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Return of the Militia Media

June 12, 2009

At the height of the Clinton administration, fringe anti-government groups like the Michigan militia (the second link returned by Google if you search the word “Militia”) were in their heyday. They were posting lookouts for black United Nations’ helicopters, rallying around the 2nd Amendment, speaking out against Clinton’s attempts to establish a “One World Government” or a “New World Order” and conducting paramilitary training in the back woods all around the country. (For a more thorough examination of the phenomenon, I’d recommend Morris Dees’ “Gathering Storm: America’s Militia Threat“.) Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, shared these paranoid fears and, ultimately, took them to their logical extreme. Paul Krugman in the New York Times draws a parallel between the rhetoric and violence of the extreme right wing ideologues of the 1990’s militia culture and the current rhetoric of the right wing media. The shootings of George Tiller in Kansas and of Stephen T. Johns at the United States Holocaust Museum, Krugman argues, may augur a return to hate-filled, pre-Oklahoma City style rantings and more domestic terrorism, this time spurred on in part by the conservative media.

Today, as in the early years of the Clinton administration but to an even greater extent, right-wing extremism is being systematically fed by the conservative media and political establishment.
Now, for the most part, the likes of Fox News and the R.N.C. haven’t directly incited violence, despite Bill O’Reilly’s declarations that “some” called Dr. Tiller “Tiller the Baby Killer,” that he had “blood on his hands,” and that he was a “guy operating a death mill.” But they have gone out of their way to provide a platform for conspiracy theories and apocalyptic rhetoric, just as they did the last time a Democrat held the White House.
And at this point, whatever dividing line there was between mainstream conservatism and the black-helicopter crowd seems to have been virtually erased.
Exhibit A for the mainstreaming of right-wing extremism is Fox News’s new star, Glenn Beck. Here we have a network where, like it or not, millions of Americans get their news — and it gives daily airtime to a commentator who, among other things, warned viewers that the Federal Emergency Management Agency might be building concentration camps as part of the Obama administration’s “totalitarian” agenda (although he eventually conceded that nothing of the kind was happening).

One Comment leave one →
  1. carol permalink
    June 12, 2009 10:46 am

    It is so sad to see this happening again,
    It seems some media people are more interested in selling hatred, books and t shirts, at the cost of America,
    then to actually bring this country together..

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