Saturday, November 17, 2007


--by Dave

Damn! I got so caught up in things earlier this week that I completely forgot to call out my latest post at The Big Con, the third part in my series, "The Politics of the Personal: Over the Edge". Here's how it opens:
One of the other things about growing up in a place like Idaho is that, yes Virginia, there are racists. Neo-Nazis. White supremacists. Conspiracy-mongering survivalists. Militiamen.

You name it, we’ve got ‘em. Not very many of ‘em, mind you. Their numbers are really quite small, but they’ve been coming in numbers (mostly from California and Arizona) large enough to shift the political demographics in the state. And they come because the nearly all-white cultural landscape is a comfortable one.

Whatever name you want to give them, they all fit the description of being genuine American proto-fascists. Some of them -- the Aryan Nations folks in particular -- are quite unapologetic about it. Others, like the militiamen, are specifically geared, strategically speaking, to make inroads into the mainstream, and so they do their utmost to disguise it -- but inevitably it emerges, when you probe just a little into the belief systems they promote.

Idaho’s national image has taken a real beating as a haven for racists because of these folks, and for the most part the image is a gross distortion of the reality. Most Idahoans are deeply embarrassed by them and will find nearly anything else to talk about – as I say, they really are only a tiny faction, and most people think it’s unfair to judge the rest of the state by them, which is fair enough as far as it goes. What they seem slow to acknowledge is that the presence of such people poses special challenges that can’t be dealt with by running away from them.

It goes on to explore how mainstream conservatives have come increasingly to resemble the far-right extremists who used to hide out in the Idaho backwoods.


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