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Sunday, October 04, 2009

They Have to Destroy America to Save America

They Have to Destroy America to Save America
Image © Austin Cline
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One disturbing feature of extremist rhetoric is how it creates such a heated environment that the only way for people to get quickly noticed is to ramp up their own extremism. This creates a vicious feedback loop in which extremism constantly fuels more extremism and extremist rhetoric itself exacerbates people's actual feelings and attitudes. I think this is what we are seeing among Republicans and conservatives today.

I'm pretty sure that they weren't quite so insane a few months ago, though the potential was surely there. Now, though, their own rhetoric is causing them to get worse and worse. The latest examples are of one conservative Republican saying that Barack Obama is an enemy of all humanity and another conservative Republican strongly suggesting that the military launch a coup against Barack Obama. Tell me again, who were the people suggesting not too long ago that even disagreement with the president qualified as treasonous, unpatriotic, and unAmerican?

Identifying Enemies

It's a sad day when Arizona Republican Congressman Trent Franks' statement that conservatives "need to realize" that Barack Obama is an "enemy of humanity" is actually the "good" news. I guess that up till now conservatives have been uncritically supportive of Obama? It's a sign of just how bad things have gotten, though, that saying Obama "has no place in any station of government" can't qualify as surprising or shocking. Conservatives have invested so much time and effort into arguing against Obama's legitimacy that saying he doesn’t belong in government is practically expected.

Just what sort of enemy of humanity is Obama, anyway? That's not clear, but given the sorts of arguments and positions adopted by conservatives in recent months it's not hard to come up with some ideas. It must be a "threat" to humanity when someone who isn't white holds a position of power, when traditional racial and gender privileges are undermined, when principles of equality are promoted by more than just empty words, and when basic moral values are applied to everyone rather than just one's "in-group."

Identifying Barack Obama as an enemy of humanity is hard to portray as anything other than an attempt to target him for violence. When someone is an "enemy of humanity," that just isn't a person who can be negotiated with, treated decently, respected, obeyed, or anything else. An enemy of humanity is a person who must be stopped, with force if necessary, in order to prevent them from causing more harm. An enemy of humanity is a person who must be forcibly detained at the very least, possibly killed.

And if the "enemy of humanity" somehow managed to reach the office of President of the United States, why wouldn't some people start thinking about removing and replacing him?

The Coup Will Be Blogged

John L. Perry, a prominent right-wing columnist with NewsMax, wrote that Barack Obama was seriously risking a coup — that "America’s military will intervene as a last resort to resolve the “Obama problem"." Perry insists that a coup in America would be "civilized," apparently because America's military officers swear an oath to the Constitution and this ensures that any illegal, violent, forcible seizure of power would be entirely "civilized" an in our best interests.

Perry tried to insist that he wasn't advocating a coup in America, just expressing his concern that a coup might occur, but it's hard to square those post hoc rationalizations with his words:

So, if you are one of those observant military professionals, what do you do? ...Will the day come when patriotic general and flag officers sit down with the president, or with those who control him, and work out the national equivalent of a “family intervention,” with some form of limited, shared responsibility?

Imagine a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation. Skilled, military-trained, nation-builders would replace accountability-challenged, radical-left commissars. Having bonded with his twin teleprompters, the president would be detailed for ceremonial speech-making.

Perry says that we shouldn't dismiss the possibility of an attempted coup as unrealistic and, frankly, he has a point. Violent far-right groups, including especially racist groups that are actively preparing for a race war, encourage members to serve time in the military to develop necessary skills, recruit new members, and make connections with people who have access to weapons, government installations, and secure areas. America's military also has a serious problem with extremist Christianity — credentialed ministers and high-ranking officers blending Christianity, violent nationalism, and apocalyptic visions of the future.

So, as a general matter, I don't dismiss as unrealistic the possibility of current and past members of the military who are right-wing extremists thinking that they can or should take over the government. I don't completely dismiss the possibility that some might even try to seize power for our own good, hoping to impose a racist and/or theocratic vision on the nation (as well as racist and/or theocratic wars on the rest of the world) in the name of God.

I don't think they would get very far, but that doesn't necessarily deter extremists, does it? The hatred of and opposition to Bill Clinton wasn't nearly as strong as what's being directed at Barack Obama, but it was under Clinton that we saw the growth of a violent militia movement. It was the militias — extremist, racist, and theocratic — that gave birth to Timothy McVeigh and the worst terrorist attack in the United States before Al Qaeda's 9/11 strike.

It's not hard to see why Perry's coup-column was quickly pulled from the NewsMax site — American conservatism hasn't slipped so far down into the morass of violent extremism that they are ready to stand by this sort of rhetoric openly. Yet. I'm actually surprised at that and suspect that we aren't too far from the time when such material will be pushed without apology on Fox "News."

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  1. This might be nit picking on my part but it really bugs me. Every time I type the name, "Obama" the good folks at Spell Check inform me that I have gotten the spelling wrong. Here are their suggested corrections:


    Right. I've got a fifth suggestion for them: Ob-la-di! Ob-la-da! Life goes on - BRA!

    Their suggestions for my "misspelling" of the name "Barack" are almost as amusing:

    Ba rack

    I just got through typing up a list of all forty-three men who have served as chief executive. Spell Check tells me that I got every name right (or, in the case of Martin Van Buren, half right) with one exception. You guessed it: "Barack Obama". The guy has been in the public eye for over five years now. He's been president for nine months! You would think they might have fixed that by now, wouldn't you?

    That reminds me. Can anyone please explain to me just what the hell an "Obadias" is? It's not in Webster's Dictionary.

    Tom Degan
    Goshen, NY

  2. hey austin! its nice to see some Kelloggs AND Quaker Oats ads here. if you want to see me tell a story about going for the last box of LIFE cereal at the grocery store .youtube-terencemcmanus.i tell the story when i got out of the tub BUTT NAKED! can u believe it? it was inspired by Showtime's own Penn Jillette-whoisa very good friend of mine.all of the huge stars love my page.they generally ask me great questions and i respond to everyone( other than those guys that did inglouriuous basterds, they are jealous of me ..but thats ok..they stink at movies and will be charged for murder soon)..have a laugh or two! u wont regret it. OH! hey austin.. i did a propergander movie there on youtube!..KEITH OLBERMANN gave it his HIGHEST honor.. "TheWickedLoki Sex Slave Trade Enthusiast ( Atheistic Soviet Symbolism in the Sex Slave Trade )" thats the title youtube-miniaturized -i will talk to everyone soon!

  3. a hell of a post from Goshen New York!

    the quaker oats ad is now FLASHING " AWAKEN YOUR SENSES"

    what a wonderful day , TOM!

  4. Clineocommie, you've got it totally wrong as usual. It's not "right-wingers" who are always escalating their rhetoric to incite violence and senseless mass murder -- it's radical Islam! There is NO similarity between Republicans and madmen like Obama bin Laden.

    He is the one who wants to kill, kill, kill, and resorts to ever crazier screeching to justify it. bin Obama would invade other countries and use jet airplanes to bomb the innocent citizens if he could get away with it. Fortunately he cannot because the patriotikkk American Air Force is blasting the hell out of his evil minions in nations all over the world to keep things peaceful.

    I could go on and on refuting you, but there's no point talking to traitors such as yourself. Anyone whom would criticise the noble Amerikkkan military, and suggest that it would imperil the nation, should be put up against the wall and shot by a squad of Marines!

    The U.S. is lucky that it has the world's most deadly military to stand between it and Osama. plus his lieutenant the secret Mahometan. Perhaps extreme measures like deposing the president will be needed to defend democracy. But what part of "sometimes you have to destroy a village in order to save it" don't you understand, Cline?

  5. One more thing, Cline -- what happened to the sexy posters? I almost liked you when you would put up the dirty stuff. Emphasis on the "almost."

    And if you're so smart with the Photoshop, how come you didn't put acorns on the heads of the WW I German soldiers in place of the old Kaiser Bill helmets? Maybe you're not so smart, eh, smart guy?

    OK, I realise that's TWO more things, not one like I said at the start. But the second one was for free.

  6. America's military also has a serious problem with extremist Christianity — credentialed ministers and high-ranking officers blending Christianity, violent nationalism, and apocalyptic visions of the future.

    but it isn't Christianity, it's Satanism. Read what Brad Hicks had to say about it, in five very engaging essays:


We'll try dumping haloscan and see how it works.