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October 5, 2009

Return of the wingnuts

By Spear's

Some people just love to hate, but few enjoy it more than the Ku Klux Klan. They are not alone.

Some people just love to hate, but few enjoy it more than the Ku Klux Klan. They are not alone. There is a vast panoply of right wing militias and their ranks are swelling for one reason more than any other: Obama’s election to the presidency.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has released its rather alarming special report, “The Second Wave: Return of the Militias,” that concludes that there has been a 54% rise in racist groups in the US in eight years: from 602 in 2000 to 926 in 2008.

While there are many reasons for such a rapid multiplication, the overarching cause of their rage that is driving their recruitment in droves is a black man in the White House.

Militant racists have traditionally considered the federal government their primary enemy, a traitor to the white cause (you can check out the Ku Klux Klan’s website if you don’t believe me), but now that the federal government is headed by a black man, their communal rage has boiled over to engulf dozens of civilians: the SPLC study also draws direct correlations between President Obama’s election and numerous murders of law-enforcement officials this year.

The SPLC claims to have met many people so enraged by their black president that they admitted they are seeking violent redress. One man said he is building a radioactive “dirty bomb” to punish America for Obama’s election. Several said they want to assassinate him, while another has said he will join a militia that killed two sheriff’s deputies in Florida.

The combination of Obama’s election and the economic downturn has thrown more fuel on the fire of these groups’s lunatic conspiracy theories that spin complex webs. Many believe the government was complicit in the September 11th attacks; others are part of what is known as the “birther” movement that contends (without evidence) that Obama is not a natural born US citizen at all and his election to the presidency is therefore a fraud.

Most disgusting and disturbing of all, though, is the role of mainstream media political commentators and even politicians in giving credence to these mad and hateful views. In seeking to score points or make a splash and get some attention, many right-wing commentators are repeating some of these racist rantings, spreading them well beyond the militias to a vastly broader audience, becoming (perhaps unwitting) recruiters in the process.

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But politicians are no better, either. Texas Governor Rick Perry said he would consider pushing Texas to secede from the United States; Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann from Minnesota has said she feared Obama was planning “re-education camps for young people.”

The brew is now so heady that many experts are bracing for widespread violence, saying all we need is a spark to unleash the wrath of homegrown terrorist groups or even just a series of lone wolf extremists.

When more people are murdered or another building is blown up like the one in Oklahoma in 1995, will these highly-paid commentators chasing ratings recognize the blood they will have on their hands?

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