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Fresh on the heels of the “Stop Limbaugh” campaign — backlash to the talk-show host’s use of mysogynistic rhetoric in the national debate on women’s health care — comes a report released Thursday by watchdog group Southern Poverty Law Center alleging an explosion of radical right hate groups since the election of President Barack Obama.
According to the SPLC, the growth in extremist organizations — specifically those of the so-called Patriot movement, which perceive the federal government as the most existential of enemies — can be attributed to the convergence of a pair of important national events: Economic dislocation following the 2008 financial collapse and the evolution of racial politics as the country, in that same year, elected its first black president and as minorities see their share of the U.S. population rise.
The Patriot movement, SPLC explains, had been on the decline in the years between 1996 and 2008.
“There’s a lot of populist rage out there,” says Mark Potok, a senior fellow with the SPLC. “Demonizing propaganda and conspiracy theories have been pushed into the political mainstream, often by politicians or other well known public figures.”
Each of the three leading Republican presidential contenders has made public comments framing Obama as some sort of “other” figure out to destroy America. Newt Gingrich lambasts the president’s “Kenyan, anti-Colonial mind-set.” There’s Rick Santorum’s recent comment on Obama’s “phony theology.” And Romney thinks the historic executive simply “doesn’t understand America.”
It’s no surprise that quotes like these would incite fear and detachment in the electorate. Look forward to even more of the same as Republicans pivot from attacking each other to taking down the president.
Follow Brayden Simms on Twitter @metropolitik