By Lawrence B.Wheeler
NPR has a new hire, who will be the subject of this post. Here’s the biographical note from NPR’s website: “Odette Yousef is a National Security correspondent focusing on extremism.
“In her reporting, Yousef aims to explore how extremist ideas break into the mainstream, how individuals are radicalized and efforts to counter that. Before joining NPR in August of 2021, Yousef spent twelve years reporting for member station WBEZ in Chicago, where she was most recently part of the Race, Class and Identity team. While there, she was reporter and host for Season 3 of WBEZ’s investigative podcast, Motive. The podcast, which won a 2021 national Edward R. Murrow award, explores the emergence and spread of the neo-Nazi skinhead movement in the U.S. and its connections to the far right extremism of today. Yousef was also part of a team that won a 2016 National Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Continuing Coverage, and she received a 2018 Studs Terkel Community Media Award. Prior to joining WBEZ, Yousef reported at WABE in Atlanta. Born and raised in the Boston area, Yousef received a Bachelor of Arts in economics and East Asian studies from Harvard University. She is based in Chicago.”
Yousef checks many of the proverbial boxes. Racial minority? Check. Woman? Check. Blue city girl? Check. Gig at liberal NPR? Check and double check. She must be a bundle of grievances. You already know where this is going.
This will sound paradoxical, but it seems that for the Western political mind, change is the immutable virtue. It’s taken for granted that change is a good thing. Pres. Barry Obama ran with the slogan “Change We Can Believe In”. I drove past a campaign poster today. It read, “Vote for Change”. It seems that the only sort of change that is bad these days is “climate change”, which must be combatted, or so they say.
NPR itself has certainly changed over the years. When I returned stateside 28 years ago, I used to enjoy listening to NPR radio. I appreciated the thorough reporting. Although it was a bit left of center, the nuanced views were offered without that annoying commercial interruption. Nowadays, I turn on NPR while driving, but find that the content is one leftist agenda item after another. You know the drill. They promote sexual proclivities, racial angst, women’s desires, on and on. It gets to be so irritating that, often within seconds, I just turn it off. I have to turn it off to keep my blood pressure down. This is National Public Radio, i.e. the leftwing organ of the airwaves supported in part by your tax dollars. How strange is that? The federal government provides 8%, and state and local governments contribute another 4% of NPR’s budget. You would think that with that much public support the news reportage would be “fair and balanced”. Think again.
Dr. Nicholas Stamatakis at the Greek weblog Helleniscope has drawn our attention to a recent story done by NPR. The reporter was Mary Louise Kelly, a name that is familiar to longtime NPR listeners. The research for the piece, however, had been done and the article had been written by the new reporter that you see above and below: Odette Yousef. Ms. Yousef is the new “National Security Correspondent on Extremism” for NPR. She has done investigative work for Chicago’s WBEZ radio station for many years. The podcast for that station was the award-winning Motive, a series that looks into the “neo-Nazi skinhead movement in the U.S. and its connections to the far right extremism.” One can see how the podcast might be a tad biased from the start.
One might also ask whether Miss Extremism has looked into far-left extremist groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter. I’ve gone through the last three years of Ms. Yousef’s Twitter feed. Not a mention. She has been living in Chicago, which in the summer of 2020, was plagued day after day with violence in the streets caused by those who took advantage of George Floyd’s killing to make a statement. Regardless, she posted nothing about the leftist extremists who perpetrated those crimes. It seems that they got a pass from the young lady since their cause wasn’t the evil bugaboo of white supremacy. Indeed, a perusal of Ms. Yousef’s Twitter shows that every cause that she supports is a textbook leftwing cause. She was particularly keen to report on the Charlottesville protest on August 12th of 2017 and the January 6, 2021 protest at the U.S. Capitol in Washington which was precipitated by so-called Trumpist “election deniers”. I get the impression that Ms. Yousef, who appears to be a Middle Eastern “person of color” has a typical liberal grudge against white people in general and white men in particular. In another universe, one might call that racism, but in our universe that sort of antiracist racism is cool.
Having teed that up, I’ll posit that you can how see that Ms. National Security Correspondent for National Public Radio is on the prowl for stories that unearth the white supremacists out there. Few and far between, you say? Well now, luckily for her, Vladimir Putin’s army has advanced on Ukraine and the whole civilized world seems to have designated Russia a pariah state. Russia is overwhelmingly white, of course, as is Ukraine. There must be some connection there to neo-Nazis skinheads. They’re run-of-the-mill white supremacists, aren’t they? Yeah, but it wouldn’t be politically correct to find the low-hanging fruit of the REAL neo-Nazis in the Right Sector and the Azov Battalion of Ukraine, so Ms. Yousef has been forced to forage elsewhere. At a time when NPR has decided along with the other mainstream corporate media stations to support Ukraine, its terribly inconvenient to report on Ukrainian neo-Nazis. There’s a chance that there are some of them in the Ukrainian Orthodox parishes in the U. S. But, it would be politically incorrect to go snooping for neo-Nazis in the parishes of immigrants of the victim nation, now wouldn’t it.
So, what does Yousef do? She finds a link between Russia and ROCOR in the United States to see if she can sniff out white supremacism in that little denomination. After all, it carries the name Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. “Of course, that’s where I’m bound to find white supremacy and skinhead racism!” she must have exclaimed to herself. “Let’s discredit both Russia and the Orthodox Church in one single shot.” As you will see in her article, she found anecdotal evidence of far-right white political extremism and anti-black racism to dish up to suspecting readers. Using individual incidents to make a general case is something that I would call yellow journalism. Wouldn’t you? Yousef’s unimaginative presupposition is that since Vladimir Putin is a Christian ruler – almost a king -who supports traditional values like Church and Country. Anyone who sympathizes with Russia’s side in the war has got to be a bigot. Well, it takes one to know one. Yousef’s piece is a cheap shot against a Church that is worried about both Russians and Ukrainians back home and is praying for both sides during this terrible military conflict. I’m a member of a ROCOR parish and we have an even mix of Ukrainian and Russian families, along with Americans of unrelated ethnicity who have no skin in the game. All of us worship together and fellowship together. We just love each other, regardless of family origin. Maybe Ms. Yousef would like to come and interview us for a more objective view of the situation.
But, no. There is an agenda for the “liberal” reporter to pursue, and anecdotal evidence must be found to support the agenda. So she finds a link between one excommunicated Orthodox Christian to a rightwing group. And she listens to the opinion of an Orthodox woman who married a black man decades ago but now feels uncomfortable in an Orthodox parish. Both cases are unfortunate, but unless Ms. Yousef can find a dominate trend in ROCOR that proves the obligatory hypothesis that believers are overwhelmingly white racists or pro-Putin apologists, there is no compelling story here. There is only conjecture – damning conjecture against a little denomination of Orthodox Christians who are active in their parishes only to worship God and work out their own salvation. Who knows? It’s likely that Ms. Yousef found many sources whose testimonies didn’t gibe with her story, so she left them out. After all, the agenda must come first. She’s willing to stretch the story to label innocent parishioners as white nationalists and tie them to Vladimir Putin. It’s called a “twofer”. If Ms. Yousef were a lawyer, one might call here an ambulance chaser. Call this author disgusted.