Free Markets, Free People

Southern Poverty Legal Center

Militias and Right-Wingers and Race, Oh My

You know I’ve watched the Southern Poverty Law Center’s rise over the years as the self-proclaimed expert on “extremist hate groups”. But what I’ve also deduced over those years, mostly by observing when and what we hear from them, is it is primarily an organization that sees the “right-wing” as the primary threat to America.

They’d most likely deny that and point to their “Hate Groups Map” and its inclusion of black separatist organizations, but they even put a caveat on their inclusion of them:

Although the Southern Poverty Law Center recognizes that much black racism in America is, at least in part, a response to centuries of white racism, it believes racism must be exposed in all its forms. White groups espousing beliefs similar to Black Separatists would be considered clearly racist. The same criterion should be applied to all groups regardless of their color.

Other than a mention of what the organization is, i.e. Nation of Islam or New Black Panther party, and a short description of their beliefs, you’ll not find much on the SPLC’s website about what would be considered “leftist extremist” hate groups.

And you’ll find nothing in their legal docket where they’ve ever taken one of these groups on in court. One would think the voter intimidation by two New Black Panthers in Philadelphia that occurred in the last presidential election would be right in their sweet spot, but there is no indication whatsoever that such activity even caught their attention.

So it stands to reason that the SPLC loves it when a Democratic administration comes into being because it naturally plays into their primary focus and that elevates their importance (because gullible media outlets will naturally buy into what they’re selling) and we see the “rise of the right-wing militias” nonsense begin again.

Today’s featured gullible media outlet is ABC News, which breathlessly repeats, er, reports that, yup, those right-wing militias, they’re rising again:

Experts who track hate groups across the U.S. are growing increasingly concerned over violent rhetoric targeted at President Obama, especially as the debate over health care intensifies and a pattern of threats emerges.

Any guess as to what “experts” they’re talking about?

And you have to love the examples ABC News uses to transition into tarring the right as a bunch of racists:

The Secret Service is investigating a Maryland man who held a sign reading “Death to Obama” and “Death to Michelle and her two stupid kids” outside a town hall meeting this week. And in New Hampshire, another man stood across the street from a Presidential town hall with his gun on full display.

Los Angeles police officers apprehended a man Thursday after a standoff with him inside a red Volkswagen Bug car in Westwood, CA – the latest disturbing case even though officials said the man had mental problems.

Ya think? Tell me, thinking back, did John Hinckley represented the “extremist left” when he shot Ronald Reagan? I don’t believe that question was ever raised by the SPLC at the time.

We have a guy legally carrying a gun (although admittedly doing so at an inappropriate time and at an inappropriate place) and one sign among thousands which is inappropriate all included with one mentally whacked individual in CA and we’re ready to conclude that right-wing hate-mongers – violent right-wing hate-mongers (or “evil-mongers” if you’re a Harry Reid fan) – are on the rise.

There’s another bit of “mongering” going on here – fearmongering.

“I don’t think these are simply people who are mentally ill or off their rocker,” Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told ABC News of those behind the threats. “In a very real sense they represent a genuine reaction, a genuine backlash against Obama.”

Notice the substance of the SPLC’s accusation. He’s speaking of townhall protesters in general and essentially saying while the three in question may actually include one real a whack job, they represent the true feelings of the protesters – this is all about Obama.

And the inference of making it “all about Obama”? Say it with me now – he’s a black man. And that, dear reader, makes it all about racism.

If you don’t believe that’s what they’re suggesting, you might want to read their website. From the short description of their “special report” on “The Return of the Militias”:

After virtually disappearing from public view a decade ago, the antigovernment militia movement is surging across the country – fueled by fears of a black president, the changing demographics of the country and fringe conspiracy theories increasingly spread by mainstream figures.

Anyone remember why the militia movement began back then? Well it had nothing to do with a “black president” and everything to do with what appeared to be a expansion of government to include another health care grab.

From the first article in the “special report”, two things to note. One, it’s all anonymous “reports”:

Authorities around the country are reporting a worrying uptick in Patriot activities and propaganda. “This is the most significant growth we’ve seen in 10 to 12 years,” says one. “All it’s lacking is a spark. I think it’s only a matter of time before you see threats and violence.”

Frankly this is akin to National Enquirer reporting and shades of the recent DHS “intelligence” report.

Two, it is all about Obama being a “black man’.

A key difference this time is that the federal government — the entity that almost the entire radical right views as its primary enemy — is headed by a black man. That, coupled with high levels of non-white immigration and a decline in the percentage of whites overall in America, has helped to racialize the Patriot movement, which in the past was not primarily motivated by race hate.

Nothing to support this at all, simply an assertion that fits the agenda of those writing the “special report”. Who is spreading fear now?

The second “report” of the SLPC’s “special report” by Larry Keller:

One big difference from the militia movement of the 1990s is that the face of the federal government — the enemy that almost all parts of the extreme right see as the primary threat to freedom — is now black. And the fact that the president is an African American has injected a strong racial element into even those parts of the radical right, like the militias, that in the past were not primarily motivated by race hate. Contributing to the racial animus have been fears on the far right about the consequences of Latino immigration.

Sound familiar? Yup, it doesn’t take a literary critic to understand that Larry wrote not only his own screed, but the first unattributed screed as well. So essentially, what we have to this point is Larry Keller’s opinion, unsourced and undocumented, as to what is going on.

What’s pitiful is in the 4 paragraphs leading up to the paragraph above, he gives not one scintilla of support for the premise he lays out there – it’s all about Obama because he’s black. The people he’s talking about haven’t been mentioned in any news reports as being attendees at a single townhall protest that I’ve seen. But that doesn’t stop him from inferring that they’re the primary movers in this protest movement

Apparently, about half way through, he had a momentary attack of conscience and takes a swipe at some factual objectivity:

It’s not 1996 all over again, or 1997 or 1998. Although there has been a remarkable rash of domestic terrorist incidents since Obama’s election in November, it has not reached the level of criminal violence, attempted terrorist attacks and white-hot language that marked the militia movement at its peak.

Again, he makes an unsupported assertion (“… there has been a remarkable rash of domestic terrorist incidents since Obama’s election in November” – really? Where?), but admits this is nothing like the supposed golden age of militias in the ’90s (which led to what? Not much of anything.).

And you have to love this:

At the Jacksonville, Fla., July tea party, some protesters carried signs that compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler.

Gasp! I’ll bet Keller was all over the “Bush/Hitler” comparisons for the last 8 years, wasn’t he? Uh, no. But to help him in his research, should he read this, I’ve googled it for him.

The last of the “special reports” is by David Holthouse. It’s all about “Camp Vigilance”, a Minute Man community in San Diego. You’re left with the impression that this boiling, seething, ready-to-explode community has arisen rather recently and is representative of the growing threat. You’re certainly left to assume it has arisen since the recent presidential election. And you’re also left to extrapolate this one place as typical of all those now protesting (why is never clear).

It was, however, established in 2006, well within the Bush administration and, apparently, despite Mr. Holthouse’s attempt to make this new and fresh, it seems it’s the same collection of whack jobs that have been out there pushing conspiracy theories about the Illuminati and global bankers since I’ve been alive. It should also be noted that up to now, they’ve apparently done nothing at Camp Vigilance to bring law enforcement down on them.

The point of all this is the left, with the media’s obvious help, is bound and determined to turn this political disagreement into something about race and hate.

“I think the president has, in effect, triggered fears amongst fairly large numbers of white people in this country that they are somehow losing their country, that the battle is lost,” Potok told ABC News. “The nation that their Christian white forefathers created has somehow been taken from them.”

Yup – without “fairly large numbers of white people” available to blame this twisted message on, Potok and SPLC are out of a job, aren’t they?

Oh, and thanks, ABC – great job of fearmongering there.

~McQ