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4.0 out of 5 stars From Birchites to Beckites, June 29, 2009
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This review is from: The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right (Paperback)
Back in 1962, within shouting distance of my neighborhood in Pasadena, California, lay that hotbed of anti-liberalism: Orange County. Back then, Orange County was home to Goldwaterites, hell and damnation religionists, John Birchers and other right-wing groups. Nowadays, it's home to many of their successors.

We often saw Birchite handbills and posters which warned about the Communist conspiracy that was overtaking a weak, emasculated Liberal America. We found the Birchers mysterious, furtive, and frankly, didn't pay much attention to them. But then along came the Birchite campaign against the fluoridization of the drinking water in southern California.

My father, a dentist, having seen the positive effects of fluoride on his patients' teeth, could not believe that a policy which had clear, visible and demonstrable benefits, could be opposed on the outlandish, unscientific grounds that fluoridation was a Communist plot to emasculate American men. Under the pressure of the Birchites' pamphleteering and local publicity stunts, a number of my father's patients actually became worried enough about fluoride to confess their fears about the dangers of fluoride in the drinking water. He attended public meetings on the issue and was shouted down by Birchites. He even lost a few patients over it.

With the aid of the THE ELIMINATIONISTS: HOW HATE TALK RADICALIZED THE AMERICAN RIGHT, I can see now that water fluoridation is an early example of right-wing eliminationism as described by David Neiwert in this important book. One can see in fluoridation in nascent form, a scare campaign that calls into question liberal government's motives, draws together people with disparate beliefs into the same anti-liberal, anti-democratic, anti-secular crusade, and effectively stops any reasonable cross-border discussion from taking place.

I can now see in this campaign how right-wing scare campaigns came to both target the body to induce maximum terror and obedience, and came to stop any form of reasonable discussion: Birchers identified fluoride as Liberal plot intended to weaken or kill Americans. The answer? Flouride must be eliminated from the water supply. And by extension, liberal policies. (Admittedly, this early example is almost quaint as compared to the language and strategies we hear nowadays. The Birchites stopped at Liberal policies, but as Neiwert points out, the new right wing goes all the way to advocating the elimination of liberals altogether.)

The justification for the war in Iraq targeted the body, too, of course. The horrific effects of chemical weapons used by Saddam Hussein were invoked first as emblems of Iraq's evil -- weapons the US helped supply in the 80s. Then we were told a tale of a smoking gun that was a mushroom cloud -- a nuclear attack on America coordinated by the stealthy, anti-Christian agents of Al Queda. In nearly every case, the eliminiationist strategy is to offer a false Either/Or choice: Life (conservatism) or Death (liberalism). How many times did you hear this justification for the war in Iraq: "We've got to fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here."

THE ELIMINATIONISTS also includes with an especially good discussion of Jonah Goldberg's pernicious screed "Liberal Fascism." He aptly cites Robert O. Paxton's "Anatomy of Fascism" -- another must-read dissection of right wing tactics. All in all this is a necessary and important book that will help readers to guard against the predations of the eliminationist tendencies of the right-wing. As Neiwert points out, the John Birch Society and its many offspring have since 9/11 gone mainstream in the voices of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage, Ann Coulter, et. al., and all those who follow their lead. And, as we've recently seen, they're not going away anytime soon.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 13, 2009 12:28:05 AM PST
Good review!

Though conspiracy expert Jim Marrs is generally willing to include all sorts of things in his books, regardless of substantiation, his discussion of fluoridation in The Rise Of The Fourth Reich is worth a look. He links the chemical to the popular SSRI family of anti-depressants, and Rockefeller money, describing it as a possible soporific on the will of the general populace. While I don't know where the science lies or how substantial are the ties between global capitalists and the fluoridation movement, it seems typical that even when it comes to nebulous conspiracy theories, the Birchers and other such right-wing groups end up serving as cover for (inherently right-wing) corporate power by laying the blame at the feet of the left!

Which probably has a little something to do with your last paragraph; while I have yet to favor myself with Jonah Goldberg's views on modern liberalism, I imagine his tract makes at least a tip of the hat to the recent trend of trying to paint Nazism as a leftist movement. Hell, even Stalin was just co-opting leftist imagery for his authoritarian state, but these morons are trying to act as if the Socialism in National Socialism somehow negates the entire nationalist/corporate/militarist nature of Hitler's Germany. OMG HITLER WAS A VEGETARIAN?!?!

Posted on Apr 11, 2010 7:20:37 AM PDT
As someone who has historically been on the right side of the political spectrum, I have long found myself disenchanted with the GOP. I still find little merit in most things left, but the amount of pure unabashed (dare I say "proud") hatred on the right makes me quite uncomfortable. Again, the left seethes with as much hatred as the right, but they tend to keep it under wraps better, like a crazy relative you lock in the attic. The right plasters its hatred and ignorance on FoxNews. Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh have all become millionaires not for championing anything of merit, but for being the worst of all stand-up comics. They do nothing but tear down whatever they do not like or understand...just about everything.

I have to say that if things do not change, I genuinely feel this country is in for some violence. The number of rightwing militias and the cretins who actually believe Sarah Palin should be president is unnerving. Whatever happened to the GOP of Teddy Roosevelt? The people the GOP hail today are trailer trash!

The above review has moved me to obtain this book, if for no other reason than to find a way to reclaim what good there once was in conservative, because today to be a conservative is to wear a white hood. As a conservative, today's GOP disgusts me, and right wing media is an abomination passing itself off as journalism.

Canada is starting to look mighty good.

Posted on Apr 11, 2010 9:35:20 AM PDT
What would be a specific example of something "hateful" or "eliminationist" said or written by Glenn Beck? I'm trying to gather good, solid examples for a full-blown written critique of the Beck phenomenon. Maybe you could help me.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 25, 2010 9:15:44 AM PDT
The Beans says:
I just wanted to say that this post made me long for the a time when liberals and conservatives could have a civil and substantive discussion of topics that they disagreed on.

The book is definitely worth a read from either side of the political spectrum. I'm sure the Republican party would be a much better foil to the things they dislike on the left if they saw some of the examples of hatred in this book and, rather than playing to the votes of people expressing them, used them as an opportunity for reevaluation of the party's trajectory.

Posted on Jun 26, 2010 11:37:33 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 26, 2010 11:45:11 PM PDT
K. Keefer says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Jun 27, 2010 3:41:18 PM PDT
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Posted on Nov 8, 2010 8:23:56 PM PST
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Posted on Jan 12, 2011 7:33:07 AM PST
Have the Birchites finally taken over the Government?

There seems some safety concerns about fluoridation being voiced lately...

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 12, 2011 12:48:50 PM PST
QTeacher says:
Have you tried listening to him for ten minutes?

In reply to an earlier post on May 5, 2013 6:53:37 PM PDT
ssfahrer says:
The GOP of Teddy Roosevelt was a "Progressive" party-- virtually indistinguishable from the Progressive Democrats of Woodrow Wilson. At least this GOP is NOT conservative (because all that "conservatism" does is to preserve the status quo, no matter how far Left it is)-- it can be called REACTIONARY. Perhaps we have gone TOO FAR TO THE LEFT-- it's about time we "turned back the clock" on the "Progressive Movement" and call it an ABJECT FAILURE. And if you want, GO TO CANADA and GET OUT OF THE USA if you hate it so much. We can afford to reduce our population by 1....
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