The signs speak for themselves:
Over the weekend, tens of thousands of right-wing activists rallied in Washington, DC with signs that challenged President Obama's citizenship, accused him and Democratic congressional leaders of everything from Nazism to communism, promoted paranoia about "death panels" and euthanasia, and declared support for figures like Sarah Palin and Rep. Joe Wilson.
Of course, right-wing commentators like Michelle Malkin tried to report that the number of protesters was as high as two million, but officials estimated the crowd to be about 60,000. Significant, yes, but not indicative that these people are anything more than a vocal minority representing the views of only a small portion of Americans.
A PFAW staffer who showed up to check out the scene talked to many participants, and when she asked why they showed up, an overwhelming number gave the same answer: "Glenn Beck sent me."
Fast forward to yesterday afternoon, when the House of Representatives voted on a resolution of disapproval rebuking Rep. Joe Wilson for shouting "You lie!" at President Obama in the middle of his address to Congress. The vote put members of the House on record as to where they stand. The resolution passed, but nearly every Republican (all but seven) voted against it -- and with Joe Wilson and Glenn Beck's brand of extremism.
It is shameful that the GOP would give someone like Glenn Beck that sort of power. The Rush Limbaughs and Glenn Becks of the world have been pulling the strings of the Republican Party for too long. But it's getting even worse than that.
At the end of this month, some of the most fringe players on the Radical Right are hosting a conference called How to Take Back America and currently scheduled to speak are five Republican members of Congress and, according to polls among Republicans, one of the most popular expected GOP presidential candidates, Mike Huckabee.
When I say that the people hosting this conference are on the outer fringe, that's actually something of an understatement. Some of the scheduled workshops at the conference are titled, "How to recognize living under Nazis and Communists," and, "How to counter the homosexual extremist movement."
Here's a little about just two members of the Host Committee:
Joseph Farah has been the most ardent and vigilant leader of the "Birthers," yet has also made the astonishing claim that President Obama's maternal grandmother might really be his mother. He recently eulogized Sen. Ted Kennedy by calling him "a rotten man -- a wicked man, an 'enemy within'" and wrote that President Obama was secretly advocating the destruction of the Jews. His web site WorldNetDaily is the epicenter of countless right-wing lies and conspiracy theories and routinely serves as a forum for zealots to espouse anti-gay hysteria.
Janet Porter has helped to promote some of the most paranoid conspiracies out there, like claims that the Obama administration is setting up internment camps for conservatives and plotting to commit genocide against Americans through the use of the swine flu vaccine. Before the election, she said that supporting Obama was akin to supporting Nazis and declared that anyone who voted for him would go to hell. She's also an active participant in spreading Birther lies.
Americans need to be aware of the resurgent Radical Right as well as its growing influence on government officials and the Republican Party. People For the American Way is working hard to expose the Right and its influence, and to hold accountable those in our government who choose to ally themselves with extremists instead of the vast majority of Americans and the country's greater interest.
We can do it with, and because of, your continued support. And I thank you for it.
Michael B. Keegan, President
P.S. The need for our vigilance against extremism has been disturbingly evidenced by gun-toting protesters outside of town hall meetings and Obama speeches. One such protester was part of an Arizona church congregation whose pastor, Rev. Steven Anderson, screams about "faggots running this country" and advocates the death penalty for gays, who he says "recruit through rape" and "molestation." Rev. Anderson is an extreme example, but extreme examples like him are becoming more and more commonplace. We need to fight back.