I think I can explain this to those who actually don't understand it. Remember how the Department of Homeland Security said that we should probably start thinking about how dangerous Islamic extremists are? Of course, after that, the Muslim community totally freaked out. They showed up at big rallies nationwide with signs and t-shirts that read "Proud to be an Islamic extremist" and "Islamic extremist right here." Talking heads went on cable and complained that, as Muslims, they were being targeted by the government. They made a big stink, poo-pooed the whole idea that Muslims could possibly be terrorists -- despite all the evidence to the contrary -- and played the victim card again and again in order to gain political advantage.
Yeah, that's because it didn't happen. This was what happened:
What really happened was that DHS wrote a draft report saying that right wing extremists -- like the guys who shot Tiller and Johns -- are probably worth a little look-see. The reaction from many Republicans and conservatives was feigned offense -- from the more stupid and gullible it was actual offense. They were all "right wing extremists" and saying they were capable of terrorism was the worst thing ever.
Never mind that this was wrapping your arms around people who bomb abortion clinics, commit hate crimes, and believe the government is literally an enemy. Politically speaking, this was an incredibly stupid move. By claiming these people as their own, they pretty much guaranteed that the inevitable crimes committed by these loons would be associated with the people critical of a DHS report warning of those crimes. As always, the right wants to have their cake and eat it too -- after clutching these poor, misunderstood, murderous wingnuts to their breast, they now claim they had nothing at all to do with them. In fact, if you ask some of them, the Holocaust Museum shooter was a commie.
At the Washington Independent, Dave Weigel reports this example:
"From what I can tell," explained Jonah Goldberg, the author of the 2008 bestseller Liberal Fascism and a writer for National Review, "his hatreds echoed the kind of stuff we hear from the Kos crowd, Chris Matthews, Andrew Sullivan et al." Goldberg called Von Brunn "objectively crazy," but argued that "his hatreds would be easier to find at an ANSWER rally than at CPAC."
For those of you who don't know, ANSWER is a lefty group whose name stands for "ACT NOW TO STOP WAR AND END RACISM" -- the most obvious place in the world for a neo-Nazi, Holocaust-denying, racist nutjob. Meanwhile, CPAC -- the Conservative Political Action Conference -- is the home of right wing loons who question Obama's citizenship and believe that Mexico is trying to retake the US through illegal immigration.
Then again, you'll never hear me accusing Jonah Goldberg of being either brilliant or honest. He spins for a living, it's all he does.
Rather than move on and pretend this whole "We're all right wing extremists!" debacle never happened, the right is busy trying to dig their way out of a hole. Why? Because, down in the polls and on the verge of complete irrelevance, they can't afford to alienate their remaining base. And that base is very, very ugly. None of this hate is new and the Republican party has tried to capitalize on it in the very recent past.
Telegraph, Nov. 2008:
Sarah Palin's attacks on Barack Obama's patriotism provoked a spike in death threats against the future president, Secret Service agents revealed during the final weeks of the campaign.
The Republican vice presidential candidate attracted criticism for accusing Mr Obama of "palling around with terrorists", citing his association with the sixties radical William Ayers.
The attacks provoked a near lynch mob atmosphere at her rallies, with supporters yelling "terrorist" and "kill him" until the McCain campaign ordered her to tone down the rhetoric.
"The Secret Service warned the Obama family in mid October that they had seen a dramatic increase in the number of threats against the Democratic candidate, coinciding with Mrs Palin's attacks," the paper reported. "Michelle Obama, the future First Lady, was so upset that she turned to her friend and campaign adviser Valerie Jarrett and said: 'Why would they try to make people hate us?'"
Because some haters vote, that's why. Palin saw which side the haters where on and signalled to them that the Republican party's ticket was with them. The nuts drew the line at a black president and Palin chose a side. Obama, who the wingnuts believe is a secret Muslim terrrorist, was guilty of "palling around with terrorists." Forget guilt by association, this was verification by association -- Obama had ties to terrorism, according to the Republican vice presidential candidate.
The Republican party had already reached out to right wing extremists in the presidential campaign and, when the DHS report was leaked, they pulled them close and took them under their wing. They owned these people and, now that they've become politically inconvenient, they're trying to disown them.
So the reason that Abdulhakim Muhammad isn't as big a news story as Scott Roeder or James von Brunn is because Republicans have made it that way. The DHS report was vindicated, after every conservative and their brother said it was all bull and a terrible, terrible attack on good, patriotic Republicans.
And, to a certain extent, it was about Republicans. The Republican party, adrift and unpopular, took an "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" approach to politics and dragged these lunatics into their mainstream. "Right wing extremist" didn't used to mean "Republican." But it does now. Because they chose that label for themselves and they chose these people as part of their coalition. It might've been unfair to equate Scott Roeder with Jonah Goldberg at one point, but it isn't anymore.
They took that label and slapped it on themselves. Republicans have no right trying to complain that people read that label and assume it's accurate.
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