Alan Brinkley concerned about "current surge of fear and loathing toward Obama"

Historians in the News

Stewart Rhodes does not seem like an extremist. He is a graduate of Yale Law School and a former U.S. Army paratrooper and congressional staffer. He is not at all secretive. In February he was sitting at a table at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at a fancy downtown hotel in Washington, handing out fliers and selling T shirts for his organization, the Oath Keepers. Rhodes says he has 6,000 dues-paying members, active and retired police and military, who promise never to take orders to disarm U.S. citizens or herd them into concentration camps. Rhodes told a NEWSWEEK reporter, "We're not a militia." Oath Keepers do not run around the woods on the weekend shooting weapons or threatening the violent overthrow of the government. Their oath is to uphold the Constitution and defend the American people from dictatorship.

But by conjuring up the specter of revolution—or counterrevolution—is Rhodes adding to the threat of real violence? Oath Keepers are "a particularly worrisome example of the 'patriot' revival," according to Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which monitors hate speech and extremist organizations. "Patriot" groups—described by the SPLC as outfits "that see the federal government as part of a plot to impose 'one-world government' on liberty-loving Americans"—are "roaring back" after years out of the limelight, according to Potok. Notorious in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, the patriot groups seemed to fade away under the shadow of 9/11, but hard times and the nation's first African-American president seem to have brought about a revival—from 149 groups in 2008 to 512 (127 of them militias) in 2009, according to the SPLC....

"There was a lot of hatred in the 1930s," says Alan Brinkley, the Columbia University historian and expert on populist movements. But the current surge of fear and loathing toward Obama is "scary," he says. "There's a big dose of race behind the real crazies, the ones who take their guns to public meetings. I can't see this happening if McCain were president, or [any] white male." (Secret Service spokespeople reported spikes in threats against Obama after his election and inauguration, but they've also said the president generally receives about the same number of threats as did Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. They've declined to comment on whether there's been a spike in threats related to health-care reform.)...
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John D. Beatty - 4/14/2010

How easy deflecting criticism is when the object you are defending is not a white male!

Now joining "racist" and "sex offender" as scarlet letters in American discourse: "non-Obama supporter," "Republican," and that most odious, "white male."

When "equal under the law" is replaced by "from each according to ability, to each according to need," expect some people, including non-white males that don't get on broadcast TV, to be unhappy.