For her, Trump isn’t Hitler. He’s worse.

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Sunsara Taylor

Recently we spent a few days recounting the curious careers of Bob Avakian, longtime head of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and his loyal sidekick Carl Dix.

As it happens, there’s a third figure who looms large in the RCP and who deserves her place in the sun on this website. Her name: Sunsara Taylor. She surfaced recently on the Fox News program Tucker Carlson Tonight, where she was identified as an “organizer” of a movement called Refuse Fascism. Its exclamation-point-heavy website explains its position:

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Bob Avakian

In the Name of Humanity,

We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America!

Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime!

The Trump/Pence Regime is a Fascist Regime. Not insult or exaggeration, this is what it is. For the future of humanity and the planet, we, the people, must drive this regime out.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence have assembled a vicious cabal that has put forth positions and begun initiatives which demonstrate that they fully intend to shred political and social norms with catastrophic consequence. Because Trump has his finger on the nuclear trigger, the Trump/Pence regime is more dangerous to the world than even Hitler….

The Trump/Pence regime will repeatedly launch new highly repressive measures, eventually clamping down on all resistance and remaking the law…IF THEY ARE NOT DRIVEN FROM POWER.

During her six-minute appearance on Carlson’s show, Taylor may have set a world record for comparing Trump to Hitler. “We the people,” she insisted, “must drive this regime out!” Donald Trump and Mike Pence, she charged, “are operating out of Hitler’s playbook.” She referred to Trump’s “Nazi inauguration.” Her prescription for change: “We need to pour into the streets and say no….We must drive them out. We must stay in the streets.”

Quite a show. But as it turns out, Refuse Fascism is only the latest in a long list of groups with which Taylor has been involved. Or perhaps the proper term should be “pseudo-groups” or “front groups,” because in fact Taylor has, all along, been nothing more or less than an RCP operative and a devout disciple of Avakian.

no-stoptrumppencemosaicenspfararabv1These various groups or sub-movements (or whatever you want to call them) have come and gone over the years, rising up at a certain point – apparently in an effort to catch a wave of public feeling – and then disappearing when the wave breaks on the shore. They all involve a good deal of money-grubbing. Case in point: Refuse Fascism’s Facebook page urges supporters “to start out with a $5 donation” and be “part of crowdfunding this movement to stop this fascist, illegitimate regime from ruling.”

Tomorrow we’ll take a little stroll through Sunsara Taylor’s previous attempt to overthrow the U.S.A. – and rake in cash for the RCP.

Hooey from Hughey

So far this week we’ve met a couple of college professors who, not realizing they were being videotaped, browbeat their students after Donald Trump’s election victory – and ended up going viral. Today we’ll pay a quick visit to an academic who went public himself with his reaction to the election results.

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Matthew Hughey

His name: Matthew Hughey. An Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Connecticut (he’s also on the Adjunct Faculty of the Africana Studies Institute and American Studies Program), he’s written several books with titles like The White Savior Film; Race and Ethnicity in Secret and Exclusive Social Orders; White Bound: Nationalists, Antiracists, and the Shared Meanings of Race; The Obamas and a (Post) Racial America?; and 12 Angry Men: True Stories of Being a Black Man in America Today.

Plainly, the red thread running through his work is race. According to him, all of his scholarship is guided by a single question: “What is the relationship between the heterogeneous interpretations of race and the long-term staying power of racism and racial inequality?” We’re not sure that we entirely understand this question, but let’s not allow that to distract us. In order to probe his guiding question, Hughey explains, he studies “race and ethnicity as a dynamic and ongoing practice with an emphasis on racism, meaning-making, and asymmetrical relations of power.” So race and ethnicity are practices? Or, rather, a practice? Welcome to academia. “A thorough scholastic comprehension of race,” Hughey maintains, “must move beyond views of static identities or ideologies. Rather, an understanding of the processes and contexts that produce race, how race is imbued with particular meanings, and how race constrains and enables pathways of human action and order, is necessary.”

Um, what? Hold on, his next paragraph is quite a bit clearer:

I situate my worldview against concepts of social life that are entirely individualistic and which analyze society only in terms of psychological make-up, skills, and atomistic behaviors. These assumptions gesture toward a belief that social structures will magically change via one’s hard work, good intentions, or education. History affords too many examples of participation by the “righteous,” “educated,” and “hard-working” in structures of oppression to allow any objective observer of social life to accept that notion that equitable or just social arrangements are based entirely on the redemption of the individual without direct attention to external social forces.

Simply put: black people are still held back by racism, no matter how skilled they are and how hard they work. There’s a degree of truth in this, of course. Prejudice has held back all kinds of people in every society throughout human history. The main point, however, should be that America today is less racist than virtually any country at any time, ever. Four years ago, as it happens, the World Values Survey found that the U.S. is one of the least racist countries on earth. Check out this map, which suggests that a serious, scrupulous scholar who was genuinely interested in exploring racism would do far better to study India, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia – in fact almost anywhere outside of the Americas, the Anglosphere, and Scandinavia – than to focus on the U.S.

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But to the likes of Hughey, racism in the above-named countries – racism everywhere other than in the West – is invisible. Or irrelevant. Or, perhaps, attributable, via some contorted academic logic, to Western colonialism and/or American imperialism. For the whole point of the kind of “scholarship” that people like Hughey pursue is to prove, for the millionth time, that America is Ground Zero for all human iniquity. Again, yes, there is abundant iniquity in the U.S. But there’s more of it almost everywhere else on the planet. And to ignore that fact as systematically as Hughey and other academics in the social sciences do today is to give a pass to a great deal of outright evil.

Which brings us to Hughey’s take on Donald Trump’s election. He wasn’t happy with it, of course – and he blamed it on (what else?) white supremacism. When confronted on this assertion by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Hughey readily added that Trump’s ascendancy was also the fault of three other vices: sexism, heteronormativity, and capitalism. But the main cause of Trump’s win, he insisted, was race – because America is and has always been afflicted by white supremacy. There was, to be sure, one little detail Hughey didn’t explain: how had an electorate so thoroughly and permanently poisoned by a white supremacist mentality managed to elect a black man to the presidency twice in a row?

Orange Coast College: punishing the victim

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Pro-Cox feminists

Yesterday we met Olga Perez Stable Cox, who teaches courses in Human Sexuality at a California institution called Orange Coast College and who made national headlines in December after a videotape of one of her classroom rants about Donald Trump went viral. Members of the student Feminist Club, fearing Cox might face disciplinary action, held a rally in her support. The College Republicans held a counter-rally in support of the student who had taken the video, freshman Caleb O’Neil, who faced possible legal action by the teachers’ union and possible suspension by college officials.

Alejandro Vargas, deputy secretary of OCC College Republicans, post a quote from instructor Olga Perez Stable Cox as they counter-protest a rally where other students, including those in the Feminist Club, rally in support of instructor Olga Perez Stable Cox in Costa Mesa, California, December 12, 2016. A video clip of Cox telling her human sexuality class that electing Trump was an act of terrorism has gone viral. A student said the teacher asked all Trump supporters to stand up so she could, "Show the class who to watch out for" (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
The counter-protest: Alejandro Vargas of the College Republicans with a poster quoting from Cox’s rant

When they realized O’Neil was in danger, other students from Cox’s classes came forward to defend him and to amplify the case against Cox. One of them, Vincent Wetzel, said that Cox’s rant “has nothing to do with free speech.” Cox, he argued, was “overstepping her profession.” Wetzel, who is gay, told the Orange County Register: “Of all the people who are supposed to provide an inclusive environment, it’s her. Now, I don’t feel comfortable.”

Orange Coast College student Caleb O'Neil is being suspended for videotaping his teacher, Olga Perez Stable Cox as she was making strong anti-Trump comments a week after the election. in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, February 15, 2017. (Photo by Sam GangwerOrange County Register/SCNG)
Caleb O’Neil

Two students said that after O’Neil had stopped taping, she’d asked Trump voters in the class “to stand up and show the rest of the class who to watch out for and protect yourself from.” When no one in the class stood up, she accused them of being “too embarrassed” to admit to supporting Trump. One student, Tanner Webb, rejected the faculty union president’s claim that Cox had been inviting students to discuss the election results and that O’Neil had “chosen to not engage in a discussion.” Cox’s “anti-Trump rant,” said Webb, “was no open debate to engage students.” As it happens, Webb was enrolled in another class taught by Cox, and in that one, too, he said, she “continually bashed on Trump supporters, belittling them and making it seem like every person who voted for Trump was an LGBT community hating white supremacist.”

In the end, sure enough, O’Neil was suspended. At a press conference, he said that he’d taped Cox “because I was honestly scared that I would have repercussions with my grades because she knew I was a Trump supporter.” In a joint statement, college president Dennis Harkins joined faculty and union leaders in fully backing Cox, who, they said, had done nothing other than exercise her right to “express views that may challenge student opinions, world view, or ideology.” (In a rare example of good news from this front, it was reported on February 23 that O’Neil’s suspension, under national pressure, had been rescinded.) 

Orange Coast College student Caleb O'Neil and his attorney William Becker, right, speak to the media about O'Neil being suspended for videotaping his teacher, Olga Perez Stable Cox as she was making strong anti-Trump comments a week after the election. in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, February 15, 2017. (Photo by Sam GangwerOrange County Register/SCNG)
O’Neil and his attorney William Becker hold a press conference

As for Cox, she told anyone who would listen that, far from being a bully, she was the one who’d been bullied. A month later, she was still unapologetic, telling the Register “I didn’t say anything wrong or do anything wrong. I didn’t say anything that thousands of Americans weren’t feeling or saying…I don’t regret it.” O’Neil, she insisted, was “part of a national campaign to intimidate liberal professors.” Meanwhile, it emerged that in addition to punishing O’Neil, OCC administrators were investigating the College Republican club – an act that club president Joshua Recalde Martinez described as “Gestapo-like.”

That’s an overstatement, we hope. But there’s no denying that Cox’s effort to “identify, humiliate, and shame” her pro-Trump students (as the College Republicans’ lawyer, Shawn Steele, aptly put it) was rooted in a disturbing authoritarian impulse of precisely the sort that Cox had accused Trump of personifying – and that an equally authoritarian impulse informed the decision by OCC and union officials to punish Caleb O’Neil and the College Republicans for bringing Cox’s petty classroom tyranny to light.

Another faculty bully

Yesterday we discussed David Parry, an obscure professor at an obscure Philadelphia university, who earned his 15 minutes of fame recently after one of his students posted on You Tube a covert video of him subjecting a class to an unhinged political rant.

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Orange Coast College

Parry’s not alone. On the other side of the country, at Orange Coast College – a two-year institution in Costa Mesa, California – an instructor whom nobody has ever heard of made headlines for doing exactly the same thing. The only differences are that (a) her rant was even worse than his and (b) she’s perhaps even more obscure than he is. In fact, you could copy her “bio” page at the college’s website onto the back of your hand. “This is my 30th year at OCC! I love teaching!” it begins. (What is it about these mediocre community-college teachers and exclamation points?) “I was born in Habana Cuba and immigrated to the U.S. when I was 10 years old,” she writes. (Yes, she spells it “Habana” and doesn’t use commas around the word “Cuba.”) “I am the oldest of 4 children. I lived in Philadelphia, New York, and Idaho prior to moving to Southern California in 1967.” Her education: a 1973 B.A. in sociology from Cal State Fullerton and a 1975 M.A. in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling from Chapman College (now Chapman University).

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Olga Perez Stable Cox

Her name is Olga Perez Stable Cox, and here’s what happened: in December, she took time out of a Human Sexuality class to tell her students that the then President-elect, Donald Trump, is a “white supremacist,” and that Mike Pence, the Vice President-elect, is “one of the most antigay humans in this country.” Cox called their election “an act of terrorism” – thereby providing a perfect example of the radical left’s readiness to excuse actual acts of violence and terrorism while describing mere statements or policies or election results that they don’t like as acts of violence and terrorism. “We have been assaulted,” she maintained, and it was clear who the “we” were and who had done the assaulting. It’s “frightening,” she went on to say, that Trump voters “are among us” – that they include “people in our families and our circle of friends.”

One of Cox’s students, freshman Caleb O’Neil, videotaped her rant, then took it to the College Republicans club, which posted it online. Cox’s rant made the local news. Joshua Recalde Martinez, the president of the club, told a reporter the obvious: this wasn’t education but indoctrination.

Did Cox apologize? No, she complained to her union – which called the video a “setup,” described O’Neil’s action as “unethical,” and threatened him with legal action. Shawn Steel, an attorney who volunteered to represent the College Republicans pro bono, told the local news that just as Cox had bullied her students, her union’s leaders, too, were “acting like bullies…like thugs.” So were the college administrators, who threatened O’Neil with suspension. The college president, Dennis Harkins, issued a feeble statement declaring that “the college encourages discourse” as long as it’s “in context.”

Did Cox get in trouble? Tune in tomorrow.

Debra Messing’s favorite Maoist?

This week we’ve been covering the life of Bob Avakian, longtime head of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (RCP). An ardent promoter of the ideas of Stalin and Mao, he’s been a staple of the left ever since the 1960s.

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Bob Avakian with Cornel West at Riverside Church

And he’s still out there slugging. In November 2014, Avakian broke with his longtime secretiveness to appear onstage with his good buddy Cornel West, the former Princeton and Harvard professor and frequent guest on Real Time with Bill Maher. The event took place at Riverside Church in New York City and was billed as a discussion about “Revolution and Religion.”

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Carl Dix

In fact, there was less discussion than there was haranguing by Avakian. After being introduced by his underling Carl Dix, who told the audience that the RCP leader had “brought forward a new synthesis of Communism,” Avakian – in the windy oratorical tradition of Fidel Castro and any number of other Communist dictators – stood at a lectern and ranted for two hours straight without saying anything particularly interesting or original. (Israel, he charged, is guilty of “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide.”) Then he and Cornel West sat down together and talked for almost two more hours, with Avakian, again, taking up most of the time pontificating. The RCP paid $70,000 for a full-page ad in the New York Times promoting the event.

mao-zedong1In June 2015, a student journalist at Harvard, Gram Slattery, probed the RCP, which drew his interest because of its bookstore in Harvard Square. Despite efforts to arrange an interview with the Dear Leader, he didn’t get to meet Avakian, but did get a sit-down with another party leader who, echoing RCP doctrine, dismissed the “narrative that Mao was a mass murderer, that he was personally responsible for 50 to 100 million deaths,” and asserted that Avakian “has dedicated himself to looking at what actually happened” in Mao’s China. Avakian, stated the RCP member, is “precious for humanity.” The RCP, reported Slattery, clung fast to “its reverence for Mao” and its defense of Stalin. (In the party’s view, “the Soviet Union went downhill once Khrushchev took over.”) Slattery also pointed out that the RCP, for a long time, had regarded Peru’s Shining Path terrorists – who “executed thousands of peasants and even took to torturing deviant Marxists in the early ’90s” – as role models.

inthenameofhumanityposter17x22-600-enAvakian ain’t down yet. He and his party have made a big splash since the election of Donald Trump. It was the RCP that was behind a widely published campaign to stop a Trump presidency before the inauguration.The centerpiece was an ad headlined “We REFUSE to accept a Fascist America!” It was signed by (among others) actor Ed Asner, activist Bill Ayers, comedian Margaret Cho, playwright Eve Ensler, director John Landis, actress Debra Messing, novelist Alice Walker, and (of course) Cornel West. One wonders how  many of them knew they were part of an initiative run by unreconstructed Maoists.  

To promote the campaign, West and RCP co-founder Carl Dix appeared on The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News on January 5. You can watch the interview below. Perhaps the highlight was when Dix likened Trump to Hitler. Interesting words indeed from a representative of a party that still celebrates the glorious legacies of Stalin and Mao.

Which, by the way, brings us to the question: what is Carl Dix’s story? We’ll get to him tomorrow.

Meet Kenyon’s violence-happy anarchist

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Matytsin wrapped in a US flag

His CV boasts a native fluency in both French and Russian, and he attended high school at the Washington International School, so presumably Anton Matystin is the son of immigrants or came to America himself in his youth. He went on to pursue undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania, receiving his Ph.D. in history in 2013. After spending a year as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford, he began teaching at Kenyon College, a small but storied institution in Gambier, Ohio. At Penn he won the prize for best undergraduate history thesis and two graduate fellowships awarded in recognition of academic excellence.

Unlike many professors in the humanities these days, he teaches a list of courses that sound legit: “Early Modern Europe,” “Imperial Russia, 1547-1917,” “History of the Renaissance and the Reformation: 1300-1648,” and so on. Last year he published his first book, The Specter of Skepticism in the Age of Enlightenment, which “explores the ways in which eighteenth-century thinkers responded to the challenges posed by the revival and spread of philosophical skepticism and details how the debates about the powers and limits of human understanding led to the making of a new conception of rationality that privileged practicable reason over speculative reason.” Serious, solid-sounding stuff.

2006-07 Tuition and Fees: $36,050 2007-08 Tuition and Fees: $38,140
Kenyon College

All of which makes it come as a shock to read Matytsin’s Facebook feed. Matytsin has had a Facebook page for years, but he was almost entirely absent from it until recently. The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States appears to have been the event that broke his silence. “If you voted for Trump, please do us both a favor and unfriend me,” he wrote on November 14. “Whatever motivated your choice, I cannot bring myself to respect it, and I find it morally reprehensible. I do not want to share the public sphere with you in either digital or physical form. I have no intention of interacting with you or spending money at your business. I prefer to stay in my echo chamber of sanity. This is miles beyond party politics. This is a moral, not a political choice.” He went on to encourage his Facebook friends to boycott firms that “supported” Trump, and helpfully linked to a list of those firms. He further suggested that “perhaps it’s time to bring back old partisan slogans and great each other with ‘Death to Fascism’ with a response ‘Freedom to the People.’”

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Matytsin: another day, another flag

How, one wonders, does he treat students in his classes who express support for Trump? Or do the Trump supporters who take his classes have to pretend not to be Trump supporters? It seems clear from his Facebook comments that he is incapable of seeing students who did not support his candidate for President as moral and sane. How can such students possibly expect fair treatment from him?

On February 3 he went even further than before, posting the following rant:

We cannot have a liberal democratic state that is run by a corrupt fascist cabal. We cannot have a secular multi-confessional republic when 30% of the population are Bible-thumping bigots who want to impose a Christian theocracy on the rest of us. We cannot have a racially inclusive, cosmopolitan, and multi-ethnic society when a large proportion of the population is composed of racists and white supremacists. We cannot have a functioning democracy when a majority of the population is politically, economically, and sometimes literally illiterate. We cannot have civil debates when our opponents are uncivilized human beings. We cannot remain idealistic lambs among hungry wolves.

In short: Trump people are so morally abominable, so barely human, that something must be done. But what? If Trump’s supporters are “hungry wolves,” and “we,” the people on the side of the good, “cannot remain idealistic lambs”…than what he is suggesting that “we” do?

A few hours later he got even uglier:

Apparently I was not abundantly clear earlier. I will continue the FB cull until there is no more fascist shit in my feed. I don’t care who you are or how far back we go. If you or your friends post racist, sexist, xenophobic, and otherwise ignorant garbage, I will take a big verbal shit on your wall and then block you on here and in real life. So if you are one of those people, spare yourself the cleanup and unfriend me.

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The Milo riot at Berkeley

Only a few hours later, after a violent anarchist riot broke out at the Berkeley campus over the planned appearance of Breitbart writer and Trump supporter Milo Yiannopoulos, Matytsin wrote: “Brother Anarchists, if you are going to engage in political violence, make sure to claim credit lest the fascists confuse you with the ‘liberal snowflakes.’” And he added: “Brother Anarchists, looking to volunteer.”

In other words, if we take him at his word, Matytsin was announcing his readiness to join the black-clad rioters, cover his face, and take part in the brutal beating of people whose only crime was their interest in hearing what Milo Yiannopoulos had to say. Contemplate the irony: a professor whose first book is all about the Enlightenment has taken his stand against freedom of speech and, in the name of opposition to fascism, is prepared to support a kind of violence that can only be described as quintessentially fascist.

Top ten stooges, part two

Yesterday we revisited five of our top ten useful stooges of 2016. Here are the other five, who happen to have one thing in common: a readiness to defend Islam, the premier totalitarian force of our time. 

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Ben Norton

He hates Israel, calls the U.S. a “rogue state,” celebrates the legacy of the Black Panthers, and reflexively responds to each new act of terrorism by fretting about anti-Muslim backlash and smearing critics of Islam. He’s boy scribe Ben Norton, who when he’s not writing for Salon – an execrable enough venue – can be found at such vile pro-jihad sites as Electronic Intifada and Middle East Monitor. Instead of condemning the murderers of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists in January 2015, Norton slammed the victims as racists. Instead of writing about the massacres in Boston, San Bernardino, and Orlando (media attention to such events, he argues, only boosts bigotry), he penned an entire article about a white lady who’d jumped a hijab-clad woman on a Washington, D.C., sidewalk.

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Laurie Penny

Laurie Penny was born into a prosperous family (both her parents were lawyers), went to a posh English public school, studied at Oxford, and was soon a highly successful journalist and author. But she’s still (as she constantly whines) a victim of sexism, a member of an “oppressed class.” And every man’s an oppressor – except, note well, for those Muslim males who act on the permission their religion gives them to beat, rape, and even kill women with impunity. So it was that when gangs of “refugees” committed mass rape in Cologne last New Year’s Eve, Penny turned her ire not on the rapists, but on the “racists” who responded to this crime by criticizing Islam. 

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Sally Kohn

It sounds like a set-up for a bad joke: a Jewish lesbian defending sharia law. But it’s no joke – it’s Sally Kohn, who after holding a series of jobs as a sleazy political operator and PR flack is now a CNN talking head. Even worse than her utter lack of a decent education is her utter lack of embarrassment about it: when an editor commissioned her to write about Amsterdam, she admitted she didn’t even know what country it was in – but that didn’t keep her from visiting it for a few days and banging out a piece accusing the natives of (what else?) Islamophobia.

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Owen Jones

“Modern capitalism is a sham,” advises British lad Owen Jones, and “democratic socialism is our only hope.” A Guardian columnist, Oxford grad, and son of Trotskyite parents, Jones is a consistent whitewasher of Islam who turns every act of jihadist terror into an excuse to denounce critics of Islam.

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Will Smith

Finally, there’s movie star Will Smith, who this year called for “cleans[ing]” America by eliminating Trump supporters. (He didn’t say how we should do it.) He also condemned America’s “Islamophobia” and extolled Dubai, which, he claimed, “dreams the way I dream.” Never mind that the UAE, where Dubai is located, is a sharia-ruled country where you can get stoned to death for being gay: Smith, a self-styled “student of world religion,” claimed that if Americans have a bad image of the place, it’s entirely the fault of Fox News.

Happy New Year!