The World Wide Web is chock-full of "hate sites," 2,100 of them according to the Museum of Tolerance. Although the definition of a hate site is somewhat vague, FreeRepublic.com has surely played in the waters of bilious bigotry on more than one occasion. Billing itself as a haven for conservative thought, the Fresno-based site has come under fire because of its refusal to clear its message boards of death threats against Bill and Hillary Clinton, as well as newsman Dan Rather, e.g., "Somehow genital herpes just isnt enough for this duo [the Clintons]. [A] .357 seems more on the mark (it may take a village to whack you, you sullen bitch)" ("Gonzo," June 10).
One would think that most politicians would distance themselves from such tripe. Not our man Representative James Rogan (R-Pasadena), who has been a favorite of the "FReepers" (Free Republic boosters) since his star turn as House manager and prosecutor during the Clinton impeachment hearings. In May, Rogan hosted an "electronic town hall" on the groups Web site, where he was showered with cyber accolades, which he returned with like passion. Rogan called FReeper founder Jim Robinson, a self-proclaimed "private citizen" living in Fresno, a "hero" and "patriot" and closed his Q&A with a rousing "God bless you all, FReepers and Eagles Up."
OffBeat is not all that surprised; the GOP being what it is, most Republican politicians can dabble in the lunatic fringe without losing the partys center, such as it is. But Free Republic has one bogeyman that should be of great interest to Rogans constituents: the Latino.
A small sampling of the FReeper postings should suffice to demonstrate the virulent anti-Hispanic sentiment found on the board. "I say take away the citizenship of all Mexican Nationals, hell all non-white, non-Christian nationals," blusters "Putnam70." Or consider the June 12 comments by "Valusian"about the "Browning of America": "Were overrun with Hispanic parasites its a gutter culture." Another gem posits both Islamic and Hispanic citizens as the "scum of the earth . . . dragging all those Lebanese incense burners over here . . . Something needs to be done about all those Mexican and Central Americans before the shit hits the fan."
When asked this week if Rogan was aware of the hateful spew aimed at an ethnic minority that composes over one-third of his Glendale-Pasadena-Burbank constituency, the congressmans spokesman Jeff Solsby said, "Congressman Rogans comments to the Free Republic were limited to the subject matter covered in the town meeting of the 29th, and these are not related to what may have appeared elsewhere on the site." Did Rogan know about the anti-Hispanic sentiment on the site before making his laudatory postings?
"Rogan also disagrees with the opinions of the L.A. Weekly, and yet he still returns your calls," Solsby responded. "That should clearly state where his position is."
It sure does. It should be noted that the Free Republic Web site solicits campaign contributions for Rogan. And the congressman is slated to speak at Free Republics "Treason Is the Reason" rally July 24 in Washington, D.C.
THE BRITISH INVASION
L.A. Times staff writer Pamela Warrick is smitten senseless. "It is true what they say," she says in a recent article, after interviewing 21-year-old Brit-lit It Boy Richard Mason, whose debut novel, The Drowning People, has earned big bucks and a spot on the Times of Londons best-seller list. "You can hardly take your eyes off him. The wavy dark hair, slightly tousled and falling just so, across the high, smooth aristocratic forehead. The lush black eyelashes. The whiter-than-white teeth, perfectly aligned behind the slightly self-conscious smile. Even next to Hugh Grant the movie star to whom he is endlessly compared Richard Mason is, as the publicist for his book promised he would be, utterly adorable."
Catching her breath, Warrick drifts into English 1-A, asking Mason,"over a Beverly Hills lunch," about comparisons that liken "his style to that of the 19th-century British heavyweight Henry James."
OffBeat would like to know more about this Henry James. Did Warricks "19th-century British heavyweight" also title his novels The Portrait of a Lady, Washington Square and The Bostonians? Did he write a fabled short story about the tyranny of adults, called The Turn of the Screw? Are his ashes buried in the family plot at Cambridge Cemetery, next to a brother named William James and a father named Henry? Is he, in fact, the New Yorkborn, 19th-century American heavyweight covered by most high school and college American-lit courses? We may never be able to unravel this mystery, since Warrick, who, according to the L.A. Times, can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, has not replied to our inquiry. Seems she must still be fawning, dreamily, over her Portrait of a Literary Dish.