Monday, March 01, 2010

Conservatives target their own fringe ~ By Kenneth P. Vogel

"Birthers" get labeled as being extremists?

So, now the Conservative pundits are going after birthers, as well as the John Birch Society, as being some type of loony right-wing extremists? Or how about calling Tom Tancredo a racist? Well, this column says it all. The writer is telling us that the Conservative and Tea Party movements are trying to purge anyone that they feel is on the "fringe" or conspiracy theorists.

It's my opinion that they need to be careful about what they are doing. While trying to narrow the Conservative position by moving it away from the "extreme" right-wing, they seem to be widening out the reach to the "moderates," the very same folks that tend to make up the RINOs in the Republican Party.

I am not sure that is really the best strategy. Not that I would want the Tea Party to be associated with anarchist or revolutionary militia groups, but saying that the John Birch Society or Joseph Farah or Tom Tancredo are radical right-wing extremists or racists is absolutely ignorant. But hey, Pat Buchanan was called names by the liberal press in the past, and many Conservatives were willing to stick by him, knowing that it was smart to just consider the source of the criticism he received.

And then, well, there's Pat Robertson... I can understand if the Tea Party Movement may not want to be associated with him; not because Pat is a Conservative Christian, of course, but more because of the ridiculous statements he's made in the past. Just sayin'...
After filming a brief segment at the conference, liberal MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, a leading tea party antagonist, concluded on her show that “the conservative movement right now is really not afraid to let its freak flag fly. … They‘re happy to show off the ‘we want another revolutionary war,’ ‘we think the black president is arrogant,’ ‘we think the apocalypse is nice’ side of themselves.”

Liberal commentators similarly highlighted the extremism on display at this month’s National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, Tenn., which included a speech by WorldNetDaily Editor Joseph Farah questioning Obama’s citizenship and one by Tancredo asserting Obama was elected because "we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country."

2/27/10 @ 6:40 AM EST

After months of struggling to harness the energy of newly engaged tea party activists, the conservative establishment — with critical midterm congressional elections on the horizon — is taking aim for the first time at the movement’s extremist elements.

The move has been cast by some conservatives as a modern version of the marginalization of the far-right, anti-communist John Birch Society during the reorganization of the conservative movement spearheaded by William F. Buckley Jr. in the 1960s and 1970s.

“A similar effort will be required today of conservative political and intellectual leaders,” former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson wrote in his column in The Washington Post. “It will not be easy. Sometimes it takes courage to stand before a large crowd and proclaim that two plus two equals four.”

But for Gerson and other conservatives, this is not just an intellectual exercise. They have a very specific political goal: to deprive Democrats and their allies of a potentially potent weapon to use against the GOP in November.

“I don’t believe we should be giving [extremists] a platform or empowering them to do anything based off their conspiracy theories,” said Ned Ryun, president of American Majority, “because they give the left ammunition to try to define the tea party movement as crazy and fringy.”

The attempt “to clean up our own house,” as Erick Erickson, founder of the influential conservative blog RedState, puts it, is necessary “because traditional press outlets have decided to spotlight these fringe elements that get attracted to the movement, and focus on them as if they’re a large part of this tea party movement. And I don’t think they are.”

Until recently, organizers and activists mostly seemed content to ignore, or in some cases tolerate, extremists in their ranks, confident they’d be drowned out by the hundreds of thousands of activists who took to congressional town halls and marches around the country to protest big-spending initiatives pushed by President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress.

But inflammatory rhetoric such as former congressman Tom Tancredo’s racially tinged speech at this month’s tea party convention, reports of the involvement of right-wing militia groups and the continued propagation of conspiracy theories about Obama have sometimes cast the movement in an unfavorable light.

Erickson has advised new tea party organizers on how to avoid affiliations with extremists and this month banned birthers — conservatives who believe that Obama was not born in the United States and is, therefore, ineligible to be president — from his blog. (He has long blacklisted truthers, those who believe that the U.S. government was complicit in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — a conspiracy theory with devotees across the political spectrum.)

“At some point, you have to use the word ‘crazy,’” said Erickson.

Ryun’s American Majority, a group that trains tea party activists and others around the country, has done much the same thing. Its website has moved to close its sessions to activists who identify themselves with the birther, truther or militia movements or the John Birch Society.


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