One of the very bizarre accusations overheard at the tea bag protests Wednesday was that President Obama is somehow a "fascist." At the same time, and often in the same protest, he was also accused of being a "communist."
Of course it's ideologically impossible to be both, in the same way it's impossible to be both informed and a FOX & Friends host, but then again I'm expecting too much logic and message coherence from people who spent all of Wednesday protesting against socialism and wealth redistribution while gathered in publicly funded -- dare I say "socialized" -- parks and town squares.
But back to that "fascist" accusation. I'm not convinced that tea baggers like Michelle Malkin understand that fascism is, in fact, a form of right wing extremism. Because for the last 24 hours or so, Malkin, Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and the usual band of apoplectic brainiacs appear to have been vigorously defending "right wing extremism" after having previously accused the president of being on the same flank of the ideological spectrum.
Yeah, I know. It doesn't make sense.
Rewind to Tuesday morning: a Homeland Security report covering potential threats from "right wing extremist" groups, including militias, white supremacists and neo-Nazis, was obtained by talk show host Roger Hedgecock. And, predictably, the gang who can't seem to decipher basic high school level social studies concepts, kneejerked into one of their paranoid tantrums -- insisting that the report was entirely about them.
Almost right away, the far-right blogs and FOX News Channel were set ablaze with reports that the Obama administration was targeting conservatives with a massive surveillance operation. But here's the thing: the DHS report wasn't about conservatives. The word "conservatives" doesn't appear anywhere in the report. It was all about radical domestic terrorist groups who happen to subscribe to outlandish ideologies well beyond the mainstream of political discourse. Notwithstanding this very clear distinction, Malkin and the broader wingnutosphere lost their collective shpadoinkle and insisted the DHS was targeting the mainstream tea baggers.
Now, when this story first broke, I was at a bit of loss as to how to accurately interpret the right's wildly conspiratorial, victimized reaction. Either Malkin and Beck were just as confused and incoherent as always, and, in their loud noises anti-government rage, they were inadvertently coupling themselves with right wing extremists. Or they not-so-subtly admitted that there isn't much difference between a garden variety conservative, a garden variety wingnut and a garden variety right wing extremist -- that they're all basically militant racists who are plotting to blow up federal buildings. I don't know.
There's one thing we know for sure, however: they're definitely freaked out about the government's post-9/11 intelligence apparatus -- the very same bureaucracy they actively and vocally cheerled throughout the Bush years. Malkin, in particular, was one of the most outspoken and cheerleadery endorsers of allowing unchecked executive power via the vice president's office, the NSA, the CIA and the military, while encouraging these agencies to use any means necessary to smoke out the evildoers. This included illegal wiretapping, rendition, suspension of habeas rights and every awful provision found within the USA PATRIOT Act.
Yet in light of this DHS report, Malkin seems to believe that the government might be spying on people. Her people. "Right wing extremists."
So they're suddenly worried about privacy are they? Whatever happened to Rush Limbaugh's maxim: "Our civil liberties are worthless if we are dead!" Or Senator Big John Cornyn's words of wisdom: "None of your civil liberties matter much after you're dead."
When you cheer on a Surveillance State, you have no grounds to complain when it turns its eyes on you. If you create a massive and wildly empowered domestic surveillance apparatus, it's going to monitor and investigate domestic political activity. That's its nature.
It's like that classic SNL sketch from 1988 with Tom Hanks as Mr. Short Term Memory. Hanks is at a restaurant and orders his favorite meal: poached salmon. He takes a bite of his fish then, forgetting he took a bite, shouts, "Ah! There's something in my mouth! There's something in my mouth!" The wingnuts begged and fear-mongered for this gigantic overreaching surveillance state and now they're suddenly alarmed that it's covering terrorists other than brown-skinned foreigners with funny hats?
That could be the clincher, though. The far-right outrage might have something to do with skin color.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project reported that as many as 60 domestic, white right wing terrorist attacks were thwarted by law enforcement in the ten year span following the Oklahoma City bombing which, by the way, was also perpetrated by an American right wing extremist with boy-next-door white skin.
The plots, all foiled by law enforcement, reportedly included violent plans by antigovernment militia groups, racist skinhead organizations, and Ku Klux Klan members to use various types of chemical bombs and other weapons.
Nice. More examples of right wing extremists. Extremists who are evidently being coupled by Malkin with the broader conservative movement. I hasten to note here that I'm not citing these examples for the same reason Malkin and wingnutty websites such as Religion of Peace like to highlight Islamic terrorist attacks: as an ongoing feargasm intended to incite more wars and cultural intolerance. I'm merely presenting evidence that, yes, right wing terrorists do exist. Sorry, Malkin. There are also left wing terrorists, by the way, and they were the subject of their own DHS report issued back in January, according to the Washington Times.
The point being that terrorist attacks can be orchestrated by anyone -- not just brown religious zealots. (I can't believe I actually have to write that.)
Whether intentional or not, the talkers and bloggers who appear to be driving the post-Bush crazy train, have, intentionally or not, opened up the conservative tent to some pretty unsavory and dangerous characters. And in light of what happened in Pittsburgh, are they really so sure that deliberately conflating conservatism with the radical, violent end of the ideological spectrum is such a wise strategy? Beck and the others were so shocked and disturbed that their rhetoric was being partly blamed for Pittsburgh. But that was last week. This week, they definitely seem to be sharing their tea bags with the psychotics. And such behavior can cause a serious infection. Political infection. Is what I meant.
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more