(Continued from Pt 1)

It is again gauche to suggest that the U.S. government is a serious threat to our liberty. While the left at times appropriately condemned Bush’s warmaking, warrantless wiretapping, violations of habeas corpus and flouting of due process, the left has now become resigned to the precise policies being carried out by their hero Barack Obama. Just as important, they have forgotten what it meant to be more afraid of their government than of their fellow Americans upset about that government. All this Bush-era despotism continues unabated, but now it is seen as unseemly, unpatriotic, hateful, and even criminal to suggest that the U.S. government has authoritarian practices and totalitarian designs.

When Sarah Palin was taken to the woodshed for suggesting that the government might create "death panels" to ration health care to the elderly, the implication was that the mere concern about such a possibility was motivated by hatred or dishonesty. But we all knew that in the quasi-private health care sector, decisions of life and death are already decided by medical boards at hospital boards and insurance companies. If the government becomes even more involved in determining the allocation of resources, of course something like government death panels will be a likely result. But more strikingly, the very same institution that massacred the Branch Davidians under Clinton, slaughtered innocent Iraqis and Afghans under Bush, and now, under Obama, claims the prerogative to execute American citizens by fiat, is somehow seen on the left as such an unambiguous guardian of health and American well-being so that to insinuate its propensity to let Americans die is an act of sedition. Sarah Palin’s sins go beyond her concern about Obamacare – and for the most part, they are not her unmitigated neocon warmongering, corporatist economic prescriptions or disregard for the Bill of Rights. What she is most attacked for is not being sufficiently in love with leviathan. During the presidential election, she was lambasted for her foreign policy ignorance but she was feared more for her husband’s connection to secessionists. Had her partisan opponents ever genuinely wanted to rein in the American empire, surely secessionist sentiment would be welcomed, or at least tolerated, as an acceptable disposition.

And in the hatred of secessionism, of the ideas of nullification and political decentralism, we see the ugly nationalism of the politically correct left. Even constitutional talk of the Tenth Amendment makes one a "Tenther" – on par with a 9/11 Truther or Birther – as though the notion that the Tenth Amendment has some teeth and might, by some reasonable interpretation, preclude at least some of the left-liberal program, is not worth seriously refuting – as though there is something cultish and insidious about believing that the federalism of the Framers is not the national supremacism of today. The federal government is an eternal institution, apparently, and Sarah Palin has associated with too many folks who question its legitimacy.

Glenn Beck, too, is primarily hated for his questioning the authority of the federal government – not his many past calls for foreign war and nationalism, but for his current failure to accept government’s slow war on the American people. For most of the left, the palatable Republican personality is someone like Lindsey Graham, who despite being a neocon on war is also pro–Cap and Trade and in favor of moderate domestic socialism. Graham has not been accused of hatemongering or threatening the tranquility of our great land, even as he pushes for new executive powers to detain American citizens indefinitely. Hating welfare, global warming alarmism, gun control and ACORN are the worst transgressions against respectability. You can crazily favor war with Iran – as increasing numbers of progressives seem to – and still be in the community of official opinion, but if you harbor too much fear and distrust toward FEMA, you might as well be locked up in an asylum.

The Tea Parties have been dragged through the mud because some of their members dress up like colonial-era Americans, protest the census and go so far as to compare Obama to Hitler. But I was at several antiwar marches in 2003, and the radicalism on the left was just as ostentatious and, from my point of view, appreciated. Leftist radicals would perform street theater, covering themselves with fake blood, holding up images of Bush in precisely the unflattering light in which discontented populists now portray Obama, and in some heroic cases even pleading their fellow Americans to protest war taxes.

But now it is considered insane, if not dangerous, to question the census, the Department of Homeland Security or other worshipped secular institutions. On the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, a number of census opponents were brought on a panel and ridiculed. One of them was an Arab-American concerned with the privacy rights of his people, and his concerns were brushed off in a rude joke – despite the collusion between the Census Bureau and Homeland Security post-9/11 to share data on Arab-Americans. The conservatives were mocked for talking like middle-Americans. The fact that the census was used to round up Japanese-Americans was brought up and met with laughter by the audience. I bet at least a few were thinking, "Obama would never round people up like the U.S. did to the Japanese – he’s a good progressive Democrat, like Franklin Roosevelt!"

Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Republican talk radio, the Tea Party movement and other relatively mainstream voices of Obama opposition do not comprise all the targets in the establishment’s new Brown Scare. They, especially the Tea Parties, are meant to be chilled into silence and complacency or marginalized – but the ammunition used by the new war on right-wing dissent comes from the weaving together of a narrative that depicts the right-wing as most perilous when it is out of power.

Since the release of the MIAC report last year and a number of unrelated incidents, the liberal media have been thrilled to create an image of disenfranchised rightwing anti-government hatred on the brink of boiling over and doing great harm to our country. When abortionist George Tiller was murdered and then James von Brunn murdered a guard at the Holocaust museum, a hysterical Rachel Maddow went on the air and tried to create a connection where there was none. Like Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and the Pakistani who runs the nearby convenience store, all menacing figures are brought together in an imagined conspiracy against the established order. The Hutaree militia set-up, wherein a group of people too small for two poker tables was accused of planning violence against police and using "weapons of mass destruction" to bring down the U.S. government, was met not with suspicion or even laughter, but serious concern on NPR, on Rachel Maddow, in the center-left imagination of a future in which police and social workers protect us from the chaotic violence of nine people in Michigan. Such journalists scrambled to show a connection with racist groups, only to determine there was none. But the idea of anti-government racists killing police is at the center of their worries now – not the police tasing and arresting innocent Americans every day and occasionally killing people, much less foreign policy. Just as rap songs about killing cops scared conservatives out of their wits in the 1990s, the ravings of some marginal Americans in the woods who had been infiltrated by the FBI are the new social epidemic worrying the left, worthy of censorship and a stern government response. The government is now the most persecuted victim group – worthy of far more advocates in journalism than the Muslim children being liquidated by U.S. remote-control robots every day.

A new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which under Democratic regimes becomes a virtual arm of the state, targets the new "patriots" and enablers of the "anti-government" extremist movement. Much of the list is predictably absurd. Michelle Bachman is attacked for opposing the census, telling the truth about how it was used in World War II, and having skepticism toward AmeriCorp. "Somewhere, Joseph McCarthy must be smiling," the document says, and I agree. His spirit is smiling at the efforts to malign all in political life who subscribe to something even more subversive than Communism – any notion that U.S. political power ought to be limited. Glenn Beck is also targeted, and the criticisms are not even coherent – for example, "he delivered the keynote address to 10,000 right-wing activists who attended the Conservative Political Action Conference." Oh no!

Joseph Farah is smeared because he questioned the official story behind Vince Foster’s death. The president of the John Birch Society is attacked because, like all good Birchers, he hates socialism and fears it is in America’s future. Libertarian and other anti-government activists are targeted in the new SPLC blacklist, including a man who legally carried a rifle to some political protest (and who unsettlingly points out that Obama has killed more people than he has), and Sheriff Mack, who dares to say law enforcers should not enforce unjust, illegal laws and that the IRS should be abolished.

But most absurd of all is the SPLC’s attacks on Judge Andrew Napolitano and Ron Paul. The judge, a principled libertarian who opposed all of Bush’s lawless power-grabs and acts of foreign empire-building and who consistently applies the same critiques to Obama, is targeted for believing the federal government should be at least 2/3 smaller than it is now and supporting the rights of states to secede. The most substantive criticism of Ron Paul, the most principled, least partisan and most dedicated to non-violence and tolerance of all the members of Congress, is that he believes that taxation is immoral, the U.S. should withdraw from the UN and the Fed is crooked.

The only thing most, although not all, of the people branded as enablers of or participants in rightwing extremism agree on is that they oppose the current U.S. government and believe tyranny is possible and perhaps impending in America. For this they are smeared and all attempts are made to chill their dissent. Some would call the fear of crackdowns on dissent itself a form of rightwing paranoia, but when establishment liberals happily talk about prosecuting people for "seditious conspiracy" and creating speech codes, there is plenty to be legitimately concerned about.

Further, many of the concerns of the extremist rightwing, the patriots, the anti-government populist movement, the Tea Parties and even inconsistent statists like Glenn Beck are not off-base. And the most disenfranchised and least respectable of the voices are often the ones who stumble upon something resembling the truth.

Seventeen years ago in 1993, the federal government did in fact murder dozens of Americans who were no threat to anyone. The same government has in fact violated the rights of American citizens, rounded people into concentration camps, silenced and infiltrated politically peaceful groups, conspired against the people in numerous ways, drugged, poisoned and withheld medicine from Americans without their knowing, lied repeatedly about war and serious law enforcement matters, jailed people without due process, imposed martial law on segments of the domestic population, seized guns from law-abiding gunowners, broken down American doors and held scared children at gunpoint, planned the creation of extralegal judicial institutions to process American citizens, targeted political enemies with the IRS and other police agencies, forced Americans to labor and even kill and die under threat of imprisonment, overseen the largest prison system in the world, shoveled trillions of borrowed dollars to corrupt financial institutions and killed millions of civilians abroad – all in the lifetime of many who are still alive. The U.S. police state has in fact been growing since 9/11 and even before – and Obama has done nothing to stem its growth. On the contrary, he has continued the mix of economic fascism, imperialism, surveillance and lawless detention policy that characterized the Bush years.

Indeed, the most dangerous rightwing extremist in my lifetime was George W. Bush. Obama is following in his footsteps. That so many Americans are more frightened of rightwingers out of power than in power – more bothered by conservatives who hate Washington than those who control or want to control it – and more offended by anti-government rhetoric than the Democratic president continuing the policies they claimed to hate under Republican rule – shows how little they have learned from Waco and all that has happened since.