In May of this year the Department of Homeland Security released a report on right-wing extremism in the United States. The report describes right-wing extremism as:
“Broadly divided into those groups, movements and adherents that are primarily hate orientated (based on a distrust of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly anti-government, rejecting federal authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”
As you can imagine, this report rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. The weekly newspaper Human Events sarcastically told its readers that they would all be considered right-wing extremists for reading the publication.
The far right in this country reacted badly to the report and argued that they are entitled to their views without persecution because of the rights granted to them in the first amendment. They do not consider themselves to be extreme in any way, they believe in fact that the government are the extremists. If we take a look closer however, we will see that not only are these people extreme but they are becoming more and more dangerous.
In the recent town hall meetings across the country, many people have revealed their true colors; exposing themselves as racist xenophobes who are becoming more disillusioned and dangerous as time goes on. One has to only look at the homemade signs at the town hall meetings to understand why the Department of Homeland Security has labeled these people right-wing extremists. Can you tell me that the a person who made a sign depicting Barack Obama with a Adolf Hitler mustache or the one that read “Death to Obama, death to Michelle and her two stupid kids” are not extremists?
Around the Obama election we heard whimpering from people who questioned the president’s citizenship. That movement has now exploded with articles bashing the credibility of Obama’s birth certificate and are run constantly in white nationalist weeklies such as American Free Press.
The bottom line is that these people are cornered and scared. And when people, like animals become scared and cornered, they themselves become scary. It is clear these people are disillusioned with the America they live in today. The most common phrase uttered at these town hall meetings is “I want my country back!” “Their country” or their vision of the country is one where whites are the majority and whites are the only people in positions of power. The people at the town hall meetings are feeling increasingly isolated, abandoned and misrepresented.
Eric Ward from the Center for New Community says, “Since the Populist Party was dissolved in the 1990’s white nationalists have had to vote republican. But in recent times, the white nationalists have felt abandoned by the republican party, especially after it appointed its first African American chairman, Michael Steele. There was a lot of backlash within white nationalist circles after his appointment.”
After looking more closely at the people who attend the town hall meetings we can see that they fit into the stereotype of a right-wing extremist. They are racist, xenophobic and disillusioned with both the American government and American society. At the present time, the media portrays these people as only caring about health care reform but this is only the calm before the storm. The main targets of these right wing extremists is not Barak Obama or his healthcare reforms, the main target is immigrants. The extremists view immigrants as the root of all of their problems and the reason why “their country” has been taken from them. When immigration reform comes to the table later this year we will see an increase in town hall meetings where we will see signs and slogans depicting hate speech towards immigrants. The Birther’s and white nationalists can argue all they want but the truth is that the Department of Homeland Security’s report was correct right-wing extremism is on the rise in American and one needs to look no further than their local town hall meeting to find it.