The past year has kind of shocked most Americans:
-- The rise of Donald Trump and his xenophobic right-wing populism, only a shade removed from outright fascism, is something most mainstream political observers rather self-contentedly believed could never happen here in America. Well, guess what.
-- Gangs of gun-waving, Constitution-spouting far-right "Patriots" taking over federal facilities and defying authorities for over a month? Where did that come from?
-- A fresh wave of Islamophobia, arising out of new terrorist attacks here and abroad, has produced a fresh onslaught of hate crimes against both Muslims and their mosques, and has produced radical talk of banning all Muslims from entering the United States. You'd think it was January 1942 all over again.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Something deep, dark, and momentous is on the loose in the American landscape, and we're all beginning to recognize it. It may feel as though it has just lurched out of the darkness at us, but it has been a long time growing, building, and festering.
Some of us have been seeing it coming for all that time. I started writing about these underlying trends -- especially the inevitable resurrection of the far-right "Patriot" movement and its attendant hate speech, its eliminationist agenda -- back in 2003 when I started up my blog Orcinus. And I carried on that work here at C&L, especially after becoming its managing editor back in 2008. While I've moved along to regular work for the SPLC's Hatewatch blog now, I keep writing here as a senior editor -- and, moreover, C&L continues to be one of the premier blogs for tracking the insanity of the radical right in America, thanks to its awesome staff.
Along the way, I published a couple of books on the subject, the first and most significant of which -- The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right, published in 2009 -- has been functionally out of print since 2011, since the publisher, PoliPoint Press, went out of business. The book was never released in e-book form, and the house that inherited the rights to the title showed no interest in restocking it.
But that house subsequently was purchased by the international publishing house Taylor & Francis, and The Eliminationists thus became part of the catalog of Routledge, the well-regarded London-based publisher. And now, as fate would have it, the editors at Routledge have begun making the book available again.
A new paperback edition, with a Routledge cover, is now available, and you can also buy it as an e-book!
This is all rather timely, given how the book details the cross-hatching of ideas between the extremist right and mainstream conservatism beginning in the 1990s and intensifying through most of the first decade of this century. It describes the continuing toxic presence of the Patriot movement as a viable entity waiting to re-emerge (as it did during the Tea Party years) and warns of the rise of a "para-fascism" from within conservative politics that could threaten to grow out of control if a dangerous charismatic personality were to ever emerge to lead them.
The book I co-wrote with John Amato -- Over the Cliff: How Obama's Election Drove the American Right Insane -- was very much a sequel to The Eliminationists, and it too has largely gone out of print. However, the Kindle version is very much available. And it, too, describes this metastacization of the sickness within the American Right with vivid detail.
Of course, being right -- and especially being eerily prophetic -- is never actually a lucrative business. At the time, we received some pats on the head for the hard-headed factuality of our work, but I was often accused of being an alarmist and simply too "obsessed" with the subjects of my work to understand the subtleties of why they actually weren't a serious problem and that we shouldn't worry our pretty heads about them (from both our conservative and our liberal critics). And so neither of these books received more than scant attention at the time, and they quietly went away.
But in looking back, I think it becomes clearer now (as it was then) that the need to confront right-wing extremism seriously -- especially from within the media -- remains our most important route out of this morass. And that's in these books too.
It might be worth your time to go back and read it all again, if you didn't the first time around.