AlterNet.org: Chip Berlet http://challengewww.alternet.org/authors/chip-berlet en Where Right-Wingers Get Their Ridiculous Hatred for 'Political Correctness' http://challengewww.alternet.org/right-wing/right-wingers-ridiculous-hatred-political-correctness <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1060956'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1060956" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The term was hijacked by right-wing ideologues in the late 1980s to marginalize concern for basic human rights. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://challengewww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_107320268.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The term "political correctness" was hijacked by right-wing ideologues in the late 1980s to trivialize and disparage concern for basic human rights for people whose race, gender, ability, size, or other attributes were inconsistent with the norms established by straight, white, Christian men.</p><p>Before then the term was seldom used other than among leftists to discuss political ideology.</p><p>The idea of claiming there was a culture war by liberals and leftists against America was formulated over several years by right-wing ideologues Patrick Buchanan, William Lind, and Paul Weyrich.</p><p>Of these it is William Lind's development of the idea of a culture war led by "cultural Marxists" using "political correctness" that incorporated anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and made of Lind a hero to Norway mass murder terrorist Anders Behring Breivik. Breivik not only cited and quoted Lind on the subject, but plagiarized whole section of a Lind manifesto.</p><p>It is Weyrich, however, who lays out the case in clear prose:</p><p>Paul Weyrich:<br />February 16, 1999</p><blockquote> ..."I am in the process of rethinking what it is that we, who still believe in our traditional, Western, Judeo-Christian culture, can and should do under the circumstances. Please understand that I am not quarreling with anybody who pursues politics, because it is important to pursue politics, to be involved in government. It is also important to try, as many people have, to re-take the cultural institutions that have been captured by the other side.</blockquote><blockquote>But it is impossible to ignore the fact that the United States is becoming an ideological state. The ideology of Political Correctness, which openly calls for the destruction of our traditional culture, has so gripped the body politic, has so gripped our institutions, that it is even affecting the Church. It has completely taken over the academic community. It is now pervasive in the entertainment industry, and it threatens to control literally every aspect of our lives.<p>Those who came up with political correctness, which we more accurately call "cultural Marxism," did so in a deliberate fashion. I'm not going to go into the whole history of the Frankfurt School and Herbert Marcuse and the other people responsible for this. Suffice it to say that the United States is very close to becoming a state totally dominated by an alien ideology, an ideology bitterly hostile to Western culture. Even now, for the first time in their lives, people have to be afraid of what they say.</p><p>This has never been true in the history of our country. Yet today, if you say the "wrong thing," you suddenly have legal problems, political problems, you might even lose your job or be expelled from college. Certain topics are forbidden. You can't approach the truth about a lot of different subjects. If you do, you are immediately branded as "racist," "sexist," "homophobic," "insensitive," or "judgmental."</p><p> Cultural Marxism is succeeding in its war against our culture.</p></blockquote><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1060956'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1060956" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 03 Aug 2016 09:53:00 -0700 Chip Berlet, talk2action.org 1060956 at http://challengewww.alternet.org The Right Wing Belief The Right Wing political correctness wingnuts the far right pat buchanan christian right From the KKK to Dylann Roof: White Nationalism Infuses Our Political Ideology http://challengewww.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/kkk-dylann-roof-white-nationalism-infuses-our-political-ideology <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1039671'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1039671" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">We need to confront the system that continues to give white people unfair advantages. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://challengewww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/dylann-800x430_0.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>When <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dylann_Roof">Dylann Roof</a> pulled a gun at a Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina, his shots rang through history to the roots of the ideology of <a href="http://washingtonspectator.org/how-white-supremacy-tells-its-stories/">white supremacy</a>, which justified genocide of indigenous peoples and the enslavement of black people from Africa. We deny this at our own risk.</p><p>Roof attacked the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, which by the early 1800s was at the center of black resistance to <a href="http://washingtonspectator.org/party-betrayed-lincoln/">slavery</a> in Charleston, according to African-American history scholar <a href="http://www.uh.edu/class/history/faculty-and-staff/horne_g/">Gerald Horne</a>. Black people, Roof feared, threaten the existence of the white race. Events in the church’s history play a role in Roof’s fear. Inspired by a slave rebellion that began in 1791 in what is now Haiti, Emanuel parishioner <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denmark_Vesey">Denmark Vesey</a> of Charleston began organizing an insurrection against slavery, using the Charleston AME church as a base.</p><p>Roof might have been unaware of the specific history of “Mother Emmanuel,” but he had immersed himself in a narrative that is deeply rooted in our nation’s history, a narrative that takes into account the history of Charleston’s historic congregation.</p><p>Roof told a participant in the Bible study, “I have to do it. <a href="http://gawker.com/cousin-of-charleston-pastor-shooter-said-you-rape-our-1712203419">You rape our women</a> and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” Horne and other social scientists believe Roof inherited the fear of murderous blacks raping white women from a common historic narrative of white supremacy.</p><p>Horne says that after the bloody slave revolt, American newspapers were full of stories salaciously describing “marauding blacks with sugar cane machetes hacking the white slave-owners to death.” Regardless of their veracity, these stories informed a historic narrative that was seized upon by the founders and early members of the <a href="http://washingtonspectator.org/a-flag-highjacked-by-modern-segregationists/">Ku Klux Klan</a>.</p><p>After the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan “was largely halted following federal legislation targeting Klan-perpetrated violence in the early 1870s,” said <em>Klansville, U.S.A.</em> author <a href="http://www.npr.org/2013/02/14/171729575/klansville-u-s-a-chronicles-the-rise-and-fall-of-the-kkk">David Cunningham</a> in a <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/klansville/">PBS documentary</a>. In 1905, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Dixon,_Jr.">Thomas Dixon</a>, Jr., wrote <em>The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan</em>, later turned into the silent film <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/the-worst-thing-about-birth-of-a-nation-is-how-good-it-is"><em>The Birth of a Nation</em></a> in 1915. The white supremacist frame of black men pillaging, raping, and murdering was returning to the mainstream.</p><p>Dylann Roof looked beyond our native anti-black texts. His website was <a href="http://lastrhodesian.com/">The Last Rhodesian</a>. Roof allied himself with the cause of Rhodesia because, according to the racist right, the failed struggle in the 1960s to preserve African white nationalist societies, including South Africa, was a warning about the communist conspiracy to use black people to pave the way for totalitarian tyranny. This thesis was purveyed by the <a href="http://washingtonspectator.org/conspiracy-theories-the-republicans-last-refuge/">John Birch Society</a>, whose historic and current conspiracy theories are today utilized by Glenn Beck. A decade before he was appointed to the Supreme Court, Justice <a href="http://washingtonspectator.org/the-supreme-court-vs-black-voters-in-alabama/">Clarence Thomas</a> joined the conspiracy theorists when he became affiliated with the Lincoln Institute, a right-wing think tank that embraced apartheid in South Africa as a bulwark against communism.</p><p>As the world is wired today, these theories are a click away. <a href="http://jearl.faculty.arizona.edu/">Jennifer Earl</a>, the co-author of <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Digitally-Enabled-Social-Change-Technology/dp/0262525062">Digitally Enabled Social Change: Activism in the Internet Age</a></em>, is one of several sociologists to have shown that the internet can mobilize people into movement participation. Right-wing groups from the militia to the neo-Nazi movements were early adopters of online technology, even before the internet created a world wide web of unedited communications that brought racist and anti-Semitic (and now anti-Islamic) rhetoric into our homes.</p><p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0omaQH9wc-w">Roger Griffin</a>studied terrorism for the British government. His <a href="http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/terrorists-creed-roger-griffin/?K=9780230241299"><em>Terrorist’s Creed: Fanatical Violence and the Human Need for Meaning</em></a>, describes the phenomenon of “heroic doubling,” which can turn a “normal” individual into someone who carries out acts of fanatical violence as a media-carried clarion call to arms to defend an idealized pure community under threat from a demonized “Other.”</p><p>Roof was influenced by the <a href="http://conservative-headlines.com/">Council of Conservative Citizens</a>. The CofCC’s racist rhetoric provides the most extreme versions of the demonization of blacks and white liberals, while a more muted—sometimes coded—version of white supremacy is routinely broadcast on cable news and AM radio talk shows. The first black president continues to provide a lightning rod for racist rhetoric.</p><p><a href="http://washingtonspectator.org/arthur-goldwag-a-bad-day-for-jason-richwine-is-a-good-day-for-his-white-nationalist-editor/">White nationalism</a> infuses our political ideology as a nation—from our major political parties to the armed extreme right. We need to confront the color line that bestows on white people unfair advantages. We need to revoke that grant of privilege by working to correct the injustice that still stains our nation with the spilling of blood. As Dr. King warned us, either we build community or we will face chaos.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2015 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1039671'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1039671" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 21 Jul 2015 09:01:00 -0700 Chip Berlet, The Washington Spectator 1039671 at http://challengewww.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics white nationalism dylann roof kkk Charleston shooting racism Why We Need to Understand the Apocalyptic Worldview of a Small Group of Radical Muslims http://challengewww.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/why-we-need-understand-apocalyptic-worldview-small-group-radical-muslims <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '828345'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=828345" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">If we want to understand the genesis of much Islamic terrorism by a small handful of Muslims, a speculative tour of their apocalyptic worldview may help us design a more effective response.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://challengewww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/photo_1366485560813-1-0_7.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Walk a mile in the shoes of those who claim to honor God and yet cheer the bombing of the Boston Marathon.</p><p>They represent only a tiny fraction of the Muslims on our planet, yet they see themselves as carrying out the will of God. Fanatics such as these can be found in many of the World’s religions. They shoot abortion providers in the United States; blast apart buses in Israel; and murder Muslims and Hindus in India.</p><p>These religious fanatics often combine a totalitarian political mindset with a belief in sacred prophecy that they are mandated by God to rule the world, and they must act now against their enemies because time is running out. In fact they believe that we are approaching the end of time itself, the literal end of the world as we know it. This worldview is call apocalypticism. Sketchy details are emerging that suggests one of the motives for the alleged suspects in the Boston bombing may have been a belief in an obscure and contested Muslim prophecy about the apocalyptic End Times.</p><p>We may never know the full details of what motivated the Tsarnaev brothers, but if we want to understand the genesis of much Islamic terrorism by a small handful of Muslims around the world, a speculative tour of their apocalyptic worldview may help us design a more effective response.</p><p>A YouTube page reportedly created by Tamerlan Tsarnaev reveals a fascination with apocalyptic Islamic prophecy. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in a battle with police early Friday morning; his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested late Friday night. The two brothers were named as bombing suspects by authorities, but family and friends find it hard to believe they were implicated in the act of terrorism. Although at this stage it is just speculation, it is possible that one or both of the brothers learned how to be Islamic terrorists for God by using online resources.</p><p>Apocalypticism is the belief in an approaching confrontation between absolute good and absolute evil about which a select few have forewarning so they can make appropriate preparations. During this confrontation, hidden truths are revealed, and afterwards the earth is transformed in a significant way. Terrorism fueled by apocalyptic belief within Islam is a core element for the most aggressive and militant forms of Islam such as al Queda and Hamas, and it created one of the most ruthless resistance campaigns in Chechnya where the Tsarnaev elders lived during the equally brutal and murderous Russian invasions in the 1990s.</p><p>Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s YouTube page included a link to a 13 minute video, titled “The Emergence of Prophecy: The Black Flags from Khorasan,” claiming that an Islamic holy war has already started. The apocalyptic video is by renegade cleric Shaykh Feiz Mohammed. The video begins with the statement that "The prophet said when you see the black flags coming from the direction of Khorasan, you will join their army. That army has already started its march."</p><p>Khorasan is the name of an ancient region, just to the south and east of Chechnya and incorporating parts of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. A rare old map <a href="https://www.raremaps.com/gallery/detail/29426/">illustrates</a> its dimensions.</p><p>The brothers Tsarnaev were raised in a broader region bordering Khorasan among Muslims where the Black Flag prophecy says God will raise a mighty army. Straddling the territory from Chechnya to Iran and Afghanistan are the Caucasus, a mountain range from which the term Caucasian is derived.</p><p>The Black Flags from Khorasan prophecy tells of a massive army of non-Arab Muslims marching on Jerusalem to prepare the way for the return of the Mahdi, the figure in Islamic apocalyptic narrative who signals the end of time and the global triumph of Islam. The video claims that in the forthcoming End Times Allah “will rise up a group of people, which will give their allegiance to Imam Mahdi and Eesa (Jesus)...." Along with the Mahdi, Jesus of Nazareth is a prophet in Islamic religious tradition who precedes the Mahdi and tells of the forthcoming victory of Islam.</p><p>According to the video, "We now know that the army of Mahdi will come out of Khorasan with their black banners...." The text then claims that the "last hour would not come unless seventy thousand persons" from the region led an attack. The "last hour" also refers to the End Times in Islamic apocalyptic prophecy as well as Christian versions of the prophecy.</p><p>On the video a speaker appears who claims the lineage of these people from Khorasan traces to the early Israelites. A subtext here is that these Muslims from the Khorasan region are one of the lost tribes of Israel and thus have an original unbroken covenant with God. The text resumes, stating: "The appearance of Imam Mahdi...is that he has deep wheatish complexion, light stature, medium height, beautiful broad complexion, long straight nose, eyebrows round like a bow, big natural black eyes...." Following this there are video images of men and women with rifles and automatic weapons.</p><p>The video claims that “no power will be able to stop them and they will finally reach Jerusalem where they will erect their flags." The narrator then says that the Jihad is already in process “across the Holy Land,” and that “nothing can stop that Jihad, No one can stop it....”</p><p>As of Friday night a <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJknGtKV34I">copy</a> of the video was still on You Tube.</p><p>The prophecy outlined in The Black Flags from Khorasan is part of a scary messianic and apocalyptic movement within Islam is called Mahdism. According to Professor Timothy R. Furnish, apocalyptic Mahdist movements are to fundamentalist uprisings what nuclear weapons are to conventional ones: triggered by the same detonating agents, but far more powerful in scope and effect.”-{1} Mahdist movements are tightly wound around apocalyptic frameworks giving form to the future of all humanity at the end of time.</p><p>Chechnya</p><p>The Chechen Republic, with a predominantly Muslim population, is a reluctant part of the Russian federation. Chechnya lies between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea along with Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, all surrounded by the much larger territories of Russia, Turkey, and Iran.</p><p>The repression and human rights atrocities committed in Chechnya by invading Russian troops were brutal and deadly. In 2002 Human Rights Watch issued a report stating that "Russian forces in Chechnya arbitrarily detain, torture, and kill civilians in a climate of lawlessness." Some Chechen Muslims suggest that Russia and the United States reached an understanding whereby the U.S. would not pay attention to human rights abuses in Chechnya as long as Russian forces were fighting radical Muslims.</p><p>Richard H. Schultz, Jr. and Andrea J. Dew in <em>Insurgents, Terrorists, and Militias: The Warriors of Contemporary Combat</em>, note "the growing significance of Sufi Islam in the social, political, cultural, and economic life of Chechnya."</p><p>The Sufi form of Islam around the world is a pacifist religious movement, and Sufis generally stay out of politics, and sometimes are persecuted by the more orthodox Muslims.</p><p>According to Schultz &amp; Dew, in Chechnya an aberrant form of Sufism developed.</p><p>Schultz &amp; Dew suggest that after the Russian invasion of the North Caucuses, the "idea of <em>ghazzavat</em> or holy war made it easier for Chechens to take on" the Russian invaders. "By labeling the Russians 'infidels,' the <em>ghazzavat</em> doctrine" infused the Muslim fighter with a "feeling of worthiness and moral supremacy." In addition, it "provided fighters with safe passage to the afterlife" by "eliminating fear of death and the unknown." The guarantee of entering the afterlife as heroes and martyrs to God’s just cause helps generate a constant flow of terrorists.</p><p>What began as a resistance by Chechen nationalists seeking independence from Russia eventually morphed into a religious campaign dominated by Muslims. According to Shultz &amp; Dew, "radical Islamists from various Arab and Muslim countries" joined the Chechen resistance, and saw the fight as "part of the international holy war." In 2003, the authors note, "the U.S. State Department designated three Chechen groups as terrorist organizations and charged they had links to al-Qaeda." This has been disputed by some experts. Clearly, not all Chechen resistance fighters were Muslim; some were simply nationalists opposed to the vicious Russian campaign against Chechnya. And not all resistance fighters turned to terrorism.</p><p>Why Patriots Day?</p><p>Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts, although celebrated on a Monday, is dedicated to the colonial Minutemen patriots of Lexington and Concord and surrounding towns who on April 19, 1775 launched the revolution that gave birth to the United States. This is an important date for right-wing movements in the United States, and there are numerous posts on the Internet explaining why. Early speculation as to the perpetrators of the bombing centered on domestic right-wing militants. As someone who for forty years has studied domestic right-wing militias and neonazi groups (not the same thing) I had trouble imagining how such groups would explain targeting Boston on a day that was an iconic part of their anti-regime philosophy.</p><p>What if you believe in the Islamic prophecy? Imagine that you are a devout Muslim who has been drawn into a fanatical totalitarian sociopolitical movement that sees the United States as the Great Satan. Attacking civilians on Patriots day is an act that glorifies God. Bombing the Boston Marathon punishes a country bent on crippling global Islam. A colleague who is a filmmaker pointed out that blowing the legs off of marathon bystanders was symbolically cutting off America at the knees. Boston, once heralded by devout Christians as the apocalyptic New Jerusalem is exposed as the wellspring of evil, not the location where Jesus of Nazareth returns in triumph with a Christian millennium.</p><p>Bombing a celebration of Patriots Day in Boston not only targets the claim that America stands for democracy, but also reveals the weakness and powerlessness of the imperial juggernaut helping despoil Muslim lands from Chechnya to Mecca and beyond. This doesn’t have to make sense to the average American, it just has to make sense to two young Muslim men on a mission for God and glory who perhaps are on their way to a hero’s welcome in the afterlife.</p><p>The Devil is in the Details</p><p>The prophecy about a mighty army of non-Arab Muslims under a sea of black flags storming Jerusalem from the region of Khorasan is very marginal within contemporary Islam. A hadîth is a saying attributed to the prophet Muhammad in one or more collections handed down over time within Islam. Some hadiths are concerned more reliable than others by experts within the faith. According to Sheikh Salman al-Oadah at <em>Islam Today</em>:</p><blockquote>The hadîth about the army with black banners coming out of Khorasan has two chains of transmission [historic references and cites], but both are weak and cannot be authenticated.<p>If a Muslim believes in this hadîth, he believes in something false. Anyone who cares about his religion and belief should avoid heading towards falsehood.</p></blockquote><p>Being an observant Muslim or even a "fundamentalist" Muslim who resents U.S. foreign policy actions in the Middle East and South Asia does not mean that one automatically supports theocracy, violence, or terrorism. The problem is maximized when Fundamentalism is tied to a totalitarian worldview, especially when mixed with apocalyptic or millennial excitement.</p><p>It depends on your version of your religion as to whether or not you see the return of the Messiah in the End Times as requiring some earthly assistance, including the use of force to “hasten the end.” Most of the devout pray to hasten the return of the Messiah…but a few use bombs such as those that exploded in Boston.</p><p>In his masterful and terrifying book, <em>The End of Days</em>, my colleague Gershom Gorenberg traces the way in which small groups of Jews, Christians, and Muslims seek to control the Temple Mount in Jerusalem as a landing pad for global Godliness. Alas, for the most fanatic, this means converting or killing all of us who refuse to join in the purification of the planet in anticipation of the end of time and the return of the prophesied Messiah.</p><ul><li>For Jews, the Messiah has not yet arrived. Jesus was not a true Messiah. When the true Messiah returns, he will return to the rebuilt Temple of Solomon, the site of which is in Jerusalem.</li><li>For Christians, it is Jesus, the true Messiah, who was executed and rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, who is the true Messiah. Some believe Jesus will return to the Temple Mount</li><li>For Muslims, the actual Messiah is called the Mahdi. Muslims know this is correct because Jesus—who is a revered prophet in Islam—returns and tells the world that he was indeed a prophet of God, but that the real Messiah (the Mahdi) returns to establish Islam as the ruler of earth.</li></ul><p>Each religion expects the true Messiah to return to the same small hill in Jerusalem. For Jews and Christians it is the Temple Mount. For Muslims, who currently control the land, the same hill is called al-Haram al-Sharif. In anticipation of the return of the Messiah—in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—some engage in rituals of purification to cleanse Earth and hasten the return of the Messiah. In rare instances this includes violence as a part of the ritual of purification.</p><p>The bombing of the Boston Marathon may be a horrid example of a totalitarian tendency dubbed “political religion” and popularized as a concept by theorist Eric Voegelin in the 1930s.-{2} Examples of political religions include Hitlerism, Stalinism, and the regime of Pol Pot in Cambodia. All are forms of totalitarianism that demonized and scapegoat a named enemy for all problems in a society. Other scholars use terms such as “the sacralization of politics” (Gentile) and palingenesis (Griffin) to analyze such movements.</p><p>The term “political religion” does not mean a religion that has become politicized; it means a political movement that raises the stakes for its program so that obedience and action are raised to the level of a religious or metaphysical obligation. You are either on the bus or you will be thrown under the bus. Obedience to the end goals of the political movement are an absolutist requirement. Having arrived at this totalitarian worldview, it is quite possible to attach it to a religious motive, especially one based in apocalyptic prophecy.</p><p>This is the worldview of the militant “Jihadists” who engage in acts of terrorism. Most Muslims see Jihad within Islam as a term that means a struggle to find truth and not justifying acts of terrorism. According to an essay in the Islamic magazine <em>The Fountain,</em>Jihadists:</p><blockquote>…cannot fight those who do not oppose them, cannot engage in indiscriminate killing and pillage, and must remain honorable while fighting (no deliberate killing of women, children, or the elderly, mutilation of corpses, and destruction of land and crops). Force is to be used only when there is no other choice (2:190).-{3}</blockquote><p>Islamic fundamentalism</p><p>In Islam there was a series of reformations in the 1700s, similar to Martin Luther's reformation of Catholicism into Protestantism, but the decentralized nature of Islam was an issue, and there were several separate reform movements. One was led by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703-92), that became the Wahhabi movement-the theology behind the Saudi government. Think of the Wahhabist Saudi government as similar to the theocratic government created by John Calvin in Geneva. Both are based on the idea of the sovereignty of God administered by righteous men.</p><p>Now there is a second reformation going on within Islam that is more global-theocratic Islamic fundamentalism. Jamal Malik, who studies Muslim identity, explains that with Islamic fundamentalism "Islamic tradition is modernized, since the imagined Islamic society is to compete and correspond with Western achievements. This would only be possible in a centralized Islamic state over which they would wield control as the agents of God's sovereignty on earth. . . ." {4}</p><p>This explanation of Islamic fundamentalism describes a form of theocracy-a system where the only appropriate political leaders are persons who see themselves as devoted to carrying out the will of God as interpreted by a common religion. Some scholars, however, argue that not all forms of fundamentalism are necessarily theocratic, at least in practice.</p><p>Contemporary Islamic fundamentalism has its roots in the theological/political theories of Abul Ala Mawdudi (1903-79) and Sayyid Qutb (1906-66) and the emergence of a theological outlook called Salafism that is complimentary to Wahhabism. As Khaled Abou El Fadl explains:</p><blockquote><p>Wahhabi thought exercised its greatest influence not under its own label, but under the rubric of Salafism. In their literature, Wahhabi clerics have consistently described themselves as Salafis, and not Wahhabis....</p><p>Salafism is a creed founded in the late nineteenth century by Muslim reformers such as Muhammad 'Abduh, al-Afghani and Rashid Rida. Salafism appealed to a very basic concept in Islam: Muslims ought to follow the precedent of the Prophet and his companions (al-salaf al-salih).</p><p>Methodologically, Salafism was nearly identical to Wahhabism except that Wahhabism is far less tolerant of diversity and differences of opinion. The founders of Salafism maintained that on all issues Muslims ought to return to the Qur'an and the sunna (precedent) of the Prophet. In doing so, Muslims ought to reinterpret the original sources in light of modern needs and demands, without being slavishly bound to the interpretations of earlier Muslim generations. {5}</p></blockquote><p>The result is a form of Islamic fundamentalism that is very repressive. Mawdudi argued that his ideal Islamic State "would be totalitarian, because it subjected everything to the rule of God. . ." notes Karen Armstrong. {6}</p><p>Some observers use the term “fundamentalist” to describe all militant totalitarian apocalyptic religious movements. This is not accurate. The term fundamentalism, originally used to describe a form of Christianity, is properly used to describe similar but not identical religious revitalization movements in various religious traditions, including Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Fundamentalism is often confused with orthodoxy and traditionalism. Fundamentalists claim to be restoring the "true" religion by returning to "traditional" beliefs and enforcing orthodox beliefs-the set of theological doctrines approved of as sound and correct by a faith's religious leaders. In fact, while fundamentalist movements claim to be restoring tradition and orthodoxy, they actually create a new version of an existing religion based on a mythic and romanticized past. This thesis was a central argument in Karen Armstrong's <em>The Battle for God</em>, a comparative study of fundamentalism in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. {7}</p><p>So, while fundamentalism is a reaction against the Enlightenment and modernity, it is ironically a distinctly modern phenomenon. Jamal Malik, who studies Muslim identity, explains that with Islamic fundamentalism "Islamic tradition is modernized, since the imagined Islamic society is to compete and correspond with Western achievements. This would only be possible in a centralized Islamic state over which they would wield control as the agents of God's sovereignty on earth. . . ." {8} This explanation of Islamic fundamentalism describes a form of theocracy-a system where the only appropriate political leaders are persons who see themselves as devoted to carrying out the will of God as interpreted by a common religion. Some scholars, however, argue that not all forms of fundamentalism are necessarily theocratic, at least in practice.</p><p>Furthermore, fundamentalist religious movements seldom turn to violence, even when they are wound up tighter than a clock spring with apocalyptic excitement and anticipation. The response to apocalyptic belief systems anticipating the End of Days can be passive, defensive, or aggressive.</p><p>Professor Lee Quinby takes a dim view of apocalypticism. In her book <em>Anti–Apocalypse</em>, Quinby argues that “Apocalypticism in each of its modes fuels discord, breeds anxiety or apathy, and sometimes causes panic,” and that “this process can occur at the individual, community, national, or international level.” What makes apocalypse so compelling,” argues Quinby,” is its promise of future perfection, eternal happiness, and godlike understanding of life, but it is that very will to absolute power and knowledge that produces its compulsions of violence, hatred, and oppression.” {9} Quinby also published a study titled “Coercive Purity: The Dangerous Promise of Apocalyptic Masculinity.” Scholar Carol Mason has written in <em>Killing for Life: The Apocalyptic Narrative of Pro-Life Politics</em>of the religious justifications used by those who murder abortion provider in the United States.</p><p>Sociologist of religion Brenda Brasher argues that apocalypticism “is potentially beneficent or potentially destructive. A crucial distinction,” she says is, “in the definition of the status of the 'Other' in the anticipated confrontation. If the 'Other' is constructed as wholly evil, then the ramifications are really horrendous. In this form, apocalypticism leaves no room for ambiguity in the stories told about the 'Other.' There is a real hardening of sides. We are good, they are evil. This is not a disagreement, but a struggle with evil incarnate, so there is no structure for a peaceful reconciliation.” In this scenario, Brasher says that people “are cast in their roles as either enemy or friend and there is no such thing as middle ground. In the battle with evil, can you really say you are neutral?”</p><p>On the other hand, Brasher points out that “apocalyptic themes have been drawn upon by people who are in distress”:</p><blockquote>…people faced with horrific conditions and who are trying to sustain themselves, provide dignity, and preserve a sense of community. An example would be the role of apocalyptic Christianity among African slaves brought to the United States. This is also true of the anti-slavery abolition movements and the Civil Rights movement. In this beneficent form apocalyptic belief provides a moral framework that resists the effects of chaos and provides a means by which communities can survive and endure.</blockquote><p>Where Do We Go From Here?</p><p>For those whose lives were tragically altered forever on April 15, 2013 in Boston, none of this really matters. Yet if we are to fight terrorism, it best be on the basis of understanding what motivates terrorism. Jessica Stern, a terrorism expert at Harvard University, has found through extensive research that the single most common aspect of terrorists is a deep sense of having been humiliated. What then is the effectiveness of a “War on Terrorism” using bombs and drones? This need to punish our enemies in acts of revenge only adds fuel to the flames that return home to engulf us in terrorist acts.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Chip Berlet, an investigative reporter and scholar, has studied repression, right-wing movements, and political violence for over forty years. He was an associate editor of the <em>Encyclopedia of Millennialism and Millennial Movements </em>and recently authored the study “The United States: Messianism, Apocalypticism, and Political Religion” collected in <em>The Sacred in Twentieth Century Politics. </em>Berlet also coordinated and co-authored the revisions for the entry on “Neo-Nazism” in the new edition of the <em>Encyclopaedia Judaica.</em></p><p>For a lengthy study on apocalypticism by the author, see <a href="http://tinyurl.com/dances-with-devils">Dances with Devils: How Apocalyptic and Millennialist Themes Influence Right Wing Scapegoating and Conspiracism</a>. </p> </div></div></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '828345'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=828345" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sun, 21 Apr 2013 16:33:00 -0700 Chip Berlet, AlterNet 828345 at http://challengewww.alternet.org News & Politics Belief News & Politics islam I Was the Target of a Fox News Hoax http://challengewww.alternet.org/story/146681/i_was_the_target_of_a_fox_news_hoax <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '662682'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=662682" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">When I was asked to address a conference at Brandeis, a right-wing shock jock created a hoax to stir up the right. Then Glenn Beck ran with it.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://challengewww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>The story surfaces nationally with a surreal Glenn Beck segment and two ludicrous Fox News discussions highlighting the false claim that Brandeis University was hosting an international conference linking the Tea Party movement to Nazis in Europe. The conference, which took place yesterday, revealed the entire propaganda campaign was a hoax, but not before anguished Holocaust survivors, conservative Jews in the Tea Party movement, and others had deluged Brandeis University with complaints.</p> <p>Now it seems that the story emerged as part of a Fox News campaign to defend the diverse and complicated Tea Party movement from evidence that its supporters include a significant contingent of White people who harbor racial resentment against Blacks and Latinos/Latinas.</p> <p>For the <a target="_hplink" href="http://www.foxnews.com/search-results/m/30482035/right-wingers-are-neo-nazis.htm">original Brandeis story on Fox News</a>reporters relied on the claims of a single local Boston Tea Party advocate and conservative talk radio shock jock, Michael Graham, for its information. So Fox News featured the offensive hoax based on biased hearsay, unsubstantiated supposition, and a misreading of the conference program by a person who is a Tea Party supporter</p> <p>The Glenn Beck segment drifted farther away from facts and logic. <br /><a target="_hplink" href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNP8qXN_gDM&amp;feature=player_embedded">Glenn Beck segment:</a><br /> 3:20 Brandeis conference denounced<br /> 6:00 Beck tells viewers to contact Brandeis</p> <p>As Media Matters for America observed, apparently the most significant aspect of the story for Beck was that the university was named after  the late Jewish scholar and Supreme Court justice, Louis D. Brandeis. <a href="http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201004230014"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">F</span></a><a target="_hplink" href="http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201004230014">or Beck, wrote a Media Matters researcher, the "Brandeis University symposium on political extremism is suspect because Louis Brandeis was in [Woodrow] Wilson's cabinet</a>;" the quip accompanies a link to that portion of Beck's tirade which skirted on the thin ice of classic antisemitic conspiracy claims about manipulation of politics by powerful elite Jews.</p> <p>Since I was a conference participant, and part of the hoax was based on the title of my paper, "From Tea Parties to Armed Militias," I am writing this from a personal perspective. And am I pissed off? You betcha!</p> <p>Unlike Fox News and the right-wing blogosphere, some people actually contacted me before the conference and fact-checked the claims. Not Graham, who wrote an op-ed in the <em>Boston Herald</em> repeating his false claims.</p> <p>My conference paper, which clearly stated that I did not think that Tea Party activists were Nazis, was presented at an interdisciplinary conference coordinated by the Brandeis Center for German and European Studies. The conference title was "<a target="_hplink" href="http://www.brandeis.edu/cges/news/upcomingevents/rightwingradicalism.html">New Right-Wing Radicalism: A Transatlantic Perspective</a>." A range of scholars with demonstrable expertise on the subject from Europe and United States were invited.</p> <p>When Brandeis realized the conference program was being misinterpreted, it issued the following statement:</p> <blockquote>On April 28, the Center for German and European Studies at Brandeis University is hosting a conference on the rise of right-wing radicalism. <p>The event, which features speakers from a variety of universities and institutions, focuses on developments in Europe, including the rise of neo-Nazi and anti-semitic groups. It also includes discussion of a wide range of movements and activities in the United States, from the extreme and violent to the Tea Party, as a point of comparison.</p> <p>The logo created for the conference showed a swastika inside the international symbol of negation, reflecting the legitimate concern people feel over the activities, often violent, of neo-Nazi extremists.</p> <p>Unfortunately, this logo created an impression that Brandeis and the conference organizers equated a range of organizations, including the Tea Party in the United States, with extremist groups on both continents.</p> <p>That was not the intention of the faculty, staff or students of the University who were involved in creating the conference, and Brandeis regrets the unintended association and pain this caused. The logo has been removed from the event page promoting the conference</p></blockquote> <p>So Brandeis understood that the agony for Holocaust survivors caused by the hoax media claims required a revised graphic and an apology. Good for Brandeis. No apologies yet from Fox News for not bothering to fact-check the allegations before misrepresenting the Brandeis program on national television and spawning a storm of controversy on the right-wing side of the Internet.</p> <p>After the conference <a target="_hplink" href="http://video.foxnews.com/v/4171492/inside-anti-right-symposium-/?playlist_id=87937">Fox News continued to beat the dead horse droppings of their manufactured story</a>. They featured Graham, who is publicizing himself by contacting other conservative outlets such as <a target="_hplink" href="http://www.aim.org/don-irvine-blog/brandeis-seminar-ties-tea-party-to-neo-nazism">Accuracy in Media</a> and highlighting his role in publicizing what he calls a scandal and I call a hoax.</p> <p>Fox News is using the Brandeis controversy to insulate the Tea Parties from increasing media coverage of racism and xenophobia within the movement. I reviewed the racial bias in the Tea Parties in my Brandeis presentation yesterday.</p> <p>On their first story about the Brandeis conference Fox News sandbagged NPR commentator Juan Williams who was asked to comment on the charge that the Tea Party activists were Nazis. Not surprisingly Williams thought the charge was outlandish. It is. It is also a hoax. Williams should be more alert to the idea that Fox News would exploit William's skin color as a way to dismiss increasing evidence of racial bias in the movement.</p> <p>Victor Goode on RaceWire, the Colorlines Blog, <a target="_hplink" href="http://www.racewire.org/archives/2010/04/exploring_race_in_the_nyt_tea_party_poll.html">summarized a <em>New York Times</em> poll</a>that "shows that while their most important concern is the economy, they often view this issue through the lens of racially tinted glasses."</p> <p>The University of Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race &amp; Sexuality has released a <a target="_hplink" href="http://uwnews.org/article.asp?articleID=56877">study that shows the "tea party is not just about politics and size of government. The data suggests it may also be about race"</a> study author Christopher Parker, explained. The study asked questions about the trustworthiness and intelligence of Black and Latino/Latina people in the United States, and showed that Tea Party supporters are significantly more prone to prejudice, than those who oppose the movement.</p> <p>According to a University press release:</p> <blockquote>Indeed, strong support for the tea party movement results in a 45 percent decline in support for health care reform compared with those who oppose the tea party. "While it's clear that the tea party in one sense is about limited government, it's also clear from the data that people who want limited government don't want certain services for certain kinds of people. Those services include health care,"Parker said.</blockquote> <p>Some defenders of the Tea Parties go so far as to claim the movement is not on the political right at all. David A Graham on the <em>Newsweek</em>Web site has put together a photo essay depicting similar historic conservative movements. According to Graham, "<a target="_hplink" href="http://photo.newsweek.com/2010/4/conservative-reactionary-movements.html">the United States has a long tradition of reactionary, conservative, populist movements,</a> dating back to before the Civil War. Many of them included racial or ethnic prejudice and hostility toward immigrants.</p> <p><a target="_hplink" href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/19/tom-tancredo-to-tea-party_n_542947.html">The second Fox News program on the Brandeis affair</a>, after the conference, attempted to divert attention away from the potential anti-immigrant trends in the Tea Parties. One recent Tea Party event featured anti-immigrant Machiavellian mastermind Tom Tancredo--a notorious bigot and racist. The former Colorado Representative Tom Tancredo told a Tea Party rally in South Carolina that Obama should be sent back to Africa.</p> <p>One of the core themes of Beck and Fox News is that fascism is a left-wing movement. The subject came up at the Brandeis conference, and one of the German scholars observed that while it was undeniably true that national socialists led by Gregor Strasser played an important role in the Nazi Party, the 1934 <em>Röhm-Putsch</em> (<a target="_hplink" href="http://willy-brandt.org/bwbs_biografie/Roehm-Putsch_B1406.html">aka the Night of the Long Knives</a>), terminated the revolutionary socialist agenda of the Nazi Party. He said, however, it was generally accepted that German Nazism was a right-wing movement.</p> <p>I was part of a group of scholars asked by the History News Network to <a target="_hplink" href="http://www.hnn.us/articles/122245.html">review Jonah Goldberg's book, <em>Liberal Fascism</em>,</a>and all of us thought the claims and analysis in the book were unsubstantiated, and contradicted the majority scholarship.</p> <p>The discussion of the role of angry middle-class right-wing populist movements intersecting with opportunistic politicians and media demagogues to facilitate the formation of fascist and neo fascist movements is well studied in scholarly literature. But hyperbolic claims from the political Left that the Tea Party movement itself is a Nazi movement flow from deeply inaccurate and superficial perceptions about the nature of fascism and the actual attitudes within the Tea Party movement.</p> <p>There is, however, a set of dynamics that the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as "<a target="_hplink" href="http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2010/spring">Rage on the Right</a>," that involves the Patriot Movement, the Militias, Anti-immigrant groups, and the Ultra Right including neonazis.</p> <p>In recent months a number of progressive scholars and journalists have opened up a discussion about these dynamics, most recently <a target="_hplink" href="http://www.progressive.org/wx041210.html">Noam Chomsky</a>, but preceded by <a target="_hplink" href="http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/2009083205/fascist-america-are-we-there-yet">Sara Robinson</a>, <a target="_hplink" href="http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/">David Neiwert</a>, author of <em>The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right</em>.</p> <p>This is not the same as denouncing the Tea Party movement as Nazis. It is a comparative analysis of the role of right-wing populist movements in Germany during the Weimar regime, and the role they played in the decision of elite faction in Germany to give power to Hitler to solve the "crisis;" but also to block the growing power of socialist and communist parties and movements.</p> <p>That's not the situation in the U.S. today. The Tea Party movement is not on the verge of joining the tiny "groupuscule" of neonazis in our country. It is far more likely they will pull the Republican Party further to the right -- chased by the Democrats led by deluded spin doctors who apparently control what passes for Democratic Party strategy built around snidely deriding the Tea Party activists as ignorant and lunatic "wing-nuts."</p> <p>Of course like all populist social movements on the right or left, the Tea Party could collapse in a few months, or merge into a revitalized Republican Party, or splinter into segments built around libertarianism, xenophobic anti-immigrant activism, Gun Rights, anti-Muslim fears, and the Christian Right gender-drive social agenda of pushing gay people back into the closet and forcing women into back alleys for abortions. Nobody knows for sure.</p> <p>Shock Jock Graham apparently missed the parts of my presentation dealing with why a comparative analysis of how the Tea Party, Town Hall, and Militia movements interact in a dynamic way with the Republican Party on one side and organized insurgent ultra-right movements on the other side. He might have picked up one of the <a target="_hplink" href="http://www.publiceye.org/right_wing_populism/graphics/Populism-chart-handout.pdf">diagrams I distributed at the conference</a>, but if so, he apparently missed the point. (this version is from 2009, as it shows how long I have used this analytical lens mentioning the reformist and dissident Tea Party movement as situated between the reformist Conservative Right and the Insurgent Ultra Right including neonazis.</p> <p>I have also explained the dynamic of how angry right-wing populism can lead to aggression and violence, especially against people of color and immigrants, on <a target="_hplink" href="http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/religiousright/2218/">Religion Dispatches,</a> and in the Progressive magazine in a February cover story titled <a target="_hplink" href="http://www.progressive.org/berlet0210c.html">Taking Tea Partiers Seriously</a>."</p> <p>Since Graham apparently has not bothered to actually read any of my work, or else he simply ignores its content. So here is the text from the end of my Brandeis conference paper:</p> <blockquote> <p>...Fascism exploits anger and frustration and directs it into demonization and scapegoating; creating a potential for aggression and violence that in the worst case scenario can end in genocide.</p> <p>The work of Fritzsche and others on voting patterns in Weimar Germany demonstrates that in the late 1920s Hitler's Nazi Party was able to exploit the fears of exasperated middle class voters by promising to fix a broken economic and political system.</p> <p>After the First World War Yeats wrote in his poem "The Second Coming" :</p> <em>Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold...</em> <p><em>The best lack all conviction, while the worst</em></p> <p><em>Are full of passionate intensity.</em></p> <p>Most right-wing populist movements never become fascist, and most fascist movements never gain state power; but the turmoil created in these volatile periods can undermine civil society, and harm the individuals targeted as scapegoats.</p> <p>Even if you think my presentation is hogwash, please understand that no one at Brandeis and no panelist here today, including me, ever meant to suggest that the Tea Party movement was the equivalent of the Nazi Party. We all thought that was obvious.</p> <p>A simple Internet search would have demonstrated that I have repeatedly condemned the trivialization, mockery, and name-calling aimed at the participants in the Tea Party movement.</p> <p>For media demagogues to exploit the agony of the Holocaust for political gain and to attract personal attention is offensive to this audience, the Brandeis community, Jews around the world, and every decent person on this planet.</p> <p>You may disagree with everything I said here today, but know that the point of conferences like this is to ensure we have learned the horrible lessons of the Nazi genocide, and continuously explore it from a variety of perspectives. And I hope all of us here today can agree on one point... Never Again!</p></blockquote> <p>========================================</p> <p><em>This post is my personal rant (see, for example <a target="_hplink" href="http://www.cnbc.com/id/15840232?video=1039849853">going Santelli</a>) . It does not in any way represent the views of my employer, my freelance editors, or the many subversive pinko human rights groups to which I belong or support as a board member or advisor.</em></p> <p><em><a target="_hplink" href="http://www.publiceye.org/right_wing_populism/index.html">More on right-wing populism is here</a></em></p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Chip Berlet, senior analyst at Political Research Associates, is editor of the book, <i>Eyes Right! Challenging the Right Wing Backlash</i> (South End Press). </div></div></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2010 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '662682'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=662682" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 30 Apr 2010 06:00:01 -0700 Chip Berlet, AlterNet 662682 at http://challengewww.alternet.org Media News & Politics Media The Right Wing fox news glenn beck tea party movement brandeis Who Are the Hutaree Militia, And Why Do They Want to Kill Cops? http://challengewww.alternet.org/story/146451/who_are_the_hutaree_militia%2C_and_why_do_they_want_to_kill_cops <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '661862'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=661862" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Christian Soldiers of the Apocalypse have been running around the woods of Michigan planning attacks on federal law enforcement in their war against the Antichrist.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://challengewww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p class="dropcap">Late last month, the nine members of the Hutaree Militia were charged with, among other things, ‘seditious conspiracy,’ which carries a maximum of a life imprisonment if convicted. The <a target="_blank" href="http://www.religiondispatches.org/blog/politics/2408/christian_militia_arrests_and_the_price_of_violent_rhetoric__/">incident</a> has raised concerns over domestic terrorism and left many confused about Christian apocalyptic belief, which requires some basic history to sort out. </p> <p>The Hutaree [hoo-TAR-ee]—which means “Christian warrior” in the group’s <a target="_blank" href="http://hutaree.com/">secret language</a>—were preparing “for the end time battles to keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive.” They believed that “one day, as prophecy says, there will be an Antichrist. All Christians must know this and prepare, just as Christ commanded.” And they obliged by forming <a target="_blank" href="http://www.religiondispatches.org/blog/politics/2408/christian_militia_arrests_and_the_price_of_violent_rhetoric__/">a citizens’ militia underground cell</a> and arming themselves. Their plans, according federal officials, began in August 2008.</p> <p>In order to explain why the Hutaree militia was arming itself to battle the Antichrist and federal law enforcement we need to explore the intersection of Christian fundamentalist apocalypticism with citizen militias, the Patriot Movement, and right-wing populism.</p> <p><strong>Something Old and Something New (World Order)</strong></p> <p>Conspiracy theories date back many centuries, with a major outbreak in the late 1790s of plots by Freemasons to smash both church and state. These plots were rewritten in the latter part of the 1800s to target Catholics; then by a sector of the Populists who saw the perpetrators as a giant octopus of plutocrats and bankers; and again in the early 1900s to scapegoat Jews. Talk radio pioneer <a target="_blank" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Coughlin">Father Coughlin</a> railed against the ‘banksters’ and Jews working behind the scenes in the Roosevelt Administration.</p> <p>Since the early 1990s, a sector of the political right in the United States has embraced a specific set of conspiracy theories revolving around government plans to impose tyranny through the United Nations or some such international body. These conspiracy theorists, egged on by groups like the John Birch Society, claimed that George H.W. Bush was planning a New World Order before attacking the Clinton administration for political assassinations and drug running. The storyline morphed in recent years into fears that the government of the United States planned to destroy national sovereignty by merging with Mexico and Canada to form a North American Union. That theory first surfaced among right-wing opponents of President George W. Bush. Along the way, right-wing media demagogues and Republican Party activists and elected officials fanned the flames.</p> <p>Now as the Obama administration enters its second year, these conspiracy theories have led to aggression and violence and an alleged domestic terrorist plot. Why is anyone surprised? The widespread public dualist demonization of scapegoated targets has a sordid and violent history. It <em>has</em> happened here. Some fundamentalist Christians portray the government as in league with the Satanic Antichrist in the prophetic End Times.</p> <p><strong>Christian Apocalypticism and Fundamentalism</strong></p> <p>An “apocalypse” in its simplest generic sense is an approaching struggle between good and evil during which hidden truths are revealed and the course of history is dramatically altered. Major Protestant denominations, the Catholic Church, and the Orthodox Churches embrace a soft form of Christian apocalyptic expectation, which in many cases refers back to prior historic periods. Some, though not all, Christian fundamentalists are imbued with heightened apocalyptic expectation about upcoming prophetic events.</p> <p>Before the Puritans became colonists, “Protestant apocalyptic tradition envisioned the ultimate sacralization of England as God’s chosen nation,” observes Avihu Zakai in <em>Exile and Kingdom</em>. We tend to forget that the shining “city upon a hill,” was a beacon for a patriarchal Protestant theocracy that executed recidivist dissidents. The goal was to sanctify a new nation as the proper place for the prophesied return of Jesus the Christ. And the Civil War? “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord?” See the narrative emerging?</p> <p>Apocalyptic stories are an integral part of the American psyche, bleeding from theology into popular culture over the past two centuries: from <em>Moby Dick</em> to <em>High Noon</em> to <em>Buffy the Vampire Slayer.</em> Hal Lindsey (with C. C. Carlson) ignited the fuse of contemporary fundamentalist apocalyptic expectation with <em>The Late Great Planet Earth</em> published in 1970 by Zondervan.</p> <p>Some 20-40 percent of the population of the United States tell pollsters that the biblical prophecies about an End Times battle between Godly Christians and the evil forces of Satan predict actual future history. About 10-15 percent of our neighbors say they hope to see the Second Coming of Jesus Christ in their lifetime. The numbers vary over time and due to the ways questions are structured. It is clear, however, that more people are excited by this type of apocalyptic belief than can be explained by counting the actual parishoners sitting in the pews in fundamentalist churches. Most of these folks, however, are not considering actual criminal acts or violence.</p> <p>Brenda E. Brasher notes that apocalypticism can be constructive or destructive, pointing to the sustaining “role of apocalyptic Christianity among African slaves brought to the United States,” and in the “anti-slavery abolition movements and the Civil Rights movement.” However, if the scapegoated “other” is “constructed as wholly evil, then the ramifications are really horrendous,” <a target="_blank" href="http://www.publiceye.org/antisemitism/nw_brasher.html">warns Brasher</a>.</p> <p>“This is not a disagreement, but a struggle with evil incarnate, so there is no structure for a peaceful reconciliation” in which “people are cast in their roles as either enemy or friend and there is no such thing as middle ground,” Brasher explains, “In the battle with evil, can you really say you are neutral?”</p> <p>The problem, then, is not Christian fundamentalism or apocalyptic belief per se but with forms of Christianity (or any religion) that condone or ignore scapegoating, fundamentalist movements that become totalitarian, or apocalypticism combined with dualistic demonization.</p> <p>Where can we find this? I have a shelf of books published in the past 20 years in which right-wing fundamentalists warn of an impending apocalyptic battle pitting Godly Christians against sinful secular elites, those in favor of government social welfare programs, Muslims, New World Order internationalists seeking global cooperation, people working for peace, abortion providers, sinful homosexuals, and many more named scapegoats.</p> <p><strong>Militias, Tea Parties, and Right-Wing Populism</strong></p> <p>Why are there so many angry people? The Tea Parties are part of a broad Patriot Movement in the United States cobbled together from several preexisting formations on the political right:</p> <ul><li>Economic libertarians who worry about big government collectivist tyranny.</li> <li>Christian Right Conservatives who oppose liberal government social policies</li> <li>Right-wing apocalyptic Christians who fear a Satanic New World Order</li> <li>Nebulous conspiracy theorists who fear a secular New World Order</li> <li>Nationalistic ultra-patriots concerned that US sovereignty is eroding.</li> <li>Xenophobic anti-immigrant white nationalists who worry about preserving the “real” America.</li> </ul><p>These grievances are interacting in a global economy often eager to accommodate corporate interests. And now we add in the fact that an economic downturn that has left millions unemployed or underemployed leaving the largely white, middle-class, Republican Tea Party activists scared that they may be kicked down the socioeconomic ladder next; the election of a “mixed-race” self-identified black man as president at a time when the demographics of the country reflect a growing percentage of people of color, all in the context of the unfinished conversation about race in America; and the disquiet among social conservatives who see abortion and gay rights through the lens of sin and immorality and anguish over the future of the family and traditional gender roles sometimes seen as mandated by God.</p> <p>Spinning out of this broad Patriot movement that chronically appears throughout US history come armed citizens’ militias. The Militia Movement in the United States gained headlines in the mid 1990s. Like today, this earlier militia activism was part of a right-wing populist surge that ran from the Republican Party on the reform side to organized white supremacist groups on the insurgent side. This is not one unified movement, but a series of overlapping ones—think of the Olympic symbol of five interlocking rings. It’s quite plausible that sectors of the broad Patriot movement can work together on a common project without all of them actually agreeing on anything but stopping the secular liberal conspiracy to enslave America.</p> <p>The story embraced by the armed militias in the 1990s was that the government of the United States was part of a secret plan to establish a One Word Government as part of building a New World Order. The debate at the Patriot and militia meetings I attended in the 1990s was whether or not the plot was controlled by the Freemasons, the Skull and Bones Society, the Corporate Elites, the <a target="_blank" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilderberg_Group#Conspiracy_theories">Bilderbergers</a>, or the agents of Satan in the End Times. Occasionally, someone would pull me aside and whisper that it was actually the Jews.</p> <p>The ’90s militias are widely seen as part of a right-wing populist <a target="_blank" href="http://www.publiceye.org/conspire/clinton/Clintonculwar8.html">revolt</a> against the administration of Democrat Bill Clinton, but it actually began under the administration of Republican George H.W. Bush, who was seen as a cosmopolitan internationalist eager to build the nefarious and tyrannical <a target="_blank" href="http://www.publiceye.org/tooclose/chapter-excerpt.html">New World Order</a>. Today’s militia activism can be traced in part to the North American Union <a target="_blank" href="http://popups.ulg.ac.be/federalisme/document.php?id=786">conspiracy theory</a> that percolated up during the last Bush Administration.</p> <p><strong>Is Obama the Antichrist or False Prophet?</strong></p> <p>Last July the following appeared on a Web post: “Obama is the false prophet, Javier Solana the Antichrist, add Satan and you have the unholy trinity. God help us all.” Republicans in New Jersey disagree, 29 percent of them think that Obama “is or might be the Antichrist.” Apparently the Hutaree Militia speculated that Javier Solana (the former Secretary General of NATO and the Secretary-General of the European Union) was the Antichrist, and that the US government merely played a supporting role in Satan’s evil End Times gambit.</p> <p>As Robert C. Fuller observed in his classic <em>Naming the Antichrist: The History of an American Obsession</em>, the candidates for the starring roles vary over time in fundamentalist eschatological analysis. Some see Islam as the religion of the false prophet, the theological sidekick to the Antichrist. After 9/11 there was an increase in the demonization of Muslims in some Christian evangelical circles, especially those in which apocalyptic conspiracy theories flourish. For example, Hal Lindsey joined in the Islam-bashing in 2002 with <em>The Everlasting Hatred: The Roots of Jihad</em>. Speculation in conspiracy circles that Obama is secretly a Muslim, perhaps born in Kenya, add fuel to this bigoted fire.</p> <p>Paul S. Boyer, author of <em>When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture</em>, suggests that religious views about biblical prophecy in the United States have “always had an enormous, if indirect and underrecognized, role [in] shaping public policy.” If the message of apocalyptic demonization is not clear, try reading one of the novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins in their <em>Left Behind</em> series of Christian apocalyptic novels which have sold more than 70 million copies.</p> <p>Writing in the <em>American Prospect</em>, Gershom Gorenberg blasts the authors because they:</p> <blockquote>promote conspiracy theories; they demonize proponents of arms control, ecumenicalism, abortion rights and everyone else disliked by the Christian right; and they justify assassination as a political tool. Their anti-Jewishness is exceeded by their anti-Catholicism. Most basically, they reject the very idea of open, democratic debate. In the world of <em>Left Behind</em>, there exists a single truth, based on a purportedly literal reading of Scripture; anyone who disagrees with that truth is deceived or evil.</blockquote> <p>The main villain of the <em>Left Behind</em> series of books, Gorenberg notes, is “Nicolae Carpathia, the man who turned the United Nations into a one-world government with himself as dictator,” on behalf of Satan. In fact, Carpathia is the dreaded Antichrist. According to Gorenberg:</p> <blockquote>Perhaps the most striking scene in the <em>Left Behind</em> series is the climax of book six, <em>The Assassins</em> [when] Carpathia is speaking at a mass rally in Jerusalem. Out in the crowd is [underground Christian resistance leader] Rayford Steele, armed with a high-tech handgun. He prays for God’s guidance, and finds himself firing what appears to be a fatal shot at Carpathia. Intentionally or not, this is an eerie rewrite of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination at a Tel Aviv peace rally in 1995—but the authors are on the side of the fanatic killer.</blockquote> <p>These types of conspiracy theories swirl through the Tea Party movement and into others on both the Christian and non-Christian Right. Before his novels, LaHaye wrote a series of books popular in the Christian Right in which he laid out the master plan of the conspiracy of liberal secular humanists. Big government and collectivism was part of the sinister plan. LaHaye claims it was Satan who arranged the “crafty election of Franklin D. Roosevelt as president for twelve years.” This was part of a secret conspiracy to turn the “American Constitution upside-down,” in order to “use our freedoms to promote pornography, homosexuality, immorality, and a host of evils characteristic of the last days.” LaHaye says the “Antichrist philosophy already controls America and Europe,” and that:</p> <blockquote>We are the only nation that can halt the socialist Marxist enthronement of the UN as THE GLOBAL GOVERNMENT of the world, but it will require a conservative administration and Supreme Court committed to judicially interpreting our nation’s laws that were originally based on moral biblical principles.</blockquote> <p>When the Tea Party activists warn that Obama’s big government policies will lead to totalitarian rule so that Obama is like both Hitler and Stalin, they’re likely drawing from the writings of free-market economic libertarian <a target="_blank" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_von_Hayek">Friedrich August von Hayek</a> or those theories as transmogrified by the conspiracist John Birch Society. When the Tea Party activists warn that Obama’s health care plan will pull the plug on grandma, they’re likely drawing from the anti-abortion and anti-euthanasia writings of conservative Christian philosopher <a target="_blank" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Schaeffer">Francis Schaeffer</a> or those theories as refracted through the lens of apocalyptic Christian conspiracy theorists such as Tim LaHaye and Pat Robertson. So while the Tea Party movement and the armed militia movement may not be exactly on the same page, they are torn from the same essay on right-wing populism.</p> <p><strong>‘Extreme’ Demonization</strong></p> <p>The government has a legitimate law enforcement role in stopping domestic terrorism, though most dissidents on the political right and left are not breaking any laws and are protected by the First Amendment. The current and volatile right-wing populist movement spans from reform-oriented conservative black Republicans to recruiters for insurgent white supremacist groups, with the Tea Party activists and members of citizens militias falling somewhere between these ideological and methodological poles. It would be sloppy to lump all of these folks into one undifferentiated mass of potential terrorists.</p> <p>The word “extremism,” which is tossed back and forth by both Republicans and Democrats, is a delegitimizing buzz word used by to demonize dissidents across the political spectrum. It was used in the 1960s, for example, to imply that the white segregationists and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were two sides of the same problem of “extremism.” King addressed being framed in this way in his “<a target="_blank" href="http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html">Letter from Birmingham Jail.</a>” Today the government uses the tem “extremism” to suggest dissident ideas on the right or left place people on a slippery slope toward terrorism. It’s time to stop using the term altogether.</p> <p>The dynamic of widespread political demonization and scapegoating is not a problem for the police to solve. Religious, political, business, and labor leaders have to find a backbone and demand an end to the demonization of political opponents as traitors out to destroy America. Republicans need to distance themselves from conspiracist demagoguery and accept some moral responsibility for the nasty polarization in our society while Democrats must stop dismissing the angry right-wing populists in the Tea Party movement as ignorant and crazy. All of us need to stand up and call for a vigorous, thoughtful, and even raucous national debate over public policy while opposing all forms of demonization and scapegoating as toxic to democracy.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Chip Berlet, senior analyst at Political Research Associates, is co-author of Right–Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort, and a contributor to Dispatches from the Religious Left. </div></div></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2010 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '661862'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=661862" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 15 Apr 2010 21:00:01 -0700 Chip Berlet, Religion Dispatches 661862 at http://challengewww.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics Belief racism populism right wing fundamentalism apocalypse end times patriot movement militia tea party movement hutaree militia hal lindsey revelations Why Right-Wing Demagogues Are Trying to Peddle Ludicrous Conspiracy Theories http://challengewww.alternet.org/story/143007/why_right-wing_demagogues_are_trying_to_peddle_ludicrous_conspiracy_theories <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '658419'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=658419" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Even before Obama was sworn in as the 44th President, the internet was seething with lurid theories exposing his alleged subversion and treachery.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://challengewww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Even before Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, the internet was seething with lurid conspiracy theories exposing his alleged subversion and treachery.</p> <p>Among the many false claims: Obama was a secret Muslim; he was not a native U.S. citizen and his election as president should be overturned; he was a tool of the New World Order in a plot to merge the government of the United States into a North American union with Mexico and Canada.</p> <p>Within hours of Obama’s inauguration, claims circulated that Obama was not really president because Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts scrambled the words as he administered the oath of office. A few days after the inauguration came a warning that Obama planned to impose martial law and collect all guns.</p> <p>Many of these false claims recall those floated by right-wing conspiracy theorists in the armed citizens’ militia movement during the Clinton administration — allegations that percolated up through the media and were utilized by Republican political operatives to hobble the legislative agenda of the Democratic Party.</p> <p>The conspiracy theory attacks on Clinton bogged down the entire government. Legislation became stuck in congressional committees, appointments to federal posts dwindled and positions remained unfilled, almost paralyzing some agencies and seriously hampering the federal courts.</p> <p>A similar scenario is already hobbling the work of the Obama administration. The histrionics at congressional town hall meetings and conservative rallies is not simply craziness — it is part of an effective right-wing campaign based on scare tactics that have resonated throughout U.S. history among a white middle class fearful of alien ideas, people of color and immigrants.</p> <p>Unable to block the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, the right-wing media demagogues, corporate political operatives, Christian right theocrats, and economic libertarians have targeted healthcare reform and succeeded in sidetracking the public option and single-payer proposals.</p> <p>A talented environmental adviser to the Obama administration, Van Jones, was hounded into resigning Sept. 5 by a McCarthyite campaign of red-baiting and hyperbole. Support for major labor law reform has been eroding.</p> <p>With a wink and a nod, right-wing apparatchiks are networking with the apocalyptic Christian right and resurgent armed militias — a volatile mix of movements awash in conspiracy theories. Scratch the surface and you find people peddling bogus conspiracy theories about liberal secular humanists, collectivist labor bosses, Muslim terrorists, Jewish cabals, homosexual child molesters and murderous abortionists.</p> <p>This right-wing campaign is about scapegoating bogus targets by using conspiracy theories to distract attention from insurance companies who are the real culprits behind escalating healthcare costs.</p> <p>Examples of right-wing conspiracy theories include the false claim that healthcare reform will include government bureaucrat “Death Panels” pulling the plug on grandma. Another is the claim that Obama is appointing unconstitutional project “Czars” More fraudulent conspiracy theories are being generated every week.</p> <p>The core narrative of many popular conspiracy theories is that “the people” are held down by a conspiracy of wealthy secret elites manipulating a vast legion of corrupt politicians, mendacious journalists, propagandizing schoolteachers, nefarious bankers and hidden subversive cadres.</p> <p>This is not an expression of a healthy political skepticism about state power or legitimate calls for reform or radical challenges to government or corporate abuses. This is an irrational anxiety that pictures the world as governed by powerful long-standing covert conspiracies of evildoers who control politics, the economy, and all of history. Scholars call this worldview “conspiracism.”</p> <p>The term conspiracism, according to historian Frank P. Mintz, denotes a “belief in the primacy of conspiracies in the unfolding of history.” Mintz explains: “Conspiracism serves the needs of diverse political and social groups in America and elsewhere. It identifies elites, blames them for economic and social catastrophes, and assumes that things will be better once popular action can remove them from positions of power. As such, conspiracy theories do not typify a particular epoch or ideology.”</p> <p>When conspiracism becomes a mass phenomenon, persons seeking to protect the nation from the alleged conspiracy create counter movements to halt the subversion. Historians dub them countersubversives.</p> <p>The resulting right-wing populist conspiracy theories point upward toward “parasitic elites” seen as promoting collectivist and socialist schemes leading to tyranny. At the same time, the counter-subversives point downward toward the “undeserving poor” who are seen as lazy and sinful and being riled up by subversive community organizers. Sound familiar?</p> <p>Right-wing demagogues reach out to this supposedly beleaguered white middle class of “producers” and encourage them to see themselves as being inexorably squeezed by parasitic traitors above and below. The rage is directed upwards against a caricature of the conspiratorial “faceless bureaucrats,” “banksters” and “plutocrats” rather than challenging an unfair economic system run on behalf of the wealthy and corporate interests. The attacks and oppression generated by this populist white rage, however, is painfully felt by people lower on the socio-economic ladder, and historically this has been people of color, immigrants and other marginalized groups.</p> <p>It is this overarching counter-subversive conspiracy theory that has mobilized so many people; and the clueless Democrats have been caught unaware by the tactics of right-wing populism used successfully for the last 100 years and chronicled by dozens of authors.</p> <p>The techniques for mobilizing countersubversive right-wing populists include “tools of fear”: dualism, demonization, scapegoating, and apocalyptic aggression.</p> <p>When these are blended with conspiracy theories about elite and lazy parasites, the combination is toxic to democracy.</p> <p><strong>DUALISM</strong></p> <p>Dualism is simply the tendency to see the world in a binary model in which the forces of absolute good are struggling against the forces of absolute evil. This can be cast in religious or secular story lines or “narratives.”</p> <p><strong>SCAPEGOATING</strong></p> <p>Scapegoating involves wrongly stereotyping a person or group of people as sharing negative traits and blaming them for societal problems, while the primary source of the problem (if it is real) is overlooked or absolved of blame. Scapegoating can become a mass phenomenon when a social or political movement does the stereotyping. It is easier to scapegoat a group if it is first demonized.</p> <p><strong>DEMONIZATION</strong></p> <p>Demonization is a process through which people target individuals or groups as the embodiment of evil, turning individuals in scapegoated groups into an undifferentiated, faceless force threatening the idealized community. The sequence moves from denigration to dehumanization to demonization, and each step generates an increasing level of hatred of the objectified and scapegoated “Other.”</p> <p>One way to demonize a target group is to claim that the scapegoated group is plotting against the public good. This often involves demagogic appeals.</p> <p><strong>CONSPIRACISM</strong></p> <p>Conspiracism frames demonized enemies “as part of a vast insidious plot against the common good, while it valorizes the scapegoater as a hero for sounding the alarm.” Conspiracist thinking can move easily from the margins to the mainstream, as has happened repeatedly in the United States. Several scholars have argued that historic and contemporary conspiracism, especially the apocalyptic form, is a more widely shared worldview in the United States than in most other industrialized countries.</p> <p>Conspiracism gains a mass following in times of social, cultural, economic, or political stress. The issues of immigration, demands for racial or gender equality, gay rights, power struggles between nations, wars — all can be viewed through a conspiracist lens.</p> <p>Historian Richard Hofstadter established the leading analytical framework in the 1960s for studying conspiracism in public settings in his essay, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics.” He identified “the central preconception” of the paranoid style as a belief in the “existence of a vast, insidious, preternaturally effective international conspiratorial network designed to perpetrate acts of the most fiendish character.”</p> <p>According to Hofstadter, this was common in certain figures in the political right, and was accompanied with a “sense that his political passions are unselfish and patriotic” which “goes far to intensify his feeling of righteousness and his moral indignation.”</p> <p>According to Michael Barkun, professor of political science at Syracuse University, conspiracism attracts people because conspiracy theorists “claim to explain what others can’t. They appear to make sense out of a world that is otherwise confusing.” There is an appealing simplicity in dividing the world sharply into good and bad and tracing “all evil back to a single source, the conspirators and their agents.”</p> <p><strong>COVER OBAMA’S BACK, BUT KICK HIS BUTT</strong></p> <p>Today, when you hear the right-wing demagogues whipping up the anti-Obama frenzy, you now know they are speaking a coded language that traces back to Social Darwinist defenses of “Free Market” capitalism and to xenophobic white supremacy. The voices of Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly, Coulter, Dobbs and their allies are singing a new melody using old right-wing populist lyrics. The damage they can do is great even if most of these movements eventually collapse.</p> <p>The centrist Democratic spinmeisters surrounding Obama have no idea how to organize a grassroots defense of healthcare reform. That’s pathetic.</p> <p>These are the three R’s of civil society: Rebut, Rebuke, Re-Affirm: Rebut false and misleading statements and beliefs without name-calling; rebuke those national figures spreading misinformation; and re-affirm strong and clear arguments to defend goals and proposed programs.</p> <p>That’s exactly what President Obama did on in his nationally televised address Sept. 9.</p> <p>While keeping our eyes on the prize of universal, quality healthcare, we must also prevent right-wing populism as a social movement from spinning out of control. Since Obama’s inauguration, there have been nine murders tied to white supremacist ideology laced with conspiracy theories. It is already happening here.</p> <p>Since centrist Democrats are selling us out, it is time for labor and community organizers to turn up the heat. We should defend Obama against the vicious and racist attacks from the reactionary political right, but we can have Obama’s back while we are kicking his butt.</p> <p>Vigorous social movements pull political movements and politicians in their direction — not the other way around. We need to raise some hell in the streets and in the suites.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->, senior analyst at Political Research Associates based near Boston, is editor of the recent book, Eyes Right! Challenging the Right Wing Backlash (South End Press), from which this article was drawn. </div></div></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2009 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '658419'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=658419" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 30 Sep 2009 21:00:01 -0700 Chip Berlet, Indypendent 658419 at http://challengewww.alternet.org Human Rights News & Politics Media obama conspiracy theory How Antisemitic Conspiracy Theories and Fearmongering Led to the Holocaust Memorial Shooting http://challengewww.alternet.org/story/140573/how_antisemitic_conspiracy_theories_and_fearmongering_led_to_the_holocaust_memorial_shooting <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '656072'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=656072" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The broadcast of hatred and paranoia have led to perfect storm of mobilized resentment threatening to rain violent bigotry across the US.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://challengewww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>The alleged shooter at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum today has an online book excerpt revealing his deep roots in historic White Supremacy and antisemitic conspiracy theories, including references to the hoax document The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. His website includes links to White Supremacist and Holocaust denial sites.</p><p> </p><p>People who believe conspiracist allegations sometimes act on those irrational beliefs, and this has concrete consequences in the real world. The shooting today is a prime example of why it is a mistake to ignore bigoted conspiracy theories. Law enforcement needs to enforce laws against criminal behavior. Vicious bigoted speech, however, is often protected by the First Amendment. We do not need new laws or to encourage government agencies to further erode civil liberties. We need to stand up as moral people and speak out against the spread of bigoted conspiracy theories. That’s not a police problem, that’s our problem as people responsible for defending a free society.</p><p>Demagogues and conspiracy theorists use the same four “tools of fear." These are 1) dualism; 2) scapegoating; 3) demonization; and 4) apocalyptic aggression. The tools of fear are a connected constellation of frames, narratives, and processes used by demagogues to mobilize resentment and undermine the democratic process.</p><p>The basic dynamics remain the same no matter the ideological leanings of the demonizers or the identity of their targets. Meanwhile, our ability to resolve disputes through civic debate and compromise is hobbled. It is the combination of demagogic demonization and widespread scapegoating that is so dangerous. In such circumstances, angry allegations can quickly turn into apocalyptic aggression and violence targeting scapegoated groups like Jews or immigrants.</p><p>Apocalyptic aggression is fueled by right-wing pundits who demonize scapegoated groups and individuals in our society, implying that it is urgent to stop them from wrecking the nation. Some angry people in the ir audience already believe conspiracy theories in which the same scapegoats are portrayed as subversive, destructive, or evil. Add in aggressive apocalyptic ideas that suggest time is running out and quick action mandatory and you have a perfect storm of mobilized resentment threatening to rain bigotry and violence across the United States.</p><p>What historian Richard Hofstadter famously described as the “paranoid style” in American political rhetoric can quickly move far beyond the conscious intent of those who practice it.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Chip Berlet is Senior Analyst of Political Research Associates and the author of a new study entitled Toxic to Democracy: Conspiracy Theories, Demonization, and Scapegoating. He also is coauthor, with Matthew N. Lyons, of Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort. </div></div></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2009 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '656072'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=656072" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 10 Jun 2009 13:00:01 -0700 Chip Berlet, The Public Eye 656072 at http://challengewww.alternet.org Human Rights Human Rights nazi