Saturday, 13 June 2009

Eliminationism: Interview with David Neiwert

Good read. Longish interview with David Neiwert, author of The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right at AlterNet.

The intro:
In April, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report (PDF) warning that the shifting political climate and tanking economy were spurring a resurgence of violent right-wing extremism (known as "terrorism" when applied to those holding other political views) in the United States.

At the time, a number of right-wing commentators lambasted the report as a politically motivated attack on mainstream conservatism rather than what it was: an early warning on the dangers posed by a violent, fringe minority within their movement. Under pressure from GOP lawmakers, Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano apologized for the report.

But in the short weeks since, the department's warnings have proved prescient. An abortion provider who had been a frequent target of Fox News' bloviator Bill O'Reilly was gunned down during a church service in Kansas; a mentally disturbed man who believed the "tea-bagging" movement's contention that the Obama administration is destroying the American economy -- and who reportedly owned a number of firearms -- withdrew $85,000 from his bank account, said he was part of a plot to assassinate the president and disappeared (he was later captured in Las Vegas); and this week, a white supremacist who was deeply steeped in far-right conspiracism entered the U.S. Holocaust Museum and opened fire, killing a guard before being shot and wounded by security personnel.

The three incidents share a common feature: All of these men thought they were serving a higher moral purpose, that is, defending their country from an insidious "enemy within" as defined by the far right -- a "baby-killer," the Jews who secretly control the world and a president who's been accused of being a Manchurian Candidate-style foreign agent bent on nothing less than the destruction of the American Way.

David Neiwert, a veteran journalist who has covered violent right-wing groups for years, calls the worldview that informs this twisted sense of moral purpose "eliminationism." It's the belief that one's political opponents are not just wrongheaded, misinformed or even acting in bad faith. Eliminationism holds that they are a cancer on the body politic that must be excised -- either by separation from the public at large, through censorship or by outright extermination -- in order to protect the purity of the nation.

As eliminationist rhetoric becomes increasingly mainstream within the American right -- fueled in large part by the wildly overheated discourse found on conservative blogs and talk radio -- Neiwert's new book, The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right, could not have come at a more important time. In it, Neiwert painstakingly details how the rise in eliminationism is a very real threat and points to the dangers of dismissing extreme rhetoric as merely a form of "entertainment."

5 comments:

Cliff said...

Now add a vicious anti-immigrant leader in the Minutemen movement mmonlighting as a home invader and child murderer to finance her racism.

Pseudz said...

Yo Fern,

Your last 2 posts seem particularly tightly entwined.

Although there's a good deal of excellent entertainment to be had seeing the 2 sides of the abortion issue tilt . . .
particularly the humour/clarity that I find at Dammit Janet & friends.
But, what Neiwert sez about enemies on page 5 of the linked interview seems to me sage.
It would be unfortunate if good humour, good catches, and a sense of irony were feeding HER and her ilk with fuel for her fires of damnation.

fern hill said...

Your link is not working, Cliff.

Cliff said...

Here it is again

fern hill said...

Thanks for fixing, Cliff.

Yowsers. I ran into another Minuteman connection today, but the link I found went dead.

This is scary shit.

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