Fringey McFringersons

Rachel Maddow provides a brief history of “right-wing paranoid extremism” in America from Depression era demagogues like Father Coughlin to present day rabble-rousers such as FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey and World Nut Daily’s Joe Serra, suggesting that there’s a case to be made that reactionary political movements not only predictably “rise to meet the challenge of effective, relatively popular Democratic presidents” but are now “sort of a way of life for some conservative activists.”

Citing the ultimate disgrace and marginalization of Coughlin and kooky groups like the John Birch Society (that William F. Buckley sensibly exiled from mainstream conservatism in the late 60s) Maddow seems fairly confident that historical precedent isn’t on the side of today’s “Fringey McFringersons” that once rabidly opposed Clinton and are now channeling the same kind of virulent paranoia and hatred towards President Obama. One certainly hopes so…

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Fringey McFringersons

  1. If you want to attack the right-wing fringe, maybe you shouldn’t be posting videos of darling of the left-wing fringe like Madcow, the Ann Coulter of the left. If you think she’s mainstream, hate to see what you think is fringe.

  2. Mike — Translation: “I know you are, but what am I?”

    Surely you can come up with a better argument than that.

    Maddow is not only far less deliberately outrageous, but also considerably more thoughtful and considerate than Coulter. The two really aren’t comparable at all.

  3. Ted

    I’m not sure I buy her history so much actually. Seems more anecdotal than anything, especially when you consider just how many fringer groups and conspiracy groups of one sort or another there are at all times. Picking up a few here or there to make a theory seems like a rather weak and undeveloped theory. Especially her bit about Clintons time frankly. That seemed like she was really pushing to find something (She could actually have done a better job by highlighting all of the militia groups out there that the Republicans courted or supported).

    And further to that point, I don’t think that the current crop of outrage is part of any long history. I actually think that the ugliness we are seeing on the right in the US is unique and different than McCarthy, the Birchers, etc. Maybe Coughlin if he had had a news network and instant mass media with him. Coughlin generated the same kind of divisive and nasty hatred, more than tinged with racial and religious bigotry (directed primarily at Jews in FDR’s administration), but even he never generated the mass hysteria that we see today.

    What I think is most different from Coughlin and the others is the extent to which the overt race-bating (like Teabagger in Chief Williams calling Obama an “Indonesian muslim” and “racist in chief” and Glen Beck saying Obama “hates white people and white culture”) is the degree to which it all has become publicly acceptable political discourse among the rightwing political and economic elites.

    It isn’t simply that they call Obama a Nazi. That is such an old card that has been played by every protest group since World War II, including over the prior 6 years. The US is stronger than that.

    The US has an incredible history of demonstration and protest that in many ways I wish we would emulate. But I don’t think they realize what kind of damage they are inflicting on the Republic with the level of, but more importantly the type and focus of, venom and vitriol.

  4. Ted — Well said!

    I think Maddow hedged her bets a bit by saying that “there’s a case to be made” before unfurling her theory.

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