It’s getting harder and harder to feel shocked at the extremism emanating from right-wing groups in American politics. But a bizarre, ham-handed and paranoid press release today from a Houston-based group called Patriot PAC should be shocking.
The press release touts “Operation Black Storm,” which supports the candidacy of 15 African-American Republicans for Congress. (Seriously? That’s the name they chose for such a project?) It quotes a leader from one of a coalition of far-right groups supporting the project:
“Today marks the beginning of the end of playing the race card to silence conservative voices and keep blacks voting opposite their core values.”
“Voting opposite their core values”? We aren’t told what “core values” African Americans have been voting against. The spokesman goes on:
“It’s finally time for our nation to get past racial barriers in politics, and with Operation Black Storm we intend to send a message to Washington that–above all–Americans of all backgrounds, colors, and decent faiths want their God-given right for SELF-RULE.”
“Decent faiths”? Are there other kinds? We’re not told which “faiths” qualify here — but you probably know. [Hint, hint. Wink, wink.]
But the most corrosive bile comes when you click on the press release’s link to the Operation Black Storm website. Viewers find a video identifying the worst of the murderous dictators of the 20th century, including Hitler, Stalin and Mao. (They throw in Saddam Hussein and Hugo Chavez for good measure.) We’re told of freedom extinguished and millions slaughtered under those regimes. True enough. But then the video descends into lunacy, comparing the policies of those dictators to those of certain American presidents: Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter and — surprise! — Barack Obama. Accompanied by martial background music and the red label “Progressive” stamped on the screen, the video darkly notes:
“Theodore Roosevelt supported eugenics.”
“Woodrow Wilson brought us the Federal Reserve System.”
“FDR’s ‘New Deal’ saw income taxes rise as high as 94%.”
“[Lyndon] Johnson’s ‘War on Poverty was a war on success.”
Then the video shifts to President Obama: “And the ‘progression’ continues.” “Tyranny is forced upon us,” the video declares, linking the policies of “progressive presidents” to the loss of freedom (and mass murder, apparently) under Hitler, Stalin and Mao.
Let’s be clear here. All Americans have the right to express their political points of view. But such freedom also extends to those of us who believe that political rhetoric from the right today has become so divorced from reality and so extreme that it appears almost to justify unchecked and even violent rage among deranged members of our society.
Is paranoid extremism the basis of those “core values” African Americans should be voting for? That the people behind Patriot PAC and Operation Black Storm are irresponsibly promoting this kind of bizarre and dangerous rhetoric discredits almost entirely anything else they might have to say on public policy. Of course, you can bet that they will take such criticism as an example of “playing the race card” and “trying to silence conservative voices.” Just watch.