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Posted by on Jun 12, 2009 in Media, Politics, Society | 20 comments

Cross-Fertilization of Hatred and Extremism

Paul Krugman’s column today focuses on the growing overlap between mainstream conservative discourse and viewpoints that used to be considered far right fringe territory exclusively, in the context of that DHS report on right-wing extremist violence that caused such a ruckus a couple of months ago:

Back in April, there was a huge fuss over an internal report by the Department of Homeland Security warning that current conditions resemble those in the early 1990s — a time marked by an upsurge of right-wing extremism that culminated in the Oklahoma City bombing.

Conservatives were outraged. The chairman of the Republican National Committee denounced the report as an attempt to “segment out conservatives in this country who have a different philosophy or view from this administration” and label them as terrorists.

But with the murder of Dr. George Tiller by an anti-abortion fanatic, closely followed by a shooting by a white supremacist at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the analysis looks prescient.

There is, however, one important thing that the D.H.S. report didn’t say: Today, as in the early years of the Clinton administration but to an even greater extent, right-wing extremism is being systematically fed by the conservative media and political establishment.

Obviously, Krugman is not the first to make this point, and in the wake of two closely spaced acts of terrorist violence committed by individuals steeped in extreme right-wing ideology,  it’s essential as well as inevitable that online political commentators will be having this discussion — no matter how shrilly some ultra-conservative bloggers tell the rest of us how unfair and illegitimate and deranged it is to be doing so.

There are notable exceptions to the right’s head-in-the-sand attitude, of course. One such is AJ Strata, who points out, among other things, that if you proudly call yourself a right-wing extremist, you shouldn’t be surprised when people characterize your views that way:

Sadly, this happened when way too many conservatives came out after the DHS report and declared themselves rightwing extremists. To this day Hannity swears DHS is out after people like him. Up until that point I considered myself a conservative. I knew damn well the DHS report had nothing to do with me. Just as I knew the NSA was not listening in on my phone calls (the extreme liberal drama queen canard). The left under bush swore the government was not after terrorists, and I fought that silliness for years from the day the New York times produced its tissue of liberal lies on the matter (see here).

When conservatives claimed allegiance to the DHS threats, claiming brotherhood in essence, they blurred the line. And now they whine because people cannot separate the mainstream from the rightwing extremists? That is a self inflicted wound. …

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