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[PROFILE] Michelle Malkin - Writer / Columnist

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  • madchinaman
    Michelle Malkin: The Radical Right s Asian Pitbull http://goldsea.com/Personalities/Malkin/malkin.html It would be easy to make cruel jokes about a Filipino
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 4, 2004
      Michelle Malkin:
      The Radical Right's Asian Pitbull

      It would be easy to make cruel jokes about a Filipino American
      immigrants' daughter who authors a book arguing that the internment
      of Japanese Americans was justified by national security. Not to
      mention a best-seller arguing for a much tighter immigration policy.
      And countless weekly columns sniping at affirmative action,
      environmentalists, sexy pop stars, scandalous journalists, Bill
      Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Gary Locke, John Kerry, Teresa Heinz
      Kerry, and just about anything and anyone that offends radical right
      wing sensibilities.

      To do so would only be giving Malkin what she gives others. But
      most readers would find that kind of adolescent vitriole less
      interesting than a serious effort at understanding who Michelle
      Malkin is, how she became that way and what she really wants.

      On the level of plain, undisputed facts, Michelle Maglalang was born
      to Filipino immigrants in Philadelphia on October 20, 1970. Her
      parents had arrived in the U.S. earlier that year. Her father was a
      doctor in training with a visa sponsored by an employer. Her mother
      was a schoolteacher. After Michelle's father completed his training,
      the family moved to New Jersey. Michelle spent most of her childhood
      in the tiny town of Absecon in southern New Jersey. Like most
      Filipinos her family was Roman Catholic, an affiliation Michelle
      retains to this day. Her parents were Reagan republicans but "not
      incredibly politically active," Michelle told CSPAN's Brian Lamb. "I
      just think that there's always been an eighth sense of gratitude
      toward this country and trying to give back to it." She edited the
      school paper at Holy Spirit High School but without evidencing a
      pronounced right-wing perspective. "[I was] not really politically
      energized yet."

      Her first ambition was to become a concert pianist. Michelle
      enrolled in Oberlin, a small Ohio college with a respected
      performing music department. The town of Oberlin (pop 8,560) is
      located about 35 miles southwest of Cleveland, near the heart of a
      once mighty industrial region going to rust.

      "I soon realized that I couldn't cut it with piano," she told
      the National Review Online. Michelle Maglalang changed her major to
      English and, as she had in high school, began writing for the
      student newspaper.

      Toward the end of her Oberlin career she signed on with an
      independent campus newspaper that was being started by a Jewish
      student named Jesse Malkin. Malkin would later become Maglalang's
      husband. He also had an immediate and lasting impact on Michelle's
      political views. Jesse Malkin had attended Berkeley High on Martin
      Luther King Boulevard in the town his future wife would later
      label "The People's Republic of Berkeley". In addition to being a
      top student, Malkin was a distance runner who captained Oberlin's
      cross-country team. That combination, as well as his strong
      political views, helped him win a Rhodes scholarship to study for a
      year at Oxford University in England.

      By the time Jesse Malkin started the newspaper, his
      conservative leanings had been well enough established for him to
      receive funding from an organization calling itself the Collegiate
      Network. The Network had formed in 1980 as a union of college
      newspapers funded by a neo-conservative group called the Institute
      for Educational Affairs (IEA). IEA had been founded in 1978 by
      Irving Kristol and William Simon, a leader of the modern neo-
      conservative movement. As Nixon's Treasury Secretary, Simon had
      shaped the administration's tax policy.

      IEA was dedicated to "seek out promising Ph.D. candidates and
      undergraduate leaders, help them establish themselves through grants
      and fellowships and then help them get jobs with activist
      organizations, research projects, student publications, federal
      agencies or leading periodicals." It was, in essence, an affirmative
      action program to help restore right wing influence on college

      In 1990 the IEA was merged into the Madison Center for
      Educational Affairs, another neo-conservative foundation started in
      1988 by, among others, William Bennett, Reagan's Education
      Secretary. Madison continued to fund the Collegiate Network until
      1995 when its headquarters was moved to Wilmington, Delaware and
      placed under the financial support of another neo-conservative
      organization called the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).
      Today ISI funds about 80 right wing college newspapers.

      In any event, when Jesse Malkin founded his newspaper in 1989
      he became one of IEA's most academically impressive recruits. When
      Michelle Maglalang began working for that paper, she was on the road
      to becoming one of the IEA's most notorious.

      Oberlin was a liberal stronghold, a college that prided itself
      on a history of affirmative action leadership. In 1841 it had become
      the first U.S. college to award A.B. degrees to women. As of 1900
      Oberlin had graduated half of all African Americans with college
      degrees. Jesse Malkin and Michelle Maglalang were among very few
      students who didn't hold liberal views. "For the most part, it was
      an incredibly politically correct culture," recalled Michelle

      Jesse Malkin's first assignment for his new Filipino American
      reporter was collaborating on an article denouncing Oberlin's
      affirmative action program. Fellow students found the article
      offensive and showed their displeasure to Malkin & Company.

      "That's where I first really encountered the vicious response
      you can get when you stand up to a political orthodoxy," recalled
      Michelle Malkin. "It's an extremely liberal campus. Even if you
      tread very lightly on political sacred cows, there was a huge
      negative response, especially from somebody who was a minority,
      standing up and saying, `Well, all these self-appointed minority
      groups on campus don't speak for me.'

      "It was seeing the violent paroxysms it caused on the Left that
      really put me on my way to a career in opinion journalism," she
      stated in her chracteristically defiant and sneering tone. "I really
      just came into being as a political journalist towards the end of my
      campus experience, and it was really after I had left and started,
      you know, writing on my own. It was really more social conservatism
      than economic conservatism that I started with for my column-
      writing. So I was not a huge lightning rod until the end of my
      tenure at Oberlin."

      Whatever her inspiration, by the time Michelle Maglalang
      graduated in 1992, she was committed to a career in journalism. Her
      first choice was of the broadcast variety. She headed to Washington
      D.C. to intern at NBC while Jesse Malkin went to Santa Monica to
      continue his conservative education by working on a PhD in economic
      policy analysis at the Rand Graduate School (RGS). RGS was a small,
      little-known adjunct to RAND Corporation, a conservative think tank
      founded in 1948 to promote freewheeling capitalist ideals and
      conduct secretive research for the federal government. It gained
      notoriety during the Vietnam War by its involvement with some of the
      more sinister aspects of the war effort.

      Maglalang's NBC stint ended without significant on-air
      experience. In late 1992 she moved to Los Angeles where she was
      reunited with Jesse Malkin and landed a job with the struggling San
      Fernando Valley-based Los Angeles Daily News as a reporter-cum-
      editorial writer. That job gave her the opportunity to learn a skill
      that would prove useful in her later career — producing quick-
      turnaround copy that provokes strong reader reactions.

      "We would go out and report on school-board meetings," she
      recalled, "and then turn around and editorialize about it."

      While Michelle Maglalang was churning out petulant columns
      voicing the anger and bewilderment of the older, less educated, more
      conservative subscribers of The Daily News who felt alienated by the
      influx of immigrants into Southern California, Jesse Malkin was
      working on white papers that came down on the side of a medical
      profession feeling increasinlgy besieged by health care reform. His
      PhD thesis was The Postpartum Mandate: Estimated Costs and Benefits.
      That subject would be reprised in a paper Malkin later co-authored
      as a RAND consultant with three others titled Postpartum Length of
      Stay and Newborn Health: A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis. Essentially,
      it finds medical benefit in extended hospital stays for women who
      had given birth. Another of his co-authored papers is titled How
      Much Does Global Warming Matter? and subtitled, "What the world's
      population needs most are more lavatories and better sewage
      systems." Despite the papers' scholarly tone, Jesse Malkin's
      political leanings were as unmistakeable as his new wife's.

      The couple married in 1993. Michelle changed Maglalang to Malkin. In
      1996 when Jesse's RAND consulting career took him to Seattle,
      Michelle landed a job at The Seattle Times. Before the year was out
      the more famous Malkin was unleashing the no-holds-barred style of
      political spitballing that would ultimately make her a poster girl
      for the radical right. She railed against the University of
      Washington's affirmative action policy, popular Governor Gary
      Locke's alleged "Asian Money Ties", measures to provide more
      protection against drive-by shootings in public places, the dangers
      of "diversity do-goodism", and incongruously enough, the failure to
      make good on FDR's promise of welfare benefits to foreign Filipino
      veterans. This last was a jarring inversion of Malkin's usual
      positions on government spending and the rights of non-U.S.-
      citizens — she actually seemed to be arguing that able-bodied
      foreign nationals were more deserving of government largesse than
      the wounded and disabled.

      The birth of daughter Veronica and the launch of her syndicated
      column coincided with Michelle Malkin's decision to quit her Seattle
      Times job in late 1999. The family followed Jesse's RAND consulting
      job to Maryland. He worked in a Gaithersburg highrise while Michelle
      worked out of the house, first in Germantown, then North Bethesda.
      Freed from the restraints of staff writing, Malkin's tone became
      cattier and more bombastic. A column entitled "Sluts and nuts — and
      our daughters" (Feb. 28, 2000) called Britney Spears "a paragon --
      of adolescent American insipidity and shamelessness... the teen pop
      star with a tinny-thin voice, shiny blonde tresses, chronically
      exposed navel, and an IQ that roughly equals her much-discussed
      chest size."

      In a column entitled "The Truth about Erin Brockovich" (Apr.
      14, 2000), Malkin takes swipes at the claim that pollutants
      contributed to the unusually high cancer rates in Hinkley,
      California but directs her real venom at the attractive
      environmentalist and her portrayal by Julia Roberts.

      "Audiences and critics are falling hard for Julia Roberts' low-
      cut, high-heeled portrayal of the real-life Brockovich," Malkin
      groused. "She's a foul-mouthed file clerk who took on an evil
      utility company that allegedly poisoned residents in the desert town
      of Hinkley, Calif. Brockovich scored $2 million in legal bonuses.
      Roberts made $20 million playing Pretty Woman meets A Civil Action.
      Over the past four weeks, the box-office smash grossed nearly $90
      million." The column sums up with another swipe at
      Brockovich/Roberts's sex appeal: "Alas, the cold, hard facts are no
      match for a warm smile, dazzling cleavage, and a blinding Hollywood

      Tying every issue to a leering swipe at the physical
      appearance, personal style or intimate life of a prominent figure —
      especially those with a high sex-appeal quotient — was becoming
      Malkin's trademark. It didn't matter that the subject had done
      nothing to invite focus on her personal life. Even Elizabeth Dole
      didn't escape Malkin's radar. In "Is Bush a Liddy Dole Republican?"
      (Mar. 17, 2000) Malkin snipes, "She's baaaack. Elizabeth Dole has
      been buffed, polished, and pulled off the Republican trophy shelf by
      Texas Gov. George W. Bush in a lame attempt to attract liberal women
      voters,". Malkin even seemed to hint at a bit of sexual chemistry
      between Dole and Bush. "She cooed that Bush was `my kind of
      conservative.'" She sexualizes Dole with the gratuitous
      observation: "The woman nicknamed `Sugar Lips' has been wading
      inside the Beltway for decades, like a giddy queen bee in a
      bottomless pot of taxpayer-subsidized honey."

      Malkin was becoming skilled at supplying back-door titillation
      to those who liked to heap righteous indignation on supposed
      immorality while leering at its sexiest exponents. Some observers
      thought Malkin was out to make herself an object of right-wing
      titillation. For her column's headshot she cultivated a put-together
      look that included parted lips coated with red lipstick, big wind-
      blown hair and a red blouse unbuttoned to expose a prominent V of
      flesh. "Malkin is a true Cundit," observed one anonymous poster. "A
      highly paid media `ho' getting richer by throwing red meat to the
      loons." Malkin made frequent references to the background and
      credentials of her obviously non-Asian husband. To complete the
      picture of exotic flesh in bed with the right wing, she made a point
      of distancing herself from the perspective normally associated with
      her Asian ethnicity.

      In "Asian American Pity Party" (May 2, 2001), she writes, "Here
      are some of the racial epithets I've been called in my lifetime:
      Chink. Gook. Jap. Nigger. Slant eyes. Dog-eater. Those are just the
      printable ones. I'm an American of Filipino descent, but have been
      mistaken for everything from native Hawaiian to Caribbean. I've been
      blamed for the Vietnam War, attacked for stealing jobs and told
      countless times to "go back home" -- which usually means Bangkok or
      Beijing or some other exotic locale I've only seen on a map."

      Despite having suffered racial slurs, Malkin asserts, she has
      risen above "self-pity.", thereby shifting the onus for slurs from
      those who sling them to their victims — a familiar right-wing
      tactic. She then blasts a Chinese American organization called the
      Committee of 100 for commissioning a survey on American perceptions
      of Chinese Americans. She goes on to paint the Committee as being
      pro-China, a rightwing shorthand for "traitors".

      "The Committee of 100, an elite pro-China engagement public affairs
      group, has a vested interest in playing the victim card to shield
      its allies from criticism. Not a single newspaper that covered the
      survey reported that until recently, one prominent member of the
      Committee of 100 was none other than convicted campaign finance
      felon and suspected foreign agent John Huang. As Huang himself once
      warned: "There is a Chinese saying: `When you drink water, always
      think about the source.'"

      The most remarkable thing about Malkin's bi-weekly columns is
      how consistently they strike a single note: the American way of life
      under attack. Apparently the American way of life comprises values
      that were cast in stone around the turn of the last century and is
      threatened by those who represent the forces of change. Foremost
      among them are foreigners entering the U.S. The rights granted
      illegal immigrants became a Malkin pet peeve. In a bit of
      serendipitous timing, on the day before the September 11, 2001
      terrorist attack, her column ("The end of American citizenship",
      Sep. 10, 2001) lashed out at the ease with which some illegal
      immigrants were allowed to become legal residents and citizens. It
      was criticizing the federal government's amnesty program for illegal
      migrant workers from Mexico, but its dire tone seemed borne out the
      very next day by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

      Once it was learned that the attacks had been carried out in part by
      foreigners who had entered the U.S. illegally, Malkin quickly saw
      that she had in hand a golden opportunity to turn herself into a
      right-wing prophet.

      "September 11 was obviously a galvanizing event for me," she
      told CSPAN, "seeing the lapses in our immigration system that
      allowed the September 11 hijackers to come in, exploit our weak
      enforcement, work underground and live here comfortably." She didn't
      miss the chance to connect the recent horrors to her earlier cries
      of wolf. "And that is a theme that I've been talking a lot about
      over my career in journalism, for more than a decade. I started out
      in Los Angeles, and it's hard to ignore the negative consequences of
      lax immigration enforcement when you're in the middle of it in Los
      Angeles. So over the years, you know, I've written a number of
      stories about so many aspects of the immigration system from top to
      bottom -- the front door, the back door, the side door."

      And she didn't overlook the obvious advantages — from the
      political perspective — of having the threat being decried by
      someone of her immigrant background.

      "I often talk about how I myself am the child of legal
      immigrants who came here from the Philippines. And one of the themes
      that I've always talked about is something that they've reminded
      me... that entry into this country and residence in this country,
      and ultimately, citizenship in this country is an absolute
      privilege, and it ought not to be treated as some sort of natural
      right or entitlement. But over the years, our immigration system has
      abandoned that principle. And that's how we find ourselves with so
      many problems that we're dealing today."

      She lost no time pounding out a book called Invasion: How
      America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign
      Menaces to Our Shores (Regnery, September 2002).

      "It took seven months and no sleep and I don't know when I'm
      going to do it again," she sighed in December of 2002, just months
      before beginning work on her second book.

      Invasion was released around the anniversary of the 9/11
      attack. Despite the total absence of reviews from major newspaper or
      magazines, it reached number 14 on The New York Times non-fiction
      best-seller list. The book secured Malkin's credentials as a right-
      wing prophet — no longer was she just a raving maniac, she was now a
      topical raving maniac with sexy hair and a book credential. Fox
      Network put her under exclusive contract as a guest commentator for
      the right-wing gabfests The O'Reilly Factor and Hannity & Colmes. By
      2003 Malkin's bi-weekly column was syndicated in over 100
      newspapers. She was even beginning to enjoy a bit of demand as a
      paid speaker at $10,000 a pop.

      Malkin's success wasn't unprecedented. She had been following
      dogggedly in the footsteps of another female columnist who had
      become wealthy as a rightwing attack dog. Since the mid-1990s the
      radical right's top poster girl had been the forty-something Ann
      Coulter, a onetime corporate lawyer with a cruel eye, firm grasp of
      wingnut psychology and enough vampish blonde hair to pass for
      telegenic among older, more conservative audiences. Coulter had cut
      her teeth on the Clintons and terrorized politicians with names
      like "pimp", "gigolo" and "poodle". Her columns were studies in
      hyperbole. "Eight More Thomases!", "Attack France!" and "Affirmative
      Action for Osama" are typical titles. Her major appeal for the far
      right is revealed by the photos covering the dust jackets of her
      four best-selling books: big blonde hair, little black leather
      outfits, pancake makeup. Coulter's restraint was diminishing in
      inverse proportion to her success. Recently, even publishers and
      networks positioned for right-wing audiences have been forced to ban
      her from time to time to keep from losing advertisers.

      Until the summer of 2004 Michelle Malkin might have been
      considered Ann Coulter's understudy, learning to sneer, snarl,
      attack and blow-dry hair. That changed with the publication of
      Malkin's second book In Defense of Internment: The Case for Racial
      Profiling in World War II and the War on Terror (Regnery, August
      2004) The book's central argument did more than voice a belief that
      even the most rabid right-winger didn't like to utter on record. It
      turned Malkin into a sociological phenomenon.

      Had Internment been written by a white woman, it would have
      been studiously ignored as racist extremism — even if it offered up
      stronger evidence than does Malkin. But the titillation and
      political cover offered by an Asian female author was too good to
      ignore, even though the evidence Malkin offers had long been
      dismissed, by military as well as civilian experts, as too inchoate
      to justify the mass incarceration of 110,000 west-coast Japanese
      Americans. The decoded military intelligence intercepts (MAGIC)
      cited by Malkin's book proves that the Japanese military hoped to
      turn a number of connections with Japanese American business and
      cultural societies into espionage links. In fact, however, they
      never amounted to the basis for even one concrete espionage
      prosecution. The strongest evidence Malkin provides is the account
      of the help rendered a downed Zero pilot by a Japanese couple on the
      remote Hawaiian island of Niihau. None of it was new, but it was
      just enough fodder with which Malkin could make a publishing splash.
      The real attraction was the sideshow factor: why is this Asian
      American woman trying to justify Japanese American internment?

      Whatever may be the ultimate judgment passed on Malkin's
      motives, as of late September of 2004 Internment seemed unlikely to
      reprise the success of her first. The book's media tour accomplished
      something that may be just as profitable — qudruple the traffic to
      Malkin's website, catapulting it past Ann Coulter's. No doubt part
      of that jump is from curiosity seekers who are aghast at Malkin's
      political views. Yet they will be surprised to find that Malkin's
      output shows a hard-working writer who makes more than occasional
      sense but undercuts herself with the unrelenting quality of her free-
      floating hatred and scorn. To hear Malkin tell it, the world swarms
      with evil people out to do in the American way of life and, what's
      more, Americans are too dumb to see it.

      The rest of her new visitors will find in Malkin's columns a
      gleeful sort of pleasure in seeing their distate for liberal weenies
      and pushy minorities articulated by a hot little Asian woman full of
      bitchy putdowns worth repeating over beers. They may well find
      strength in seeing the principles of their eroding way of life being
      shored up by a woman who looks like the enemy. Some may accuse
      Malkin of dispensing phony outrage, but her core audience will find
      it all the more gratifying that an Asian woman has found them worth
      catering to at a time when they've been pushed to the margins of
      society by members of their own race.
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