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Review: Rise of the New Right

Stephen Piggott • Jun 21, 2010

On Wednesday evening, Chris Matthews debuted his new documentary on MSNBC titled, “Rise of the New Right.”

Matthews discussed the program in an interview with the Huffington Post stating, “I think that the left will say this scares the heck out of me, people in the middle will say this is amazing, and people on the right will be cheering for all I know.”

After watching the documentary I believe the two words that describe the new right are fear and anger.

The fear is of the other and the government. The anger is directed at the US government and is also a symptom of the fear. President Obama’s election in 2008 made people in the United States sit up and examine themselves and where this country is going. For many, the election of a Black president was a joyous moment which is another large step for American civil rights after years of stagnation. For others, the election of Obama was a wake-up call that a change in demographics is upon them. The people who are against this change are angry. The response to Obama’s election and his policy decisions in his first year of office have stirred many people out of years of political dormancy.

The people who make up the new right fear the government, the Federal Reserve, immigrants, homosexuals and Muslims. Tea Party rallies are full of wicked descriptions of President Obama dressed as the joker from the Batman films or sporting a Hitler mustache. One woman interviewed on the documentary stated, “We are losing our country. We think that the Muslims are moving in and taking over. We do not believe that our President is a Christian. God bless Joe Wilson.”

Coupled with the rise of Tea Party activists and Birthers, is the rise of militias According to the documentary, the number of militias has jumped from 170 to well over 500 today. Many of the tea party activists are quick to distance themselves from the militias but the documentary does a fantastic job showing that both have a similar ideology. One example is the fear of government tyranny that both groups hold. Another is the adoption of the “don’t tread on me” flag.

So what is driving these fears? Look no further than Glenn Beck. Beck, along with a small number of “media” men are pushing an agenda of fear that is being devoured by the tea partiers and militiamen alike. The Huffington Post describes one of the many conspiracy theories that Beck and, in this case, Alex Jones, an internet media mogul perpetuated. In one eye-opening clip, Jones discusses his view that a “global guild of psychopaths” is in control of the planet to carry out an “orderly extermination” of between 80 and 99 percent of the world population”.

It is easy to dismiss these claims as being crazy, but the fact of the matter is that when these conspiracies are being presented as fact on a national media network such as Fox News, people are going to take note and start to believe them. The documentary displays one example of the power of these conspiracies, showing how the story of the “death panels” was hyped so much that it actually changed the legislation of the health care bill.

Like the conspiracy theories, the members of the new right cannot be dismissed as “crazy” or “out of touch.” Many of these individuals are simply ignorant and easily susceptible to the steady flow of conspiracy theories. But some take these theories so seriously that they feel the need to act. The man who crashed his plane into the Texas IRS office is just one example of this. Fifteen years after the Oklahoma City bombing this documentary serves as a reminder that an event of that magnitude is not out of the question. As long as Glenn Beck and Alex Jones continue to spew out anti-Obama and anti-government conspiracy theories, the potential for someone to take Beck’s or Jones’ words to heart is a disturbing reality.

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