ADL Special Report: A Year of Growing Animosity

The Anti-Defamation League has released a detailed report on the increasing anger and hostility among the right wing, singling out many of the same personalities and issues on which LGF has been focusing recently. This is the index page with summaries of the main points: Rage Grows in America: Anti-Government Conspiracies.

Since the election of Barack Obama as president, a current of anti-government hostility has swept across the United States, creating a climate of fervor and activism with manifestations ranging from incivility in public forums to acts of intimidation and violence.

What characterizes this anti-government hostility is a shared belief that Obama and his administration actually pose a threat to the future of the United States. Some accuse Obama of plotting to bring socialism to the United States, while others claim he will bring about Nazism or fascism. All believe that Obama and his administration will trample on individual freedoms and civil liberties, due to some sinister agenda, and they see his economic and social policies as manifestations of this agenda. In particular anti-government activists used the issue of health care reform as a rallying point, accusing Obama and his administration of dark designs ranging from “socialized medicine” to “death panels,” even when the Obama administration had not come out with a specific health care reform plan. Some even compared the Obama administration’s intentions to Nazi eugenics programs.

Some of these assertions are motivated by prejudice, but more common is an intense strain of anti-government distrust and anger, colored by a streak of paranoia and belief in conspiracies. These sentiments are present both in mainstream and “grass-roots” movements as well as in extreme anti-government movements such as a resurgent militia movement. Ultimately, this anti-government anger, if it continues to grow in intensity and scope, may result in an increase in anti-government extremists and the potential for a rise of violent anti-government acts.

The ADL is right on target when they identify Glenn Beck as one of the primary mainstream media promoters of extremist ideologies and conspiracy theory paranoia:

The most important mainstream media figure who has repeatedly helped to stoke the fires of anti-government anger is right-wing media host Glenn Beck, who has a TV show on FOX News and a popular syndicated radio show. While other conservative media hosts, such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, routinely attack Obama and his administration, typically on partisan grounds, they have usually [But not always… – ed.] dismissed or refused to give a platform to the conspiracy theorists and anti-government extremists. This has not been the case with Glenn Beck. Beck and his guests have made a habit of demonizing President Obama and promoting conspiracy theories about his administration.

On a number of his TV and radio programs, Beck has even gone so far as to make comparisons between Hitler and Obama and to promote the idea that the president is dangerous.

The whole thing is very much worth reading, so here are direct links to all of the report’s sections:

Index / Summary
Introduction

Part One: Anger in the Mainstream
The Tea Parties
The Town Hall Meeting Disruptions
A Building Anger
The “Birther” Movement
The Influence of the Mainstream Media

Part Two: Anger on the Fringes
Alex Jones, the Conspiracy King
Conspiracy Theories Imagine Government Plots
Conspiracy Theories Prompting Action: The Iowa National Guard
Conspiracy Theories Prompting Action: Richard Poplawski
Resisting the Government
The Oath Keepers
The Three Percenters
The Resurgence of the Militia Movement

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Last updated: 2021-06-05 2:51 pm PDT
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