Thursday, March 12, 2009

Norris’s Nutty War on President Obama

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Chuck Norris claims that thousands of right wing cell groups exist and will rebel against the U.S. government. It’s tempting to laugh away his vow to wage war against President Obama as either the crackpot ravings of a washed up Z grade martial arts actor. Or as a cheap promotional stunt to get his mug back in front of the cameras. Norris’s bellicose rants against Obama are nothing new and they have gotten wide play in a shrill horde of on line blogs and websites, including the popular right wing sounding board WorldNet Norris will culminate his holy war against Obama with a big recruiting pitch in a live telecast scheduled appropriately for Friday the 13th (March). He’ll call on thousands to “surround” Obama and the dark forces that seek to subvert God, country, and liberty.
Unfortunately, Norris will have plenty of recruits. Two weeks before he bellowed his anti-Obama tripe, the Southern Poverty Law Center once more sounded its own warning that hate groups are on the rise. There are now nearly a thousand of them, and they’re in just about every state. They aren't just the catalogue of usual suspects--- neo-Confederates, neo-Nazis, skinheads, Klansman, Aryan nation and Skinheads that exclusively roam around the Deep South. They’re all over. California leads the pack with nearly 100 identifiable groups. The Center fingered several dozen websites from the explicit site to groups with flag draped names like the sovereign citizen’s movement.
Then there’s the legion of sites that busily spewed anti-Obama venom before the election and haven’t missed a beat since. A Clockwork Obama

The majority of the hate groups and the wacky anti-Obama websites are like Norris just hot air talk and delusional conspiracy stuff. They all hotly deny that they advocate violence. Yet, the number of hate crimes according to FBI statistics, and that’s real violent crimes, edged up to over 7000 in 2007. The number of these crimes has been fairly consistent since the FBI began compiling hate crime statistics more than a decade ago. They’re just the tip of the hate iceberg. Experts say the number of hate crimes could be ten times higher since most hate crimes go unreported.
But even that in itself might not be cause for alarm since most of the hate groups are well known, tracked, and when their members commit crimes are hit hard with federal prosecutions. It certainly would not be enough to give much credence to Norris’s crackpot call. That is if times were better. But when jobs and homes are lost, and there’s fear and uncertainty that things could get worse, the ruthless search for scapegoats—illegal immigrants, gays, Jews, blacks, and a history making president—are on with a vengeance. It takes little imagination to see that this could set off one emotionally unscrewed, gun culture obsessed looney. The murderous rampage by Alabama shooter Michael McLendon who was hell bent on wiping out a whole town was ample proof of that.
Norris, and the legion of other right side gassers and bloggers, mask their bigot tinged appeals to the mob with the usual wink and nod patriotic sounding code words, slogans, and phrases. In his WorldNetDaily columns, Norris tosses out gems such as the “second American revolution,” “new government,” the authority of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence,” “threat to religious freedom,” and “protect and save free enterprise” in his call for a citizen rising against President Obama.
The acidic dripping slogans just happen to be the same ones that stir the deep fury, hatred and resentment among a handful of the loose hinged malcontents and hate mongers. As has been amply documented, the thick list of fringe and hate groups as well as the hordes of unbalanced violence prone individuals running free in America can fill a telephone book. The long history of hate violence in America further is more than enough to raise the antenna on the danger of violence against prominent political figures.

Obama well knows the horrid violent history of America and the very real danger that violence poses to many Americans and especially a charismatic president who still energizes and excites millions and is determined to deliver on his promise of political change and implicitly racial change. The exact things that drives Norris nuts and many others that are nuts to cheer him.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is How Obama Won (Middle Passage Press, January 2009).