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10 Things That Terrify Right-Wingers

These are some of the things that keep American conservatives awake at night.

Modern American conservatism is based on an almost endless series of grievances. Author Thomas Frank coined a term for it: the conservative “plenty-plaint” -- a long and ever-evolving list of personal and cultural gripes dressed up as an ideology.  

But there’s also fear! And while it spans the breadth of the movement, this is the year of the Tea Party revolt, when the grassroots right, disgusted with the idea of semi-affordable health-care and tepid financial reforms, is rebelling against even its own establishment. And the divide between the grassroots base and its leadership extends to the very fears that animate them. As we’ll see, the conservative movement’s business-attired hacks and the hard-right Tea Party types waving misspelled signs out in the streets have some very different causes for alarm.

So, here are ten of the most interesting things that absolutely terrify Wingnuttia. First, a few terrors of the real hard-core Right. For the Tea Partier, the midterm GOP primary voter, it’s not just the anxiety over social change that typifies more traditional conservatism. A broad chunk of the GOP base today is animated by wildly unrealistic terrors -- monsters stalking them as the sun sets, perhaps hovering just beyond their peripheral vision.  

1. Government Concentration Camps 

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, who’s been facing uphill prospects for re-election in Nevada, is breathing a sigh of relief that his newly nominated Republican opponent, Sharron Angle, isn’t a typical civil libertarian. According to Talking Points Memo, Angle endorses the views of (and may be a member of) the “Oath Keepers.” It’s a fast-rising right-wing group “whose membership of uniformed soldiers and police take an oath to refuse orders they see as unconstitutional -- including enforcement of gun laws, violations of states' sovereignty, and ‘any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps,’" according to TPM.  

Fear of Obama’s Kenyan shock troops rounding up good conservatives and throwing them into Thunderdome-esque detention centers is nothing new on the Right. For years, conspiracy theories about “FEMA camps” have been percolating among the more feverish true believers. At TrueSlant, Matthew Fleischer wrote about a friend discovering that one of her co-worker’s believed there to be an imminent threat: 

FEMA was building camps to round up and annihilate Christians. The roundup would start soon, but it would move slowly and quietly. Whole families would disappear and not be heard from again, but it would be made to look like they simply moved out of town. Christian children, her children, would be gassed and put into plastic coffins. Two of the woman’s friends had already moved out of the country. Others were following soon. She intended to join them as soon as she could save up enough money. But finances were tight and it might be too late. 

Truly horrifying. And you can see pictures of actual FEMA camps right here on the internet, where everything’s true! Or, you know, perhaps not.  

The coming Obama Reich will naturally be justified by his own version of burning down the Reichstag -- the Brownshirts will blame say they’re responding to Right-wing terrorism. In 2009, when the Department of Homeland Security issued a report warning of violence from Right-wing extremists, it caused near-apoplexy among the brethren. Talkradio host Roger Hedgecock summed up the danger like this: “So, if you disagree with Obama on amnesty for illegals or stand up for the Second Amendment, you are branded a ‘rightwing extremist’ by the Department of Homeland Security and become the subject of scrutiny by some 850,000 local and state law enforcement personnel.” All of this led one commenter to observe, “At least we know now who all those FEMA camps are for.” 

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