When I said publicly a few months back that the Right Wing had lost its mind, I had no idea that they had lost all sense of reality as well. There has been a recent string of domestic terror attacks in this country directed towards African-Americans, Jews and the Pro-Choice movement. Two examples are the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller by an anti-abortion activist and most recently, the shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum that left an elderly security guard dead.
These events are obviously not typical for the Right and were carried out by deeply troubled individuals. Yet, these extremists appear to have been egged on by right wing pundits like Bill O’Reilly, whose slogan “Tiller the Baby Killer” and repeated broadcasts directed towards the man, added gasoline to the fire. The mainstream Pro-Life movement as well surely contributed, with their endless vigils outside Dr. Tiller’s clinic among acts of violence including an incident that left the doctor shot in both arms. Many in the Anti-Abortion movement have distanced themselves from the murder, including O’Reilly who tried to claim he was a victim of a smear campaign (O’Reilly loves to play the victim). Others cautiously praised the incident and have even used the tragedy to score political points.
In regards to the shooting at the Holocaust Museum, there is widespread evidence that the killer, James von Brunn was a Right-Wing extremist. He apparently has lived a life of mistreatment he believes to be at the hands of the Jews. He denies the Holocaust and believes that Obama was “created by Jews”. There is evidence of a strong pro-gun stance as well. The note left in his car before the shooting declared, “if you want my weapons, this is how you’ll get them.” There were also plans for numerous other attacks he had planned, including one on an unknown member of Congress.
A man this extreme, of course cannot be part of the Right, claims Rush Limbaugh, who went so far as to call the man a Leftist. Unfortunately for Limbaugh, von Brunn had a list of “character shapers”, all of them on the radical right. There are even quotes to support his affiliations: “[Right-Wing] websites illuminate the problems that Aryans face. Each day new alarms are sounded, adding more fuel to the raging fire.” He also remarked hatred of Marxists and Leftists. Yet another example of Rush either deliberately deceiving his audience or just plain being ignorant, or both.
Remember a month or so back when the Department of Homeland Security warned of eminent domestic terrorism from Right-Wing extremists? The pundits at Fox News seized the opportunity to accuse Obama of targeting the Republican Party. A handful of domestic terror attacks later, perpetrated almost entirely by Right-Wingers, they couldn’t seem more wrong. The facts prove that the threats to the lives of Americans at the hand of ultra-conservative extremists is real, and the Republican punditocracy has been exposed for what it is, opportunistic charlatanism.
Columnist Paul Krugman, wrote last week in the NY Times, that he believes the recent domestic terrorism is directly linked to the Right Wing media saying “supposedly respectable news organizations and political figures are giving aid and comfort to dangerous extremism.” I couldn’t agree more.
For 30 years, the Republican Party used hatred and fear to cling to political power. Hatred of Blacks, Jews, Latinos, Homosexuals and fear of a secular liberal government that supposedly wants to run your life, basically comprised the Conservative social philosophy. This left the middle and lower class Republicans blinded while they carried out their destructive economic agenda. The Right Wing pundits acted as ‘party whips’ in the sense that they whipped their listeners into a frenzy of rage to further the agenda.
The problem with using hate is that it leads to violence. It has led many so-called Christians to support a pointless war in Iraq and anti-abortion activists to bomb clinics and murder doctors. Thou shall not kill? It’s ok if it’s in the name of God. Seems a bit like the radical rhetoric of the Muslim extremists doesn’t it?
While the Constitution is not a staunch defender of inciting violence, the real problem with the Radical Right is not that they have a voice, it is that their voice is louder proportionately to their actual numbers. Guys like O’Reilly get 1-3 million viewers a night according to Neilson ratings. This is around or below 1% of a nation 290+ million strong. Rush claims over 10 million, however this is debatable and I’ve heard speculation that it may be as low as 1 million. Yet, somehow, when these guys say something, the whole news cycle is dominated by such comments (i.e. The Sotomayor ‘racism’ controversy). It’s the media establishment that is owned, lock, stock and barrel by conservative interests that have given these guys a larger megaphone than they rightfully deserve. The problem for the Republican Party, however, is that such a larger something is, the harder the fall.
Like an angry mob, the Right Wing has shot itself in the foot. The Right-Wing is becoming a band of gun-toting extremists who commit acts of domestic terrorism to further their far out ideology. They appear out of touch with most Americans and like an anchor will way down the Republican Party in troubled waters while the rest of the nation, in particular the Center, drifts away.
It harkens back to the Left Wing movements of the sixties, with its rhetoric of revolution, enabled the development of crazies like Charles Manson and the S.L.A to taint the movement as a whole. The Center got scared and the Republicans capitalized, realigning the country for 30 years. This leads me to believe that we are indeed in the midst of a great political realignment that will hold for a generation.