Wingnuts: Extremism in the Age of Obama
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The Obama era has been a boom-time for Wingnuts, kicked off by a financial collapse and the election America’s first black president. For some, losing an election feels like living under tyranny. John Avlon tracks down preachers who pray for the president’s death, goes inside the growing “Hatriot” militia movement, and identifies the fright-wing swamp where the Obama “Birthers” and the Bush-era “9/11 Truthers” bubble up.
Wingnuts echo earlier fear-fueled movements in American history. But bolstered by the rise of hyper-partisan media, the Wingnut echo chamber is more influential than ever before and it has led directly to the division and dysfunction in Congress. Avlon asserts that the time has come for the moderate majority of Americans to straighten their civic backbone and hold the extremes accountable while restoring a sense of perspective to our politics.
strategy won the day anyway with 370 electoral votes—but only 43 percent of the popular vote in a three-way race. For reasons that were moral, political, and now statistical, Clinton would be seen as an illegitimate president by increasingly frustrated opponents. In Congress, conservative revolutionaries of a new generation, led by Newt Gingrich, were determined to embrace the role of total opposition and run against what they characterized as corruption in Congress and the unchecked power of
supporter.” Todd quickly became a conservative cause célèbre—evidence of an incipient race war that would no doubt be great for ratings and possibly for election results. Fox News senior vice president for news editorial John Moody fired off a grave op-ed on the online FoxForum, titled, ironically, “Moment of Truth.” It had to happen. Less than two weeks before we vote for a new president, a white woman says a black man attacked her, then scarred her face, and says there was a political motive
victory in this War on Terror.”34 He raised eyebrows as the only member of Congress not to vote for a resolution acknowledging the use of slave labor in the construction of the US Capitol Building. In response to the “day without an immigrant” protests, King wrote in an op-ed for his local paper, “The lives of 12 U.S. citizens would be saved who otherwise die a violent death at the hands of murderous illegal aliens each day . . . Eight American children would not suffer the horror as a victim of
regulating people’s personal lives.”27 Even the sainted Reagan would come under fire from most in the current Republican Party if his policies were judged absent the hagiography. As governor of California, he signed the nation’s most liberal abortion bill into law (an action he later said he regretted). In the 1970s, he opposed California’s Proposition 6, the conservative bill backed by Anita Bryant, which would have made it legal to fire gays and lesbians from teaching positions in public
was denied a request to brief President Obama on the matter.26 The dogged search for truth is admirable and essential to a free society. But when that concept becomes twisted by a moral relativism that masquerades as open inquiry, the idea of truth starts to lose its meaning. Ignoring the obvious does not lead to insight. And by entertaining conspiracy theories after being attacked, we run the risk of amusing ourselves to death. Just because an evil ideology expresses its murderous intentions