Right-Wing Crazy Is All-American

Birthers, tea parties—it's nothing new
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 16, 2009 8:23 AM CDT
Randy Hook, 50, of Hopewell, Pa., yells at Sen. Arlen Specter during a town hall meeting on health care in a Penn State University ballroom in State College, Pa., last Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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(Newser) – With the left back in power, we’re seeing right-wing "crazies"—the “birthers, tea-partiers, town hall hecklers”—getting louder. But that’s nothing new, writes Rick Perlstein in the Washington Post. In America, “the crazy tree blooms in every moment of liberal ascendancy, and elites exploit the crazy for their own narrow interests.” The trouble today is that the media lends credence to these voices, Perlstein notes.

Republicans in the 1950s accused FDR and Truman of “20 years of treason," while reports in the South in the 1960s suggested the Civil Rights Act “would ‘enslave’ whites.” “The similarities across decades are uncanny,” Perlstein writes. Liberal power creates “panic” among some; political “vultures” milk it, he notes. But in past decades, “a more confident media unequivocally labeled the civic outrage represented by such discourse as ‘extremist’—out of bounds.”