Friday, September 18, 2009


I've been saying for a while that the neo-crazies on the right have a bad case of '60s envy. I knew they'd been making this obvious in sometimes absurd ways -- see, e.g., Michelle Malkin's declaration that "fiscal responsibility is the new counterculture." (Oooh, smell the patchouli.) I knew that a lot of righties have been name-checking Saul Alinsky lately -- for instance, ACORN antagonist filmmaker James O'Keefe But, um, the Dick Armey crowd, too? Those guys, according to Politico, are reading Alinsky?

The logo for the Sept. 12 protest in Washington, which organizers called the "March on Washington," featured an image that looked so much like those associated with the labor, communist and black power movements that some participants objected to it -- until they found out that's what the designers were shooting for.

"As an organization, we have been very closely studying what the left has been doing," explains FreedomWorks press secretary Adam Brandon, who says he was given a copy of "Rules for Radicals" when he took his current job....

And while they're handing out Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" at FreedomWorks, Armey himself told the Financial Times last month: "What I think of Alinsky is that he was very good at what he did but what he did was not good."

I don't want to talk about this as if it's a hopeless strategy -- obviously, putting Alinsky's strategies into the hands of people like Armey who are already powerful could continue to be effective, and could be very dangerous. But the naked envy does amuse me.

And I don't think these people can necessarily control what they've set in motion. I'm not one of those people who fear violence from the right because of a belief that right-wingers have a violence potential that's categorically impossible on the left -- I fear violence from the right, in part, precisely because right-wingers are imitating left-wingers who in a number of cases eventually abandoned King-like nonviolent strategies and resorted to violence. Do Armey and his underlings think everyone in their movement is sitting around reading a book? Do they not imagine that, if they dangle tantalizing images of peaceful sixties protest before their followers' eyes, the less peaceful protests might start seeming like an even more appealing model to imitate? Especially given the fact that there's already a bellicosity on the right, a fascination with guns and war (especially civil war, with and without capital letters)?


Speaking of the Civil War, this, from Adam Brandon of FreedomWorks, is just delusional:

And as for the phrase "March on Washington," Brandon says, "This is something people said in the office. If we had been alive back in the 1960s, we would have been on the freedom bus rides. It was an issue of individual liberty. We're trying to borrow some from the Civil Rights movement."

Er, no:

Armey did not, in fact, participate in the freedom rides of the 1960s.

Gee, who'da thunk?


UPDATE: As Kevin notes in comments, David Weigel wrote essentially the same article for the Washington Independent in August. Sorry I missed it.

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