Demonizing the Right

Last night Chris Matthews aired his heavily promoted hit piece, “The Rise of the New Right” on his MSNBC show. For anyone who has been following Matthews and his MSNBC colleagues Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, this faux-documentary broke no new ground and offered no surprises.

It was the same-old-same-old: Tea Parties plus Michele Bachmann plus Dick Armey plus Sarah Palin plus Rush Limbaugh plus militias plus etc., etc. equals — TAH-TAH! — Timothy McVeigh! Yes, the hour-long special concluded with this grave warning:

What’s scary today is the language being thrown about. Words have consequences. You cannot call a President’s policy “unAmerican”, as Sarah Palin has done, or refer to the elected government as a “regime”, as Rush Limbaugh persists in doing, or the President as a foreign usurper as the birthers do without giving license on some day to real trouble. This April was the 15th anniversary of Oklahoma City…

Get it? Somewhere another Timothy McVeigh is listening to Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh and is just waiting in the shadows for the right time to act.

We’ve heard all this before. In fact, Rush Limbaugh was blamed for the Oklahoma City bombing at the time it happened. Before going any farther, let me set the record straight on this. McVeigh blew up the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in revenge for the 1993 assault by Federal agents on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, TX. In fact, to make his point, he set off the bomb on the second anniversary of that assault.

As it happened, I was listening to Rush Limbaugh on the very day of the Waco massacre. I seldom listened to Limbaugh, but knowing his reputation, I was curious about what he would say about it. Which turned out to be: nothing. Some listeners called in and wanted to talk about it, but Limbaugh didn’t. “I don’t care”, he said. To him, the Davidians were just a bunch of kooks. Whoever (if anybody) incited Timothy McVeigh to commit an act of terrorism, it wasn’t Rush Limbaugh.

The purpose of Matthews’ propaganda film was, I suppose, to scare us. To this end, he made frequent use of the technique of juxtaposing present-day conservative leaders with scary people from the past — e.g., Michele Bachmann with Joe McCarthy, Glenn Beck with Father Coughlin, etc.

Beck and Coughlin? Coughlin was a socialist who hated Jews. Beck is an anti-socialist who loves Israel. About the only thing they have in common is that they both breathe (or, in the case of Coughlin, breathed, since he has been dead more than 30 years). Ditto Bachmann and McCarthy, although in addition to breathing, they both hail from the upper Midwest.

To hammer home the point of just how scary these folks are, Matthews frequently resorted to expert analysis from Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC, founded by direct-marketing millionaire Morris Dees, (whom anti-death-penalty crusader Millard Farmer once described as “the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker of the civil rights movement, though I don’t mean to malign Jim and Tammy Faye”) has of late become the go-to group when the far Left wants to demonize someone on the Right.

For years the SPLC tracked genuine hate groups — mostly neo-nazis and Klan offshoots — but lately it has branched out into issuing “bulletins” on harmless conservatives and even some libertarians. It is almost certain that the SPLC was the author of the bulletin the Missouri Information Analysis Center sent around to local police departments last year, warning them to be on the lookout for such dangerous characters as people sporting pro-life bumper stickers and veterans just returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The SPLC’s latest Intelligence Report lists 35 leaders of what it calls the “patriot movement” along with five “enablers”. Among those on the “patriot” list are former Constitution Party Presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin, World Net Daily publisher Joseph Farrah, radio talk show host Alex Jones, constitutional lawyer Edwin Vieira Jr. and Catherine Bleish. Never heard of Catherine Bleish, you say? I don’t wonder. She’s a 26-year-old graduate student who heads the Liberty Restoration Project and was never involved in anything political before last year.

Among those on the “enablers” list are Reps. Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul, Fox News commentator Glenn Beck and Judge Andrew Napolitano. The astute reader may notice that three of the names I’ve mentioned — Vieira, Paul and Napolitano — are libertarians. All the others are, at worst, constitutional conservatives. Yet here they are being lumped in with Klansmen and neo-nazis. I trust that the incongruity of Andrew Napolitano, arguably the highest profile civil libertarian in the United States, appearing on a list of dangerous persons put out by a so-called “civil rights” organization is not lost on anyone.

Chris Matthews also threw around the the word “libertarian” quite a bit during his hour-long “documentary”. You see, anyone who thinks the government has too much power, who thinks taxes are too high, who thinks people should be allowed to think and say what they want, is a dangerous person who must be watched carefully.

What this is really all about is a campaign strategy for the Democrats this fall. The polls are showing that they are in serious trouble. They passed the stimulus package and Obamacare and are trying to pass cap-and-tax despite overwhelming public opposition, and the economy is in the toilet. Since they can’t run on their record, their only hope is to demonize their opponents.

This is definitely the strategy being employed by the Democrat incumbent who is in the biggest trouble — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. A commenter on another post provided a link to a left-wing blog that tries to tie Reid’s opponent, Republican Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle, to Christian Reconstruction, a belief held by a tiny minority of postmillennialists that society should be governed by Old Testament law. Other enemies of Angle have tried to link her to Scientology. Anyone who knows anything about religion will know that both stories cannot simultaneously be true: one can no more simultaneously be a Christian Reconstructionist and a Scientologist than one can simultaneously be a cat and a frog.

However, this week they found some real dirt on Angle. It turns out she was once a Democrat.

2 thoughts on “Demonizing the Right”

  1. I didn’t watch Matthew’s piece last night, so I won’t comment on it specifically. I will offer my opinion that, as a pundit, just like Limbaugh, Beck, Napolitano, Olbermann, Maddow, O’Brien, et al, he is in the business of telling us what we should think instead of allowing us to make our own judgements based upon the facts. And pundits, just like politicians, much prefer to tell us why the opposition is wrong rather than to explain why they are right. I find it all terribly annoying and prefer not to pay attention to any of them.

    Regarding Sharron Angle, all I need to know about her is that she is pro-life, pro-guns, opposed to government-run healthcare, ostensibly opposed to increased government oversight of our financial institutions and big business, and apparently would abolish the IRS given the chance. If I lived in Nevada, I wouldn’t vote for her.

  2. Regarding Sharron Angle, all I need to know about her is that she is pro-life, pro-guns, opposed to government-run healthcare, ostensibly opposed to increased government oversight of our financial institutions and big business, and apparently would abolish the IRS given the chance. If I lived in Nevada, I wouldn’t vote for her.

    I would.

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