of wrongthink opinions as well as being of the ‘conservative Christian faith’

There is literally no evidence to support almost any of her statement. 

Let’s also not forget that Kelly J. Baker is not a writer or a public scholar, she’s a freelancer who is paid to write about women in higher education. She’s not a serious person. Her books evince what kind of person this is, [2] and it’s not someone whose opinions on the KKK are really ever going to be poignant or historical.

The fact she felt ‘nervous’ over the January 6th protest isn’t relevant or newsworthy, but Dias wants to inflate the importance of her friend. So she links it to her research, at least her limited research when she’s not pursuing cultural intersectionality as it relates to zombies.

Yet this statement, that it was a ‘largely white group’ – what evidence is she using to support that? Likely just pictures of the crowd, of people who are primarily masked. And which crowd would she use to indict the protesters? As we’ve pointed out, the group that entered the Capitol is distinct from the crowd outside the Capitol building, who are themselves a smaller group that was protesting for Trump earlier that day. 

To be fair I didn’t expect so many Samoans.

Look at all those clearly identifiable white people and white faces! It’s so white it’s like a polar bear convention!

Even more ‘largely white groups’ protesting the election results.

Was the group “motivated by religious fervor?” There’s, again, no evidence to support this conclusion. In fact, most reports on the motives of January 6th protesters show them to be very diverse and divergent. The role of religion is ‘at the level of the individual’ if you were to dissect their religious motives, according to the primary mainstream person examining such motives, if any. [3] 

Certainly the phrasing on participants seeing themselves as part of a ‘holy war’ is entirely unsupported by evidence. The author just lets all these things go unchallenged. It also goes unchallenged that many protesters report that they were, in fact, nonviolent and the police were the ones escalating and inciting violence against them. [4]

Dias equates Confederate flags to Christian crosses, which is the kind of statement a religious bigot would make. The Confederate battle flag was a political and military symbol, whereas the Christian cross is a religious reminder of the sacrifice of Christ to redeem mankind. But hey, both totally symbols of people we hate, so why not lump them together? It’s what we call guilty grouping when reporters use this underhanded trick: forcibly sticking together things that don’t belong in the same paragraph so that they rub off on one another.

Also, as far as I know, there was one Confederate flag brought to the event by one person from Delaware, Kevin Seefried. [5] So when she writes there were “Confederate Flags” in the plural sense, she’s flat wrong.

It’s also worth noting that this is a common event at right-wing events, one person out of 10,000 manages to bring a Confederate Flag. This happened at the protest of the mandatory shutdowns in Michigan, where one person brought a Confederate Flag and that’s all the media wanted to talk about. Similarly, at the 2017 Charlottesville protest of the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue, there was one person who brought a Nazi flag to the event, and since then every single media report mentions that one flag. No event can coordinate, control, and police the things brought to a public protest. And some of these people are likely either bad actors or, at the most charitable, some degree of mentally ill. It’s certainly not a statement on the entire crowd if one person brought a Communist flag to the Charlottesville counter-protest, or if they brought terrorist-friendly flags to left-wing protests. It represents the enormous power of symbols on thinking on the left, and the way in which left-wing media echo chambers can amplify a simple symbol as they make it seem as though every Trump protester was carrying a Confederate flag when, in reality, there was one and likely almost no one at the protest even saw the Confederate flag. 

It’s all just a way to smear Trump voters, and to transmit collective guilt upon them.

Then examine this absolute gem of a sentence: 

Some who invoked the name of Jesus were members of far-right groups like the Proud Boys, whose participants have espoused misogynistic and anti-immigrant views.

There’s little to no evidence to support any of this. Who invoked the name of Jesus at the protest? Was there a ‘Jesus’ section? Did the oft-maligned Proud Boys have an easily-identifiable uniform at the protest? And we’re indicting the whole crowd because of a few Proud Boys, who somewhere, at some time, once said things about ladies and immigrants that are disliked? 

She doesn’t even bother to quote what they claim to have said somewhere else: i.e. their misogynistic and anti-immigrant views. She doesn’t bother to give them the benefit of being able to explain what the substance of this complaint actually is, she just says this group said some naughty things one time somewhere and that she thinks some of them were in the crowd.

Imagine all the miscreants at a concert were held to this kind of collective guilt for the things each other committed? Just because a guy is doing meth in the portapotty at your Guns and Roses concert, does that mean that everyone else at the concert is guilty? Does everyone else at a concert have knowledge about every crime everyone else present has ever committed? Everything they’ve ever said? 

That’s what she’s saying: people consented to the presence of the Proud Boys and so therefore they tacitly assent to their odious views. Let’s assume this nutjob is even correct about their statements: this kind of silly collective guilt upon major crowds where people don’t know one another and can’t possibly know these things about one another, is just insane. 

It’s a dishonest argument and narrative frame, a misrepresentation, and cheap.

This last sentence for the second paragraph is also a perfect example of guilty grouping:

Some were motivated by conspiracy theories and QAnon falsehoods as well as their conservative Christian faith.

QAnon and conservative Christianity totally the same thing, no difference whatsoever. No need to give them even a half sentence of clarification. This is the state of journalism at the New York Times: total psychotic partisanship and dishonesty.

The start of the third paragraph is a representation of falsely presenting opinion as fact.

In many ways it resembled the culture of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, and the group’s march on Washington in 1925, said Dr. Baker, who previously was a religious studies lecturer at the University of Tennessee. 

If there were ‘many ways it resembled’ then perhaps she could deign to offer us a few? It’s also a bit gauche to refer to someone with a religious studies degree as a “Doctor” since they are not in the medical field, [6] but the author desperately needs you not to look into the qualifications of this author otherwise you’d see this scam for what it is. 

In a conversation with The New York Times that has been edited for length, Dr. Baker reflected on how white Protestant Christianity and nationalism have long been interwoven — even a mainstream movement — and how many white churches today have yet to reckon with white supremacy.

This is such an unserious statement that it’s hard to engage as anything but a troll. There’s no evidence to support it. You might expect the rest of their interview to answer such a loaded question, but alas, you would be sorely disappointed. These are just throwaway narrative frames they can throw out to define the discussion and debate, but for which they have no evidence to support.

Modern left-wing individuals desperately want to believe these things. They want to believe the myth of the pristine white protestant Church that is a haven for haters. They want to believe that clerics they already despise are hoarding guns and secretly talking about coups and revolutions. They want these things to be true in their minds because it would match the hate in their hearts. But there’s simply no evidence for any of these baseless left-wing memes. 

The questioning starts with a conclusion: “are the connections between white Christianity and extremism new?” To which the community college adjunct states her entirely unformed and unscholarly opinion as “no.” She says it’s been “remarkably mainstream in American history.” 

She’s not challenged to offer any evidence, other than mere conclusions. She’s not offered to walk through careful examples, anecdotes, painstaking historical analysis, she just has to give her opinion from her couch with her cats in Florida. 

This is what passes for a PhD at Florida State? This is what you send your kids to college to get exposed to? 

She tries to give a solitary example in her next question-and-answer: the 1920s Klan marched on Washington and said Jesus was their Lord and Savior. Wow, what a stunning connection in time and history then to the Trump movement! 

You know who else marched on Washington and said Jesus was their Lord and Savior?

The kind of pathological anti-whiteness demonstrated by adjunct Kelly sees a white devil around every corner. Every sentence of American history is infected with whiteness in her view. Nothing about America, and certainly nothing anyone is proud of about America, is due to anything other than white supremacy in her view. The kind of basic Americanism, what used to be called civic virtue, is all swept under the rug as nothing to see but whiteness. 

It’s really dishonest and a shame to the many generations of immigrants who were once expected to assimilate and many did so, only to be later ignored and maligned by so-called academics like this. The entire story of America is reduced to a simple black-white narrative when, instead, America was founded and settled by a wide variety of people. 

You didn’t have to be a blockhead or a Puritan in order to appreciate the Mayflower or the first American colonies. You didn’t have to be a tobacco farmer in order to appreciate Jamestown. But this is the kind of analysis now offered by the left: how does this emotionally affect you? If a story cannot connect with your own sense of identity and especially tell a story relevant to your racial grievances in the present, it’s not a story worth telling, repeating, or knowing. 

And it becomes very easy and convenient to dress every age in the kind of fashions of today. You can even see adjunct Kelly hesitate a bit to take the easy bait here in the interview:

It’s not like we can say that the Klan came from the Puritans. But a variety of different movements in different time periods pick up the same ideas and rhetoric and practices.

Lol why not Kelly? Just go for it! The Klan/Puritan connections aren’t limited by reality, as nothing in the political left is tied to reality, it’s just the current political climate is resistant to the necessity of maligning the Puritans. 

If Trump wore a hat with a buckle on it, I’m sure she’d be rushing to self-publish the ‘academic’ work defining the connections between the KKK and the Puritans. 

Clearly it’s just that someone beat her to the thesis.

There’s nothing in this interview which challenges the subject to prove any claim or provide any evidence further than just saying the 1920’s Klan once marched on Washington and they had naughty thoughts. 

Here’s a basic recap of the questions in the article:

  1. Are connections between white Christianity and extremism new?
  2. What did it remind you of, historically?
  3. What were white Christians doing who were not members, in the 1920s?
  4. Did this start in the 1920s, where did it start?
  5. How does the current period of extremism and Christianity compare?
  6. How do you account for conservative Christians who condemned the Capitol violence?
  7. What about white Christian anti-Semitism?
  8. Should we make a distinction between Christianity and Christian extremism?
  9. Are we at the end of something or at the beginning?
  10. Are there any historical lessons of hope?

In pretty much all of these answers, the author is relegated to just saying “oh yea, they’re totally the same” and repeating basic canards about the March on Washington by the Klan.

The article doesn’t even give you any context to the Klan marches. There were two in the 1920s, one in 1925 and another in 1926. In August 1925, an estimated 60,000 marched to the White House. Another followed the next year, in September 1926. [7]  

The idea that the Klan was a mainstream group and was gently tolerated by authorities is another convenient left-wing myth. It was almost constantly harassed. In 1944 the IRS sued the Klan for $685,000 in back taxes. [8] By the 60s and 70s, the Klan was under such constant harassment that federal agents made up 20-25% of their total membership. [9]  

If the Klan was a political powerhouse, then it was all quite a bit of Kabuki theater. Every story is more interesting with details, but adjunct Kelly gives us virtually none.

But the kind of sober historical analysis that you would expect from someone objective and interested in the truth is what you would have gotten from the New York Times in decades past, not in the present. And that kind of scholarship and insight is something found only in older research and professors, not in this new generation content with blathering bromides and entirely absent of facts and anecdotes that might illustrate and illuminate a subject.

Analysis and historical review should be something careful, deliberative, and not as lazy as this. Drawing lines on a piece of paper and hoping they make some sense in the connection is not journalism and its not history, it’s pathetic.

It’s also worth noting that Elizabeth Dias has all these sanctimonious quotes about ‘finding the truth’ and about ‘reading diverse views’ on fluff piece profiles about her. If any of that were true, she’d have a lot more shame about the trash in this interview.

Trash in, trash out: the New York Times could find a real academic on this topic to discuss it if they wanted, but adjunct Kelly wasn’t the right authority for that purpose. 

OUR RATING: Major Negligence. MSNBC-level basic journalistic negligence

1 ] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelly_J._Baker
2 ] http://www.kellyjbaker.com/writing-type/books/
3 ] https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2021/07/06/capitol-insurrection-trump-christian-nationalism-shaman/
4 ] https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2021/07/evidence-reveals-dc-police-attacked-trump-protesters-jan-6-hurled-flash-bombs-crowd-now-dirtbag-chris-wray-democrats-media-dc-police-refuse-release-evidence/
5 ] https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/09/us/politics/confederate-flag-capitol.html
6 ] https://thefederalist.com/2018/10/26/ridiculous-everyone-phd-demand-called-doctor/
7 ] https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/93513529/
8 ] https://surlysubgroup.com/2017/08/16/the-irs-vs-the-kkk/
9 ] https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2017/dec/08/fbi-kkk/

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