In an election year that has even most seasoned political watchers aghast at some of the far-right extremism on display, two articles provide more detail about the kind of extremism that is being stirred by the far-right and largely ignored by the mainstream media.
Conservative media elites like former Florida Congressman Joe Scarborough of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, spin wildly to put the best face on a disastrous election cycle, bemoaning media bias toward Obama and suggesting the media is exaggerating claims that crowds at McCain-Palin rallies are being primed for extremism. There is ample evidence on video of the anger and vitriol. The refusal of mainstream media to cover this story in-depth, as the two articles below do, serves to undermine politics, government and democracy.
While the mainstream media is largely whitewashing the extremism story, other journalists are not.
Ken Silverstein in the November 2008 Harper’s (subscription) has a must read article entitled "Useful Amateurs: How the Smearing of Obama Got Crowd Sourced." Silverstein interviews several of the far-right producers of online video and viral email campaigns that have gotten increasingly hateful and are essentially active disinformation campaigns put forth by extremists that become accepted "fact" by many people.
One of this year’s most widely circulated anti-Obama videos was created by Jason Mitchell, a self-described "Christian supremacist" and twenty-nine-year-old filmmaker in Raleigh, North, Carolina, who operates a company called Illuminati Pictures. Mitchell, who prefers to go by the moniker "Molotov," is the producer and star of Flamethrower, a program on the Florida-based channel Faith TV that provides "cutting edge political commentary … from a Christian viewpoint." Mitchell’s views are unconventional, to put it mildly, even within the world of right-wing Christian conservatism. Panelists on the show sit before a wall rack of rifles; one guest is introduced with a still photo of her brandishing a handgun.
Silverstein’s article deals significantly with race-baiting politics
in the south, and he interviews Carter Wrenn, a former campaign adviser
to the late Sen. Jesse Helms.
Wrenn worked for Helms when his campaign ran the infamous "White
Hands" ad against Harvey Gannt, the African-American mayor of Charlotte
who ran unsuccessfully against Helms in 1990 …. Wrenn now seems
genuinely apologetic about the ad. "We sat in a room, and everyone in
that room discussed and understood the racial impact … It was
premeditated and intentional … It was the wrong thing to do. We won
an election at the expense of African Americans. I wouldn’t do it
Max Blumenthal writing at The Daily Beast follow’s up his earlier article about neo-Nazi organizing with an article today detailing the activities of other far-right groups, including anti-choice extremist Randall Terry of Operation Rescue:
During the 1990’s, Terry’s radical anti-abortion outfit, Operation
Rescue, organized blockades outside women’s health clinics across the
country. These blockades often turned violent, and some of Terry’s
closest cadres resorted to domestic terrorism. Case in point: In 1998,
while cooking dinner for his wife and four children, Barnett Slepian—an
abortion doctor whose home had been the site of protests by Terry and
his followers years before—was shot to death through his kitchen window by James Kopp, a former volunteer at Operation Rescue’s Binghamton, N.Y., office.
Terry is as avid proponent of Christian Reconstructionism, a radical
ideology that calls for replacing the US Constitution with Biblical
law. “I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you… I
want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good,”
his followers in August 1993. He went on: “Our goal is a Christian
nation. We have a biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this
country. We don’t want equal time. We don’t want pluralism."
Arrested over 40 times, including once for mailing an aborted fetus to Bill Clinton at the 1992 Democratic National Convention, beleaguered by lawsuits, and reeling from a messy divorce that badly harmed his movement credibility, Terry is seeking a path back to movement prominence.
Terry’s politics might differ from the overtly racist overtures of
Political Cesspool, but he shares similar strategies. Below the media’s
radar, the far, far right is exploiting Barack Obama for political gain.
We know that militant anti-abortion groups are behind the ballot initiative in Colorado, and that many pro-life conservatives are getting anxious about the extremism within their own movement, calling for shift in the debate. Many moderate Republicans are standing up saying they too are concerned about right-wing extremism, but until the mainstream media does what journalists like Silverstein and Blumenthal are doing, truly exposing this extremism for what it is, television personalities like Scaroborough will get away suggesting that any questioning the tactics of people of faith is off limits, allowing the extremists like "Molotov" Mitchell to continue their radical disinformation campaigns, promoting violence, rage and fear.
Even John McCain abandoned his famous town-hall format as the crowd rage turned uglier.
Scaroborough should have the courage of Gen. Powell and others to stop spinning, and stand up to the extremism before his whitewashing of it allows it to get out of hand. If we agree the extremism the former Helms adviser Wrenn admits was wrong has no place in our politics, how can any of the extremism witnessed in this campaign be so cavalierly dismissed with spin by anyone? Especially people of faith.