Feb 20, 2020
That’s Not Going To Go Over Well: Rachel Maddow Calls Rightwing Terrorists ‘Terrorists’
This one’s long, but it’s worth watching. Rachel Maddow brings us an in-depth look at the extremist roots of Frazier Glenn Miller, the suspect in the Overland Park, Kansas, shootings over the weekend, and we learn that not only was he persuaded by the FBI to inform on his white supremacist pals back in the late 1980s, he’s stayed in touch with other neo-Nazis since — including contacts with the man convicted of the 2011 attempt to bomb a MLK Day parade in Spokane and with Craig Cobb, the freak who was trying to turn Leith, North Dakota, into a white supremacist enclave. He’s no lone wolf, says Maddow, he’s part of a network.
And so, the question: Why have we had a full-on freakout about jihadis in this country, but every instance of rightwing extremism gets treated as sui generis, a complete surprise that is somehow disconnected from all the others? Back in 2009, when the Department of Homeland Security suggested that rightwing extremism might be something to be concerned about, the non-extreme-but-still-rightwing media machine went into Full Anguished Howl mode, accusing the DHS of planning to persecute everyone who watched Fox News, because nobody who calls themselves a patriot has ever done terrorism, except for the ones that did, but they weren’t True Patriots anyway, and as everyone knows, all terrorists are leftists or something.
We suspect that Tuesday’s Maddow segment is going to stir up some very angry whining on the political-but-not-Nazi rightwing, if only because common usage — and we’re in the middle of that ourselves — uses “rightwing” to refer both to idiot ultraconservatives like Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, and to neo-Nazis, although usually with the adverb “extreme” added on.
This is where we get Great Butthurt such as Tuesday’s Newsbusters story assailing CNN for giving airtime to Peter Bergen from the “George Soros-funded liberal New America Foundation,” who noted that since 9/11/01, there have been 23 deaths in America caused by jihadist attacks, and 34 by “white supremacists, anti-abortion extremists and anti-government militants.”
The Newsbusters piece claims, in all seriousness, that some of those killings weren’t even hate crimes — just ordinary killings of police by people who happened to hang out at white supremacist websites. Bergen is currently getting worked over not only by Newsbusters but also by Breitbart and by The Blaze, where Erica Ruiz notes, again without irony, that many blog commenters question “why white supremacists are considered right wing extremists, since slavery was abolished under Republican President Abraham Lincoln and the Ku Klux Klan often targeted Republicans in addition to African Americans.”
Maddow cites the New America study, reviews the killings*, and quotes Bergen, who asked how the media response to the Overland Park shootings would be different if, “instead of shouting ‘Heil Hitler’ after he was arrested, the suspect had shouted ‘Allahu Akbar.'” She asks, reasonably enough, why we aren’t taking rightwing violence more seriously, and even suggests that we think about maybe paying closer attention to rightwing extremists — so get ready for the wingnut backlash machine to gear up and call for Rachel Maddow’s firing, since she just went on TV and called for a witch hunt against conservatives.
*Honestly, we’d question the inclusion of Andrew Joseph Stack, the guy who crashed his plane into an IRS office in 2010, as clearly classifiable: he hated the government, but his long suicide rant also rails against corporations and “presidential puppet GW Bush and his cronies.” He was off his rocker in many directions.