Archive for September 4th, 2009

The Wing-Nut Code: What Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin Are Really Saying to Their Followers

By Adele M. Stan, AlterNet. Posted September 2, 2009.

You thought they were just unhinged. But here’s what they’re really saying to the armed and dangerous.

When Glenn Beck offers an odd-looking icon for his 9-12 Project, or Sarah Palin says something about her native state that sounds a bit to off-kilter to the ears of those in the lower 48, it’s tempting to think, well, they’re just nuts.

Perhaps they are, but that’s beside the point. The point is that when Beck throws up a graphic of a segmented snake as his project’s mascot, or Palin speaks of her native land as the “sovereign” state of Alaska, they’re blowing a kind of dog-whistle for the armed and paranoid who make up the right-wing, neo-militia “Patriot” movement and the broader “Tea Party” coalition.

The loose affiliation of right-wing groups under the Tea Party umbrella can make it difficult to discern who’s truly dangerous, and who’s just an angry blowhard.

For instance, in its report about the resurgence of the militia movement, the Southern Poverty Law Center notes that a Minuteman militia in Southern California uses the Tea Party anthem as its call to arms.

Scott Roeder, the militant anti-abortion activist who is charged with the killing of Dr. George Tiller, counts himself among the members of the patriot movement.

But in Pittsburgh earlier this month, I sat among a group of disgruntled senior citizens at a conference sponsored by the astroturf group, Americans for Prosperity, who probably don’t spend their weekends training for a war with the government, but nonetheless consider themselves to be part of the Tea Party coalition — and perhaps even the patriot movement. Nonetheless, when conference speakers made reference to gun rights, they received heartfelt applause.

The Tea Party coalition is mobilizing for what it promises will be a big march on Washington on Sept. 12. As the date approaches, expect to hear more disguised shout-outs to patriots and tea-partiers, as right-wing politicians seek to placate the hordes said to be on their way to the nation’s capitol.

Members of the far-right Tea Party and patriot movements love the iconography of the American Revolution. They fancy themselves as “patriots” in the mold of Ethan Allen and Charles Gadsden — men who led militias against the troops of England’s despotic King George III.

Yet much of their ideology stems from the states’ rights philosophy of the Confederacy in the Civil War, and sometimes the ideas and symbols of the two wars are drawn together in a tangle of rage.


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