Southern Poverty Law Center: Right-Wing Talk Show Hosts and Politicians Fueling Far-Right Extremism

Monday, August 24, 2009

This is extremely disturbing, but sadly not surprising at all given the types of rhetoric we've been hearing from right-wing pundits and Republican politicians and their supporters (think of Sarah Palin rallies last fall).
New Report by Southern Poverty Law Center Backs Up Homeland Security's Warning That Anti-Government Militias Driven by Racism and Xenophobia Are Joining Forces With White-Supremacist and Neo-Nazi Groups for a Campaign of Harassment and Intimidation That Could Escalate into Hate-Motivated Terror Attacks Across the Country


The SPLC report also blamed right-wing politicians and media pundits for contributing to the rise in anti-government militancy. It singled out Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, for raising the prospect of his state seceding from the Union "several months after Obama’s inauguration," a notion that was first brought up a decade earlier by the militia group Republic of Texas following the Banch Davidian debacle at Waco.

The report also blasted Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) for her highly controversial comment that she feared Obama was planning "re-education camps for young people" reminiscent of those established by China during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s; and Representative Spencer Bachus (R-Alabama), for "evoking memories of the discredited communist-hunter Senator Joseph McCarthy," who in the 1950s warned of 17 "socialists" in Congress.

CNN’s Lou Dobbs came under sharp criticism in the report for "treating the so-called Aztlan conspiracy" -- secret Mexican plans to "reconquer" the American Southwest -- as a bona fide concern and for giving airtime to "Birther" conspiracy theorists who adamantly insist that Obama is not a native-born U.S. citizen, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary -- and even his own network’s definitive debunking of the "Birthers'" claims.

Fox News host Glenn Beck -- whose show has become the target of an advertiser boycott after he called Obama a "racist" who "hates white people" -- was cited by the SPLC for having also called the president "a fascist, a Nazi and a Marxist" -- even giving airtime to militia conspiracy theories alleging a secret network of "government-run concentration camps."

While the SPLC report did not make any detailed recommendations on how to deal with rising far-right militancy, it did make clear the need for increased vigilance. The movement, the report said, "clearly is growing again," and that Americans -- particularly law-enforcement agencies -- "need to take the dangers it presents seriously."
To read the full SPLC report, click here. The conclusion? "Almost a decade after largely disappearing from public view, right-wing militias, ideologically driven tax defiers and sovereign citizens are appearing in large numbers around the country." Also important: "A key difference this time is that the federal government — the entity that almost the entire radical right views as its primary enemy — is headed by a black man. That, coupled with high levels of non-white immigration and a decline in the percentage of whites overall in America, has helped to racialize the Patriot movement, which in the past was not primarily motivated by race hate."

Obviously, this report will hit a raw nerve with the right wingnuts just as the Department of Homeland Security's April report did. But just keep in mind, just because they're angry doesn't invalidate the findings by DHS, SPLC, etc. In fact, I'd go with the "hit a raw nerve" theory, as in these groups know that DHS and SPLC are on to them, and are concerned whenever someone shines a light on them. Note the vociferous response anytime you point out the right wingers' "dog whistle" usage of the "Don't Tread on Me" flag or of the Thomas Jefferson quote about how the "tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants" (or Cooch's paranoid rantings about the government "tracking" his children through Social Security numbers, or other rantings about "Marxism" or "Socialism" or "taking our country back" or "death panels" or whatever)? What's the difference between that type of rhetoric and Catherine Crabill's "bullet box?" Not much, yet we don't hear Bob McDonnell et al. condemning the "tree of liberty" quote or the other things. Interesting, eh?

P.S. Which do you think is more of a threat to the United States, "foreign" or "domestic" extremism and (actual or potential) terrorism?