Editorial Reruns For A Political Rerun
As long as Art Robinson keeps running for Congress in Oregon, WorldNetDaily's David Kupelian will keep recycling his deceptive, truth-avoiding endorsements of the candidate.
By Terry Krepel
This year, Robinson is running for DeFazio's seat once again. And once again, Kupelian has published another misleading defense of Robinson, recycling many of the dubious defenses he pushed the first two times.
Let's examine how Kupelian has misleadingly defended Robinson, and how his falsehoods have perpetuated themselves over the years.
In his 2010 defense of Robinson, Kupelian tried to explain away the use of blatantly racist language in a homeschool curriculum Robinson devised:
One part of "The Robinson Curriculum" is a recommendation that students read as many as possible of the 99 short, classic historical novels for children penned by celebrated British author G.A. Henty (kind of like the "Hardy Boys" books). Now it happens that in one of these 99 Victorian-era books all of which Robinson personally reprinted and offered to the public as an adjunct to his homeschooling curriculum one fictional character makes a two-sentence remark while in Africa that could be considered racially insensitive by today's standards. Because of this, candidate Art Robinson is being labeled a racist.
The book in question is Henty's "By Sheer Pluck," and here's the offending passage, in which Mr. Goodenough, the mentor of the young lad who's the main character, pontificates upon their arrival in Africa:
“They are just like children,” Mr. Goodenough said. “They are always either laughing or quarrelling. They are good-natured and passionate, indolent, but will work hard for a time; clever up to a certain point, densely stupid beyond. The intelligence of an average negro is about equal to that of a European child of ten years old. A few, a very few, go beyond this, but these are exceptions, just as Shakespeare was an exception to the ordinary intellect of an Englishman. They are fluent talkers, but their ideas are borrowed. They are absolutely without originality, absolutely without inventive power. Living among white men, their imitative faculties enable them to acquire a considerable amount of civilization. Left alone to their own devices they retrograde into a state little above their native savagery.”
While Kupelian downplays the words as being spoken by a "fictional character," those words appear to be representative of the late 19th century imperialist and racist attitudes in Henty's books.
A PBS bio of Henty notes that his books "are notable for their hearty imperialism, undisguised racism, and jingoistic patriotism," indicating that they they went out of print for a reason: such attitudes fell out of fashion decades ago.
As ConWebWatch first noted when reporting on the controversy in 2010, a scholarly paper on Henty notes that the "direct implication" of the incident Henty depicts in his book "is that Henty's hero, even though he is knowledgeable about species, cannot really see a physical difference between a black baby and a monkey. Therefore, the incident stands out as a striking expression of Henty's racialist perception of the Africans."
Kupelian also doesn't ask what Robinson does with Henty's books in his homeschool curriculum, particularly given that, in Kupelian's words, students are encouraged to "read as many as possible." What guidance is given to homeschooling instructors in addressing this passage in "By Sheer Pluck" and other similarly offending passages that presumably exist in other Henty books? Kupelian doesn't seem interested in finding out the answer.
The fact that Kupelian is working so hard to deflect the racism issue without explaining how Robinson's curriculum handles Henty's racism and imperialism leaves wide open the possibility that it isn't addressed at all.
Robinson's climate denier petition
Kupelian highlighted Robinson's "can-do spirit" in his 2010 column:
One example of his can-do attitude: Robinson has single-handedly documented the utter lack of unanimity in the scientific community on manmade global warming through a petition he started not an online petition, mind you, but an actual document physically signed that to date has been signed by more than 31,000 scientists, including more than 9,000 Ph.D.s. All 31,000 agree that “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.”
In fact, only a handful of signers of Robinson's petition -- less than 1 percent, according to one calculation -- have a scientific background in climatology, and there's no apparent verification mechanism to ensure that the signatories do in fact have the scientific qualifications they claim. Further, there have been more than 10.6 million science graduates as defined by Robinson's group since the 1970-71 school year, making the 31,000 on the petition a tiny fraction of that -- 0.3 percent, to be exact -- small enough that one could call it "fringe."
Since the number of people who have signed Robinson's petition hasn't changed all that much over the past four years, Kupelian simply recycled in for his 2012 and 2014 columns.
Robinson's crazy scientific views
Kupelian wrote in 2010 (and 2012 and 2014):
Robinson discusses in his newsletter “Access to Energy” an emerging field of science called “hormesis,” which hypothesizes that very low levels of ionizing radiation (which occurs naturally most everywhere, though to different degrees) may be beneficial to human health, so that one day human beings may actually control the level of background radiation in their environment for optimal health. DeFazio translation: Robinson wants to poison your drinking water with radiation.
In fact, that is what Robinson has effectively said he wants to do. Mother Jones quoted from Robinson's work:
On nuclear waste: "All we need do with nuclear waste is dilute it to a low radiation level and sprinkle it over the oceanor even over America after hormesis is better understood and verified with respect to more diseases." And: "If we could use it to enhance our own drinking water here in Oregon, where background radiation is low, it would hormetically enhance our resistance to degenerative diseases. Alas, this would be against the law."
Kupelian's 2014 column added this:
He’s been conducting research to help doctors better detect and treat disease. Yes, I know, that sounds awful. It seems that during the primary season (both DeFazio and Robinson ran unopposed in their parties’ primaries, so no electioneering was going on then), Robinson, who is after all a well-known research chemist, solicited urine samples from thousands of Oregonians to aid his current research aimed at helping calibrate a high-tech medical machine that could use urine profiles to help predict if a person will develop degenerative diseases such as cancer. Lefties like the Daily Kos and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow mocked and ridiculed Robinson mercilessly for requesting urine samples from Oregonians. Then again, perhaps they have just never been to a doctor’s office, and don’t realize that when a physician or nurse asks you to pee in a cup, it’s not because they think it’s funny, but because they learn valuable information from the resulting lab work.
Kupelian didn't mention the relevant fact that the way Robinson went about this was to send out a mass mailing to 500,000 households soliciting the urine samples. That is not the way physicians normally gather urine samples.
Robinson's sugar-daddy PAC
Kupelian complained in 2010 (with variations in 2012 and 2014):
Robinson’s campaign is funded almost exclusively by large numbers of small donations from individuals, but DeFazio has fabricated the notion that Robinson is being bought off by Wall Street. One of DeFazio’s main TV ads ends with this: “Tell Art Robinson and his big-money special interests that this election isn’t for sale.”
In fact, in the 2010 election, Robinson was the direct beneficiary of $627,500 in advertising from a pro-Robinson PAC funded by New York hedge fund manager Robert Mercer, and he spent six figures again in 2012, bringing the total amount Mercer spent on Robinson's behalf to more than $1 million. For 2014, Mercer has already contributed the maximum amount to Robinson's campaign, and it's entirely possible he'll crank up his PAC one more time.
Kupelian remained silent about Mercer in all three of his columns.
Kupelian knows how to crank up the flowery language, and he has unleashed a torrent of it on Robinson's behalf. In 2010, Kupelian wrote that Robinson is a "Ph.D. research scientist of international stature" and "a straight-shooting, problem-solving Reagan conservative who not only loves this country, he understands this country what makes it work and is willing to fight the good fight to restore it to greatness and prosperity."
Please bear with me for a moment while I tell you what kind of a man Art Robinson whom I’ve known personally for many years really is.
In his 2014 column, Kupelian really piled it on:
Let me tell you, in this election, Art Robinson reminds me more of the Founding Fathers principled, multi-talented Renaissance men, some of them scientists like Jefferson and especially Franklin than anyone else in the current candidate field. Think about it: Ben Franklin was a scientist, writer, printer, political theorist, inventor, civic activist and statesman. Art Robinson is all of these things except the last one, statesman. He needs your help to make that happen.
You will not be surprised to learn that all three of Kupelian's columns ended with pleas to donate to Robinson's campaign.
Despite portraying Robinson as a friend, the fact that Kupelian lazily repeats many of his defensive claims from year to year suggests his heart's not really in it. He certainly knows how much he has to twist the truth and ignore inconvenient facts in order to make his defense even remotely plausible, and maybe that's weighing on him.
After all, that same disregard for facts is the reason nobody believes WND, the website for which Kupelian serves as managing editor -- and the reason Kupelian's desperate and rote endorsement of Robinson will do nothing but reinforce the perception of Robinson as an extremist.