Oh dear. It seems those Evil, Extremist, Racist, Right-Wing Militias are On The Rise Again. At least they are if you ask the Southern Poverty Law Center, a supposedly non-profit tracker of â€œhate groups,â€ which hasÂ released a new study (seen here, thoughÂ it contains little research and mostly anecdote and innuendo) finding just that.
Theoretically, the SPLC would find itself out of its lucrative line of work if hate groups werenâ€™t continually on the rise everywhere, at all times. The Center makes a pretty penny churning out similar headlines every few years, always with calls for money to oppose such groupsÂ – though strangely enough, when a real hate crime, like that committed by the New Black Panther PartyÂ occurs, the SPLC is nowhere to be found.
But during an otherwise unremarkable,Â paint-by-numbers rant, SPLC Director Mark PotokÂ used this new study to pull a particularly egregious slur during his dialogueÂ with Anderson Cooper (on Anderson Cooper 360) Wednesday evening. After going on for some time about the reasons these groups are on the rise â€“ mainly, Potok asserts, because a black man was elected president â€“ we got this little gem of an exchange:
COOPER: And how many of these groups are just, you know, talkers? People who, you know, talk big, you know, love running around in forests dressed up in paramilitary gear, but ultimately, they don’t amount to much?
POTOK: Well, I think that a lot of them are essentially just talkers, but talk is not always completely benign. I mean, I think we’re seeing that right now in the town-hall meetings and so on.â€
Get it? If youâ€™re a town hall protester, you are just like those militias. You may not actually do anything, but Potok knows that in all your hearts lies a simmering pot of racism that is, naturally, the only reason anyone could be opposed to anything Dear Leader Obama wants. And you, like the militia, are just poised for a real outbreak of violence. All this despite the fact that these protesters are the ones having violence done to them.
Then PotokÂ went on to accuse the protesters of being the ones responsible for the â€œpoisoning of the mainstream political discourse.â€
Iâ€™m sorry, Mr. Potok, are you familiar with the ancient computer proverb â€œdoes not computeâ€? Mr. Potok, could quit chugging that Hypocrisy Cola for just a second, and look in the mirror? Would that be too much to ask?
Itâ€™s not terribly surprising that Potok would make such a statement–the SPLCâ€™s definition of â€œhate group,â€ once solely the province ofÂ organizations like the KKKÂ or White Aryan Resistance, has expanded in recent years to include anyone who disagrees with the SPLC’sÂ politicsÂ (while still containing groups like the KKK, of course, because guilt-by-association character assassination is just that cool). Itâ€™s just disheartening that Potok can make such a claim with a straight face. And even more disappointing, though not necessarily surprising, that Anderson Cooper gave the manÂ unchecked latitudeÂ to spew this over the airwaves.
None of this is to diminish the fact that there are militias out there with very racist and racialist tenets. And those people should be properly marginalized and discredited. But itâ€™s a far cry from extremist militias to opponents of government-run health care … er, health-care reform … er, health insurance reform — sorry, I lose track of Obamaâ€™s shifting euphemisms.Â And it is extremely “irresponsible” (I’ll steal one of the left’s favorite scold-words for this) to make comparisons between the two.
That would be like me comparing every leftwing union member, every Democrat in Congress, and every leftistÂ university professor to members of the Earth Liberation Front, an eco-terrorist organization responsible for at least $95 million in property damage since the late 1990s. And if I did just that, Iâ€™m sure Anderson Cooper would be willing to give me 5 minutes on his show. Right?