Conservative Counter-Revolution and the Coming Violence
By Ole Ole Olson
NEWS JUNKIE POSTNov 24, 2009 at 2:49 am
Since the introduction of Sarah Palin into the 2008 election, the right wing has been on the warpath. The rhetoric and volume of their message has been taken to increasingly fanatical extremes in an attempt to derail the movement for change and reform in America. This has already resulted in many deaths, and the conflict is becoming more open with every passing day.
The country has changed. The majority of the last 30 years was dominated by an increasingly conservative political philosophy. During the Bush years, the real world failures of these policies began to appear in undeniable forms.
The prison industry continued to boom under increasingly harsh laws until one out of every thirty two Americans was either behind bars or on probation, the highest rate in the world. Borrow and spend economics to fuel tax cuts for the rich and the illusion of prosperity brought mounting deficits and debt. Much of this money went into a burgeoning military, and today we spend almost as much as the rest of the world combined. The gulf between rich and poor got much worse, especially with CEOs who now rake in 1/3rd of all the pay.
Then came the domestic espionage, extraordinary rendition, torture, abandonment of diplomacy, massive foreign military aggression, and discarding of international treaties. The thing that really caused Americans to wake up was the culmination of turning a blind eye towards corporate mergers, spiraling foreclosures caused by catastrophic health care costs, and the loosening of regulations that led to the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.
This was the final straw, and there was a paradigm shift in the American electorate back towards a more centrist philosophy. The elections of 2006 brought a swing back to the Democrats, who regained tenuous control over the US House and Senate. In 2008, progressive voices swept into power in a movement for change that included a center-left reformer named Barack Obama, who became the nation’s first black president. The revolution had come.
Fear leads to anger. The rhetoric during the election from the Republicans took a nasty turn as soon as Sarah Palin hit the scene. They amped up the negativity and scare tactics, insinuating Obama was in league with Islamists, terrorists, socialists, communists, Marxists, and various other ‘ists’. Many people argued that this was ‘just politics’, but after the election, and especially after the inauguration, the attacks didn’t go away. In fact, they were elevated to a whole new level.
There were those who spread the conspiracy that Obama was foreign born, thereby ineligible to be president. More conspiracies circulated about Obama wanting to take people’s guns away, despite his expansion of the 2nd Amendment. Rumor persist about massive tax hikes, despite him actually delivering a few hundred billion in tax cuts for 95% of Americans as part of the stimulus package. Recently the paranoia has reached epic levels, with conspiracies about the health care reform bill being some secret plot to kill grandma.
Many of these paranoid conspiracies and corporate disinformation talking points began to get traction in the media, especially the propaganda arm of the Republican Party: Fox News. They had begun to try to delegitimize the president and dehumanize opponents. The counter-revolution was taking form.
Republican conservatives tried to avoid the blame for their failed policies by suddenly hiding behind the libertarian banner. They started taking over the Tea Parties and purging genuine libertarians from the leadership roles, leading to a growing rift between the two. The claim of non-partisanship has been rocked recently by open sponsorship of the Tea Party Express by a Republican PAC. Most importantly, libertarian social and foreign policy views such as getting the government out of marriage (in essence legalizing gay marriage), more open borders and free flowing immigration, separation of church and state, de-militarization, abortion rights, legalizing marijuana, and repealing the Patriot Act are being openly attacked and replaced by more traditional GOP messages.
The same right wing voices that shouted the loudest in support of George W Bush, the more hard-line members of his administration, and the disastrous policies were bitter about losing power. They wanted their country back, and were determined to do nearly anything to regain it.
The Rise of Right Wing Hate
Anger leads to hate. All of this deliberate fear mongering has had a measurable effect. There has been a chilling rise in right wing hate around the country. President Obama receives an average of 30 death threats per day, a 400% increase over Bush. Conservative websites have called for a Honduran style military coup, offered a list of Democratic Senators to assassinate, and sold merchandise about Obama featuring Psalm 109:8 which reads: “Let his days be few; and let another take his office. Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.
The militias are back and recruiting like mad, one of them even demanded Obama leave the country. Hate groups are on the rise. The Oathkeepers are recruiting law enforcement and military members with a pledge that removes any loyalty to the president.
Pastor Steven Anderson virtually issued a fatwa on Obama, and members of his flock arrived at a Phoenix rally with loaded assault rifles. Many have compared the current atmosphere to that which existed prior to the assassination of JFK. Others say it feels eerily similar to the way things were before Timothy McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma Federal Building, killing 168 people.
Hate leads to suffering. This conservative incitement is being used a political tool to try and energize the base while simultaneously creating apathy for everyone else to politics in the hopes that they can retake congress in 2010, thereby hamstringing Obama and killing any potential reforms.
The conflict is spreading to more mainstream parts of America. The hijacked Tea Party movement is staying mobilized so they can keep boots on the ground and forcibly oppose any reforms that are in the works, from health care reform to immigration reform to worker’s rights to equal rights for LGBT folks.
Where this gets very dangerous is this: although this is the exact same playbook the Republicans used in 1994, this time around progressive voices are not give up and going to stop seeking reform. The winds of change have happened, there has been a generational shift, and strong progressive groups are pushing back against this intimidation on the street and in town halls, mobilizing their own people to come out in support of reform.
These confrontations on the street have already led to violence. In St. Louis, Missouri Kenneth Gladney was involved in a scuffle with SEIU members after allegedly punching Reverend Elston McCowan. Then there was a fight in Thousand Oaks, California where a mans finger was bitten off after punching a counter protester in the nose. Most recently, two members of the anti-racism group ANSWER were involved in an altercation with 2 Tea Partiers rallying against undocumented immigrants in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. In each case, the conservative media quickly pounced on the stories before all the facts were in, and unjustly laid the blame entirely on pro-reformers, as if to use it as a rallying cry. This is powder keg waiting to go off, and short of a massive police presence at each demonstration, there will be potential for conflict every time.
Beyond this, as a consequence of riling up their base in this counter-revolution, the Republicans are also fueling the violent extremists. By effectively dehumanizing the reformers, the conservative media is giving justification to those who have already let the hate in their hearts take over. For instance, the FBI reports a sharp increase in anti-gay hate crimes. This polarization and sharp division is not good for the country, and can best be summed up in the words of Jon Stewart, “conservatives hate Obama more than they love America.”
This right wing hate has resulted in at least 8 acts of domestic terrorism in the US since Obama was sworn in, including the assassination of Dr. Tiller in his church by a man affiliated with Operation Rescue and the slayings at the Holocaust Memorial by the right wing racist James von Brunn. Add to this the census worker who was hanged in Kentucky, and had the word ‘FED’ carved into his chest, and a pattern begins to emerge that proves these are not isolated incidents, they are symptomatic of more dangerous condition that is being fed by hate speech.
This situation is getting worse on all fronts, and all signs point to an increase in violence in the coming year. The instigation by various right wing elements continues to grow, as shown in the recent string of billboards going up. Fox News continues its campaign of fear mongering and disinformation. The voices for open revolt are growing on websites such as Stormfront and the FreeRepublic as well. One commentator on a digg thread wrote: “They dont have guns. They wont dare leave the safety of the big cities. The right will be able to starve them out by laying seige to the cities.” Firearms and ammunition sales have seen explosive growth as a result of this increasing paranoia which seems to seek an all out civil war, or at least an Operation Condor type of repression of reformers.
Further Tea Parties are going to happen over more charged issues than health care reform, and counter demonstrations are going to be right there next to them. Due to the intolerance demonstrated by anti-reform forces, this could easily turn ugly fast. In addition to that, as long as the fear campaign and conspiracies continue to be propagated, right wing extremists are not going to stop anytime soon either, and there promises to be more mass shootings as the 2010 midterm election ramps up.
Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.
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