Nicole Hemmer: Right-Wing Fear of Government Isn't Paranoid

tags: conservatism, Nicole Hemmer, CS Monitor, paranoid style, big government



Nicole Hemmer is a research associate at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. She also teaches history at the University of Miami.

Last week’s revelation that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups was met with near universal disapproval. The IRS singled out organizations with words like "tea party" and "patriot" in their name for scrutiny. In the words of Treasury officials, this focus was clearly “inappropriate.”...

Fifty years ago this month, journalists Donald Janson and Bernard Eismann published “The Far Right,” a catalogue of conservative organizations across America. Raising the alarm about the coming conservative threat was something of a cottage industry in the early 1960s. “The Far Right” would share shelf-space with books like “The Radical Right” and “Danger on the Right.” But what separated “The Far Right” from the rest was its revelation of the Reuther Memorandum....

Reuther defined the “radical right” as “bounded on the left by Senator Goldwater and on the right by [John Birch Society founder] Robert Welch.” And he suggested plenty of ways for the government to curtail the right’s influence, from putting conservatives on the attorney general’s subversive list to using the Federal Communications Commission to limit their airtime.

But the administration’s real power, Reuther argued, lay with the IRS. Conservative media and organizations needed money to function. Therefore, “action to dam up these funds may be the quickest way to turn the tide” against right-wing groups....



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