Feature

A country seething with rage

What Europe thinks of the extremist views and violent rhetoric of the right.

Something is terribly wrong with the United States of America, said Daniel Haufler in Germany’s Berliner Zeitung. Politicians are being pelted with eggs, called “nigger” and “faggot,” and even threatened with death. Radical militia groups are springing up all over the country, “armed to do battle against a supposedly oppressive government.” Emotions are boiling, and it’s hard to see why. Ostensibly, the anger is over the recently passed reform of health care. But the law merely “corrects a few inequities in the health system,” and is in no sense “revolutionary.”

This isn’t about health care, said Jean Sébastien Stehli in France’s Le Figaro. It’s about racism. The “climate of violence” in American politics began two years ago, “during the presidential campaign.” Racist whites, horrified at the prospect of a black president, started showing up at Sarah Palin rallies, greeting mentions of the name Barack Obama with cries of “Traitor!” and “Off with his head!” and even “Kill him.” Now, a year into the Obama presidency, the Tea Party movement has sprung up under the slogan “Take back the country.” These people, virtually all whites, apparently “feel that they are the owners of the country and that it was stolen from them.” And the Republican Party is encouraging the violent rhetoric. Palin told her supporters that if they wanted to “kill the bill” they should just “reload.” 

And that’s not just a metaphor, said Alberto Armendáriz in Mexico’s El Norte. Last week, U.S. authorities arrested nine members of a Christian militia group allegedly plotting to kill a policeman and then bomb the funeral procession, hoping to kill many more cops. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, said there’s been a “dramatic resurgence” in such militias since Obama’s election. “The enemy No. 1 of these groups is the government, which they believe is behind a conspiracy to impose martial law and throw everyone who disagrees with the new socialist order into concentration camps.” Elected Republicans are bolstering these crazy theories. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has accused Obama of building Marxist re-education camps for children, while former Rep. Tom Tancredo claims that Mexico “has secret plans to reconquer the Southwest USA.” Such “laughable” allegations could backfire for the Republicans come November, said Spain’s El Periódico de Aragón in an editorial. Most Americans, after all, are centrists. And “extremism is never the best electoral card.”

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