By Robert A. Vella
Once upon a time in America, the three-headed monster of white nationalism, religious fanaticism, and anti-government fervor were generally distinct elements within the body politic having no consistent party affiliation. For example, in the earliest days of the Republic, Americans opposed to a strong central government were aligned with the liberal Democratic-Republican Party – the forerunner of the current Democratic Party. The 18th-to-19th century Abolitionist movement was strongly influenced by the revivalist sentiment of the time which considered slavery a sin, and which coalesced inside the new Republican Party immediately before the Civil War. And, the white nationalist/supremacist organizations, such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), that arose during Reconstruction and the Jim Crow era were typically supportive of Democratic Party politicians.
But, by the mid-1960s Civil Rights era, all that had flipped around. Southerners abandoned the Democratic Party en masse and became Republicans trumpeting the “states rights” mantra. Religious activism evolved from simply championing social causes – such as racial justice, prohibition, and helping the impoverished – to a more politically-oriented movement advancing the conservative tenets of Christian fundamentalism.
By the turn of the 21st century, the monster’s three heads had become one big head. After the election of Barack Obama, it gave itself a name – the Tea Party. Finding examples of this confluence of right-wing radicalism in America today isn’t difficult. The case of Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who defied a federal court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, provides a good illustration. First to rally to her defense were Christian activists. Then came a rush of conservative Republican politicians and presidential candidates. Now, a far-right anti-government militia group who recently confronted black protesters in troubled Ferguson, Missouri and who also took part in the Bundy Ranch standoff in Nevada – known as the Oath Keepers – has joined the fray by offering to physically intercede if the federal court again orders the arrest of Kim Davis.
Racists, religious wackos, and gun-toting militia nut-jobs… what a monster!