SPLC: Rage on the Right

The Southern Poverty Law Center has a report on the hatred and extremism that has reared its head on the right since the election of Barack Obama: Rage on the Right.

And it’s especially relevant after the shootings at the Pentagon yesterday, apparently perpetrated by a virulently anti-government libertarian who drew his inspiration from the right wing kookosphere.

The radical right caught fire last year, as broad-based populist anger at political, demographic and economic changes in America ignited an explosion of new extremist groups and activism across the nation.

Hate groups stayed at record levels — almost 1,000 — despite the total collapse of the second largest neo-Nazi group in America. Furious anti-immigrant vigilante groups soared by nearly 80%, adding some 136 new groups during 2009. And, most remarkably of all, so-called “Patriot” groups — militias and other organizations that see the federal government as part of a plot to impose “one-world government” on liberty-loving Americans — came roaring back after years out of the limelight.

The anger seething across the American political landscape — over racial changes in the population, soaring public debt and the terrible economy, the bailouts of bankers and other elites, and an array of initiatives by the relatively liberal Obama Administration that are seen as “socialist” or even “fascist” — goes beyond the radical right. The “tea parties” and similar groups that have sprung up in recent months cannot fairly be considered extremist groups, but they are shot through with rich veins of radical ideas, conspiracy theories and racism.

“We are in the midst of one of the most significant right-wing populist rebellions in United States history,” Chip Berlet, a veteran analyst of the American radical right, wrote earlier this year. “We see around us a series of overlapping social and political movements populated by people [who are] angry, resentful, and full of anxiety. They are raging against the machinery of the federal bureaucracy and liberal government programs and policies including health care, reform of immigration and labor laws, abortion, and gay marriage.”

A quick look around the right wing blogs finds them in full-throated denial that John Patrick Bedell had anything at all to do with them, which is, of course, totally expected.

The latest talking point making the rounds of the wingnut echo chamber is that since Bedell was a 9/11 Truther, that “proves” he was a “left winger.” Perhaps those who promote this diversionary tactic can explain why people like Alex Jones and the John Birch Society, both of whom promote 9/11 Trutherism, are welcomed on the modern right wing with open arms.

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