Right Wing Persecution Drips With Ethnic Hatred
Allow me to introduce myself, as I am not as well known as my compatriots in this TPMCafe Book Club. My name is Michael Orion Powell. I've been writing professionally for several years and am currently finishing up my first book, a sociological look at Asperger's syndrome and alienation within modern society. For many years, my writing has been right-leaning. Growing up in Seattle, one of the most liberal cities in the country, I'm often seen by natives as an "old-fashioned" guy and was attracted to elements of conservative politics such as education reform and the intellectual arguments of Robert Nisbet, George Orwell and Christopher Hitchens, all with a mild touch of cultural and moral reaction. By Seattle standards, I'm a conservative, but by actual conservative standards, I'm a raving liberal.
I became known to Michael Wolraich after I sent him a piece I did for Little Green Footballs on Glenn Beck, which Michael invited me to reprint at Dagblog. My conservatism had led me to Townhall.com and later on the Heritage Foundation. An increasingly disturbing tone seemed to reverberate conservative corners, which often brought up race as a persecutory issue (often out of nowhere). I attended CPAC in 2010 (in which the John Birch Society, with William F. Buckley long gone, had a commanding presence), and at that time felt increasingly uncomfortable with reports of ethnic slurs yelled by Tea Partiers, a claim I was finding too believable, while present in a city that has some of the worst ghettoes in the country. In the wake of Arizona's legalized racial profiling in the form of SB 1070 and having specialized in Latin America, I decided upon leaving to create the website Voice of the Migrant in order to create a center point on the internet for blogging on immigrants' rights. The fevered rants of Glenn Beck and the increasingly toxic political tone in middle America has made the need for the website all the more appropriate. [Emphasis added]
I agree with Michael Wolraich's analogy of the 1990s era of Bill Clinton and the Republican Contract with America. However, the situation seems far more precarious than those days. The Oklahoma City bombings were apparently retaliation for the disaster that occurred in Waco, Texas. While Rush Limbaugh played a political version of the loud shock jock that was rising in popularity at the time, he did not have much intellectual firepower and was not reaching as deep into middle America's conscious as Glenn Beck is managing to. Most importantly, the long and tortured element of American racial politics was not there for the like of Limbaugh to play on with a white Arkansas boy in office as it is now, with paranoid elements of white America alarmed by a rapidly growing and politically active Hispanic population and the election of the nation's first African American president. These changes are making white America uneasy and less in control than they ever have been before. This anxiety is easy to play on.
And play on it Beck and Limbaugh have. While Limbaugh has crudely called Obamacare "Yo mamma care" and lambasted Barack Obama for recognizing the contributions of Native Americans, his inflammatory rhetoric seems to match his Clinton era schtick with a few variations. The more alarming moves have been made by Glenn Beck, who with both a nationally syndicated radio and television show reaches more people that Limbaugh has ever been able to. [Emphasis added]As Christopher Hitchens put in a scathing column for Vanity Fair about the Tea Party Movement, Beck is in the midst of "canalizing old racist and clerical toxic-waste material that a healthy society had mostly flushed out of its system more than a generation ago, and injecting it right back in again." On air Beck has promoted authors from the past that have been rightfully forgotten, such as the anti-Semite Elizabeth Drilling (known for her lovely term of endearment for President Dwight Eisenhower, "Ike the Kike") and Ezra Taft Benson, a white supremacist leader Mormon leader who wrote the introduction for a book called The Black Hammer: A Study of Black Power, Red Influence and White Alternatives, which literally had on its cover the bloody, severed head of an African American male.
Promotes racist books
Beck's rhetorical race baiting has not gone unheeded. Despite a moratorium from the top on bringing signs to the August 28 Restoring Honor rally, a few managed to make their way in by attendees, including one that said "The Bold Truth: MLK Was Pro-Communist." Beck's strongest fans can be found in the netherworld of the internet at websites like the white supremacist Stormfront. In the wake of the shooting of Rep. Giffords and several others in Arizona, an attempted bombing occurred in Spokane, Washington of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally. Far from an amateur stunt, federal investigators were quoted as saying, "They haven't seen anything like this in this country," the official said. "This was the worst device, and most intentional device, I've ever seen."
One could only imagine the potential reverberations of a powerful terrorist attack on an MLK Day Parade. The attack could set off long quieted ethnic tensions within the United States, instigate retaliation and leave the country looking more like the strife-laden countries in the Middle East that the US military has been occupying than that "shining city on the hill" or "beacon of democracy" that we have allegedly been at our best.
Charles Johnson, another contributor to this week's book club, has accused Glenn Beck and the new squad of right-wingers of appealing to the "basest elements" of the Right in this country. That's an accurate portrayal. Ethnic hatred is still a base element for much of this country and political figures who find career advancement in playing on it have been recurring villains in America's long struggle for decency.
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