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How I Escaped Being A Right-Wing Extremist

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

How do you change the mind of a right-wing extremist in America today? How do you change the mind of a diehard Trump voter? You don’t. It’s a waste of your time and you have better things to do. We are not going to unite as a country anytime soon after what has happened.

I was raised in the ’80s to be a right-wing extremist like my father. I was sent to an extreme right-wing (John Birch Society) summer camp where I was brainwashed to be a heartless, paranoid conservative, just like my dad. I used to believe that homosexuals, atheists, immigrants, liberals, and anyone who wasn’t white like us, were out to take away our rights as good, god-fearing Americans. When I heard the words humanist, environmentalist, feminist, educated, and equal or civil rights, I’d get irritated, suspicious, and angry.

I was taught that if someone challenged my statements or beliefs, they did so because they were scared or intimidated and afraid of the cold hard truth. I was taught that liberals and Democrats were brainwashed and trained to ignore the truths regarding what was really going on in America. Arguing with a liberal was a complete waste of time, my dad would say. They were too dumb, too brainwashed and there was no way we could change their minds.

Every time someone argued with me about anything, I felt contempt. I felt ridiculed. I felt like they were telling me I was stupid and wrong. I felt they were telling me that my parents and everything I knew to be true was a lie. Just having someone argue with me or having my point of view challenged made me angry, regardless of the facts presented. I was taught not to believe your facts.

If you are wondering how to deal with a member of America’s extreme right, forget it. It’s a waste of your time. In fact, the harder you try to convince right-wingers or Trump voters that Trump is destroying America, the more they’ll support Trump and argue with and belittle you. As much as we all want every American to be mature, compassionate, and to believe only in actual facts, it’s not going to happen anytime soon. They think of us as their enemies. The GOP has been overthrown by the extreme right and they have zero interest in working together to actually keep America great.

It’s taken me over three decades to reject the filth, paranoia, and brainwashing that my dad, the extremist John Birch Society and the National Rifle Association emphasized. Both of my parents hate me for rejecting their nonsense. If I was more like them or Donald Trump, Timothy McVeigh, Ted Cruz, Ted Nugent, or David Duke, they’d be happy. Since I was 17—I’m 48 today—I’ve worked hard to not be anything like my dad. I’ve countered much of the ideology and negativity that was ingrained in me, but it’s been a struggle overcoming the lack of reasonable and honest judgment that was omitted from my upbringing.

I first began writing my thoughts down in 2011, after getting extremely frustrated with both of my parents when visiting with them for family events. I was also freaked during the 2012 presidential election when a few of the candidates started speaking nonsense and hate—things I had heard when I was an impressionable teen. That 2012 election revealed a lot about America when extremism began making the gradual shift from the fringe to the mainstream, and its cause gained a serious amount of traction.

Over time, it became obvious that I was writing a book about the role my parents (specifically my dad) played during my childhood, intentionally or not, in corrupting my life by molding me to be just like them. I shudder to think of what sort of person I would be today had I not escaped the influence of my upbringing. I’ve always known that there was something wrong with my parents. Had I not come to understand this, I’d likely be dead, in prison, or be a right-wing extremist politician.

Hate or Be Hated: How I Survived Right-Wing Extremism is my story of being raised by a paranoid, white-trash hillbilly in the woods of western Washington preparing for the impending communist invasion or overthrow of our country. One hundred percent of all book sale proceeds are going to the ACLU. It’s about how it took 30 years to undo the right-wing brainwashing I endured as a child. It gives a glimpse into what kind of family produces Americans who are primed to believe fake news and put their trust into anyone who seems as angry as they are.

This book is about my personal journey and the way these attitudes directly caused so much suffering in my own life as well as how they are still influencing the choices and decisions being made by a large percentage of people in this country today. It’s about my anger and embarrassment over who I was and how I was raised in an environment that didn’t value empathy, honesty, or caring. I am angry and embarrassed that on some level, I still want my dad to be proud of me.

Only in the past few years have I been able to look back over the life I’ve lived and seriously examine my childhood. I’ve had to come to terms with the thoughts, decisions, and actions that were a direct reflection of what my parents taught me as a young boy. This examination has been stressful and unsettling and has brought to the surface a lot of deep-seated anger which I’ve carried most of my life. I never understood it until recently. No child should experience the paranoia, despair, and isolation that my dad instilled in me. No child should be taught by radical right-wing American extremists that the only options in this life are to “hate or be hated.”

The United States of America has undergone a major upheaval and most people are still struggling to understand what the hell happened. What’s happened is done. The Republicans won and we need to get over that and never quit fighting to save this country. The only issue left at hand is that all of us, the Democratic Party, the progressives, and the true lovers of freedom must unite now or we’re going to be looking at more than just four years of this terrifying situation. We have to work together. All of us. Just like they did.

IMAGE: Supporters of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump hold their hands to their chest as the national anthem is played at a campaign rally in Concord, New Hampshire January 18, 2016. REUTERS/Gretchen Ertl

Sid Miller, Texas Republican Official, Calls Hillary Clinton ‘C-nt’ On Twitter

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller took to Twitter on Tuesday to call Hillary Clinton a “cunt.” The tweet was quickly removed, but not before it was retweeted multiple times. Miller initially blamed the message on hackers, then said it was a retweeting oversight.

According to Politico, Miller was celebrating a new poll that shows Trump ahead in Pennsylvania.

“TRUMP 44 Cunt 43,” Miller’s tweet read. “Go Trump Go!”

That tweet was scrubbed from Miller’s account soon after it appeared. Miller claimed he’d been the victim of hackers, writing, “@MillerForTexas HAS BEEN HACKED. The disgusting re-tweet has been removed and we have changed all account passwords. Be advised.”

That tweet was then erased as Miller and his staffers decided to go with a more believable story. In two subsequent tweets, Miller wrote, “The campaign was retweeting information today and inadvertently retweeted a tweet that they were not aware contained a derogatory term. The tweet was taken down as soon as possible. Commissioner Miller finds the term vulgar and offensive and apologizes to anyone who may have seen it.”

That excuse doesn’t really make sense, considering that the original “vulgar” tweet wasn’t a retweet. We know this because Twitter labels retweets, and Miller’s tweet included no such indication. Politico suggests that the tweet, which was manually posted, originated with “pro-Trump, alt-right account, @TheRickyVaughn.” Weirdly, Miller, or one of his staffers, copied the language of the first tweet, left the word “cunt” in there, but added the phrase “Go Trump Go!”

A Politico reporter got Miller on the phone, and he told the media outlet that someone in his office was responsible for the mistake.

“I can assure you I did not post that,” he said. “Maybe the staffers took a screenshot and posted that.”

Which is also funny—though not in a ha-ha way—since Miller recently made a big deal on Twitter about how he writes his own tweets. He also made fun of Hillary Clinton for not doing the same.

“#CrookedHillary needs a dozen people to check her tweets,” Miller tweeted. “My thoughts are my own. Healthy as a bull here. #wikileaks.”

The Texas Tribune notes that Miller “has previously had to answer for a post suggesting the United States nuke the Muslim world, and another comparing Syrian refugees to rattlesnakes.”

IMAGE: Far-right rocker Ted Nugent endorsed Sid Miller for Texas Agriculture Commissioner in a TV ad. Screenshot from Youtube.

Ted Nugent Reelected To NRA Board After 2016 Of Hate

Published with permission from Media Matters for America

Ted Nugent was reelected to the National Rifle Association’s board of directors just weeks after he promoted a fake video of Hillary Clinton being shot and during a year in which he caused a national controversy for promoting anti-Semitic material.

During a May 21 meeting of members  at the NRA’s annual meeting in Louisville, KY, NRA election committee chairman Carl T. Rowan announced that Nugent was one of 25 individuals elected to a three-year term on the NRA’s board, terminating in 2019. Nugent received the second most votes:

As a musician and conservative commentator, Nugent is to many the most recognizable member of NRA leadership. He has served on the gun group’s board of directors for more than 20 years. In the group’s 2013 board elections Nugent was second only to Iran-Contra figure Oliver North for most votes in favor of reelection. He frequently mixes his pitches for the NRA with inflammatory commentary, such as when he told people to join the NRA while calling for the “evil carcasses” of President Obama and other progressive politicians.

Nugent is a fixture of the NRA’s annual meeting, delivering talks in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. During his speech at last year’s meeting, Nugent talked about shooting Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and called the president “Osama Obama” and offered to charter a boat ride to take Obama “back to Kenya.” At the 2012 meeting, Nugent set in motion a visit with the Secret Service after telling NRA members he would be “dead or in jail” if Obama was reelected as president.

As the NRA annual meeting wraps up tomorrow, Nugent will deliver a talk called “2016 Election Do or Die for America and Freedom.”

Nugent’s 2016 has so far been marked by particularly ugly rhetoric.

  • In January, Nugent called for Obama and Hillary Clinton to be hanged for treason for their supposed malfeasance during the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks.
  • Nugent caused widespread controversy in February after sharing an image on his Facebook page that suggested Jews are behind a conspiracy to enact stricter gun laws. After coming under fire from the Anti-Defamation League and other groups, Nugent further claimed that Jewish supporters of gun safety laws are “Nazis in disguise.” As condemnations continued to roll in, even from far-right pro-gun organizations (but not the NRA), Nugent eventually apologized, claiming he did not realize the image he shared that placed Israeli flags next to faces of 12 Jewish American politicians and gun violence prevention advocates had a “connection whatsoever to any religious affiliation.”
  • In March, Nugent called a critic with a Hispanic name a “beanochimp” and suggested the man should die.
  • Later that same month, Nugent shared a misogynist chain message about why men supposedly prefer guns over women, which included claims like “guns function normally every day of the month” and “A gun doesn’t mind if you go to sleep after you use it.”
  • On March 31, Nugent posted a racially derogatory image on his Facebook page that he said was an advertisement for a moving company called “2 niggers and a stolen truck.”
  • In a May 10 post to his Facebook page, Nugent shared a fake video that showed Hillary Clinton being graphically shot to death by Bernie Sanders. He added his own comment: “I got your guncontrol right here bitch!”

This Week In Crazy: Armed And Ludicrous

Trump-mania, gun-nuttery, and the world’s scariest reality show. Welcome to “This Week In Crazy,” The National Memo’s weekly update on the loony, bigoted, and hateful behavior of the increasingly unhinged right wing. Starting with number five:

5. Lou Dobbs

The Fox Business host, who previously was chased out of CNN for being such an overbearing anti-immigrant conspiracy nut, has turned lately into a full-throated fire-breathing pro-Trump zealot.

Randomly sample a dozen or so of Dobbs’ tweets from the past several months and behold the missives of a man on a holy mission, heedlessly sheering himself of even the most nominal pretenses of objectivity in his quest to herald the coming of The Donald. To take just one example, Dobbs suggested recently that Paul Ryan was unfit to be House Speaker for showing even the slightest reluctance to support Trump as the nominee of his party.

Eric Bolling and Sean Hannity may be smug and persistent in the oily, obsequious manner in which they roll out the carpet for Trump, but nobody matches Dobbs, whose unbridled devotion to the man resembles the frenzied, speaking-in-tongues ardor of someone who has touched the feet of God. (Seriously, just look at some of these.)

You know you’ve reached a low point in the annals of cable news bombast when Bill O’Reilly, of all people, has to be the one to bring you to task. And yet, so it was on the Factor Wednesday night when O’Reilly challenged Dobbs on his blind devotion to Trump and demanded to know if Dobbs was capable of saying anything critical about the candidate.

When Dobbs grumbled and blamed the mainstream media, O’Reilly shot back, “If he’s Jesus, how can you analyze him?”

He concluded, “According to Dobbs, Donald Trump is Jesus… And Jesus never put out his tax returns!”

Next: Ted Nugent

4. Ted Nugent

A board member for one of the most powerful and influential lobbying groups in America has suggesting that the frontrunner for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president should be shot in cold blood. That’s just kind of where we are right now.

“I got your gun control right here, bitch!” Ted Nugent wrote to Hillary Clinton in a Facebook post published Tuesday, linking to a YouTube video depicting the former secretary of state being gunned down by Bernie Sanders.

Right Wing Watch notes that “this sort of gleeful violence is nothing new to Nugent, who in a 2007 onstage rant relished the prospect of killing Clinton and then-candidate Obama,” proclaiming “Obama, he’s a piece of shit. I told him to suck on my machine gun,” while carrying two machine guns.

Nugent also told his Facebook followers that President Obama “should be tried for treason & hung. Our entire fkdup gvt [sic] must be cleansed asap,” a few short months ago. The man has long been the patron saint of American gun nuts, and of unhinged threats against people in power. Good thing he doesn’t hold any positions of influence — right?

Next: Tennessee

3. Tennessee

As some states are learning, passing anti-LGBT legislation into law can cause a real headache.

Two weeks after Tennessee passed a controversial law empowering psychologists to refuse service to gay patients under the pretense of “religious liberty,” two conventions in a row canceled their events in the Volunteer State

The Tennessean reports:

In protest of a state law they say is an affront to the profession of counseling and the worst legislation the group has tracked in decades, the American Counseling Association has canceled its annual conference scheduled for Nashville next year.

[…] For Nashville the loss of the convention at Music City Center could cost the city more than 3,000 visitors next year, $4 million in combined local and state tax revenue and a local economic impact of up to $10 million.

The American Counseling Association’s CEO said the law was “in clear violation” of the group’s ethics code. He added: “No other state has a law like Tennessee’s.”

Then the Colorado-based Centers for Spiritual Living, which had planned to hold a conference in Nashville, piled on. Its leader told The Tennessean“There are a lot of LGBTQ people that are involved in the world, period, but (also) in our organization. We did not think in the practice of openness and inclusivity that that law would serve them very well. They felt violated in the action of that, so we chose to take a principled stand. It’s against what we hold to be true and believe. We believe in the equality of all humanity.”

Next: Paul Manafort

2. Paul Manafort

Remember when people were hailing Trump’s hiring of Paul Manafort as an indication that his campaign was going to shift toward becoming more serious? Never mind!

“This is the ultimate reality show,” the campaign manager of the presumptive GOP nominee said. “It’s the presidency of the United States.”

Manafort made the dubious remarks during a Tuesday night appearance on Hardball.

He said that Trump had run “the first modern campaign in the social media era. He understood how to use earned media instead of paid media. Instead of using 30-second spots, he had a dialogue with the American people, both through his access to the media and through his campaign appearances. And he also had a vision of what the American people wanted.”

Hat tip and video courtesy of Media Matters.
Next: Troy Newman 

1. Troy Newman

There was much hand-wringing from the Religious Right when a crass, big city, philandering, secular totem like Trump all but walked off with the GOP nomination. To a purist Christian theocrat, of the sort that rallied behind Ted Cruz, Trump’s record on abortion and LGBT rights is dubious to say the least.

But just as the “establishment” and “moderate” flanks of the party are learning to swallow their poison and get behind the Donald, so too will the religious extremists. This week we got an early indicator of that shift in Troy Newman, an anti-abortion extremist and a weathervane for the sort of feeble about-face we can expect to see from the Religious Right, which is on its way to making a Devil’s bargain with Trump.

Right Wing Watch’s Miranda Blue writes:

Troy Newman, the head of Operation Rescue and a driving force behind last year’s series of videos smearing Planned Parenthood, writes today that although Donald Trump “has said and done many things that most Christians would find despicable,” he will vote for him — although not formally endorse him — in the presidential election.

Newman articulates his shift in the form of a “pithy” acronym: He supports the Donald because he will Take back the Supreme Court; Remove and Replace [ObamaCare]; Undo! [everything]; Make America Great Again [like the baseball cap sez]; Prosecute Planned Parenthood. (RWW has reposted the acronym in full here.)

That last point may be a curious one to anyone who watched Cruz inundate Trump with criticism for his stated belief that Planned Parenthood has done some “very good work for millions of women.”

But perhaps this is just another reminder that this election shall serve to make feckless hypocrites of everyone on the right who once condemned Trump: from the moderates to the extremes, everyone is getting in line behind Donald.

Hat tip Right Wing Watch

Illustration: DonkeyHotey via Flickr

Check out previous editions of This Week In Crazy here. Think we missed something? Let us know in the comments! Get This Week In Crazy delivered to your inbox every Friday, by signing up for our daily email newsletter.