It’s Not our Imagination: Right Wing Cults at all time HighPosted: March 6, 2013
I had almost convinced myself that the level of right wing hatred and ignorance that I’d noticed recently on the web was due to the increasing number of people using social media outlets that used to be fairly exclusive little clubs when I started using them. Just to give you an idea, when I got on Facebook, you had to have an email address with an .edu ending or you were basically SOL. I was also on the internet when most of the folks you bumped into were in the high tech business or were some how connected to universities. I still consider the day the internet went to pot as the same day AOL let loose their population of subscribers. Now, I get some pretty cool graphics and content but that certainly comes with the added expense of added contact with idiots and tons of businesses looking for suckers with ads.
However, I’ve just recently found out that there are actually a larger number of radical right wing groups being formed and it’s just not my inability to avoid contact with them on line. Libertarian Cults and “Patriot” style militia groups have come along with the Teabutts. I hesitate to call them patriots because most of what I read from them sounds more like crap you read right around the Civil War days coming from the Confederates.
While the more mainstream anti-government Tea Party movement faded from view as the GOP co-opted it in the past few years, the action has moved to the fringes, where the number of radical right-wing Patriot groups reached an all time high in 2012, according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center. What’s more, it’s the fourth year in a row that the record has been broken.
Conspiracy-minded Patriot groups first entered the public consciousness in the 1990s with the rise of the militia movement, and then the Oklahoma City bombing. Now, the SPLC is warning government officials that they see eerie similarities between the current era and that leading up to the bombing.
“As in the period before the Oklahoma City bombing, we now are seeing ominous threats from those who believe that the government is poised to take their guns,” the group’s president, Richard Cohen, wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
The number of Patriot groups peaked after the bombing in 1996 at 858, before falling off steeply and remaining low under George W. Bush. However, since the election of Barack Obama, the number of groups tracked by the SPLC has skyrocketed and continued to climb.
Last year, the SPLC found 1,360 Patriot groups in the country — up more than 500 over the ’96 peak — including 321 militia groups.
The report does indicate which factors seem to be contributing to this rise.
“Now, in the wake of the mass murder of 26 children and adults at a Connecticut school and the Obama-led gun control efforts that followed, it seems likely that that growth will pick up speed once again,” the center noted.
The report also cites the election of Obama, efforts to grant more than 11 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, and a troubled economy as contributing factors in the growth of the far-right groups.
“We are seeing a real and rising threat of domestic terrorism as the number of far-right anti-government groups continues to grow at an astounding pace,” said Mark Potok, Southern Poverty Law Center senior fellow and author of the report. “It is critically important that the country take this threat seriously. The potential for deadly violence is real, and clearly rising.”
August Kreis, a longtime neo-Nazi who in January stepped down as leader of an Aryan Nations faction after being convicted of fraud related to his veteran’s benefits, told the Intelligence Report that it was all about income inequality.
“The worse the economy gets, the more the groups are going to grow,” he said. “White people are arming themselves — and black people, too. I believe eventually it’s going to come down to civil war. It’s going to be an economic war, the rich versus the poor. We’re being divided along economic lines.”
At the most macro level, the growth of right-wing radicalization — a phenomenon that is plainly evident in Europe as well as the United States — is related directly to political and, especially, economic globalization. As the nation-state has diminished in importance since the end of the Cold War, Western economies have opened up, not only to capital from abroad but also to labor. In concrete terms, that has meant major immigration flows, many of which have drastically altered the demographics of formerly fairly homogenous populations. In Europe and the U.S. both, white-dominated countries have become less so. At the same time, globalization has caused major economic dislocations in the West as certain industries and kinds of production move to less developed countries.
The sorry U.S. economy also may offer the best single explanation for the huge expansion in the so-called “sovereign citizens” movement, a subset of the larger Patriot movement. Although the size of the sovereign movement is hard to gauge — sovereigns tend to operate as individuals rather than in organized groups — law enforcement officials around the country have reported encounters. The SPLC, for its part, has estimated that some 300,000 Americans are involved.
I hate to be in the position of agreeing with a NAZI but I do think income inequality and the ability of many southern and republican politicians to scapegoat minorities problems they created has contributed to this problem. Rather than looking at the policies of the government and the role of the rich in usurping legislative agendas, right wing populists groups frequently turn their outrage on others. It would be nice they focus on the root cause of their issues like corporations having bought their representatives. We’ve see many left wing populist groups with similar economic justice issues recently but they don’t appear to be heading towards the same types of violent agendas that many leftist groups took in the 1960s. This does not appear to be true of right wing populists. They tend to like paramilitary organizations because of their love of guns.
Anyway, I’m going to be interested to see if the conversation on this study find its way to congress. Last time we had this conversation, congress scapegoated the nation’s Muslim population. The Sandy Hook massacre might make this less possible. However, I do think you should go look at the list of groups. They’re in nearly every state.