THANKS A LOT, DHS: "RIGHT-WING EXTREMIST" IS THE NEW "BITTER"
I said yesterday that the Homeland Security Department's report on right-wingers was going to inspire self-righteous anger and serve as a recruiting tool for the crazies -- and it really is serving as a rallying cry, to judge from this tea party site. Click to enlarge the screenshots:
The DHS report is like candidate Obama's statement that some working-class voters "get bitter" and "cling to guns or religion" -- it doesn't matter how it was intended or whether it's true, because it's received as a targeted attack by right-wingers (who love believing they're the victims of targeted attacks).
If you can recognize how the "bitter" statement hurt Obama, even if you think he was absolutely right, you can see how this is going to work the same way -- it's just going to stir up more resentment and make more crazies.
(And yes, I know "bitter" didn't hurt Obama enough to cost him the election, but it did hurt him.)
Did I say "love believing they're the victims"? A Rush Limbaugh caller:
CALLER: Hi, Rush. This is not my grandpa's America, and DHS is talking about me. I'm heartland America, and I am not a right-wing extremist, but I feel like King Olaf during the Second World War, he wore a Star of David to put himself with the people who were being oppressed, and I feel like putting an arm band on saying right-wing extremist to let people know who they're talking about.
Paging Mr. Godwin....
And yes, we do have something to fear from these people, and their leaders. Check out another caller's point and Limbaugh's response (emphasis added):
CALLER: Oh, thank you. I called because you were reading the report from Homeland Security, and I wanted to say, I think I completely agree with it.
RUSH: Okay. I'll bite. Tell me why.
CALLER: Well, because, you know, we're the people that want to go back to the Constitution, that, you know, really love our freedom and understand that it's being taken away, and therefore we pose an enormous threat to the government. We're the people buying guns and storing ammunition and preparing for the time when we have to fight the government off.
RUSH: Wait a minute, though. I understand the point you're trying to make, but that's not extremism.
CALLER: Well, to them it is.
RUSH: But it's not. They don't get to define the terms. We are not extremists. Those of us who want to protect the founding of this nation and preserve it as it was when we were born and grew up, we are not extremists. They are the extremists....
Rush, when you were born, in 1951, the top marginal tax rate was 91%. That was America. Now Obama wants to raise it to 39.6% and you call it a betrayal of our history. If it's a betrayal of our history, it's only because it doesn't soak the rich or help the middle class enough.
And note the idea that the duly elected (and very popular) president of the United States is the usurper, and the electoral losers are the only real Americans. Matthew Yglesias was getting at this a while back --
I think this is the basic mentality. The people on the outs are “normal” and the people running the show are “abnormal.”
-- though I think he was too focused on race and other demographic issues. The simple notion these people cling to is: only conservatives are Americans. I don't know if they'll kill for that notion, but they certainly want you to think they might. (And saying they might makes them want to even more.)